Jazz Explorations

Jazz Explorations

Winter 2023 – Kalamazoo College

Dr. Beau Bothwell
Email: beau.bothwell@kzoo.edu

Class: MWF 9:40-10:55am
Fine Arts Room 11
Office Hours: M 11am-12pm, T 10-11am,
or by appointment.
Office: Fine Arts 128

Romare Bearden, Jammin’ at the Savoy (1981-82)


This course is intended to introduce students to the cultural context, instrumentation, theory, form, and analysis of jazz from its early West African roots to contemporary times. Emphasis will be placed on listening to various artists and styles. No music reading or basic theory knowledge is required.

The primary objectives of this course are to:

  1. Increase your knowledge and enjoyment of jazz and related musics both as historical and cultural phenomena and as vehicles for creative expression
  2. Develop the skills necessary to become an active and perceptive listener
  3. Experience the joys (and frustrations) of creating music that incorporates improvisation
  4. Explore and understand the social and historical influences on the development of jazz and related creative musics

Assignments and Evaluation:

Students will be evaluated according to the following criteria

Attendance and Participation 9
Daily Pre-Class Reading/Listening Qs 15
Concert Attendance (2) 5
Trio Performance Assignments20
Midterm Exam18
Final Exam33

Required Reading and Listening:

For the first half of the course, we will be drawing extensively from Ted Gioia’s The History of Jazz. I highly encourage you to purchase a physical copy for reference and to use in class. Used copies of the first edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) are available online for less than $10. The book is also available online via the Kalamazoo College library. Additional readings will be posted on the course website.

Preparation and Daily Assignments:

I will post a will be a brief set of questions online about aspects of the reading and listening assignments, and your submissions is due each day before class. (Access to the daily questions will require your K login.) Additionally, the course will include a significant amount of discussion, and students should come to class ready to discuss and ask questions about daily reading and listening assignments.

Maximum Possible Points on Daily Questions:

Daily Questions…Points
Completed before class11/10
Completed before the subsequent class8.5/10
Completed any time after the subsequent class7/10

Course Website

All reading and listening assignments will be posted on the course website.This is the site you should be checking frequently.
password: changes
Moodle will be used exclusively to post grades.

Performance Trio Projects

You will form a jazz trio with fellow class members and perform the following in class:

  • Rhythm Band Project (Week 3)
  • Melodic Improvisation Project (Week 5)
  • 12-Bar Blues Project (Week 9)
  • American Songbook Standard project (Week 10)

I will describe each of these in detail over the coming weeks, but in brief: Your composition projects must include improvisation by each partner and utilize several of the jazz techniques discussed in class. (E.g., call & response, pitch bends, timbral variation, scat singing, stop-time, double-time, solo breaks, trading twos, fours, eights, etc. More to follow.)

  • Due at Final Exam time a two-page Reflection Summary of your performance projects detailing the learning experience/process. This is not graded, however, failure to submit this assignment will automatically lower your final grade by ½ letter grade

Required Music Streaming Service

This semester, we will primarily be using Spotify and Youtube as our music portals, supplemented by online databases accessed through your Kalamazoo login, as well as a variety of online resources. All students should sign up for a (free) Spotify account.

A note about studying for a listening-intensive course

There will be extensive listening portions on both the midterm and the final. Please keep in mind that it is impossible to cram aural information the way you cram visual information. No matter how hard you might be studying, it still takes over an hour to listen to Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite from beginning to end. Don’t wait until the last minute to try to familiarize yourself with the listening.

Class Participation

Participation will be evaluated on the following criteria:

A: You contribute to class frequently (almost every session, though I don’t expect everyone to be “on” every day). Your comments reflect excellent preparation, build from the comments of others and/or offer direction for the discussion. If you were not in the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished markedly.

B: You contribute to class sometimes. Your comments reflect good preparation, sometimes build from the comments of others and/or sometimes offer direction for the discussion. If you were not in the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished.

C: You contribute to class rarely. Your comments reflect adequate preparation, occasionally build from the comments of others and/or occasionally offer direction for the discussion. If you were not in the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished somewhat.

D: You contribute to class very rarely or not at all. As a result, there is little or no basis for evaluation. If you were not in the class, the discussion would not be changed.

Also D: You contribute to class but your contributions reflect inadequate preparation and offer no direction for the discussion. If you were not in the class, the discussion would be improved

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend every class session. In the event that you must miss a class due to religious observance, illness, family emergency, etc…, please provide notification as soon as possible, preferably in advance of the absence. After two unexcused absences, each subsequent absence will result in a 4% reduction in total course grade.

Statement on Academic Integrity

Acts of academic dishonesty are prohibited. Cheating includes, but is not limited to: (1) use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations; (2) use of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems; or carrying out other assignments; (3) the acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the College community; (4) engaging in any behavior specifically prohibited by a faculty member in the course syllabus or class discussion. If you have any questions about these policies, please ask, and refer to the guidelines here.

Statement on Learning Difference

Any student with a learning difference who needs an accommodation or other assistance in this course should make an appointment to speak with me as soon as possible. Please do feel free to reach out as soon as possible.

An Important Tip for The Rest of Your Life

Whenever you send an assignment to a professor, a resume to a potential employer, or a request to a new contact, you should assume that this person receives dozens (or hundreds) of files as attachments every week. As such, it is in your interest to title your file in such a way that it is easy to track and identify at a glance. Using very specific filenames will also make your life much easier down the road when you are trying to find an old file.

Good Filename: MyName__Week1Response_Sept2022.doc
Bad Filename: Assignment1.doc

Good Filename: MyName_NewOrleansBoucePaper_10Oct22.pdf
Awful Filename: NewOrleans.pdf

Good Filename: MyNameResume_PositionTitle-CompanyName_2Nov24.prf
No Good, Terrible Filename: Resume.pdf

If you send me a filename similar to the bad examples above, you will receive a reply email consisting entirely of “what.huh?”

Draft timeline for the quarter

Major Assignments/Exams area listed below. See course website for daily reading/listening assignments.

Week One


First Day of Class

Week Two

Week Three


No Class, MLK Day


Rhythm Band Performance Due (in class)

Week Four

Week Five


Melodic Improvisation Project (in class)


No Class, Winter Break

Week Six


Midterm Exam

Week Seven

Week Eight

Week Nine


Blues Performance Project (in class)

Week Ten


Standard Performance Project (in class)


Final Exam: Tuesday, 3/14, 8:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

St. Louis Cluster Information

In January of 2022, Kalamazoo College received a three-year Mellon grant (For information about the grant, see Humanities Grant Boosts Experiential Learning Project.) Entitled Humanities Integrated Locational Learning (HILL), this initiative examines how many problems of our time can be analyzed through the lens of location and dislocation. To develop a deeper knowledge of these disruptions (physical, psychological, social, linguistic, and more) with the aim of generating the potential for change, HILL supports the formation of class clusters linked to specific places within and beyond Kalamazoo. Our course contributes to a “Beyond Kalamazoo” Cluster focused on St. Louis, comprised of the following winter courses: ENGL230 – U.S. Ethnic Literature (Dr. McDade); JAPN301 – High Intermediate Japanese (Dr. Sugimori); HIST215 – Victorianizing America (Dr. Boyer Lewis); SEMN201 Beauty Across Cultures (Dr. Zhang); MUSC165 – Jazz Explorations (Dr. Bothwell.)

While these courses will function independently, they are united by their engagement with St. Louis as a historical and contemporary site, as well as the way they draw from humanistic inquiry to construct justice-based notions of land, place, and belonging in response to humanistic concerns and social inequities (i.e., systemic racism, body and border policing, economic inequity, global warming, etc.)

After the conclusion of the quarter, cluster faculty and selected students will extend the classroom to St. Louis for a 7-day, fully-funded study away experience (includes travel, housing, and meals). During this partial-unit experiential social justice research seminar in St. Louis (June 5-12, 2023), 2-5 students from each cluster course will undertake individual and collaborative research within and across the disciplinary knowledges acquired in their respective courses in order to produce a supradisciplinary research project. The trip will prioritize place-based learning, humanities-based inquiry, and social justice problem-solving via relevant site visits, partnerships with local community organizations, and student-led discussion and reflection. At the end of the trip, students will publish their research on a digital humanities website.

Note: The partial unit will be credited in the summer, appearing on the Fall 2023 transcript.

Application process: Interested students will need to submit an application and a research proposal to the HILL site by Tuesday of 9th Week Feb. 28th. In the application, students will be asked to submit a <1000-word proposal that addresses the following questions:

  1. What are your general areas of research interest? Feel free to highlight subject matters, themes, texts, etc. from your cluster course for support.
  2. How does St. Louis’ “placeness” (history, geography/landscape, culture, etc.) pertain to your research interest? How do you see the theme of “location and dislocation” at work?
  3. How do your research interests connect to relevant social justice concerns?
  4. Have you had any experiences that may have prepared you for this experiential research seminar? Please detail any past research (individual or collaborative), service-learning courses, and/or experiential learning engagement you identify as relevant.

Applications will be reviewed by cluster faculty in conjunction with the Center for International Programs. Participants will be chosen based on potential collaborative research intersections across cluster courses and the importance of St. Louis as a site. Those selected for the experiential research seminar in St. Louis will be notified no later than 10th Week Friday (10 March 2023.)

Selection for the St. Louis Cluster Seminar will require the following mandatory commitments:

  • Additional preparatory work throughout weeks 5-10 of the Spring term to prepare you for site engagements in St. Louis. You will be provided with a seminar syllabus in the Spring after cohort selection is finalized.
  • Weekly meetings with your research group (held weeks 5-10 in the Spring on Mondays during common time, Hicks Banquet Hall West)
  1. Attend information sessions with community partners
  2. Meetings with the HILL Digital Humanities Coordinator, Bruce Mills
  3. Submission of pre-departure materials, week 10 Spring
  4. Write and submit a group project research proposal
  • Individual or group seminar experiential reflection blog, video, interview due (TBA following St. Louis seminar.)
  • Research project, due (DATES TBD, Summer) , with revision and approval in consultation with cluster faculty and DH Coordinator finalized (DATES TBA, Summer)

Additionally, a $4,500 summer research stipend for June-August 2024 is open to all students, with priority given to students who want to return to St. Louis after the cluster trip or students who participated in one of the St. Louis cluster courses in 2023. More information is available on our website.

Reading the World: Social Justice Syllabus

Reading the World: Social Justice

Local Literacies
Reading the World
Spring 2023

Instructor: Dr. Monique McDade
Class time & location: MWF 2:45-4:00; Upjohn Library Commons 308
Contact: Monique.McDade@kzoo.edu

Office Hours & location:
MW 1:30-2:30, Humphrey House 205

Course Description

“Literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy.”

President Barack Obama

Illiteracy is a global epidemic, and its consequences are far reaching. Illiteracy is tied to generational poverty, lack of healthcare, and job/educational inequities. According to the World Literacy Foundation, 1 in 5 people are completely illiterate and three-billion people around the globe struggle with basic reading and writing. More locally, 1 in 8 Kalamazoo adults face challenges with basic reading (Kalamazoo Literacy Council). But what do these numbers mean and what can be and is being done to address high rates of illiteracy in our local and global communities?

In this Reading the World course we will study local and global literacies and illiteracies in all their complexity. We will begin with addressing historical ways illiteracy has been weaponized against communities of color and women to control their access to a number of vital rights and services. We will then move to draw out and extrapolate upon the variety of literacies/illiteracies that impact our local community and to acknowledge the systematic power structures that contribute to illiteracy in each of these arenas. The course will end with an evaluation of local initiatives and organizations fighting to correct illiteracy.

In addition to completing the reading and writing assignments, students in this class are also committing to engaging with a series of community leaders as they visit our classroom. We will also be spending one of our class periods working with the Kalamazoo Public Library’s mobile library to recruit K College students to sign up for public library cards on campus. These community components of the course are integral for the learning outcomes and will be invaluable resources as you complete your writing projects.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

  • Identify the different kinds of [il]literacies that operate both locally and globally.
  • Discuss how [il]literacies have been and continue to be weaponized against marginalized and underrepresented groups.
  • Understand the foundational role [il]literacies play in the distribution of generational wealth, knowledge, and democratic agency.
  • Engage in ongoing debates about local and global [il]literacies through a dynamic research agenda.
  • Demonstrate your ability to critically and argumentatively enter into ongoing conversations about local and global [il]literacies through writing.
  • Reflect on your own [il]literacies and situate yourself and your “home” communities within this discourse.

Grading Scale


Required Assignments

Writing ProjectsGrade Percentage
Attendance & Participation15%
Literacy Narrative20%
Research Paper20%
Group Writing Project25%
Reflection Paper20%

Brief Assignment Descriptions

  • Attendance & Participation: Attendance and participation are important in any college classroom. Your learning depends on your presence as well as your contributions to discussions and activities. But it is even more important in our class. Over the course of the term, we will have a series of visitors talking to us about [il]literacy. We will also be assisting the Kalamazoo Public Library in recruiting K College students to sign up for a public library card here on campus. These components of our course are priceless to our understanding and engagement with local [il]literacies and your attendance and participation is crucial to your own learning and the overall success of the course.
  • Literacy Narrative: The first major assignment requires that you reflect on your own literacy journey. You will write a three-page critical literacy narrative that will be posted in a public forum.
  • Local Literacies Research Paper: After writing your own literacy narrative, you will then spend a few weeks collecting literacy accounts from others. Once you have collected these narratives, you will write a five-page research paper on the topic of local [il]literacies.
  • Group Writing Project: Our final project in this course is a group and class initiative. This project will build upon your individual research papers and the literacy narratives you collected for that paper will once again be useful for you here. As a class, we will use Wix to create a class website intended to inform our local community about [il]literacies and the resources available to combat illiteracy. Each group will be responsible for a specific topic. We will also create a receptacle to display and share our own literacy narratives and the literacy narratives we collected from the research paper.
  • Reflection Paper: Lastly, each student will write their own reflection paper to cap the course. This is an opportunity for you to critically engage with what you learned—what were your misconceptions about [il]literacy? What did you take for granted? What did you gain from the various components of the course. This assignment is to be more than just a diary or journal entry, but a critical essay in and of itself. You will utilize course readings and reflect on specific experiences you had in the course.

