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Honors College

Colloquium 2017-18: Journeys

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Required for all first-year HC students, this two-semester sequence lays the foundation for your development as an Honors Scholar. Focused on a common theme, this class will encourage you to think creatively, be curious and investigative, and ask rich and complex questions. The class will meet at the same time in the fall and spring.


HON 111 (Fall)

In HON 111, you will learn how to encounter and interact with different kinds of writing and texts; how to become a better analytical reader; how to collaborate with your fellow scholars; how to engage in academic debate and discourse; and how to improve your communication skills, both written and oral.


HON 112 (Spring)

In HON 112, we will go from a focus on asking questions to a focus on answering them. While you continue to hone the skill of asking rich and rewarding questions, you will also begin developing the tools you need to find answers. In short, in HON 112 you will learn how to undertake “research,” broadly defined, what research looks like in various disciplines, the ethics of research, and how research develops organically.



The 2017-18 Honors Colloquium will focus on the theme of journeys—something certainly meaningful to you as you make your way through the transition from high school to college, from adolescence to adulthood, from your home community to the Southern Miss community. In addition to texts chosen by individual faculty members, all sections of HON 111 will make use of Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas.

Note that all classes will take a required active learning trip during Fall Break; travel costs, accommodations, tickets, and some meals will be paid for by the Honors College.

Individual course descriptions follow.


Dr. Marek Steedman, MW 2-3:15 (H001, #8755)

“Voyages of Return”

Graphic from Wide Sargasso SeaIn this course we explore the political meanings of journeys: those in search of the old and familiar, and those in search of new horizons. As Dorothy explains to the Scarecrow in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, “no matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.” In the first semester, “Voyages of Return,” we explore this desire to return home, and the nostalgia that often accompanies it. Nostalgia is often thought of as a harmful emotion (the word was coined to describe an illness). Can nostalgia play a positive role in politics? Can the concept help us understand contemporary political movements in Europe and the United States? In the second semester, “Voyages of Discovery,” we strike out for new territories, real and imagined. Can we find new answers to our most pressing political questions by discovering new worlds? “Allons! the road is before us!”

Books include: The Odyssey of Homer; Wide Sargasso Sea; The Shipwrecked Mind


Dr. David Cochran, T/Th 9:30-10:45 (H002 #8756)

“Into the Unknown”

Graphic from Songlines“Into the Unknown” will examine journeys through the lens of cultural geography. Mobility, the capacity to move across geographical space, has always been a characteristic of humanity, and we humans are more mobile than ever. We undertake journeys for many reasons, but we often do so in search of meaning and understanding.  Journeys I: Into the Unknown will explore the theme of embarking on new life chapters to find new places, to learn, and perhaps to discover our own futures. Much of our work will focus on metaphorical journeys that parallel the literal journeys we take in life. During the spring (Journeys II: Worlds on the Move), we will examine immigration, corporate nomadism, hyper-urbanization, and societal change as forms of journeys that are vital elements and outcomes of contemporary global society. Over the academic year, we will use readings, lectures, and discussions, as well as individual projects to deepen our understanding of journeys in the fullest sense of the term.

Books include: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Journey of America’s Great Migration; Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend; The Songlines


Dr. Jennifer Regan, MW 2-3:15 (H003 #8757)

“Wonder and Wander”

Graphic from Inner FishScientists are curious by nature. Curiosity is a common trait among all of us, but how we develop it and how we hold onto it as we age varies.  In the first semester of this class, we will examine the process of developing scientific curiosity by reading about the lives of various scientists. We will learn that scientists often fine-tune their scientific thinking in response to challenges they face, whether those challenges come from traveling far from home or just to a new laboratory in the same institution. We will also explore the "journey" of the discipline of biology, from its early stages to the exciting times of today where we still struggle with questions such as "What defines life?" By focusing on the changes of how biology has developed as a science, we will prepare for the spring semester of learning how to answer questions as scientists.  (Note: although focused on scientific discovery, this class is open to students in any major!)

Books include: Your Inner Fish; Lab Girl


Dr. Paula Smithka, MW 2-3:15 (H004 #8758)

“The Examined Life: A Journey of the Mind”

Graphic from The Trial and Death of SocratesWhen one thinks of a “journey,” one usually thinks of moving from one place to another and discovering new things about those places. But there are also journeys of the mind. Our class will be a journey in the latter sense, where we will embark upon the quest for “the examined life.” Living “the examined life” means being willing to raise important questions about the many basic assumptions we all make and take for granted. Some examples include what we take to be “real,” or what a “self” is, or what is a “mind.” We will examine such basic assumptions, explore options, and seek answers to those questions. Such inquiry leads to an understanding of why you hold the ideas you do; and that makes them your own. This is a journey to unlock your mind.

