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Honors elective topics change each semester and are offered by professors from all disciplines. Topics are selected after being reviewed by the Honors Advisory Board (HAB), which consists of Honors staff, University faculty and students in the Honors Program. HAB provides Honors students with a unique opportunity to shape the courses offered in the Program. Examples of electives to be offered in Spring 2006 and those offered in the 2005 academic year are described below:



  • HSM 110: Primitivism and 20 th Century Art (Professor Francine Tyler, Visual Arts)
  • HHE 171: Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (Professor Michael Bennett, English)
  • HHE 172: Plants and Human Culture: An Historical Perspective (Professor Glen Lawrence, Chemistry/Biochemistry and Professor Wei Fang, Biology )
  • HHE 173: Gods, Monsters and Cosmic Avengers: The Hindu Literary Tradition from Classical to Modern Times (Professor Srividhya Swaminathan , English)
  • HHE 174: The Harlem Renaissance (Professor Louis Parascandola, English)
  • HHE 175: Germany and the European Union (Professor Teague Mims, History)


HSM 109
Facing the Portrait
Professor Nancy Grove (Visual Arts)

As Richard Brilliant wrote in his book on portraiture, “Portraits exist at the interface between art and social life and the pressure to conform to social norms enters into their composition because both the artist and the subject are enmeshed in the value system of the society.” Portraits never fail to fascinate, precisely because they represent not only the features of an individual, but also essential features of the culture in which that individual played a more or less important role.

This course considers the particular problems and issues surrounding the study of portraiture, self and group portraits, gender and portraiture, and modern and postmodern portraits. Students can expect to become familiar with the history of portraiture through slides and readings and museum visits, and to understand the connection between artworks and conceptual and philosophical issues that surround portraiture. Requirements include a final research project and an in-class presentation.


HSM 112
Science Fiction and Philosophy: The Frontiers of the Human
Professor Kristana Arp (Philosophy)

What is the relation between science fiction and philosophy? Philosophers have always used what are called thought experiments in order to prove philosophical points. That in a nutshell is what science fiction is—an author depicting the world not as it is but as it could be. Science fiction is a relatively new genre of fiction, but a rapidly expanding one. In this course we will read science fiction stories and novels and discuss a selection of films that address some of the most fundamental issues in philosophy. For instance, in the 17 th century the philosopher Descartes raised the question of whether everything we experience is an illusion. Incorporating what we know today about the functioning of the brain, science fiction writers create scenarios where this is indeed the case. Philosophers ask what the basis of personal identity is—what is this “I” we all talk about? Science fiction writers envision alternatives to philosophical theories of identity—Could a person have more than one body? The philosophy of mind asks what the mind is. Is it possible for beings other than human beings, for machines, to have minds? Science fiction writers answer “Why not?” Maybe you are just an artificial creation. Would that bother you? Time travel is a staple of science fiction. Philosophers ponder the conundrums such an idea raises. As you can see, there are numerous philosophical questions raised by science fiction and numerous ways to explore philosophical question imaginatively through fiction.

Students in this course can expect to read exciting texts of science fiction and philosophy, to see films that raise important questions and to hear from guest speakers (experts in the field) about the frontiers of the human.


HHE 168
For Love or Money: Capitalism and Society in Nineteenth Century Britain
Professor Joseyln Almeida-Beveridge (English)

Do men and women choose mates for love or money? This question drives T.V. shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette . Yet the dashing bachelor and the glamorous bachelorette have long held audiences captive, as writers like Jane Austen and others discovered. In this interdisciplinary course, we will examine how capitalism transformed the relationships between men and women as Britain became an industrial nation and global empire. Readings include novels by Jane Austen, William Thackeray, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Oscar Wilde, who vividly portray the fortunes of nineteenth-century bachelors and bachelorettes; and economic theorists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx, who try to make sense of capitalism's systemic workings. Requirements: Three 5-7 page papers, student class presentation, and quizzes.


HHE 170
Not Necessarily the News: Gathering Information in a Media-Saturated Age
Professor Jennifer Rauch (Journalism)

It's a commonplace assumption that young people do not follow the news any more—suggesting a state of apathy and ignorance that could pose a threat to democratic society. But a September 2004 study found that young people who watch Comedy Central's “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” actually knew more about presidential campaigns than people who watch network news or read the newspapers.