Required Texts

  • Richard Wright, Black Boy
  • John Corcoran, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read
  • Seventeen Syllables, Hisaye Yamamoto
  • Flying Kites
  • Our Bodies, Ourselves
  • Arlie Russel Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land
  • You will need access to Netflix
  • Additional materials provided via Moodle

**This class also incorporates visits with local organizations involved in literacy projects. Some of these visitors will come to us and for others we will go to them. “Field trips” will typically happen after 4:00 and will have complimentary and mandatory assignments attached.**

COURSE Schedule

Week 1: March 27th – 31st


Week 1: March 27th-31st

Literacy: what it is & what it gives us


Reading due:

  • William Meredith, “Illiterate”

Reading due:

  • Richard Wright, Black Boy (Ch. 13 & 14)
  • David A. King, “The Library Card Episode”

Reading due:

  • “Literacy Narrative,” Kiki Petrosino

Week 2: April 3rd – 7th


Week 2: April 3rd-7th

Unit One: Defining & Undefining Illiteracy


Reading due:

  • “Is the Literacy ‘Crisis’ Real”
  • John Corcoran, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read (Prologue through Chapter 9)

Reading due:

  • John Corcoran, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read (Chapter 10 through Epilogue)

Reading due:

  • Hisaye Yamamoto, “Seventeen Syllables” & “Reading and Writing” from Seventeen Syllables

Week 3: April 10th – 14th


Week 3: April 10th – 14th

Unit Two: Local illiteracies, Libraries, & Social Justice


*Kalamazoo Literacy Council Visitor*

Reading due:

  • “Five Facts about Literacy in Kalamazoo”

Reading due:

  • Right to Read, PBS documentary
  • “The Library Card,” Deb Fallows

*Introduce Research Paper*


*No class*


Assignment due:

  • Literacy Narrative due by midnight to Moodle

Week 4: April 17th – 21st


Week 4: April 17th – 21st

Unit Two, cont.: Local illiteracies, Libraries, & Social Justice


Reading due:

  • “The Complicated Role of the Modern Public Library”
  • Select news clips from Michigan specific libraries

**Kalamazoo Public Library visit on Tuesday, April 18th 4:30-5:30**


*Mobile Library Van*

Reading due:

  • View: Our Towns, HBO

*Debriefing day*

Reading due:

  • “The Bible Didn’t Say So,” Allen

Week 5: April 24th – 28th


Week 5: April 24th – 28th

Unit Three: Weaponizing Literacy


Reading due:

  • Selections from Frederick Douglas

Reading due:

  • Charlotte Perkins-Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”

*Ladies Library Visit Thursday, April 27 at 4:30-5:30*


*No class*


Week 6: May 1 – 5th


Week 6: May 1 – 5th

Unit Five: The Wakes of Illiteracy; Incarceration, Crime, & Illiterate communities


Reading due:

  • Brandon Griggs, “The Illiteracy-to-prison pipeline” TEDx Talk
  • Flying Kites

Reading due:

  • Flying Kites

Reading due:

  • Flying Kites
  • Malcolm X, “Literacy Behind Bars”

Week 7: May 8th – 12th


Week 7: May 8th – 12th

Unit Five: The Wakes of Illiteracy; Health politics


Reading due:

  • Our Bodies Ourselves, The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective
  • Feminists: What Were They Thinking (Netflix documentary)

*YWCA Presentation*

Reading due:

  • YWCA resource packet


Week 8: May 15th – 19th


Week 8: May 15th – 19th

Unit Six: Threats to literacy; Online & AI


Reading due:

  • Amy Tan, “Mother Tongue”

Assignment due:

  • Local Literacies Research paper due by midnight to Moodle

*Introduce Group project*


Reading due:

  • “We Asked ChatGPT About Art History,” Ben Davis
  • “ChatGPT Sends Shockwaves”

*Class project discussion & group assignments*


Reading due:

  • The Great Hack, Netflix Documentary

Week 9: May 22nd – 26th


Week 9: May 22nd – 26th

Unit Six, cont.: Threats to literacy; Misinformation


Reading due:

  • Strangers in Their Own Land, see Moodle for specifics
  • “Mind the Climate Literacy Gap”

Reading due:

  • Strangers in Their Own Land, see Moodle for specifics

Reading due:

  • Strangers in Their Own Land, see Moodle for specifics
  • Resilient Michigan website video series

Week 10 (May 29th – June 2nd)


Week 10: May 29th – June 2nd


*No class: Memorial Day*


*In-class Workshop Day*

Bring all your work materials.


*No class: work on wrapping up final project*

Assignment due:

  • Group Project due by midnight to Moodle

Finals Week: June 5th – 9th


Finals Week: June 5th – 9th


Assignment due:

  • Individual reflection essay due by midnight to Moodle

Victorianizing America and Its Challengers

Victorianizing America and Its Challengers
HIST 215
Winter 2023

Professor Charlene Boyer Lewis

Class: MWF 2:45-4:00 in Dewing 310
Office: Dewing 303E
e-mail: clewis@kzoo.edu
Phone: 269-337-7058

Office Hours:
M:1:30-2:30 PM; W: 10:30-11:30 AM; Th:2:30-3:30 PM; F:1:30-2:30 PM; and by appointment at other times convenient to both of us.

Land Acknowledgment: We gather on the land of the Council of Three Fires–the Ojibwe, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi. Indigenous nations of the Great Lakes region are also known as the Anishnaabe (Ah-nish-nah-bay) or original people, and their language is Anishinaabemowin (Ah-nish-nay-baymow-in). We acknowledge the enduring relationship that exists between the People of the Three Fires and this land.


This course will combine lectures, readings, films, and weekly book discussions. Questions from students will always be appreciated.

This class counts as a History and/or an American Studies credit. Please talk with me if you are interested in these as majors, minors, or concentrations.

Course Goals

This course will improve your skills as a historian as we examine how the White middle class set out to “Victorianize” American society as well as the resultant challenges to that project from around 1830 to around 1910. We will pay special attention to the impact of class, gender, and race on these cultural and social developments. We will also explore how many other groups–artists, workers, immigrants, radicals–responded to and often challenged the efforts and power of the middle class. Your critical thinking and writing skills will also improve through your analysis of sources in discussions, papers, and exams.

Assigned Readings

All of the assigned material–documents, essays, and books–should be considered required reading. Along with every lecture and discussion, it will be treated as fair game for the exams.

Make sure you purchase the EXACT books I have listed here.

  • Halttunen, Karen. Confidence Men and Painted Women: A Study of Middle-Class Culture in America, 1830-1870. Yale University Press, 1982.
  • Ritter, Luke. Inventing America’s First Immigration Crisis: Political Nativism in the Antebellum West. Fordham University Press, 2020.
  • Ball, Erica L. To Live an Antislavery Life: Personal Politics and the Antebellum Black Middle Class. University of Georgia Press, 2012.
  • Davis, Janet M. The Circus Age: Culture & Society under the American Big Top. University of North Carolina Press, 2002.
  • Stansell, Christine, American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century. Henry Holt and Co., 2000.

Additional selections on our class Moodle site. Follow the syllabus carefully!!


Class Participation (20%)
Class participation consists of regular, prompt attendance; reading and other preparation for class; and, most importantly and primarily, significant contributions to daily class discussions. On book discussion days, if you do not come to class prepared and ready to talk, DO NOT come to class at all.

Godey’s Lady’s Book Short Paper (10%; due Jan. 20)
We have online access to one of the most popular magazines of the nineteenth century and you will write a short paper of at least 1,000 words based on your readings of three issues in the magazine. Further details will be provided in class.

Discussion Leader (10%)
Three or four of you will lead discussion for each one of the assigned books. You will have some choice in which book you want to discuss. Your group will meet before the discussion to go over questions and main points. Further details will be provided in class.

Midterm Exam (15%; on Feb. 8)
The midterm exam tests for comprehension of assigned reading and lecture material to date. The exam will include both short-answer (usually identification) and essay questions.

Primary Source Research Paper (20%; due March 10; I will be happy to accept early papers)
This paper will examine some aspect of Victorian American history and will be based on primary source web sites and printed materials. The paper should be at least 9-10 typed, double-spaced pages. Further details will be provided in class. Your research topic statement and a short annotated bibliography will be due Feb. 17.

Final Exam (25%; March 14, 7:30-9:00 PM )
The final exam tests for comprehension of assigned reading and lecture material over the entire semester. It will consist of a second midterm and a cumulative section. The cumulative part will be a take-home exam and will be 10% of your final grade. The second midterm section of the final will be done in class and will include both short-answer (usually identification) and essay questions; it is 15% of your total grade. The cumulative will be strictly essay and will be due at the final exam time.

Course Policies

You are expected to take the exams, participate in discussion, and turn in the papers on the scheduled days. Make-up exams will be given ONLY for officially excused reasons. Unexcused late papers are penalized a full letter grade (10%) for the first day and half a letter grade (5%) for each subsequent day. For example, a B paper handed in a day late would be recorded as a C; two days late recorded as a C-. There is no way for you to make up a missed discussion. If you do not turn in all of the required papers and exams, you will receive a failing grade (a F) in this course.

I expect you to attend class every day. I reserve the right to lower grades due to more than three missed classes or frequent tardiness. Of course if you are ill or have an emergency, we will work out a plan. Obviously, whether you are in class or not (even in cases with valid excuses), you are responsible for all of the material presented. This means both procedural material–the unlikely, but not unprecedented, changing of an exam date, for example–and substantive material–the ideas, events, and themes covered in each lecture.

If the campus is closed because of inclement weather, we will have our class on Teams at our usual time (yep–no more snow days!).

I am committed to everyone having what they need to do well in this course. If you have any learning accommodation, I’m happy to make it. I will need a note from the College to do so.

There will be no coming and going during class. Take care of your needs before class begins.

Turn off (don’t leave on vibrate) ALL cell phones, your fancy fitbits/watches that get texts, and other electronic devices during class AND PUT THEM AWAY. I do not want ever to see you checking your phone or texting; I will lower your grade substantially for paying more attention to your electronics than to class. I strongly discourage the use of laptops. If you believe you must use one, you will need to discuss this with me. If you need to use a laptop, you must sit in the front of class. Think seriously about whether you want to use a laptop–study after study has shown that you do not learn as well as taking notes by hand and students who use laptops regularly receive poorer grades.

Students must practice academic honesty. Remember that all of you signed the College’s Honor Code when you started here. Plagiarism (whether from the Internet, a published source, or someone else’s work) or cheating of any kind will result in a failing grade in the course. I will also turn over every suspected case to the Student Development Office and will use any resources for finding plagiarism. Ignorance is no excuse for plagiarism. Make sure you fully understand how to cite and quote sources BEFORE you turn in your papers.

A good history paper–or any paper–should be a well-conceived and well-developed work. Use primary and secondary sources to create an argument of YOUR OWN. Do not claim the ideas or words of someone else as your own (that’s plagiarism). Do use the ideas and words of others to help you develop your own arguments. Feel free to have friends read and comment on your drafts of your papers–but not write them. ALWAYS give explicit credit (footnotes or endnotes) when you use anyone’s exact thoughts or language, whether paraphrasing or quoting them. A good rule of thumb: three or more words or an unusual phrase MUST be in quotes. Intellectual work is about developing and sharing your ideas, and it’s about taking note of and praising other people who have shared good ones with you.

When you cite sources, you are to use Chicago Style for Notes and Bibliography for your citation style, as all historians do. Check out the Library’s web site about citing sources in this style if you need more information. The reference librarians are also happy to help you. Make sure you know the difference between endnote/footnote citations and bibliographic citations. NEVER use in-text citations.

General Schedule

(subject to later revisions)

Week 1

Jan. 4

Introduction/The Making of the Middle Class

Jan. 6

The Middle Class and Respectability

Readings: Moodle: Davis, “Anxious Spirit of Gain” selections

Week 2

Jan. 9

Civic Order and Class Conflict

Readings: Moodle: Victorian Theater documents

Jan. 11

Self-Made Men and Benevolent Women

Readings: Moodle: At Home in Nineteenth-Century America documents

Jan. 13

Discussion: Halttunen, Confidence Men and Painted Women

Week 3

Jan. 16

Martin Luther King Day – No Class

Jan. 18

Marriage and Victorian Sexuality

Readings: Moodle: Attitudes toward Sex in Antebellum America documents

Jan. 20

Religious Awakenings

**Godey’s Lady’s Book Short Paper DUE**

Readings: Moodle: Emerson, “Self-Reliance” and Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience” and “Walden”; Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century

Week 4

Jan. 23

Social Reform Movements

Readings: Moodle: Education and Temperance documents

Jan. 25

Nature, Nationalism, and the Fine Arts

Readings: Moodle: Victorian American Nationalism documents

Jan. 27

**Discussion: Ritter, Inventing America’s First Immigration Crisis

Week 5

Jan. 30

Radical Reform

Readings: Moodle: Abolition and Women’s Rights documents; David Walker’s Appeal

Feb. 1

Radical Utopias: Religious and Secular

Readings: Moodle: Utopias documents and Fanny Wright on Nashoba

Feb. 3

Winter Break Day – No Class

Week 6

Feb. 6

**Discussion: Ball, To Live an Antislavery Life

Feb. 8

**Midterm Exam**

Feb. 10

New Dilemmas

Readings: Moodle: Centennial Exposition images and documents; Chief Joseph documents; and Henry Grady speech

Week 7

Feb. 13

Labor Conflicts

Readings: Moodle: “Sorrows of Labor” documents

Feb. 15

Capitalism and Inequality

Readings: Moodle: Justifying Inequality documents and Veblen, “The Economic Theory of Women’s Dress”

Feb. 17

Midwestern Victorian Culture

**Paper Statement and Bib. Due**

Week 8

Feb. 20

Immigrants and the City

Readings: Moodle: Mary Antin, Emma Lazarus, and Thomas Aldrich writings

Feb. 22

Civilizing the Other

Readings: Moodle: Civilizing the Other documents

Feb. 24

Discussion: Davis, The Circus Age

Week 9

Feb. 27

Segregation and the Black Response

Readings: Moodle: Segregation documents and Wells, Washington, and Du Bois excerpts

Mar. 1

Progressive Reform

Readings: Moodle: Jane Addams and Jacob Riis writings and Riis photos

Mar. 3

Strenuous Men and New Women

Readings: Moodle: “New Women, Strenuous Men, and Leisure” documents

Week 10

Mar. 6

Discussion: Stansell, American Moderns (except pp. 145-222)

Mar. 8

Realism and the American Renaissance

Bring to Class: an image of an art object of “Realism”

Mar. 10

The Decline of Victorian Culture

**Research Paper Due**

Final Exam

Tuesday, March 14, 7:30-9:00 PM

U.S. Ethnic Literature: Pathways West

U.S. Ethnic Literature

Pathways West
English 230
Winter 2023

Instructor: Dr. Monique McDade
Class time & location: MWF 1:20-2:35 in Upjohn Library Commons 308
Contact: Monique.McDade@kzoo.edu

Office Hours & location:
MW 3:00-4:00 in Humphrey House 205

Course Description

In 1845, John O’Sullivan coined the term “Manifest Destiny” in an essay that argues for the U.S. to continue to conquer lands west of the territories gained in the Louisiana Purchase. O’Sullivan’s arguments ultimately gave birth to an American exceptionalism that posits that Anglo-America was better equipped to manage land, people, and resources on the continent than Indigenous and Mexican communities. O’Sullivan’s essay ignited a Western-American history that has come to dominant the national imaginary through cowboy (in)justice, pioneers in their covered wagons, and dramatized depictions of Indigenous and Mexican populations.

Eventually the American West came to represent the American promise. Dominant narratives suggest that in the West freedom and equality are finally realized. The West was, after all, inducted into the official nation as “free” states (meaning there was never legal slavery in the American West) and, given the isolation from the nation’s capital, there was a certain amount of freedom for women and people of color to assert themselves in ways that were not possible in the American South or Northeast.

However, as this course will evaluate, the story of the American West has become flattened through the very process of creating this narrative of Western-American freedom and equality. We only need to look to contemporary television series such as the Yellowstone franchise or HBO’s West World to understand just how pervasive these manipulated if not fully fabricated histories of westward travel and settlement are to us even today, nearly two centuries later. For, as we will see, the West was largely settled by the underprivileged in American society. Immigrants, communities of color, and the extreme impoverished sacrificed all they had in order to try for the American promise again but this time, in the West.

