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Honors College

Colloquium 2022-23

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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. 

In the belief that action and experience are a critical part of the learning process, Honors Colloquium embraces the principles of “active learning.” In that spirit, and COVID-19 permitting, 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.

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.




Whistling Through the Graveyard

Section H001
Dr. Don Yee
Whistling through the Graveyard 

“I want a golden goose!” - Veruca Salt, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Resistance often implies positive outcomes, especially when we think of resisting governmental actions or forms of discrimination. However, like most acts of human behavior, sometimes resistance produces unintended consequences, like the defiant child who holds their breath only to turn blue. How do these events unfold, and why can’t we see them coming? How do we know when acts of resistance will produce the desired results? In this section of Colloquium, we will begin by exploring acts of resistance that did not lead to the intended outcomes and sometimes to more troubles for all involved. In the spring, we will change gears to examine the different mechanisms that can be used for resistance, from the very words that make up our languages, to the songs that lead us to protest, to the mathematics that change the way we understand the universe.

Potential readings: Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History, Yunte Huang; East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart, Susan Butler; Plucked: Chicken, Antibiotics, and How Big Business Changed the Way the World Eats, Maryn McKenna; Making Sense Of The Troubles, David McKittrick.


Resistance: An Intimate Encounter

Section H002
Dr. Brad Phillis
Resistance: An Intimate Encounter

Resistance requires a relationship between forces or agents: in order for one force or agent to resist another, they must somehow be in touch. Thus, though we often think about resistance in terms of distance (e.g., we resist ideas or people who are different; we resist our enemies, etc.), it is an intimate act. Furthermore, because resistance is relational, the way we frame our understanding of it matters: which force or agent is resisting which is often a matter of perspective. This section of Colloquium will explore the intimacy and subjectivity of resistance. We will analyze texts by thinkers in a number of fields, including education, neuroscience, literature, history, physics, sociology, and mechanical engineering with an eye toward understanding what—and how—people can, do, and should (and should not) resist in their jobs and communities. This analysis will prepare us to focus on public education in the spring.

Potential readings: The Trouble with Passion: How Searching for Fulfillment at Work Fosters Inequality, Erin Cech; Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, Christopher R. Browning; Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, Sabine Hossenfelder; The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry; Uncommon Sense Teaching: Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn, Barbara Oakley, Beth Rogowsky, and Terrence J. Sejnowski, The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, a Philosophy, a Warning, Justin E.H. Smith, Teaching Black History to White People, Leonard N. Moore


Surface Pressure

Section H003
Dr. Joyce Inman
Surface Pressure

I think about my purpose, can I somehow preserve this?
Line up the dominoes, a light wind blows
You try to stop it tumblin’, but on and on it goes.

“Surface Pressure,” Encanto

This section of Colloquium will focus on the ways resistance, acquiescence, and growth are intertwined. We will explore narratives and stories of resistance and acceptance and consider how individuals and cultures can begin to reshape their identities in moments of both resistance and respite. Beginning with our current, pandemic-informed lives, we will consider stories that help shape our understandings of individual and global pressures involving the pandemic, social justice, gender equality, immigration, and the environment. During the fall semester, we will explore these issues through resistance narratives, pondering the ways individuals describe their own moments of resistance. In the spring semester, we will shift our lens slightly, as we consider how fictional works circumvent and reinvent real-life experiences. We will examine how satire, historical fiction, the contemporary novel, and movies reflect (or not) our ideas about resistance.

Potential readings: Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates; Know My Name, Chanel Miller; The Girls Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine Wamariya; What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis Resistance and Hope in an American City, Mona Hanna-Attisha; Feed, M.T. Anderson; The Book of Longings, Sue Monk Kidd; and Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward


The Power (and Paradox) of Resistance in the 21st Century

Section H004
Professor Hali Black
The Power (and Paradox) of Resistance in the 21st Century

“Where there is power, there is resistance.”

Michel Foucault

Our Colloquium course will focus on voices and forms of resistance through which we will explore issues of social justice, inequality, identity, technology, and our environment. Through our common read, we will begin our year together by examining pandemic-related ideas and questions prompted by the unprecedented situation we have experienced and the aftermath of which we will live with for years to come. During the fall semester, we will explore voices of resistance through resistance narratives, fiction, and poetry. In the spring semester, we will investigate what resistance can look like and what forms it can take while considering how these modes of resistance have and will continue to shape the 21st century.