In a media saturated environment, where so many kinds of information are available everywhere all the time, this paradox raises some questions: What's the difference between news and entertainment anyway? Does old-fashioned journalism do anything that these hybrid or liminal forms can't do? From what resources do today's college students learn what's happening in the world?

In this course, we'll draw upon our own experiences with media as a basis for exploring some potential sources of “not-necessarily-news” that don't fit the traditional mold: late-night shows and political comedy; personal zines and blogs; student newspapers and tabloids; public relations and newsletters; Web journalism; reality TV; online discussion groups; and anywhere else that people might get information about current issues or events.

Among the activities in this course will be: Keeping a Media Diary of sources of news that you use and discover. There will be a “media-avoidance day” where students concentrate on ways they receive information from unmediated sources. Live Audience Experience : the class will participate as live audience members of a show such as “Late Night with David Letterman” or “The Daily Show”—after all, we are in New York ! Internet Research and Presentation : Students will work in teams to research and present a particular genre of “not-necessarily-news” in print, broadcast or online media. Class Project : Students will design and conduct a survey of their peers that identifies the sources of “not-necessarily-news” typically used by their peers at LIU. The class will share these findings with the Honors community at the end of the semester.


HHE 167
Shakespeare in Performance
Professor Seymour Kleinberg (English)

This course focuses on Shakespeare plays that have been adapted in other performing arts (music, opera, dance, and film). We will explore three major plays— A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and Othello —as drama, as dance and as opera. After discussing the text, we will ask: What happened to the play in performance? What was lost? How do the versions in the other arts illuminate the written play? The richness of Shakespeare's language and the possibilities of visual, musical and dramatic representation of his work will be explored.

Course requirements include a term project and a presentation: one or two students will open discussion of the evening's subject with his or her responses to the assignment and with questions for the seminar to discuss.




HHE 164
The Nuclear Age and Its Fallout
Professor Glen Lawrence (Chemistry and Biochemistry)

The aims of this course are to explore the events that led to the development of atomic bombs, the immense technological hurdles that had to be overcome, and the decisions to use them in Japan at the end of World War II. We will also discuss the making of the hydrogen bomb in the United States and the espionage that gave this technology to the Soviet Union . The second part of the course will discuss the peaceful uses of atomic energy, including nuclear reactors and the anti-nuke movement that followed the rise of environmental consciousness. The politics of nuclear energy—e.g., Three Mile Island, Chernobyl , and some other notable nuclear disasters—will be examined. In the third and final portion of the course, we will discuss the health effects of the nuclear industry from toxicity studies done in the 1940's to the use of depleted uranium in the armor penetrating munitions used in the 1991 Gulf War.


HHE 166
Field Seminar: Kilimanjaro Trek – Tanzania Field Course
Professor George Sideris (Biology)

The main focus of this course is a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa , located almost exactly on the equator. The course will give students a unique opportunity to study the various ecological niches and climates we will encounter on the ascent and illustrate the effect of altitude on plant and animal zonation. We will also study the culture and use of the environment by the indigenous people of the area. There will be a number of class sessions prior to the trip at LIU but the majority of the course will take place on site. Evaluation will be based on a filed journal, quizzes, a formal presentation and participation.



HSM 110
Identity and Consumerism in American Culture
Professors Melissa Grant (Freshman Program) and Susanna Yurick (Honors)

How has American identity been constructed in relationship to consumerism? How has what we consume defined us? In what ways have we become commodities? How has consumer culture specifically affected gender identity and family structure? How have different ethnic and racial groups been impacted by consumerism? These are some of the central questions that we will address in the course.

The vast majority of Americans have embraced consumerism as both indispensable and as a major factor in constructing their identities as both private individuals and public citizens. Indeed, notions of American democracy have shifted toward the freedom to consume. Nowhere did this ideology become more glaring than in the aftermath of September 11 th , when major political leaders insisted that shopping was “a patriotic duty” of all American citizens. The relationship between the construction of American identity and consumerism has been of continual interest to both its enthusiastic supporters and virulent critics. This course seeks to examine the ways in which the conversion of citizen to consumer has influenced American identity, ideology and lifestyle.