“Pathways West” is a course that rearticulates and visually renders the pathways by which communities of color and immigrants found themselves in the American West. We will read autobiographical and semi-autobiographical texts to better understand the ways these communities found themselves West, what the West meant to them, and how the West treated them as they settled in to call it home. We will also use these narratives to reconstruct maps that depict westward travel. I am sure we have all seen images of pioneers and their covered wagons, played the game, Oregon Trail, and watched a John Wayne-inspired western film or two. But these Western stories are, as we will see, just a fraction of what the West is. Underprivileged communities from the mid-19th century to our contemporary moment find the West in alternative ways, using alternative technologies, and battling underrepresented obstacles and violence. We will map these pathways West to critique the geopolitical narratives that undergird the American West and its histories of “Manifest Destiny,” American exceptionalism, and freedom.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

  • Identify the geopolitical and literary pathways by which people “arrived” in the American West.
  • Discuss the identity formations and narratives derived from different “pathways” and the various environmental, social, and political implications therein.
  • Understand the multivalent histories that inform the “pathways” taken west and the legacies, both the unreconciled and the overinvested—that continue to inform a “Western American” culture.
  • Engage in the complimentary work of close reading and digitalization of Western American “pathways” to realize and visualize nuanced connections and dialogues between authors, texts, and communities of people.
  • Demonstrate critical awareness for the complicated histories of westward travel through synthesis of digitalized mapping content.
  • Reflect on what digital maps do for literary criticism and how it can serve a larger community outside the academic classroom.

Grading Scale


Required Assignments

Writing ProjectsGrade Percentage
Midterm Exam15%
Tenth Week Exam15%
Mapping Project (and components)60%
Attendance & Participation10%

Brief Assignment Descriptions

  • Exams: There are two exams in this course. Both exams will be open-book short essays that, while designed to be completed in class, are also able to be completed ahead of time and turned in on exam day. Here’s how it will work: two weeks ahead of the scheduled exam day, I will provide you with the exam prompts and instructions. Over those two weeks you can either create notes and prep materials to bring into class to write the exam in our allotted class time or you can pre-write the entire exam and turn it in on exam day. The goal is that you choose the one that best suits your study habits and exam style. The only rule is that all students must show up in person to the start of exam day even if it is to turn in the exam and leave.
  • Mapping Project: This project is a term-long project with various parts or checkpoints due throughout the quarter. Each student will be responsible for mapping in Google Earth the pathways our authors or their characters took to arrive West (or to leave the West). Students should map each text as they read it. By the end of the term, students will write a theoretically supported paper that argues what their maps reveal about the American West and westward expansion. *You will receive a more detailed project sheet in Week 2 that will detail the requirements and prompts you will need to address. *
  • Attendance & Participation: The humanities are about community. The discipline is interested in and cares about different and complex points of view. For this reason, student participation is foundational to the structure of the course. You may have heard the age-old adage: “you get what you put into it,” and that is true. But it is also true that your peers only get what you put into it as well. We want to hear your voice. We want to understand your particular approach to a text. Those are valid things for us to discuss. As such, attendance and participation is a graded category. See the attendance and participation policy below.

Required Texts

COURSE Schedule

Week 1: January 2 – 6


Week 1: January 2-6

Getting Started:

  • Maps & the West
  • Getting familiar with the dominant narratives.
  • Race and Ethnicity

Foundational Keywords:

  • Frontier
  • Manifest Destiny
  • American Exceptionalism

No class: campus holiday.


Readings due:

  • “Asian Americans and Anti-Blackness,” Claire Jean Kim

Readings due:

  • 1883, episode 1, Taylor Sheridan
  • Entertainment interview with LaMonica Garrett

Week 2: January 9 – 13


Week 2: January 9-13

Unit One: Connecting Histories: Manifest Destiny & Slavery

Unit Keywords:

  • Freedom
  • Progress

Readings due:

  • The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Nat Love, Preface-Ch. XII

Readings due:

  • The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Nat Love, Ch. XIII-end

Readings due:

  • All I Asking For is My Body, Milton Murayama

Week 3: January 16 – 20


Week 3: January 16-20

Unit One, continued.


No class: Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Readings due:

  • When We Were Colored: A Mother’s Story, Eva Rutland, Ch. 1-5
  • Selections from Sara Ahmed

*come prepared to class ready to use Ahmed theoretically in close readings of Rutland*


Readings due:

  • When We Were Colored: A Mother’s Story, Eva Rutland, Ch. 6-end
  • Letter from Rutland’s archive

Week 4: January 23 – 28


Week 4: January 23-28

Unit Two: Borders and Pathway

Unit Keywords:

  • Individualism
  • Nationalism
  • History

Readings Due:

  • Who Would Have Thought It?, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Ch. I-XXIX
  • Ruiz de Burton archive: The Bancroft letters
  • “Manifest Domesticity,” Amy Kaplan

Readings Due:

  • Who Would Have Thought It?, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Ch. XXX-XLIX
  • Ruiz de Burton archive: book review

Readings due:

  • Who Would Have Thought It?, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Ch. L-end
  • Ruiz de Burton archive: Ruiz de Burton obituary
  • “The Female Complaint,” Lauren Berlant

Assignments due:

  • Google Earth checkpoint

Week 5: January 30 – February 3


Week 5: January 30-February 3

Unit Two, continued.


Readings Due:

  • “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian,” Sui Sin Far

Readings Due:

  • “In the Land of the Free,” Sui Sin Far
  • “The Land of the Free,” Sui Sin Far

Assignment due:

  • Theoretical proposal due

No class: midterm break.

Week 6: February 6-10


Week 6: February 6-10

Unit Three: West of what?

Unit keywords:

  • Independence
  • Borders

Readings due:

  • Barrio Boy, Ernesto Galarza, Parts 1 & 2 (pg. 1-171)

Readings due:

  • Barrio Boy, Ernesto Galarza, complete

*Midterm Exam*

Week 7: February 13 – 17


Week 7: February 13-17

Unit Four: Legacies of the Pathway West

Unit keywords:

  • Memory
  • The “First West”
  • St. Louis/MO

Readings due:

  • The Autobiography and Reminiscences of S. Pollak, St. Louis, MO, Simon Pollak, Ch. I-IX (skipping X-XV)

Readings due:

  • The Autobiography and Reminiscences of S. Pollak, St. Louis, MO, Simon Pollak, Ch. XVI-end
  • ‘The Double Life of St. Louis”

Readings due:

  • Riding the Trail of Tears, Hausman (Ch. 1-7)

Assignments due:

  • Mapping project paper, rough draft due

Week 8: February 20 – 25


Week 8: February 20-25

Unit Four, continued.

Unit keywords:

  • Memory
  • The “First West”
  • St. Louis/MO

Readings due:

  • Riding the Trail of Tears, Hausman (Ch. 7-15)

Readings due:

  • Riding the Trail of Tears, Hausman (Ch. 15-end)

Readings due:

  • The Saloon Keeper’s Daughter, Drude Krog Janson, Ch. 1-9


  • Final exam distributed

Week 9: February 27 – March 3


Week 9: February 27-March 3

Unit Five: Progress in Transition

Unit keywords:

  • The “far west” vs “Midwest”
  • The Western Ideal
  • Railroad

Readings due:

  • The Saloon Keeper’s Daughter, Drude Krog Janson, Ch. 10-end

Readings due:

  • China Men, Maxine Hong Kingston, “On Discovery” through “The Ghostmate” & “The Grandfather of the Sierra Nevada Mountains” entire section

Readings due:

  • China Men, Maxine Hong Kingston, “The Making of More Americans” entire section & “The American Father” entire section” & “On Listening” (last short chapter)

Week 10: Week 10: March 6 – 10


Week 10: March 6-10

Wrapping Up by thinking global


Readings due:

  • Once Upon a Time in the West, Sergio Leon

*Presentation day (part of rough draft grade) *

Readings due:
• No readings due


*Tenth Week Exam*

Finals Week: March 12 – 14


Finals Week: March 12-14


*Mapping Project Paper due Monday of finals week by midnight.*


Modern Chinese Literature in Translation

CHIN 235 Spring 2023

Modern Chinese Literature in Translation

(Clockwise from top left corner: the Potala Palace布达拉宫 in Lhasa, Tibet, a destination of spiritual pilgrimage and a site of cultural and political importance; Eileen Chang 张爱玲, one of the most famous and acclaimed female writers in modern China; a cartoon representation of the Qiang ethnic group 羌族 in Sichuan; Lu Xun 鲁迅, a revolutionary writer widely recognized as the founding father of modern Chinese literature.)

Instructor: Prof. Yanshuo Zhang
Class: MWF 2:34-4:00 pm

Email: yzhang@kzoo.edu
Office Hours: MW 4:30-5:30 or by appointment

Course Description

From the soaring heights of the Tibetan Plateau to the revolutionary spirit of dismantling the last imperial dynasty, what propelled Chinese writers from different ethnic backgrounds to engage with the nation and converse with the world? Taking this course will take you into the complex, exciting, and multicultural world of modern China in the 20th and 21st centuries, as we read fiction, poetry, drama, and other Chinese literary works in English translation. No Chinese language skills required. This course fulfills the Chinese Minor requirement.

Learning Outcomes for Literature

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the literary, historical, social, or cultural influences that inform literary works, including diversity of perspectives, experiences, and traditions
  • Articulate in writing and discussion their responses to literary texts with a view to equipping them with the knowledge, values, and sensitivity to succeed as persons and professionals
  • Demonstrate a basic critical ability to identify, interpret, and evaluate the ideas and formal features of an integrated body of literary texts in the context of a socially responsible learning community of high quality scholarship and academic rigor
  • Show a sensitivity to the plurality of meanings within a literary text, including the moral implications of human choices

How Literature Learning Outcomes Will Be Met

  • Literary History: Students will gain familiarity with the outline of Chinese literary development of the traditional and modern periods, and the diversity of perspectives and experiences as well as the continuity of major traditions over time.
  • Cultural History: Students will understand significant themes and concerns characteristic of Chinese culture, as they have impacted literary forms.
  • Social History: Students will understand the socioeconomic and gendered contexts from which Chinese literature emerged, as well as the multiple regional and ethnic identities that have contributed to its formation and development in both the traditional and modern periods.
  • Literary Analysis: Students will develop the ability to analyze the themes and forms of literary works, and to appreciate the plurality of meanings within literary texts, including their ethical dimensions, skills that will serve them well no matter where their future professional activities take them.
  • Writing Skills: Students will develop the skill of writing both concisely and creatively about literary works, and to express their opinions persuasively.

Class Requirements and Grading

  • Active class participation and preparation (20% of final grade). This means showing up in class on time and actively participating in class discussions and raising questions. You are expected to have read the assigned texts and done the homework before each class session. Only one unexcused absence is allowed. For any additional absences (only one additional absence is allowed, except for documented emergencies), please notify the instructor in advance and make up for them by writing a three-page reflection essay on any of the class readings. More than one unexcused absence will negatively affect your grade.
  • Two literary analysis papers (30% total). Submission of two reading reflections (4-6 pages each, double-spaced) of your own choice based on the weekly reading schedule. The essays should be distributed evenly between the first five weeks and the second five weeks of the quarter. The essays should be based on at least 3 different readings from two different weeks (i.e. you cannot select three readings from the same week). In these short reflections, you should synthesize the thematic and/or stylistic elements of the different readings and compare and contrast the different readings. You can write about the language, style, theme, social context, cultural implications, and your personal interpretation of the texts. You should feel free to cross-reference from different readings of the week and throughout the semester. No outside research is required for the short essays. We will workshop the first drafts of these papers in peer review sessions in class and you are required to submit ONE revised paper after the workshop.
  • Team oral presentation (15%). With one or two other members of the class, you will present during one class session by engaging with the literary and scholarly works assigned for that session. Presenters should introduce the author and his or her body of work, the historical and cultural background of the literary texts and their main themes and concerns. Presenters should also use the assigned scholarly/historical readings of the week to interpret the literary texts presented. Presentations should last between 25-40 minutes (including discussion and Q & A). You are encouraged to work with your teammates after class and come up with creative ways, such as posters, handouts, Powerpoint slideshows and short performances, to help the class understand and interpret the texts assigned for your session. You should also engage the whole class by asking questions and initiating discussions. A sign-up sheet for presentations will be distributed during the second week.
  • Final research paper (35% total; 10% first draft, 25% final draft, including smaller assignments within the final research paper requirement, such as posting of topics and annotated bibliography and a final brief presentation of your project). One final paper of 8-12 double-spaced pages is required. You should address a theme, a problem or a topic that interests you based on class content and use outside sources (do research) to support your point. You can focus on one major text or compare a few texts we read during the semester. You are encouraged to consult the instructor with the selection of topic and use outside materials when necessary. We will visit the library and invite a reference librarian to speak to the class about how to conduct independent research. After you finish your first draft, you will exchange the first draft with members of the class and help critique each other’s work during a workshop session toward the end of the term. You will also receive the instructor’s feedback on your first draft. After the workshop, you should reflect on the feedback and critique you will have received from your classmates and the instructor and incorporate their insights into your revision. The final revised draft will be due one week after the workshop. Grading for the final draft will be based on how well you incorporate the comments you receive and how much your paper improves from its first draft.
  • Extra credit: You can earn up to 2% of your final grade by writing blog articles about any Chinese-culture related events you participate during the quarter. Post a short blog article of 500 words under the Discussions section on Moodle. You can also write blog articles about any other aspects of Chinese literature and culture, including reviews of Chinese films and performances, as well as events and books you have read in relation to Chinese culture. If you write about materials not covered in class, it is preferred that you draw some connections or comparisons between these materials and our class discussions and readings. Others are welcome to join the discussion by posting responses to the initial blog. Each completed post that meets the requirement is worth 0.5% of your total grade. You are allowed to post a max. of 4 posts.
  • Accommodations. Dr. Zhang strives to create an equal and inclusive learning environment for all. If you need to arrange any special accommodations, please visit the Resources for Students with Disabilities page. You are also encouraged to share your concerns and/or needs with Dr. Zhang to the degree that you feel comfortable.

Weekly Schedule

(This weekly schedule is subject to change per the instructor’s notice.)

Week 1: Historical Background and Contextualizing Modern Literature in China

Monday (Mar. 27)

Intro lecture and self-intro

Wednesday (Mar. 29)

Readings due:

Patricia Ebrey’s Cambridge Illustrated History of China, “Taking Action: The Early Twentieth Century, 1900-1949” (read p. 260-272 until “Building a Party-state”)

Friday (Mar. 31)

Readings due:

Ebrey, “Taking Action,” p. 273 (from “Building a Party State” to p. 291)

Week 2: Male Writers’ Voices for Saving the People and Salvaging the Nation

Monday (Apr. 3)
  • Lu Xun (Columbia Anthology) “Preface to the First Collection of Short
  • Stories, Call to Arms,” p. 4-7 and “A Madman’s Diary,” p. 8-16
Wednesday (Apr. 5)

Lu Xun “The New Year’s Sacrifice” in Lau, Tsia and Lee, p. 17-26

Friday (Apr. 7)

Yu Dafu (Columbia Anthology), “Sinking” (p. 31-55)

Week 3: Qiu Jin: China’s First Modern Feminist Writer and Activist

Monday (Apr. 10)
  • Ebrey, “Liberating Women,” p. 279-282
  • Idema and Grant (Moodle), “The Beheaded Feminist: Qiu Jin,” p. 767- 770; “Student and Feminist,” p. 779-785
Wednesday (Apr. 12)

Film in class:

Autumn Gem, A True Story of China’s First Feminist

Friday (Apr. 14)

Discussion of film and Qiu Jin’s legacies

Week 4: Women’s Dilemmas and Liberation in Early Twentieth-century China

Monday (Apr. 17)

Eileen Chang, “The Golden Cangue” in Lau, Tsia and Lee, p. 530-560

Wednesday (Apr. 19)

Ding Ling, “When I was in Xia Village” (Columbia Anthology), p. 132-

Friday (Apr. 21)

Workshop for first Literary Analysis paper. Bring the draft of your first paper to class for peer-review workshop; no readings for today.