Books include: The Trial and Death of Socrates; Meditations; A Dialogue on Consciousness; Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain


Dr. Katie Anthony, T/Th 9:30-10:45 (H005 #8759)

“On Living Well: A Journey in Understanding”

Graphic from What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student's Journey“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” - Oscar Wilde

In this course, we will seek to understand more fully the journey of living well, and the ways in which wellness, a deeper appreciation for others, and an understanding of different cultures can enhance our lives. This course will first focus on understanding the role of health in various cultures. What do people value? How does healing vary from place to place?  How can we reevaluate our own beliefs in light of other systems of thought?  We will read selections from physicians concerning the ways in which they negotiate interactions with and care for their patients. How do they make decisions? What pressures do they face? What constitutes a “good doctor?” We will also read excerpts from patients concerning the ways they navigate illness and major life changes. What role does illness play in the ways that we operate? How do changes in our health affect the ways we navigate our interpersonal relationships?  The class will also focus on the ethics of living and dying. During the second semester, we will focus on greater societal-level issues concerning health and poverty in the United States and abroad, and we will consider perspectives on ameliorating disparities in access to care. Through the exhilarating and devastating moments of a journey, there is always something meaningful to learn.

Books include: The Scalpel and the Silver Bear: The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing; Being Mortal; When Breath Becomes Air; What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student's Journey


Dr. Heather Stur, T/Th 9:30-10:45 (H007, #8760)

“Learning from Wartime Journeys”

Graphic from PersepolisA Russian soldier hugs his mother and father before boarding a train to the front during World War I. An American journalist finds herself in a cave with rebel forces during the Algerian War of Independence. A Vietnamese mother holds her child tightly on her lap aboard one of the last U.S. helicopters to depart Saigon as the Vietnam War comes to an end. She glances out the window, not quite comprehending that it is the last time she will see her homeland. Wartime journeys illustrate the broad reach of conflict and provide entry points from which to delve into questions that have been central to the human experience for the past century and longer. Why do nations go to war? What motivates young men and women to join the fight? In what ways does war displace individuals and communities? What does it mean to be patriotic? What does it mean to support the troops? In what ways do politics, economics, and war shape one another? What do we make of the "just war theory"? What is terrorism? We will grapple with these questions and more during the fall semester as we read opposing viewpoints, learn to identify different forms of writing and ways of making an argument, question our sources, and arrive at a point where we assume nothing, and take no detail for granted. In the spring semester, we will examine postwar journeys to ask and answer questions about the aftermath of war. We will explore how the journeys involved in waging peace can be as complicated and consequential as the journeys that are part of waging war.

Books include, Persepolis; Testament of Youth; Travels with Myself and Another; First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers


Dr. Joshua Hill, T/Th 9:30-10:45 (H007 #8761)

“A Dangerous Business”

Graphic from Discipline and PunishIn J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings, the character Frodo reminisces that his friend Bilbo used to say, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door... You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.” While journeys, whether metaphorical or real, can be frightening, they also offer us unparalleled opportunity for learning and growth. In the first part of the course (Journeys I: A Dangerous Business), we examine the idea of what it is to question things, and how questions can be both the impetus for, and the result of, journeys. We also explore different kinds of journeys: Foucault, for example, will help us see how a societal journey can profoundly impact our immediate, tangible world, while Contact will outline an individual journey of discovery and how it can shape our own personal viewpoints. In the second part of the course (Journeys II: Praxis) we focus on the idea that we can take what is learned from journeys, both our own and others, and apply those lessons - a concept called praxis. Throughout both semesters, we will learn to ask better questions of our own journeys and the journeys in which we vicariously participate.

Books include: Contact; Discipline and Punish; Devil in the White City


Dr. Alen Hajnal, MW 2-3:15 (H008 #8762)

“Journeys into Knowledge: Asking Questions”

Graphic from NeurocomicWe will examine the creative processes of science, art and literature through general principles, specific examples and case studies. The creative process of scientific discovery will be described in a nonconventional way using the medium of comic books. Our first book, Unflattening, is a general treatise on the nature of gathering knowledge, and the pitfalls and obstacles encountered along the way. Neurocomic is a specific example of such a “journey,” describing the inner workings of our nervous system and the brain. Furthermore we will provide a case study from a literary corner, an autobiographical psychological account of brain surgery from a patient’s point of view. Finally, the “journey” into the human condition will lead us to the most generic of psychological topics – that of happiness - through the works of Csikszentmihalyi and positive psychology. The second semester's main theme will be “ways of knowing.”  We will discuss knowledge acquisition, diverse ways of thinking, and creativity. The semester will be couched in the context of how science, art, and other creative endeavors evolve over time.

Books include: Unflattening; Neurocomic; Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience; A Journey Round My Skull



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