Identity and Consumerism in American Culture will be conducted as a seminar. Student participation will be essential. Through history and social theory, we will analyze plays, literature and films, which reflect these issues. Students will be expected to write small response papers and do a close reading and analysis of a primary source in terms of how it seeks to construct or explain the relationship between American identity and consumer culture.


HHE 159
Beyond Propaganda: 20 th Century Russian History Seen Through Poetry and Film
Professor John High (English)

The history of 20 th Century Russian poetry and film radically reveals the story of a people who have struggled, endured and constantly battled with the devastating effects of propaganda. Russian poetry and film throughout the century rose to meet the challenge of expressing this struggle for both true freedom and human dignity, and the art that it produced is universally acknowledged as some of the greatest works ever created. This is an art that tells the story of a history and people who went beyond its leaders' hypocrisy, lies, and ravage.

In this course we will study films of directors ranging from the legendary Einstein and Tarkovsky to the contemporary film maker Sakurov while reading selections of literature written at the time of the making of the films. The literature will include poetry by masters such Pasternak, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, and others emerging from the Silver Age period of Russian literature and entering the subsequent birth of the Soviet Union in 1917. We will survey the life of the Soviet Union “beyond propaganda” in literary and cinematic snapshots which reveal the events leading up to the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991. Our reading and discussion will include contemporary writers such as Zhdanov , Shatunovsky, Iskrenko and others whose writing echo and expand upon the themes of the past in today's world.


HHE 160
Science Scrutinized
Professors Janet Haynes (Biology) and George Sideris (Biology)

Science, to the non-scientist, often seems arcane, esoteric, or even mysterious, when, in reality, it involves logical, often engaging, and rewarding activity. Progress in science does not always occur linearly, however, and is often fraught with hypotheses, investigations, and conclusions that, in hindsight, may not be valid. In addition, the political climate in which a scientific effort or discovery is made may influence how the investigations progress, and in how the outcomes are received and perceived.

This course is designed to introduce the student to scientific thought, process, and progress, and to develop critical thinking about phenomena, theories, or statements that may be presented as “scientific.” The question of what makes an experiment, statement, or theory, scientific will be explored.

The emphases will be on analyzing issues that have arisen around scientific and pseudo-scientific claims; on validity of experimentation; on media presentations of scientific “fact”; and on debunking pseudoscience. The emphasis will be on critical thinking about science and its “breakthroughs.” This will be accomplished through the study of scientific issues and events that initially may have been insufficiently examined, and that later may have required further ethical, societal, or scientific scrutiny. In some case the claims did not “survive” the further scrutiny.


HHE 161
Paul Robeson: Renaissance Man in the American Century
Professor Joseph Dorinson (History)

An historically oriented course that examines the glories and contradictions of American culture through the life of Paul Robeson.


Innovation in Black Diaspora Art & Literature
Professor Rosamond King (English)

This interdisciplinary seminar will address exciting readings, films, and visual art from the African diaspora. While there is a long tradition of “innovative,” “experimental,” and “avant-garde” work by Black people around the world, undergraduate students rarely have the opportunity to examine such texts. This seminar will be very interactive, frequently including student-led and small group discussions, and will encourage student artistic explorations.


HHE 163
Ways of Seeing: Vermeer and His World
Professors Deborah Mutnick (English) and Rosemary Meyer (English)

Study the society that produced paintings worth millions of dollars today. Learn what 17 th century Holland shares with our culture. Read the best selling novels Girl with the Pearl Earring , by Tracy Chevalier, and Girl in Hyacinth Blue , by Susan Vreeland, and see how class, money, and art interacted in Vermeer's world. Let art historians John Berger and Axel Ruger develop your appreciation for Old Master art and artwork today.


Topics of Discussion

  • Literary responses to a painter who mystifies and enthralls viewers and art critics
  • Visual elements and design principals in Vermeer's paintings
  • The city of Delft as a microcosm of the “new world order” of the 17th century
  • The physics of light and Dutch fascination with science



  • Journal of responses to the paintings, course texts, and museum visits
  • Research project on Vermeer's social world
  • Creative project, e.g., fictional narrative, personal essay, or visual presentation


Long Island University-Brooklyn Campus
University Honors Program
Pratt Building 310 - 1 University Plaza
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Telephone: 718-780-4023

Long Island University Brooklyn Campus University Honors Program