Week 5: Modern Chinese Poetry: Romantic and National Sentiments and The Shattered Dreams of Chinese Male Intellectuals

Monday (Apr. 24)
  • Xu Zhimo (Columbia Anthology), “Second Farewell to Cambridge,” “Love’s Inspiration” and “Chance” in Lau and Goldblatt, p. 499-501
  • Dai Wangshu, “Rainy Alley,” in Lau and Glodblatt, p. 510-511
Wednesday (Apr. 26)
  • Wen Yiduo (Columbia Anthology), “Dead Water,” “One Sentence” and “Prayer,” in Lau and Glodblatt, p. 502-504
  • Ai Qing (Columbia Anthology), “Snow Falls on China’s Land” and “The North,” p. 516-521
Friday (Apr. 28)

Bai Xianyong (Columbia Anthology), “Winter Nights,” p. 210-223

Week 6: Tumultuous Transitions: The Cultural Revolution and Its Aftermath

Monday (May 1)

Ebrey, “Readical Reunification: China Since 1949”, p. 294-321 (before “Promoting Economic Growth”)

Wednesday (May 3)

Bai Jin, “Rembering Xiaoshan”

Friday (May 5)

Second Literary Analysis workshop; bring your draft to class for a peer review workshop; no reading for today

Week 7: China Embraces the World: The Reform Era and Literature from the Working Class

Monday (May 8)

Ebrey, p. 321-332 (from “Promoting Economic Growth to end of p. 332)

Friday (May 12)

Watching movie “Iron Moon: A Documentary” in class; no readings for today

Week 8: Literary Voices from China’s Ethnic Borderlands

Monday (May 15)

Mark Bender, Intro in The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry

Wednesday (May 17)

Selected poems from China’s ethnic minority groups

Friday (May 19)

Library workshop for final research projects

Week 9: Fiction and Reality in Contemporary Tibet


Pema Tseden, “Enticement,” p. 73-90

Friday (May 26)

Final paper research workshop

Week 10: Final Reflections and Sharing of Research Projects

Monday (May 29)

Memorial Day, no class

Wednesday (May 31)

Presentations of final research projects

Friday (June 2)

Final reflections and presentations of final research projects

In the Eyes of Different Beholders: The Rhetoric of Beauty Across Cultures

Shared Passage Winter 2023

In the Eyes of Different Beholders:
The Rhetoric of Beauty Across Cultures

Instructor: Dr. Yanshuo Zhang

Source of Image: Women’s Resource Center http://www.thewomensresourcecenter.com/

Course Description

We have all heard the saying “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” but how do cultures condition our ideas of beauty? As we grew up, how did we become socialized into certain standards of feminine and masculine beauty? How do such ideals influence our personal and group identities? How does the rhetoric of beauty reflect a society’s values and fears, particularly a society’s gender norms, aesthetic tastes, and judgments of different racial and ethnic groups?

In this course, we will examine how the rhetoric of beauty is shaped by cultural values, and how the powerful concepts of “beauty” in turn shape our personal lives. Through a wide selection of texts across different cultures in different genres (investigative journalism, art, multimedia sources), we will delve into the problem of how the rhetoric of beauty reflects social norms and values, and how it commands social members to assume certain gender, racial, and cultural roles. We will also investigate how the conceptions of beauty play into scientific fields such as biology and quantum physics. Based on your own scholarly investigation, you will develop a research-based paper or project on how “beauty” shapes and transforms human social and scientific life. By the end of the course, you will have a fresh pair of eyes to look at the question of “beauty” in both your everyday life and a variety of socio-cultural contexts.

Learning Objectives

As a student in this Shared Passage class, you will:

  • Learn to view “beauty” as a critical intersection of culture, gender, and race and analyze social phenomena based on the lens of beauty.
  • Learn critical concepts about rhetoric, as well as the cultural and social function of rhetoric in meaning-making and in mobilizing social change.
  • Develop critical skills for understanding and articulating ideas cross-culturally.
  • Develop skills for interdisciplinary learning and research, as this class touches upon the topic of beauty from various cultural, aesthetic, and scientific perspectives.
  • Learn library research, working with sources, and citation as integral steps in joining an academic conversation.
  • Develop habits of mind and practice required recursively with each assignment in the sequence: Awareness of your own position within the rhetorical situation and writing habits that respond to the specific purposes and audiences you identify for each writing task, both for this class and in the world.

Class Expectations and the Class Commitment

This Shared Passage class will be an interactive, discussion-based seminar. It requires maximum participation and investment from you as a student. Following the guidelines below will give you the best chance of growing as a writer and researcher as well as fulfilling the requirements for this class:

  • Masking: Although it may be your choice to wear a mask outdoors or in common indoor spaces after week 1, the proper use of masks is required while in our classroom or while in my office. Students who are not masked will be asked to leave and be marked absent. Please keep a mask supply in your backpack/bookbag.
  • Attend every class session; actively participate in class discussions and writing exercises. (Note: If you have any COVID exposure or symptoms, please follow the Health Center’s recommendations for quarantine and getting tested. You will NOT receive any penalties for COVID-related or other emergency-related absences.)
  • Come prepared to every class session, having completed all reading and writing assignments.
  • Meet all due dates for written work, including drafts and revisions.
  • Show up on time for all conferences with questions about how to improve your work.
  • Participate in peer review with the intention of learning from your classmates and grow together as a class community.
  • To approach the work of the course with the habits of mind critical for success at the university level: intellectual curiosity, openness to new ideas, critical engagement, and creativity.
  • To conduct yourself in accordance with the College’s Honor Code.
  • Accommodations: If you have any special needs for accommodations, please notify the College and the instructor. The instructor will strive to meet your needs for special accommodations.

Please maintain clear and timely communication with me in the case of any difficulty that arises during the quarter, such as learning challenges, sickness, and emergencies. I will make every effort to accommodate you for the challenges that you encounter, but I expect timely communication from you to solve the issues together and ensure that your learning is not compromised during such times.

Class Requirements and Grading

  • Consistent Presence and Active Class Participation (20% of final grade). This means showing up in class on time and actively participating in class discussions and raising questions in a consistent manner, completing all readings and assignments on time. You are expected to have read the assigned texts, watched assigned films and reviewed artworks before each class session. Unless you have a COVID-related situation or other emergencies, in which case you should notify the instructor immediately, more than one unexcused absence will negatively affect your grade (you will receive 0 points of your for the days of unexcused absences.) Excused absences include: health related situations; athletic situations; other unavoidable and emergency situations.
  • Writing Workshop (20%). For the Writing Workshop, you need to review your classmates’ writings in small-group settings and provide them with written feedback. The Writing Workshop will build your critical skills as writers and readers for academic papers. The instructor will provide you will a separate sheet of feedback so you can write out your feedback and share it with your partner. If you have an excused situation for the in which
  • Two Cross-Week Critical Question Papers (10% each; 20% of final grade; you need to choose one of these two papers to do a thorough revision on after the peer review sessions in class). These short papers are not conventional reading summaries or reflection papers; rather, they encourage you to ask a critical question and integrate readings from different weeks to address that question. For each paper, you should identify one critical problem/issue/topic and examine how 3 different readings or course materials from at least two different weeks respond to that question. For example, you could write about how beauty is experienced and expressed differently based on communities with differing gender and sexuality identities; you could also write about how feminine beauty is articulated differently in diverse cultural communities. The goal of this assignment is to cultivate your critical abilities to engage with and articulate ideas from interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives. Each paper should be about 4 double-spaced pages, 12 font Times New Roman in Word documents.
  • One Team-Presentation on Course Readings/Contents (10%) You will sign up to do a team oral presentation with one or two other people from the class on a given day’s readings/contents. The presentation itself should last between 30 to 45 minutes, and you should also lead a Q & A session at the end of the presentation. You and your teammates should take up the entire class period on your presentation day.
  • Final Research Project (30%)

This final project helps you summarize your learning for the whole quarter and requires a outside/library/internet research to find 3-5 sources related to beauty. This is a multiple-step project and requires your consistent participation spreading out through different weeks.

  • A. Around Week 5 Week 6, you will post a short project proposal (2-3 paragraphs) on Moodle, detailing the topic you want to cover and the materials you imagine would be helpful for your project. You will also provide comments to at least one other person’s proposal posted on Moodle. We will go over potential topics in class together. (5% of final grade)
  • B. Around Week 7 and Week 8, you will post a preliminary Annotated Bibliography on Moodle, listing and explaining 5-8 sources you plan to use for your project. We will work with the librarian to familiarize you with library research. At least 3 of your sources should be from outside of our class readings. These sources can be either Primary Sources (images, cinema, literature, interviews, documentary films, scientific data, etc. and other creative expressions and or scientific data about beauty) or Secondary Sources (conceptual/theoretical/historical/academic writing). You will also comment on one other person’s post. (5% of final grade).
  • C. Orally present the major findings and discoveries and surprises of your project, including how it grew from your peers’ comments, library research, and your own research (6-8 minutes). These presentations are semi-formal, meaning you don’t need to present the full scope of your project, but just need to focus on 1-2 aspects that are particularly memorable to you. Be sure to showcase your findings, be them a new theory you discovered, a set of artistic works that are illuminating, or a surprising convergence of experience of two seemingly unrelated minority groups, or other discoveries (5% of final grade).
  • D. Submission of a final paper (7-10 pages) toward the end of the quarter that includes a full argument and discussion of the materials you used. More guidelines will be provided later this quarter (15%)

For every assignment and your final grade, I will adopt the following grading scale:

Letter GradePercentage
A94% and above
A-90% – 92.99%
F< 60%

Note: Any late submissions (submitted the day after due date) will receive a grade deduction of 5% per day, unless there is a documented emergency or you receive prior approval from the instructor. If you need help reaching the deadlines or think you might need more time to finish your drafts for any legitimate reason, please notify me ASAP.

Any incomplete submission that does not meet the length or content requirement of the assignment will receive a grade no greater than C-.

Required Texts

Most of the readings for this class are available on Moodle. Apart from them, there are a few books that you need to purchase from the Book Store. If you can find e-books for these, they are acceptable.

Women in the Picture: What Culture Does with Female Bodies by Catherine McCormack

A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design by Frank Wilczek

Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Tech Policies and Sensitive Topics

In the spirit of making the class a safe and welcoming community that maximizes the learning experience for all, I would like to invite everyone to observe the following policies on the use of technology and the discussion of sensitive topics to ensure that we learn effectively and respectfully together:

  • Please silence or turn off your cellphones and put them away during class time.
  • If you like to take notes and do in-class writing exercises on your laptop, please strictly restrict your use of your laptop to in-class activities. No web-browsing, email-checking, and Facebook is allowed in class unless instructed by me. When we do all-class analysis and discussions, I may ask you to close your laptops to focus on class discussions.
  • Some texts and topics in our class touch upon deeply personal issues, such as gender identities, cultural practices, and sexual orientations. When discussing such issues in class and in writing, please be aware of the personal effect of such topics and make comments respectfully. We strive to create a community that respects diverse identities and values. Making comments mindfully and learning from the diverse backgrounds of your classmates are important components of your education. If you feel vulnerable around certain topics, please communicate with me privately. Let us all take responsibility in creating a safe and welcoming community of learners where we exchange ideas respectfully and ethically.
Ancient Greek statues of females
“African Venus” (1851)
by Charles Henri Joseph Cordier
Cover of GQ magazine,
men’s fashion and style magazine (U.S.)

Class Schedule

Week 1 – Encountering Beauty: Introduction to Class Theme

Wednesday, Jan. 4
  • Introduction to class theme and the rhetorical situation
  • Analyzing images of beauty and understanding the rhetoric of beauty

In-class Writing:

  • What are your perceptions of beauty?
  • What social, cultural, and familial factors shaped your perceptions of beauty?
  • What have your experiences as writers been?
  • How does your role as a writer vary in different (rhetorical) situations?
  • What kinds of writing are considered as beautiful in your culture, and why?
Friday, Jan. 6


Aristotle, selections of Rhetoric: Parts 1, 2 and 3

Small Digital Assignment Due:

Find two very different images of beautiful people, landscapes, or bodies
from Two sources.
Identify the nature of the sources, briefly describe them, and
upload images to Moodle; please also comment on at least one other person’s

Week 2 – Foundational Understandings of Beauty in Western Philosophical and Cultural Discourses

Monday, Jan. 9

Catherine McCormack, Women in the Picture, Preface (p. 1-21)

Wednesday, Jan. 11

McCormack, Women in the Picture, Chapter 1, “Venus,” (p. 23-74)

Friday, Jan. 13
  • Emmanuel Kant, selections of Critique of Judgement: P. 22 of the PDF: Preface;
  • p. 40 “Of the Aesthetical Representation of the Purposiveness of Nature;” p. 74″ Of the Ideal of beauty” (until p. 77)

Week 3 – Constructing and Deconstructing Feminine Beauty Across Cultures

Monday, Jan. 16

MLK Day, no class

Wednesday, Jan. 18

Reading Due:

Kyo Cho, “The Search for the Beautiful Woman: Chinese and
Japanese Beauty”

Friday, Jan. 20
  1. “Little Girls or Little Women? Disney Princess Effect”
  2. “The Culture of Thin Bites Fiji”

Week 4 – Constructing and Deconstructing Feminine Beauty Across Cultures, continued

Monday, Jan. 23

Ping Wang, Selections from Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China

In-class Songs:

Beyonce, “Pretty Hurts;” India Arie, “I’m Not My Hair”

Wednesday, Jan. 25

Reading Due:

“Nennu and Shunu: Gender, Body Politics, and the Beauty Economy in China”

Friday, Jan. 27

First Critical Question Paper due; class time will be used entirely for peer review of first paper. Please submit your digital draft to Moodle before class and bring two hard copies of your paper to class for peer review.

Week 5 – Constructing and Deconstructing Masculine Beauty Across Cultures

Week 6 – How Race, Culture, and Gender Intersect in “Beauty,” Part I

Monday, Feb. 6

Selections from Black Skin, White Masks

Wednesday, Feb. 8

Selections from Thick and Other Essays

Friday, Feb. 10

Midterm review and preparing for second Critical Question Paper; no
readings for today

Week 7 – How Race, Culture, and Gender Intersect in “Beauty,” Part II

Monday, Feb. 13

Reading Due:

“About Face: Why is South Korea the World’s Plastic Surgery Capital?” (If you can’t access the online article, you can find a PDF under this week’s section.)

Wednesday, Feb. 15

Reading Due:

“This is What Gender Non-Binary People Look Like” (If you can’t access the online article, you can find a PDF under this week’s section.)

In-class Discussion:

  • How do the authors utilize different rhetorical strategies (ethos, pathos, logos, doxa, kairos) to make a case for the social, racial, and gender implications of the pursuit of beauty in a variety of contexts (Africa, Korea, LGBTQ community)?
  • How are standards of beauty constructed and challenged in a white-dominated, Western-centered, heterosexual global society?
  • How do images make an argument by working hand-in-hand with texts?
Friday, Feb 17

Bring the draft of your Second Short Critical Paper to class for a peer review writing workshop. If you don’t have a draft for your peers to work on, you will receive 0% for the first part of a two-part writing workshop, which together makes up 15% of your final grade.

Week 8 – Queer Beauty and Preparations for Final Project

Monday, Feb. 20

Reading Due:

“Queer Beauty: Winckelmann and Kant on the Vicissitudes of the Ideal.” First half

Wednesday, Feb. 22

“Queer Beauty,” Second Half

Friday, Feb. 24

Final Project workshop. Post your final research project topic to Moodle
and comment on at least one other person’s project BEFORE class.

Week 9 – Daoist and Scientific Understanding of Beauty

Week 9 Important Note

Two short critical papers due this week.

