Fall 2021

Fall 2021

Sound and Spirit in Monsoon Asia

Lance Nelson, Christopher Adler

In this course, we will examine the history of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam in South and Southeast Asia and trace their influence in the region. We will examine a number of the diverse musical traditions that arose from the interaction of these religious civilizations with each other and with indigenous animist beliefs. Music, whether for ceremony, entertainment, or daily life, is a vehicle for the enactment and transmission of religious, artistic and cultural values. Tracing the common religious threads from South Asia through Southeast Asia, we will reveal the underlying beliefs and aesthetics that link cultures across the region, as well as clarify the distinctions resulting from local circumstances, indigenous cultural practices, other transregional influences (such as that of China), and idiosyncratic fusions of changing belief systems.

HNRS 390

Lance Nelson


HNRS 391

Christopher Adler


*Approved Core: Upper-Division Theological and Religious Inquiry (390) or Artistic Inquiry (391), and Advanced Integration.

CANCELED (replacement class pending): Dead Men Walking

Gary Jones, Cynthia Caywood

The United States is one of the few first world countries that executes its citizens, and “Dead Men Walking” examines the legal, ethical and literary debates over its application. Always controversial, capital punishment has attracted new attention in recent years as prisoners have been exonerated through DNA evidence; as studies have shown that capital punishment is disproportionately applied to the poor and to minorities; and as executions have been botched, delivering to the condemned a cruel and painful death. Yet support for it remains strong as society seeks to find ways to express its grief and outrage over especially vicious criminal acts. We will draw upon a wide range of texts—legal cases, scholarly opinion pieces, documentaries, fiction, autobiography, and plays—and host lectures by San Diego attorneys who have personal experience both prosecuting and defending capital cases. Besides reading, class work includes participating in seminar style discussions, watching films, producing short essays and a research project on a San Diego capital case, and taking a final exam.

HNRS 342

Gary Jones


HNRS 243

Cynthia Caywood


*Approved Core: Advanced Integration, Ethical Inquiry (HNRS 342), Literary Inquiry (HNRS 343)

Bombs Away!

Kathryn Statler, Daniel Sheehan

Nuclear weapons are one of the great scientific and technological achievements of the 20th century; however, they also pose a grave existential risk to humanity. This team-taught, upper-division honors class will explore nuclear weapons -- their discovery, design, destructiveness, deployment and disarmament -- from the perspectives of history and physics. It will trace their development from early 20th-century scientific visionaries, through the Manhattan Project, from the Cold War nuclear arms race, up to the present-day specter of nuclear terrorism. The course will also explore the potential for nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses for nuclear technology.

HNRS 344

Kathryn Statler


HNRS 345

Daniel Sheehan


*Approved Core: Advanced Integration, Historical Inquiry (344) 

International Social Rights and Policy

Adina Batnitzky, Avi Spiegel

What are human rights? Are certain types of rights more important than others? This course will investigate debates surrounding the development of diverse and under-examined types of human rights: international social, cultural and economic rights. How are human rights experienced around the world and how are such rights best implemented? Grounded in the study of both public sociology and international relations, this course will take a unique interdisciplinary and global approach to these pathbreaking and pressing questions. Together, we will unearth the social conditions of human rights norms alongside their political and policy ramifications.

HNRS 312

Adina Batnitzky


HNRS 313

Avi Spiegel


*Approved Core: Advanced Integration

Linked Courses: ENGL 222 and PHIL 110

Malachi Black, Michael Kelly

Description of the common theme:

Poetry and philosophy are both disciplines deeply concerned with generating, clarifying, and interrogating what Kenneth Burke described as “equipment for living”—namely, strategies for contending with the fact of being human. This overlap in disciplinary emphasis has been borne out by poets and philosophers themselves, often through explicitly reciprocal curiosity, engagement, and hostility, beginning with texts as early and foundational as Plato’s Republic. Linking “Introduction to Poetry” with “Introduction to Philosophy” will allow students to deepen their understanding of humanistic inquiry as such while multiplying their understanding of the boundaries and utility of each disciplinary approach: by reading poetry both philosophically and as philosophy, by reading philosophy both poetically and as poetry, students will be able to trace for themselves the intersections and distinctions that have animated some of world’s richest ongoing conversations about what it means to perceive, act, think, and engage as human beings.

ENGL 222: Introduction to Poetry

Malachi Black


PHIL 110: Introduction to Philosophy

Michael Kelly