Monday, Feb. 27

Library research workshop

Wednesday, Mar. 1

Reading Due:

“Beauty (Mei 美) in the Zhuangzi and in Contemporary Theories of Beauty”

Friday, Mar. 3

“How Beauty is Making Scientists Rethink Revolution”

Week 10 – Scientific Understanding of Beauty and Final Project Presentations

Monday, Mar. 6

Reading Due:

Selections from A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design

Wednesday, Mar. 8

Presentations on final projects

Friday, Mar. 10

Presentations on final projects and class evals

Radical Belonging

SEMN 132 Radical Belonging

Instructor: Jennifer Mills, Ph.D., LPC
Email: Jennifer.mills@kzoo.edu
School Address:
Psychology Department
Kalamazoo College
1200 Academy Street
Olds Upton, Psychology Suite
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
Office Hours: M,W,F 1:15-2:15; T 11-2 via Teams, by appointment.

Department: Psychology
Course Number: SEMN 132
Section #: 01
Semester: Fall 2022
Course Title: Radical Belonging
Meeting Time: M, W, F 11:55-1:10

HILL (Humanities Integrated Locational Learning) Class Clusters

In January of this year, Kalamazoo College received a three-year Mellon grant as part of a Humanities for All Times Initiative. This grant—entitled Humanities Integrated Locational Learning (HILL)—will consider how many of the major problems of our time can be analyzed through the lens of location and dislocation. From climate change to global migrations to mass incarceration, we face the challenge of developing a deeper understanding and hope that might come from addressing disruptions (physical, psychological, social, linguistic, spiritual, and more). To carry out the grant, HILL supports the formation of class clusters linked to specific places within and beyond Kalamazoo.

Our class is part of the Kalamazoo cluster that will consider home and belonging. In the spirit of the grant, courses will partner with Kalamazoo community organizations/members and with each other. The collaboration includes SEMN 132 – Radical Belonging, SEMN 163 – About Us: Disability Stories/Disability Rights, SEMN 182 – Wheels of Change, ENGL 155 – Identities: Home and Belonging, CES 240 (Critical Ethnic Studies) – Language: The Colonial and Imperial Difference, and SEMN 495 – Finding a Home in the World. Instructors for each course will
communicate how and when they will collaborate throughout the term.

When considering the effects of location and dislocation, we understand that these concepts impact students who, for any number of reasons, may feel displaced or out of place on a college campus. The project, then, aims to help construct a space of home on and off campus. By erasing the distinction between the classroom space and “real world,” we seek to embrace how ways of learning within the humanities can facilitate a space to think about and create collective futures.

Course Description

Belonging is a core human need that shapes well-being, enables flourishing, positive development and health. Currently, there is a crisis of belonging in the United States. National Surveys of youth and adults in the U.S. have found record setting levels of loneliness, low levels of social cohesion, and a decreased sense of belonging. reveals Belonging is shaped by cultural factors including race, sexual identity, disability, gender, place, neurodivergence, and age.

To better understand the habitats that generate belonging, the communal and cultural forces that enhance or constrain the experience of belonging we will interrogate what it means to belong to yourself, to community and to the larger world.

We will conduct interviews with community groups in Kalamazoo to better understand how these groups think about and generate belonging. Finally, using interviews with community groups, students will work with The Center for New Media (Kalamazoo College) and The Center for Public Media (Downtown Kalamazoo) to develop a podcast on belonging. This year we will interview the following groups:

Urban Alliance: Group Violence Intervention (GVI)
This is a group made up of past perpetrators of gun violence who now work with people who are, or are at risk, to commit acts of gun violence. They will tell you that trauma and belonging have a lot to do with their work.
Group Violence Intervention
Mike Wilder
Unlikely relationships forge in battle to end gun violence in Kalamazoo – mlive.com

Kalamazoo Collective Housing
This housing co-op group has group houses with specific themes. I know they have one that is for Queer individuals. I think they recently opened another house with a theme too, though I can’t remember what it is. It could be cool to talk about belonging with people who live in a house surrounded by people with the same values.

International students at WMU

Artbor Community Connections Center
Shawntell Lindsey: Community Leader. She started a small org called “The Arbor” which is there to help meet the needs of individuals in the Northside of Kalamazoo. Community is a big part of what she does.
Contact Shawntell Lindsey
What is the Artbor Community Connections Center?

Assigned Reading

All readings are posted on Moodle and listed in the course planning document.

Learning Objectives

The learner will be able to:

  1. Identify the core psychological and sociological principles that establish a person’s sense of belonging or not belonging.
  2. Will understand the conditions that lead to a sense of inner home.
  3. Will be able to explain the role of identity in community and how this shapes belonging.
  4. Will be able to identify the features of neighborhoods and social spaces that generate belonging.
  5. Will be able to clearly identify the intersection of the personal, scientific and real-world understanding belonging.
  6. Will be able to critique dominant ways of being that currently inform our ideas aboutbelonging.
  7. Will be able to discuss how oppression intersects with belonging.
  8. Can use 3-4 new technology tools to present ideas (podcasting, infographics)
  9. Collaborates on a Team of individuals to produce a podcast.
  10. Cultivates professionalism in both online and in person spaces.

Professional Competencies

  1. Communicates professionally via email and in person.
  2. Contributes and enhances collaborative environments.
  3. Demonstrates professionalism during interviews and presentations.
  4. Demonstrates facility with using and collaborating in online environments
    including Moodle, OneDrive, Excel, Word, Google Docs.

Please review the following rules on conducting yourself professionally online: Netiquette.

Inclusive Learning Environment

I strive to make the classroom a place where everyone can learn. Oppression and privilege shape the learning environment and I will do my best to make reduce the impact of these structural forces on our learning environment. If there is ANYTHING that I am doing that reproduces the harm PLEASE let me know. This classroom is also a place where I strive to attend to what we now call neurodivergence. If there is anything that I could do that would make your learning experience better let’s have a conversation.

Accessibility and Accommodations

Students with Disabilities

I strive to accommodate all learning needs in this class. This includes students with documented learning differences as well as those who might be without official documentation. It is helpful to officially register your documented learning difference or mental health need with the office of disability services which is located here.

If you think you might benefit from accommodations but have not yet received official documentation you can talk to me about what might help or talk with the appropriate provider. Our counseling office is available to help with these types of issues and they can be contacted here.

Kalamazoo College provides reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the office of the Dean of Students [337-7209] in a timely manner to arrange for appropriate accommodations.

Cultural/Religious Holidays

Kalamazoo College provides reasonable accommodations for observing religious or cultural holidays. Students can be excused from class to participate in these religious/cultural activities, but they will be responsible for getting all assignments and turning in course work. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the faculty member in a timely manner to arrange for appropriate accommodations.

Student Athletes

Student athletes who have university permission to miss classes or tests need to inform the instructor before they miss the assignment.

Honor System

This course will operate in accordance with the Kalamazoo College Honor System: a responsibility for personal behavior, independent thought, respect for others, and environmental responsibility. Students who are caught cheating or plagiarizing will receive a zero for that assignment, will be referred to Student Services, and may fail the class. Students who download papers or any information from the Internet without citing the source may receive an F in this course.


70% of life is showing up and engaging. The course has been designed to give you credit for attending class. If you miss more than two classes you will receive ½ letter grade deduction. If you miss four or more classes you should consider withdrawing. If you are in the middle of a family, medical or mental health crisis please let me know so that we can find a compassionate solution.

Assignments Overview

Individual Assignments

Pecha Kucha Presentation10 points9/16
Paper #1: Belonging to Self35 points9/26
Paper #2: Community and Belonging35 points10/12
Paper #3: Research on Belonging35 points10/24
Weekly Worksheet for reading70 points (10 per week/7 weeks)
Weekly Check your knowledge Quiz #135 points (5 points per week/7wks)Weeks 2-8
Group work participation80 points/10 per weekTakes place on Fridays
Peer Evaluation for group work25 pointsWeek 10

Group Assignments

How to create a Podcast
Group Pecha Kucha
20 points9/30
Conducting Academic Research50 points10/21
Consensus Paper100 points11/4
Podcast Script/Storyboard40 points10/31
Podcast100 points11/7
Group Presentation50 pointsWeek 9 and 10


It is possible to earn a total of 685 points this term. The scale below is slightly different from typical scales so please note the difference. This course is weighted more heavily toward the final group projects. This has been constructed intentionally so that you can get more credit for learning as you go. The quizzes are designed to give you an opportunity to test your knowledge on the weekly topic.

Letter GradePointsPercentage

Pecha Kucha/Individual (10 points 2% of final grade)

Using the Pecha Kucha format create a brief presentation on how and when you have felt a sense of belonging.

Individual Paper Format (35 points per paper/ 105 points total) 15% of final grade

  1. 3 pages double spaced, 12pt font, Times New Roman Font, 1-inch margins.
  2. Header with first and last name, paper #, and date
  3. Footer with page numbers
  4. Include APA cited references on fourth page.
  5. Submitted on Moodle assignments tab by 11:59pm on due date.

Consensus Paper (100 points 15% of final grade)

For this consensus paper you will work with your group to create a 3-4 page paper that synthesizes the ideas you found most interesting or salient from your previous papers.

  1. 3 pages double spaces, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman Font, 1-inch margins.
  2. Header with Group #, names of everyone in the group that contributed, consensus
    paper #, and date.
  3. Footer with page numbers
  4. APA references on fourth page
  5. Submitted on Moodle assignments tab by 11:59 pm on due date

Pecha Kucha /Group (20 points 3% of final grade)

Create a Pecha Kucha on how to create a podcast with your group.

Conducting Research (50 points 7% of final grade)

You will use what you learned in Beyond google to find one academic paper on belonging. You will, create a reference list for each paper your group found with an annotated bibliography for each article. Submit as one document for the group (each group will have four people so you will turn in an annotated bibliography for four articles). Articles should meet the standards covered in the Beyond google workshop and follow APA style for annotated bibliographies.

Podcast Script (40 points. 6% of final grade)

Podcast (100 points 15% of final grade)

Group Presentation (50 points 7% of final grade)

Using any format you wish deliver a 30 minute presentation on what you learned about belonging this term.

Peer Evaluation (25 points 4% of final grade)

You will be doing a considerable amount of group work this term. Ongoing participation in your group is an important part of you grade this term. Your classmates will be asked to evaluate your contributions and will assign you a score based on your participation in the group work. Peer Evaluation (80 points) of your group will take place in week 10. In addition, you will evaluate one other groups podcast and ask them questions about their presentation. This will take place in weeks 9 and 10. I will give you an evaluation rubric for the podcast you listen to (another groups podcast, not your own) to use and submit (10 points).

How We Roll

Experience, reflect, connect, apply

Learning Theory Principles: Activate retrieval!

Use the table below to write down your group # and group members name and contact info.

Group #


HILL New Orleans Cluster Seminar (Fall 2022) Syllabus

(FALL 2022)

Dr. Espelencia Baptiste, ANSO426
Office: ULC 301
Office Hours: M. 1:00-3:00 W. 9:30-11:00
(and by appointment)

Dr. Christine Hahn, ARTX225
Office: LFA 20
Office Hours: MW 11:00am-11:45am
(and by appointment)

Dr. Shanna Salinas, ENGL490
Office: Humphrey House 108
Office Hours: Th, 2:15-4:00pm
(and by appointment)

Dr. Beau Bothwell, SEMN295/MUSC295
Office: FAB 128
Office Hours: M11am-12pm, W10-11am, Th4-5pm
(and by appointment)

Dr. Bruce Mills, HILL Digital Humanities Coordinator
Office: Humphrey House 208
Office Hours: M 1:15-2:15pm; TTh 3-4pm (and by appointment)

Seminar Cohort Meetings: Mondays, 11:05am-11:45am (Weeks 5-10)
Location: Hicks Banquet Hall West
Additional meetings TBA

Course Description

What is memory? What is identity? And how do we understand the relationship between these two concepts, particularly for communities once defined as commodities? Research suggests the significance of origins in the formation of individual and collective identity. However, for the African Diaspora, heritage, roots, and associated memory are traversed by trauma and displacement engendered by slavery, the middle passage, and contemporary structural oppressions. This course explores the different labors that slavery and the memory of slavery perform in the development of New Orleans as a city and the relationship between its composite populations.

This course participates in the Mellon-funded Humanities Integrated Locational Learning (HILL) curriculum and contributes to a “Beyond Kalamazoo” Cluster focused on New Orleans with three other courses: ARTX225 Public Art and Its Publics (Dr. Christine Hahn), ENGL490: NOLA Divided: Race in the Big Easy (Dr. Shanna Salinas), and SEMN295/MUSC295 The World Through New Orleans (Dr. Beau Bothwell). While these courses will function independently, they are united by their engagement with New Orleans as a historical and contemporary site, as well as the way they draw from humanistic inquiry to construct justice-based notions of land, place, and belonging in response to humanistic concerns and social inequities (i.e., systemic racism, body and border policing, economic inequity, global warming, etc.). Students registered for the New Orleans cluster courses are eligible to apply for a partial-unit experiential social justice research seminar in New Orleans (November 26th – December 2nd, 2022).  More details on the seminar and application process are included on page 9 of the syllabus.

Course Requirements

Participation in the New Orleans Cluster Seminar will require the following mandatory commitments:

  • Additional preparatory work throughout the term to prepare for site engagements in New Orleans. See Cluster Seminar Assignments and Due Dates (detailed below)
  • Weekly meetings with the supradisciplinary research group (held weeks 5-10 on Mondays during common time)
  • Attendance of information sessions with community partners (TBA, when applicable)
  • Meetings with the HILL Digital Humanities Coordinator, Dr. Bruce Mills
  • Submission of pre-departure materials to CIP, due 7th week Thursday.
  • Attendance at a CIP orientation meeting, 10th week Wednesday (4:15pm DE 305)
  • Write and submit a supradisciplinary collaborative group project research proposal (Due week 9 Friday by 11:59pm ET)
  • Research group interview for DH site (due Winter 2023)
  • Individual reflection (blog or video) focused on course, research, place-based learning for Digital Humanities site (due Winter 2023)
  • Supradisciplinary collaborative group research project (due first week Wednesday in Winter quarter, with revision and approval in consultation with cluster faculty and DH Coordinator finalized 2nd week Friday.)

Cluster Seminar Assignments and Due Dates

Journal Entries


Fridays by 11:59pm ET
(uploaded to your Research Group channel on Teams. Please make sure your Teams notifications are turned on for this channel as announcements and important information will be disseminated through your Research Group channel.)

Supradisciplinary Collaborative Group Project Proposal


Week 9 Friday, 11/11 by 11:59pm ET *
(uploaded to your Research Group channel onTeams)

*Assignment prompt distributed in Week 8

Supradisciplinary Collaborative Group Project

Completed Project Due

Wednesday, January 4, 2023 by noon ET
(to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Revised Project with Bibliography/Resource List Due

Friday, January 13 by 11:59pm ET
(to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Individual Reflection for DH site


Winter 2023, TBA*

*Assignment prompt distributed in Week 8

Research group interview for DH site


Winter 2023, TBA

Course Grading (C/NC)

All assignments must be completed and submitted in accordance with the deadlines in the weekly assignment schedule in order to receive credit for this course. Successful completion of a DH supradisciplinary collaborative project is dependent on guided development during Fall quarter and contributions from all members of the research group. Being accountable to those deadlines and your group members will be paramount. Assessment of the DH supradisciplinary project will be undertaken by the cluster faculty in consultation with the DH coordinator to determine whether the project is ready for publication on the HILL Digital Humanities Hub. Should the cluster faculty and DH Coordinator determine that the project is not ready for publication, students will still receive credit for the course provided they have completed all required assignments to the satisfaction of their project supervisor.

Cluster Seminar Cohort Meetings and Events

The Cluster Seminar Cohort meetings during weeks 5-10 of Fall Quarter are designed to introduce students to different research modalities in advance of the seminar trip and to assist in the design of a Digital Humanities project that encapsulates each respective research group’s interests in New Orleans.

Week 5: Meet research group and discuss intersections within their research interests

Week 6: Digital Humanities presentation and brainstorming DH options (Bruce Mills)

Week 7: IRB presentation and brainstorming about collaborative DH project (Brittany Liu)

Week 8: Project proposal workshop and site visit itinerary

Thursday, November 3, 7pm: Dr. Lauron Kehrer, author of the forthcoming Queer Voices in Hip Hop: Cultures, Community, and Contemporary Performance, will give a talk drawing from her chapter on New Orleans and Bounce music. Location TBA

Week 9: Place-based engagement overview, with emphasis on ethical collaboration best practices and brainstorming about engagement with community partners (Alison Geist)

Wednesday, November 9, 9:40am: Monica Kelly, Founder and Executive Director for People for Public Art, will give a talk on issues related to contemporary muralism on Zoom. Link TBA.

Week 10: Archival research presentation (Historic New Orleans Collection and/or Tulane University)

Weekly Assignment Schedule (Fall 2022)

Week 5

Advanced preparation: Submit a passage from a text in your course that informs your research interests

Session Focus: Meet with research group and supervisor; share individual research interests and grounding in course texts; discuss intersections and similarities within/across courses

Week 6

Advanced Preparation: Review two Digital Humanities Websites:

Session Focus: Overview of digital humanities (Dr. Bruce Mills)

Assignment: Individual 2-page reflective journal entry, “Brainstorming the Digital Humanities”: What different types of Digital Humanities projects are you contemplating? How/why would these DH approaches serve/represent your research interests and social issue you’ve identified?) This reflective essay will be shared with your cluster group as you work together to find areas of crossover interest for your group research project.

Due: Friday, October 21 by 11:59pm ET (uploaded to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Week 7

Advanced Preparation: Review Institutional Review Board website and take the IRB test

Session Focus: Overview of IRB and research with human subjects (Dr. Brittany Liu) Meet in OU408

Assignment: Individual 2-page reflective journal entry, “Brainstorming the Collaborative DH Project”: Review your group members’ reflective brainstorming entries from week 6. What intersections do you note? Are there synchronicities in subject matter/topic across the reflections that can be consolidated? Are there overlaps in DH approaches that can be combined? What type of collaborative project could be created from these various imaginings?

Due: Friday, October 28 by11:59pm ET (uploaded to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Week 8

Advanced Preparation: Read “Brainstorming the Collaborative DH Project” entries from your research group

Session Focus: Discuss Collaborative DH Project ideas with your research group and consider relevant site visits useful to/for your research beyond our established community partners (tours, museums, locations, etc.)

Assignment: Collaborative 2-page in-progress DH Project idea(s) and site visit itinerary proposal.

Due: Friday, November 4 by 11:59pm ET (uploaded to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Week 9

Advanced Preparation: TBA

Session Focus: Place-based learning and community engagement (Alison Geist)

Assignment: Project Proposal

Due: Friday, November 11 by 11:59pm ET (uploaded to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Week 10

Advanced Preparation: Read feedback from project supervisor (cluster faculty member assigned to your research group)

Session Focus: Archival research (Historic New Orleans Collection or Tulane)

Assignment: Meet with Bruce Mills about your DH project and refine/revise project proposal that considers feedback from him, your project supervisor, and potential archive use.

Due: Friday, November 18 by 11:59pm ET (uploaded to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Finals Week

Advanced Preparation: Read or watch the supplemental materials provided for the two community partners whose work is most central to your DH project.

Assignment: Each group member should submit two substantive questions for each of those community partners.

Due: Friday, November 25 by 11:59pm ET (uploaded to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Weekly Assignment Schedule (Winter 2023)

Week 1

Completed project due: Wednesday, January 4, 2023 by noon ET
(uploaded to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Week 2

Revised Project with Bibliography/Resource List due: Friday, January 13 by 11:59pm ET
(uploaded to your Research Group channel on Teams)

Supradisciplinary Collaborative Research Groups

Group One

Student 1 (ANSO426)
Student 2 (ANSO426)
Student 3 (ENGL490)
Student 4 (MUSC295)

Research Interests: Music/Jazz; slavery; transcendence; Black body; Medicine/Medical experimentation; natural disaster/Katrina; neoliberal policy; capitalism; anti-Black racism; place/displacement; language; colonization

Supervisor: Dr. Beau Bothwell

Group Two

Student 5 (ANSO426)
Student 6 (ARTX225)
Student 7 (ENGL490)
Student 8 (MUSC295)

Research interests: Jazz; music as history; transcendence; Found/Outsider art; Decentering Western canon; art activism; legacies of enslavement; intersectional social justice activism; memorialization; performance and/as resistance; ritual; performance/tourism consumption

Supervisor: Dr. Christine Hahn

Group Three

Student 9 (ANSO426)
Student 10 (ANSO426)
Student 11 (ARTX225)
Student 12 (ENGL490)
Student 13 (MUSC295)

Research interests: mutual aid; community development; survival; Katrina; environmental racism; history as process; Confederate monuments/memorials; anti-racist/anti-colonial public art; community storytelling as resistance; history of place and displacement; redlining; infrastructural; Jewish history in NOLA; Jewish/Black historical relations; burial/death rites; intercultural history

Supervisor: Dr. Shanna Salinas

Group Four

Student 14 (ANSO426)
Student 15 (ANSO426)
Student 16 (ARTX225)
Student 17 (ENGL490)
Student 18 (MUSC295)

Research interests: Africanisms; Vodou/Hoodoo; African spirituality; slavery; vodou as resistance; community as resistance; voodoo influence on architecture; public rituals; art/music/dance; landscape and identity formation; struggle for power and influence on landscape; Black experience of space/place; vodou and spaces of practice as formative for Black expression/creation/maintenance; spirituality and community; vodou/spirituality and changes across time/space; music and space

Supervisor: Dr. Espelencia Baptiste

Wheels of Change: Environmental and Social Justice by Bike Syllabus

SEMN 182: Wheels of Change: Environmental and Social Justice by Bike

MWF 11:55-1:10; Fall 2022

Image: Cyclists demonstrate at a Black Lives Matter Protest in Brooklyn on Jun 5, 2020. Photo by Shawn Pridgen in Bicycling magazine

Who Leads this Course

Faculty Instructor: Dr. Amelia Katanski, Professor of English and Critical Ethnic Studies

Office: Humphrey House 207

Contact me by: Email (Amelia.Katanski@kzoo.edu) or Teams chat; Please note that I will not be checking email or Teams messages between 5PM on Fridays and 9AM on Mondays. If you message me over the weekend, I’ll return your message on Monday.

Office Hours: Mondays 10-11AM; Wednesdays 1:30-2:30.
These are times I’m always in my office—no appointment needed. If these times don’t work for you, just send me a message and we’ll figure out another time to meet.

Teaching Assistant: Egan Vieira

Contact me by:
Email: egan.vieira19@kzoo.edu or Teams chat

Community Partners:

City of Kalamazoo, Open Roads, and Kalamazoo College Outdoor Programs

Contact them at:
Christina Anderson, City Planner, City of Kalamazoo andersonc@kalamazoocity.org
Isaac Green, Executive Director, Open Roads director@openroadsbike.org
Jory Horner (Director) and Jess Port (Assistant Director), Outdoor Programs, Kalamazoo College Jory.Horner@kzoo.edu; Jess.Port@kzoo.edu

Where to find course materials:

You will find our readings and assignments—and the most updated weekly schedule—on our class Teams site. You will also turn in your assignments and receive grades on Teams.

Where We Study Together

We gather on the land of the Council of the Three Fires—the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodewadmi. Indigenous nations of the Great Lakes are also known as Anishinaabe, or First People, and their language is Anishinaabemowin. We acknowledge the enduring relationship that exists between the People of the Three Fires and this land. We begin with this acknowledgement in recognition that it is a starting point that is meaningful in the context of the development and nurturing of ongoing relationship, reconciliation, and reparation.

Course Description

This community-engaged course explores cycling through the lenses of social and environmental justice. We will study the way bicycles—as vehicles of freedom and mobility–empowered women and people of color during the late 19th century “cycling craze,” and we will learn about policies based in racism and sexism that limited who could easily experience the liberating movement cycling offered. Understanding that history, we’ll focus on how, today, the bicycle offers hope for sustainable transportation that supports individual, community, and environmental health in ways that redress racism, and gender- and ability-based discrimination.

Working closely with community partners, including the City of Kalamazoo, Open Roads, and K College Outdoor Programs, we will explore how communities can build cycling infrastructure using an equity lens, developing a comparative international perspective by investigating how urban cycling thrives in Copenhagen, Denmark. We will work closely with partners on and off campus on projects that will help to provide equitable, sustainable cycling infrastructure for people of all races, genders, income levels, and ages. As we do this, we will come to know our community by bike, riding together regularly.

Our experiential learning culminates in traveling together to Copenhagen for a week after the end of the quarter (November 27-December 4, 2022) to experience this iconic cycling city by riding it and by meeting with and learning from city planners, other cycling movement leaders, and regular folks who ride. There will be opportunities to report back to the City of Kalamazoo and our other partners in the winter quarter (an optional partial unit course), and to continue your work by applying for internships later in the year with some of our community partners.

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes

  • Create a structured, yet responsive and engaged environment in which we can read, write, talk, and think about: the history of cycling, and the potential of the bicycle to serve as an agent of mobility, environmental sustainability, freedom and community-building; city planning issues that arise when considering the needs of cyclists–everything from infrastructure development to safety to equity (safe access across race, class, gender, and age); and health benefits—to individuals, communities, and the earth—of cycling.
  • Apply this knowledge to engage responsibly and respectfully with our community partners, to work on project designed to increase equitable, sustainable cycling infrastructure, policy, and programming within the City of Kalamazoo and on campus.
  • Come to know the City of Kalamazoo by bike and develop authentic relationships with community partners, thinking through the ways that cycling speaks to the possibilities for and barriers to our own mobility (individually and as part of the K College community) within the city.
  • Learn about maintaining and repairing a bicycle.
  • Improve the most important skills for success in college: reading actively and critically, writing clearly and expressively (and meeting the specific Tier 1 College writing requirement), discussing texts and ideas productively and with engagement, working collaboratively, and respecting our differences.
  • Develop a cooperative learning community in which all seminar members learn from and teach each other and take responsibility for the success and quality of the seminar learning experience.
  • Work toward developing some of the College’s “Indicators of Intercultural and International Competence,” through our academic work, engagement with the Kalamazoo community, and travel to Copenhagen.
  • Become familiar with the college library resources while learning to evaluate sources critically and use them to enhance your own ideas and opinions.
  • Be attentive to the process of writing, and develop individualized, effective writing processes.
  • See the connection between our coursework and other ways to participate in the Cities Pathway, including coursework, co-curricular activities, study abroad/study away, career development opportunities, and ongoing civic engagement.

Weekly Schedule

We will meet to discuss reading and complete in-class learning activities on Mondays and Wednesdays. Most Fridays will be set aside for project work, writing workshops, hands-on learning, or guided bike rides (so please keep this time clear in your schedule each week).

Assignments and Activities

Short Responses

You will write 3 short responses over the course of the quarter. Two of these will focus on readings. One will reflect on what you have learned about writing over the quarter. There will be multiple opportunities for responses, and you will sign up for 2. You will also be responsible for starting our class discussion (working individually or as teams) on the days your responses are due.

Research assignment/Policy Paper

You will research a topic of your interest/choice related to our course theme. You will start this research as part of your Beyond Google session, and will develop your research into a 5-page policy paper. You will peer workshop a draft of this essay and will also meet with me
individually to discuss your drafts before the final version is due.

Beyond Google Information Literacy Workshop

Our Seminar will participate in a workshop intended to help you develop and improve your research and information literacy skills, supporting your development as an independent scholar. Your work will be part of the research you do for your policy paper and will be led by one of our reference librarians and me. The steps in the Beyond Google process will be graded P/F

HILL Cluster Activities

Our class is one of a cluster of courses focusing on questions of location and dislocation in Kalamazoo. We will have three required cluster activities during the quarter: a lunch or dinner at a time of your choosing during 2nd week with a member of the “Finding a Home in the World”
Senior Seminar; a lunch and meeting with all of the courses in the cluster (Common Time/11-11:45AM 3rd Week Monday); and a critical reflection discussion with the “Finding a Home in the World” Senior Seminar (Common Time/11-11:45, 5th Week Monday). There are other, optional, cluster activities you may choose to take part in throughout the quarter.

Photo (and video?) Essay

Throughout the quarter, keep an eye open for people riding bikes on campus and around town. Take photos of as many different kinds of riding (types of bikes, purpose in riding, rider demographics, etc.) you come across. We want to represent the diversity of riding in Kalamazoo. Each student is required to contribute at least two photographs (or possibly short videos—we’ll discuss this early in the quarter!) to the overall photo essay. When we go to Copenhagen, you’ll be asked to create a parallel photo essay about Copenhagen cyclists.

Community-based Project/Structured Reflection

Students will work in 3 teams to complete community-based projects, working alongside community partners. One group will work with the City of Kalamazoo (and City Planner/K Alum Christina Anderson) on a project related to cycling infrastructure in Kalamazoo; a second group will work with Open Roads (and Executive Director Isaac Green) on a project focused on developing and implementing safe cycling routes for Kalamazoo-area children; and a third group will work with the Kalamazoo College Outdoor Programs office (and Director Jory Horner and Assistant Director Jess Port), investigating ways to make college-owned bikes more accessible to students, to promote and support cycling among students, and to develop a cycling culture on campus.—This might lead to work on campus (and maybe in collaboration with WMU and/or the City) on a bike share program. Teams will be assigned early in the quarter and will work on these projects throughout the quarter. You will need to work on your projects with your teams and your community partners outside of class time, and this workload is accounted for in your reading/writing load for the course. Individually, you will complete 2 structured-reflection assignments that ask you to connect your readings and other in-class work with your experiential work.

Project Reports and Presentations

At the end of the quarter, project teams will collaboratively write project reports, which gather together research, raw data, analysis, implementation/project sustainability plans, and reflections on their community-based project experiences. Teams will present their key
findings to one another, our community partners and other members of the College and Kalamazoo communities.

First-Year Forum Requirement

First-Year Forums are programs (usually 1-2 hours in length) offered throughout the fall term on topics important for first-year students (time management, study abroad/away, personal safety, civic engagement in Kalamazoo, career planning, and more!). These engaging programs are facilitated by faculty, staff, and sometimes even upper-class students. First-year students are required to attend one program in each of five different categories:

  • Social Justice and Civic Engagement
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • Personal Decision Making and Habits
  • Career and Professional Development
  • Academic Success and Independent Scholarship

Multiple unique programs are offered throughout the quarter in each of the five categories, so students can pick and choose what programs to attend based on their interest and schedule. Forum attendance is logged as part of the First-Year Seminar grade. If students do not attend at least one Forum in each group, two percentage points for each Forum missed will be deducted from the final Seminar grade. You can check your First-Year Forum attendance records.


There are many ways to participate in our course—completing the readings; taking part inclass discussion; showing up for team meetings and other project-related work; giving good feedback during workshops; attending office hours; etc. You may have your preferences, but you really can’t ignore any of these things and expect to receive an A for participation. A student earning an A in participation will, for example, come to class having read their assigned texts and thought through the reading, will make at least two contributions to most (if not all) class discussions, will provide thoughtful workshop feedback, and will meet their obligations to their team.


Not every written assignment will receive a grade. We’ll start the term with lots of feedback and less grading, then move to more graded work. I’ll be clear about how this works with each assignment.

Research project/Policy Paper20% (includes completion of Beyond Google Library Assignment)
Structured Reflection15%
Project Report and Presentation30%
Photo Essay5%

Required Activities

P/F—You must attend these activities (or complete an alternative assignment if you have an unavoidable conflict) to pass the class.


Your attendance is expected and required, except for cases of illness. In this time of Covid, it’s difficult to provide an unchangeable, one-size-fits-all attendance policy, but you should use the following as a guideline: If you miss more than 3 classes over the course of the quarter, you might expect your grade in the course to go down. The more absences, the lower the grade. Why? Because your presence in our class—to take part in discussions of reading and in-class work—does more than just give you a chance to go over concepts. Our work together actually creates meaning—and what we create as a class will necessarily be different (and poorer) without everyone’s presence and contribution.

Beyond the end of the quarter

Travel to Copenhagen will be a required part of the course. Our coursework will prepare us to engage fully with our experiences in Copenhagen. Our activities in Copenhagen will be designed to inform and deepen our learning/knowledge around our project topics, and we will focus on how to translate Copenhagen experiences back to Kalamazoo needs/opportunities as we travel. I will offer a partial-unit course in the winter of 2023 (optional, but open to students in “Wheels of Change”), where students can earn up to .5 units of credit for reflecting on the Copenhagen trip and use the knowledge and materials we’ve compiled while traveling to revise and deepen project reports from the fall. In addition to revised written reports, students completing the .5 unit winter course will also give two presentations about their work: one to the campus community and one to our community partners/others in the wider Kalamazoo community. There may also be opportunities to continue project work through internships with one or more of our partners either later in the academic year or in the summer, although this is not a guarantee.

HILL (Humanities Integrated Locational Learning)

In January, Kalamazoo College received a three-year Mellon grant. (For more information, see the grant announcement.) Known as Humanities Integrated Locational Learning (HILL), this initiative examines how many problems of our time can be analyzed through the lens of
location and dislocation. To develop a deeper knowledge with the aim of generating the potential for change, HILL supports the formation of class clusters linked to specific places within and beyond Kalamazoo.

Our class is part of the Kalamazoo cluster that explores dimensions of home and belonging. In the spirit of the grant, courses partner with Kalamazoo community organizations/members and with each other. The collaboration includes SEMN 132 – Radical Belonging, SEMN 163 – About Us: Disability Stories/Disability Rights, SEMN 182 – Wheels of Change, ENGL 155 – Identities: Home and Belonging, CES 240 (Critical Ethnic Studies) – Language: The Colonial and Imperial Difference, and SEMN 495 – Finding a Home in the World. Instructors for each course will communicate how and when they will collaborate throughout the term.

When considering the effects of location and dislocation, we understand that these concepts impact students who, for any number of reasons, may feel displaced or out of place on a college campus. The project, then, seeks to construct a sense of home on and off campus. By erasing the distinction between the classroom and “real world,” we seek to embrace how ways of learning within the humanities can facilitate a space to think about and create collective futures.

Learning Commons and Academic Support

I strongly encourage you to become familiar with and make use of the Learning Commons, which includes the Writing Center; ESL support; New Media Design; peer instruction and support in Chemistry, Biology, Math, Physics, and Economics and Business; Learning Support Coaching; and more. See the Learning Commons site for more information.

Academic Integrity

This course operates under the College Honor System.  That means: we treat each other with respect, we nurture independent thought, we take responsibility for personal behavior, and we accept environmental responsibility. Academic honesty is a critical part of our value system at K.  When you borrow an idea, express the idea in your own words, thus thinking it through and making it your own, and acknowledge the source of the idea in a citation, or, in certain situations, use the exact words of the source in quotation marks and acknowledge with a citation. If you have any questions about citing sources, the acceptable use of secondary materials, or issues regarding collaborative vs. individual work, PLEASE ASK ME. I will send any cases of academic dishonesty to the Dean of Students’ office to be addressed according to College policy. For the full policy, see the academic dishonesty page.


If you are a student with a disability who seeks accommodation or other assistance in this course, please let me know as soon as possible. Kalamazoo College is committed to making every effort to providing reasonable accommodations. If you want to discuss your overall needs for accommodation at the College, and receive formal accommodations, please direct questions to Dana Jansma, Senior Associate Dean of Students, at (269) 337-7209 or through email at Dana.Jansma@kzoo.edu . For more information, please see the disability services page. This website also contains resources for assistive technologies and neurodivergent students.

Writing Competencies

The First-Year Seminar faculty has established the following goals for fostering writing competencies that will help prepare students for writing in discipline-specific courses in the major and, eventually, for writing the SIP. We hope that every first-year student will develop greater competency in these areas:

Achieving clarity through revision

  • stating and developing a thesis
  • writing coherent sentences and well-developed paragraphs
  • using correct grammar and mechanics
  • being conscious of overall structure and impact
  • becoming proficient at editing and proof reading
  • writing frequently to gain fluency
  • expressing ideas directly and economically

Constructing an argument using evidence

  • understanding the difference between opinion, argument, and evidence, and becoming aware of which of the three serves the writing project at hand
  • synthesizing others’ ideas with one’s own
  • using sources to support ideas and positions
  • using quoted materials effectively and correctly

Gaining experience in research strategies

  • understanding why doing research is important
  • learning how to do research, beginning with the earliest stages
  • putting newly gained knowledge and skills into practice
  • working as independent scholars and contributing to scholarly discourse throughout college and beyond

Cultivating an authentic and versatile style of written communication

  • discovering one’s own way into material
  • making deliberate choices about structure, style, and voice, with a distinct awareness of audience, context and impact
  • writing in a natural, straightforward style
  • demonstrating or developing authenticity and ownership of the work

Schedule Weeks 1-5

Please note that this schedule is always subject to change. You’ll find the most up-to-date version of our
class schedule on our class Teams site.

Week 1: Why We Ride

Week 1 Items Due

Response 1 by class time (11:55AM), Friday: “Why I Ride” (See Teams for the prompt)

Hornet Passport Portal Information must be completed

Topics of discussion (and questions to consider while reading):
What brings our authors—and each of us—to cycling? What have been the barriers to our cycling? What has encouraged or fostered it? Why does cycling matter to individuals and communities? How do we (and our authors) think and talk and write about the concrete physical and practical aspects of cycling? How and why does the bicycle evoke emotion and imagination? How can cycling function as a metaphor?

M: Complete the following readings (all available as .pdf files on Teams) before Monday’s class:
Rosen, “Bicycle Planet” from Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle; Jennifer Weiner, “First I Cried. Then, I Rode My Bike.” (NY Times); Colville-Anderson, “The Bicycle’s Role in Urban Life,” from Copenhagenize.

Tuesday, 9/13: 7-8PM on campus at the Arcus Center: Christina Anderson presents information about Kalamazoo cycling infrastructure to Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. Attendance required.

W: Reading: Rosen, “Personal History” from Two Wheels Good. Nepenthes, “Per Rotas Ad Astra” from Trans-Galactic Bike Ride.

F: Class meets at our regular time
Class visit to Open Roads [4-6PM; travel by bike if possible]

Mobility and Exclusion in the History of Cycling

Topics of discussion:
The “cycling craze” of the 1890s; women and cycling in the late 19th/early 20th centuries; Race, mobility, and cycling in the late 19th/early 20th centuries in the US.

Week 2: Gender

M: Reading: from the American 1890s: A Cultural Studies Reader: Marguerite Merington, “Woman and the Bicycle: (1895); Edna Jackson, “A Fin de Cycle Incident” (1896);

W: Reading: excerpts from Hannah Ross, Revolutions: How Women Changed the World on Two Wheels.

F: Group Ride (start at 11?)

**Sometime during Week 2: HILL Cluster Activity—A meal with a member of the “Finding a Home in the World” Senior Seminar. (You will take one of the seniors to lunch or dinner in the caf.)

Week 3: Race

Week 3 Items Due

Response 2 Due in class (11:55AM), Wednesday: Freedom and Suppression (See prompt on Teams)

HILL Cluster Activity: 11:00-11:45 AM on Monday: Meet, Connect, Reflect (Please watch short video “course introductions” on Teams before we meet). Location TBA.

M: Class Meets after the Cluster Activity. Reading: Nathan Cardon, “Cycling on the Color Line: Race, Technology, and Bicycle Mobilities in the Early Jim Crow South, 1887-1905.” (Technology and Culture Oct, 2021)

W: Tamika L Butler, “Why We Must Talk About Race When We Talk About Bikes” (Bicycling, Aug., 2020)

F: Project Work

City Planning, Bike Infrastructure, and Equity

Topics of discussion:
Bicycle urbanism; City planning perspectives on cycling; cycling as community-building; bringing an equity lens to non-motorized transportation/cycling infrastructure

Week 4

Week 4 Items Due

Response 3 Due in class (11:55AM), Monday

Tuesday by 11:55AM: Complete Beyond Google Assignment

M: Sadik-Khan, “How to Read the Street” from Street Fight and Montgomery, “Mobilicities I: how moving feels, and why it does not feel better; and Mobilicities II: freedom” from Happy City

W: Beyond Google Workshop—Class Meets in the Library

F: Group Ride (Start at 11?)

Week 5

Week 5 Items Due

Structured Reflection 1 Due in class (11:55AM), Wednesday

HILL Cluster Activity: 11:00-11:45 AM on Monday Structured Reflection with “Finding a Home in the World” Senior Seminar. Location TBA.

M: Class meets after Cluster activity. Reading: excerpts from Hoffman, Bike Lanes are White Lanes: Bicycle Advocacy and Urban Planning; Cycling for Sustainable Cities; and Colville-Anderson, Copenhagenize

W: Reading: Furth, “Bicycling Infrastructure for All” from Cycling for Sustainable Cities.

F: Fall Break. No classes today.

Overview of topics/assignments for the second half of the quarter
(details to come . . .)

Week 6: The Economics of Cycling

Topics of discussion: Transportation costs (individual and infrastructure); triple bottom line and “the good life”; Class and cycling; the cost of cycling; Bike shares

Readings: excerpts from Elly Blue, Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy; Elliot Fishman and Susan Shaheen, “Bikesharing’s Ongoing Evolution and Expansion” (in Cycling for Sustainable Cities);

Assignments: Policy Paper Draft Due; Peer Workshop and individual meetings

Homecoming Pathways Event

Week 7: Cycling for a Healthy Earth—the carbon footprint of cycling

Week 7 Items Due

Policy Paper Due

Topics of discussion: Environmental impact of cycling (on an individual and community level)

Readings: excerpts from: Peter Walker, How Cycling Can Save the World; “Can Portland be a Climate Leader without Reducing Driving?”; “The climate change mitigation impacts of active travel: Evidence from a longitudinal panel study in seven European cities”, Global Environmental Change (2021)

Week 8: Cycling for Healthy Humans—Health Impacts of Cycling; and Safety and Access Issues

Week 8 Items Due

Response 4 Due

Topics of discussion: How cycling impacts human physical and mental health; Bike safety education; Planning/infrastructure approaches to safer cycling; Safety and access for populations with specific concerns/needs including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Readings: (Students will select from these readings based on community-based projects): Garrard, Rissel, and Bauman, “Health Benefits of Cycling” (in Cycling for Sustainable Cities); Kay Inckle, “Disability, Cycling, and Health: Impacts and (Missed) Opportunities in Public Health”; Lenton and Finlay, “Public Health Approaches to Safer Cycling for Children based on Developmental and Physiological Readiness: Implications for Practice”; Pucher and Buehler, “Safer Cycling Through Improved Infrastructure”; and additional selections from Cycling for Sustainable Cities

Week 9: Cycling and Resistance

Week 10 Items Due

Structured Reflection 2 Due

Topics of discussion: Return to considerations of cycling as instrument of social justice

Readings: Brett Simpson,”Why Cars Don’t Deserve the Right of Way: The simplest way to make roads safer and reduce police violence at the same time” (The Atlantic 10/15/21); Jody Rosen, “The Bicycle as a Vehicle of Protest” (New Yorker 6/10/20); Martens, Golub, and Hamre, “Social Justice and Cycling” (in Cycling for Sustainable Cities)

Week 10: Presentations, Connections, Conclusions and Preparations

Week 10 Important Note

Project Reports, Photo Essay Contributions, and Presentations Due

Reading: from Copenhagenize; Koglin, Brömmelstroet, and van Wee, “Cycling in Copenhagen and Amsterdam” (in Cycling for Sustainable Cities)

Exam Week

Exam Week Items Due

Response 5 (writing reflection)

Giant Bikes at Col d’Aubisque in the French Pyrenees, representing the overall leader (yellow), King of the Mountains/climbing leader (polka dot) and sprint leader (green) in the Tour de France.
Photo: A Katanski, July 2022

Finding a Home in the World: Lessons in Sustainability from the Ancient Mediterranean Syllabus

Seminar 495: Finding a Home in the World: Lessons in Sustainability from the Ancient Mediterranean

Fall 2022
T/Th 2:10-4:00 pm
Upjohn Library Commons 311

Hello, I’m: Professor Elizabeth Manwell
My Office: Humphrey House 106

My Office Hours:
Wednesday 9:00-11:00 a.m., 12:00-2:00 p.m.
If these times don’t work for you, please e-mail or message me to make an appointment. I’m happy to find a time that works for you!

Best ways to contact me:
via e-mail: Elizabeth.Manwell@kzoo.edu
via chat: in Microsoft Teams (look for our class Team in your list of Teams)
(Please allow up to 24 hours for a response)

Where We Study Together

We gather on the land of the Council of the Three Fires – the Ojibwe, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi. Indigenous nations of the Great Lakes region are also known as the Anishinaabe (Ah-nish-nah-bay), or original people, and their language is Anishinaabemowin (Ah-nish-nah-bay-mow-in). We acknowledge the enduring relationship that exists between the People of the Three Fires and this land.

Course Description and Goals

We may think of sustainability and environmental studies as disciplines arising from the ecology movement of the 1960s or from contemporary concerns about the climate crisis. Yet, people have been harming and modifying the environment at least since humans began farming. Since that time, we have existed in a struggle with the world we occupy for resources to sustain us and to fulfill our desires, and yet there have always been those who have found a harmonious balance within it. This class will be an exploration of how to become part of that latter group.

This class starts WAY back…at the point where people started living in community together to work the land. And we start at a particular place, the Mediterranean basin, in part because we have so much evidence from that part of the world. In our first five weeks we explore five topics critical to thinking about how to find a home in the natural world: Defining Nature, Climate Changes, Using Animals, Working the Land, Consumption and Damage. This is not an all-encompassing review, but will give us enough context so that we can move forward—into the present and engaged with individual interests.

Students will spend the last five weeks engaged in individual projects (either choosing from a list of possible topics or developing their own). We will also be working all quarter with the City of Kalamazoo’s Community Sustainability Plan to explore how our collective action can support local and global efforts to build a sustainable future.

As a Senior Capstone, this course is designed to:

  • Draw students from various majors together through collaborative engagement with critical issues facing the world today.
  • Encourage cross-disciplinary thinking and problem solving.
  • Encourage student input on content, process, and knowledge generation for the course.
  • Encourage students to explore connections (and disconnections) among components of their K-Plan.
  • Invite students to articulate a narrative of their education in anticipation of their lives after graduation.

Specific goals for the course include:

  • Acquiring a basic knowledge of the history of core issues that affect our ability to live in harmony with the earth.
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of interventions that have been employed and may be of use in this current moment.
  • Reflecting on our own commitments and how we can choose to be practitioners of sustainability in our beliefs and actions, our careers and hobbies, our local, regional and global communities to create a home in the world.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • describe and discuss basic environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability
  • compare and contrast the ideas and impacts of ancient and contemporary peoples on the environment
  • present with confidence their own research on a topic related to environment or sustainability

HILL Class Cluster

In January, Kalamazoo College received a three-year Mellon grant. (For more information, see the grant announcement.) Entitled Humanities Integrated Locational Learning (HILL), this initiative examines how many problems of our time—such as climate change, global migrations, and mass incarceration—can be analyzed through the lens of location and dislocation. To develop a deeper knowledge of these disruptions (physical, psychological, social, linguistic, and more) with the aim of generating the potential for change, HILL supports the formation of class clusters linked to specific places within and beyond Kalamazoo.

Our class is part of the Kalamazoo cluster that explores dimensions of home and belonging. In the spirit of the grant, courses partner with Kalamazoo community organizations/members and with each other. The collaboration includes SEMN 132 – Radical Belonging, SEMN 163 – About Us: Disability Stories/ Disability Rights, SEMN 182 – Wheels of Change, ENGL 155 – Identities: Home and Belonging, CES 240 (Critical Ethnic Studies) – Language: The Colonial and Imperial Difference, and SEMN 495 – Finding a Home in the World. Instructors for each course will communicate how and when they will collaborate throughout the term.

When considering the effects of location and dislocation, we understand that these concepts impact students who, for any number of reasons, may feel displaced or out of place on a college campus. The project, then, seeks to construct a sense of home on and off campus. By erasing the distinction between the classroom and “real world,” we seek to embrace how ways of learning within the humanities can facilitate a space to think about and create collective futures.

Course Materials

All readings, videos and other content will be available on our course Moodle site.

We will also be using a Course Research Guide on Environment and Sustainability curated by our reference librarians.

Course Methods

As a senior capstone experience, I hope to work in partnership with you, so that you have opportunities every class to share your gifts and expertise, partner in building the class, and find it a time and space for deep reflection on and engagement with what your K Plan means to you and how you can use it in the future.

Weeks 1-5

I’ve tried to structure the course so that we have some time at the beginning to build knowledge, learn the history of earth-human interactions in the Mediterranean, and think about lessons we might take from a different time and place. We will also build a common vocabulary for discussing these issues. In addition, we will engage in a number of activities, talk to visitors, bring in other materials, and look for ways to try on these ideas.

Tuesdays: Discussion of readings, vocabulary building, sharing from reflections
Thursdays: Visitors, projects, experiments, making connections to the modern world

Weeks 6-10

In these weeks you take over! On Tuesdays you will share a topic that you have been thinking about and researching, and will lead us in our exploration of it. You will assign our readings for the day, give us questions to use to reflect on the topic and help us develop a better understanding. Students will meet with me at least two weeks in advance to ensure that they have the resources they need and feel confident to shepherd us through the topic.

We may retain the same structure as weeks 1-5, but it depends on the number of students and student interests. If you want to keep the same structure, I will work with you to secure speakers for our Thursday sessions, projects or experiments that could inform our work, or help plan field trips to enhance our understanding.

Course Requirements:

This class is built on our work together—with each other, and our community partners—and so your grade will be based on how well you analyze the texts we read, both in class and in your written work.

A substantial portion of your grade depends upon class participation. This does not mean that you have to have something “brilliant” to contribute to each class. It does mean that I want to see that you are thoughtful, engaged and eager to dig into our topic that day. For each text we read you should come to class prepared with:

  • one passage that you liked, found interesting, or spoke to you in some way.
  • one question or problem.

The breakdown of your grade will be as follows:

Weekly Reflective Journal Entries 20% (2% each)
Facilitating a Class Session 20%
Participation and Engagement in Class30% (3% per week)
Active Engagement and Effort in Community Work 20%
Final Reflection 10%

I grade on a pretty standard scale:

PointsLetter Grade

Weekly Journal:

Each week you will be asked to bring our readings, discussions and your own experience into conversation with each other. There will be a prompt for each week to guide your writing, and to bring our course readings and discussions into conversation with current problems. But it is also a place where you can explore your own ideas. You can also use it as a place to record passages from the readings that interested you (that you want to make sure you bring up in class) or an experience that you have and want to reflect on. Really, anything course-related can go there. Weekly Journals should be updated every week by Tuesday at 9am. You should plan to write about two paragraphs in your response, in order to receive full credit (about 300 words). These will be graded using the Journal Rubric.

Facilitating Class:

We will work together early in the quarter to identify a topic that you would like to explore. In collaboration with me, you will select readings for the class, craft discussion questions for your classmates, then lead them through them in class. This will be graded using a rubric that reflects your seriousness of engagement, effort, and interest.


Participation is an important part of your grade. This part of your grade reflects both your participation AND your presence in the work we do. Active participation in this class means:

  • coming to class on time,
  • completing assigned readings and exercises,
  • listening to others (in ALL kinds of discussions),
  • contributing ideas of your own, and
  • asking questions as they come up.

If you are concerned about your participation grade or want to improve it, just ask!

Community Partner Work:

The work we do on our class project is one way we begin to practice the application of our knowledge to problems in the world, and the acquisition of new skills and knowledge to apply to the challenges of living. Thus, engagement and commitment to the project is critical for success in the class. Attendance is part of it—but open and enthusiastic engagement, curiosity and humility are essential.

Final Reflection:

Your final assignment will be a reflective essay, asking you to do many of the things we practice every week in our journals (integrating readings, experiences, work, and our own interests and expertise) but on a larger scale. Specific guidelines will be provided.

A FAQ about Class Policies

Is attendance important for this class?

Yes! You really make the class. I keep track of who is here every day and your regular participation and engagement counts for a significant part of your grade. Plus, we make the class together, and you are an important part of that!

What if I can’t meet a deadline for an assignment?

I try to make deadlines sensible, but everyone can get behind. You can still get credit for late journal (though you will lose some credit), but the goal is to prepare us for class discussion. So, making the deadline matters, because it makes our time together richer and more learning can happen. For your presentation or final reflection—well, that is something we should talk about. There is almost always a solution to any problem like that, as long as we communicate with each other.

What happens if I get sick or have to quarantine?

All the resources that you will need for the class will be available on Moodle. If you have to quarantine, I will make sure that I record class or provide you with content in other ways. Rest assured, you will not be left behind if this happens—you will be able to keep up with the course AND still be a part of it.

The structure of this class feels very loose. Should I be nervous?

What should I have with me in class?

Please always bring a copy of whatever we are reading for that class period with you. I don’t like having electronic devices open in class (for a variety of reasons). If you don’t want to print out copies of the articles, you can always bring notes on the reading. And your journal and discussion writings will often form the starting point for our conversations.

A Few Other Pieces—Campus Policies:

Honor Code:

This course operates under the College Honor System. That means: we treat each other with respect, we nurture independent thought, we take responsibility for personal behavior, and we accept environmental responsibility. Academic honesty is a critical part of our value system at K. When you borrow an idea, express the idea in your own words, thus thinking it through and making it your own, and acknowledge the source of the idea in a note, or, in certain situations, use the exact words of the source in quotation marks and acknowledge with a note. Ideas raised in class are part of the public domain and, therefore, sources of the ideas need not be acknowledged. If you are ever in doubt about this, you must ask. Here’s the full policy.


The Americans with Disabilities Act requires me to offer reasonable accommodations for students with physical, sensory, cognitive, systemic, learning and psychiatric challenges. Please contact me during the first week of the quarter if you need or believe you may need accommodations so that you can be successful in this course. If you need more information, you can learn more about specific resources by visiting the student life website or calling the Dana Jansma, Senior Associate Dean of Students Office at (269) 337-7209.

College Resources

Student Mental Health

The Kalamazoo College Counseling Center is available to all students. If you are struggling—or know someone else who is—you should definitely contact them for a visit (their hours are Mon-Fri 8-5). E-mail Patricia Jorgenson, who can assist you in getting the support you need. They are a great place to turn to if you are anxious or depressed—and they are also a great place to visit if you are struggling with workload, feeling overwhelmed, or a little worried that things are harder than they used to be. In addition, for issues that won’t wait, there are lots of people that can 24/7:

  • Campus Safety: 269.337.7321 (to be connected to an on-call counselor)
  • Gryphon Place: 269.381.HELP (Kalamazoo)
  • National Suicide Hotline: 1.800.273.8255
  • Steve Fund Crisis Text Line (for young people of color): Text STEVE to 741741
  • Call 911

Policy on Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Gender-Based Violence

While I want you to feel comfortable coming to me with issues with which you may be struggling, please be aware that I have reporting requirements in my role as a professor.

For example, if you inform me of an issue of sexual harassment, assault, or discrimination, or other misconduct, I will keep the information as private as I can, but I am required to bring it to the attention of the Title IX Coordinator. In the event that I must share such information with the Coordinator, you may respond to their outreach in any way you wish, or not respond at all.

If you would like to talk to the Office of Gender Equity directly, you can reach out to Tanya Jachimiak (tanya.jachimiak@kzoo.edu) or make a report through the Title IX website. You can also report incidents to anyone in Student Development or Campus Safety (located in Hicks 138, 269-337-5739). If you would like to speak with a confidential individual who is not required to report to the Title IX Coordinator, please reach out to the Counseling Center, our College Chaplain, or
K’s Victim Advocate from the YWCA.

Finally, any form of discrimination or harassment based on your real or perceived race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, height, weight, marital status, familial status, disability as protected by law, sexual orientation, or gender expression or identity is prohibited by K’s Nondiscrimination Policy. If you feel you have experienced any type of bias-related discrimination, please reach out to me and I can help connect you to the appropriate resources.

Class Schedule and Readings

Please prepare the assignments that are due for that class. This class, perhaps more than many you have taken, will rely on you to form it and sustain it.

Week 1: Defining Nature

This week we will try to define what we mean by some basic terms: nature, sustainability, environment, and ecology. We will consider how ancient definitions of these terms may differ from our own, and think about how other definitions might influence our attitudes and behavior toward the natural world.

  • This week will be a little unusual, since there is no assignment for Tuesday! Writing is due on Thursday morning at 9 a.m.


Usher, “Debts to Nature”
Leopold, “The Land Ethic” in Sand County Almanac
Hughes, “The Environment: Life, Land and Sea in the Mediterranean” (optional) and “Concepts of the Natural World” (optional) in Environmental Problems of the Greeks and Romans

Do: Complete and review your “gifts list”

Write: Start your journal. We’ve explored already how there are perspectives that emphasize our connectedness to nature, and others that highlight our separation from it. What makes you feel connected to or disconnected from nature? How might your gifts help you and the class in our journey to better understand our relationship to the Earth?

Week 2: Climate Changes

This week we consider various periods of climate change throughout history, focusing on the impact of climate in the fall of the Roman Empire and how Western Christian beliefs have shaped our responses to it. We look at how these changes have had unforeseen impacts and also how they have been managed.

Sometime this Week: You will be meeting with a partner student from Dr. Katanski’s First-Year Seminar to have lunch or dinner and get to know each other a little bit!


For Tuesday:
Harper, “Judgement Day” in The Fate of Rome
Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four Theses” (optional)
White, “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis” (optional)

For Thursday:
Guest: community partner (or member of K Climate Action Committee)
Prepare for conversation about doing community-based work (Kalamazoo’s Community
Sustainability Plan
and film on Cultural Humility)

Do: Explore NASA’s Effects of Climate Change site. At the bottom of the page you’ll see three interactive features (“Images of Change,” “Climate Time Machine,” and “Eyes on the Earth.” Try out at least two of these features.

Write: Choose one of the interactive features that you played with and think about what you learned from it in light of our conversations and readings. Does what we read and discussed raise questions for you about the website? vice versa? Does the information presented to you visually or graphically change your understanding of climate events? Does this give you any insights on how to talk to others about climate change?

Week 3: Using Animals

Monday at Common Time (10:55-11:55 a.m.): We will be meeting with all the classes in our cluster to have lunch and get to know each other a little bit! SAVE THIS DATE!

This week we look at human use, exploitation and cohabitation with animal species. Obviously, animal labor and animals as food represent a big part of our use of the animal world, but we will also think about how some ancient peoples thought about animals as our companion species.


For Tuesday:
Hesiod, Works and Days
Usher, “A City for Pigs”
Sorabji, “Did the Greeks Have the Idea of Human or Animal Rights?” (optional)

For Thursday:
Guest: community partner or member of K Climate Action Committee

Do: This news article links to a UN resolution about animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Read the article, then click a hyperlink, and keep going until your timer goes off. See where it takes you. Feel free to repeat with another link to see where a different path might go.

Write: Where did you end up? What aspect of animal welfare did you choose to follow? Did you end up far from animals or still reading about animals? What is your sense from this experiment about the kinds of ancillary issues that related to animals and sustainability?

Week 4: Working the Land

This week we look at agriculture, both the ways that agriculture has harmed the land, and how farmers have found ways to nourish the land and work together with it.


For Tuesday:
Usher, “Roman Revolutions”
Purcell, “The Way We Used to Eat”
Garnsey, “Food Crisis” and Malnutrition” (optional)

Short film in class, The Greening of Cuba

For Thursday:
Field trip to Tillers International (and popcorn harvest!)

Do: Watch Good Things Await

Write: You can see from this film that the food system touches on all kinds of issues, from the personal (how we are going to feed ourselves) to the political (who gets to decide who can farm and how). Choose an issue that you saw come up in the film and write about how that same issue comes up in your own life (as a young person, a member of a family, a worker, a supervisor, a capitalist, an urban dweller, etc.). Where are the problems in the food system for you? What would you need to make it better?

Week 5: Consumption and Damage

This week we look at the damage that we have done to the world in multiple ways. We also examine the resilience of nature and the places where our positive intervention can do the most good.

Monday at Common Time (10:55-11:55 a.m.): We will be meeting with Dr. Katanski’s First-Year Seminar to discuss Sadik-Khan and Solomon’s “How to Read the Street.” SAVE THIS DATE!


For Tuesday:
Hughes, “Case Study B: Ecology and the Decline of the Roman Empire” in The Mediterranean, an Environmental History
Wallace-Hadrill, “Pliny the Elder and Man’s Unnatural History”
Walsh, “Environmental Change: Degradation and Resilience” (optional)

And an optional hopeful reading on resilience: Usher, “Community Rule”

For Thursday:
Discussion about your presentations and how we want to move forward
Time for project groups and check-ins

Do: Watch “No Impact Man” (available through the library here and here)

Write: One of the things that always impresses me is Colin Bevan’s commitment—he gave up a lot of things that we take for granted. What are your commitments? Where are the areas in your life where you stand firm? Where are you willing to give a little? Are there commitments that you are interested in making after watching the film?

Possible Topics for Your Class Sessions

Water and Waterworks (including oceans, rivers, lakes, reservoirs)
Arts and the Environment
Health and the Environment
Progress and Regression
Philosophies of Nature and the Environment
Ecological Systems: Resilience and Vulnerability
Managing Climate Anxiety
Models for Sustainable Shelter
Gender and Sustainability
Queering the natural world
Disability and Difference in Nature
Sustainability and Transportation
Animal Rights
A World without Humans
Climate Science for Dummies
Learning from Other Cultures and Societies
Economics of Climate Change
Food Preservation and Production
Implementing Kalamazoo College’s Climate Action Plan