Potential readings: Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, Catherine Coleman Flowers; Feed, M.T. Anderson; poetry by Maya Angelou, Claude McKay, Karenne Wood, and Audre Lorde; How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation, Maureen Johnson; This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century, Mark Engler and Paul Engler


Resistance is NOT Futile

Section H005
Dr. Iliyan Iliev
Resistance Is NOT Futile

“Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Do not read these books. Do not watch these movies. Behavior like that is not acceptable here. Do not speak your mind. We know what is best for you. You do not want to be like them. Our way is the correct way. This is inevitable. But how inevitable is the inevitable? We can go quietly, or we can be empowered by our resistance. In this class, we will read books that have been banned, watch movies that make people uncomfortable, discuss things and ideas that others do not want us to discuss, and explore ideas that have been silenced. We will intentionally and actively explore and resist messages that suggest we should not make these decisions for ourselves.

Potential readings: Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman; The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer, eds. Meagan Brooks and Davis Houck; Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi


Resistance is for Everyone

Section H006
Dr. Leslie Anderson
Resistance Is for Everyone

“Be realistic, demand the impossible.”

Ernesto Che Guevara

Often when we hear the word “resistance,” we imagine carefully organized social movements that are mobilized by large groups of people committed to systemic and substantive change. While that image of resistance can at times be true, resistance can also show up through seemingly small and individual acts of intentionality that seek to confront status quo practices and ideologies that exist in society. In this section of Colloquium, we will explore the theme of resistance by reading about the experiences of ordinary people whose lives have been impacted by social inequities and oppressive forces. More specifically, in the Fall, our readings will focus on real-life personal narratives of resistance within domestic and global contexts. In the Spring, we will explore fiction narratives of resistance and continue to ponder over ways that we experience and/or promote resistance in our lives and in the lives of those around us. The culmination of this section of Colloquium will include the completion of a class research project via an adapted version of a creative research process known as photovoice.

Potential readings: A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women & Men Fighting Extremism in Africa, Alexis Okeowo; What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City, Mona Hanna-Attisha; I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World, Malala Yousafzai & Patricia McCormick; Anger is a Gift, Mark Oshiro; Feed, M. T. Anderson; Punching the Air, Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam


Resistance in Healthcare

Section H007
Dr. Katie Anthony
Resistance in Healthcare: A Shifting Landscape

Upon hearing the term, “resistance,” one might conjure images of conflict or war; however, given the countless health disparities affecting the United States population and the ever-rising costs of our healthcare system, challenging the status quo in healthcare is becoming more common. Patients and their families are rejecting old models of healthcare that fail to prioritize their needs. Communities are providing more public spaces and built environments where people can be active and have access to healthy food. Public policy that addresses the unique health-related challenges of rural and urban spaces is becoming increasingly more common. In this section of Colloquium, we will focus on acts of resistance in healthcare as patients and providers look to mitigate health-related inequalities that manifest in health policy, poverty, access, community, and culture. Who deserves to be healthy? How can we close the gaps between people with excellent access to healthcare and those without? How can we demand more from healthcare organizations and healthcare policy? We will also consider end-of-life discussions and ethical concerns as patients refuse former models of care and prioritize their needs and their quality of life. 

Potential readings: Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine, and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande; When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kanathi; Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond; Mistreated: Why We Think We’re Getting Good Healthcare, and Why We’re Usually Wrong, Robert Pearl   


The Art and Exploration of Resistance

Section H008
Professor Allen Chen
The Art and Exploration of Resistance

In this section of Colloquium, we will explore the idea of resistance through examinations of how our ideas are formed. We will conduct these inquiries through class discussions, reading and writing assignments, and ceramics/sculptural projects. Understanding what drives our behaviors and ideas will help us analyze why we resist, what we resist, and the ramifications of resistance. During the fall semester, we will approach these discussions of what drives our resistance through explorations of the brain and human consciousness. In the spring semester, we will consider the behavioral aspects of resistance with the understanding that what drives us to resist is inextricably linked to our corresponding responses.

Potential readings: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks; Phantoms in the Brain, V.S. Ramachandran; Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, David Eagleman; The Naked Ape, Desmond Morris


Resistance in the Arts
Section H009
Professor Rachael Fowler
Resistance in the Arts: Exploring Form and Content

This section of colloquium will consider forms of resistance through various arts such as the novels of postcolonial writers like Chinua Achebe, the songs of Delta Blues musicians like Robert Johnson, and the work of visual artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat. Not only will we consider the ideas of each, but we’ll also consider craft, or how each delivers those ideas and the sociohistorical context surrounding those decisions. In addition to exploring resistance, form, and content through our readings, we’ll spend the first semester resisting conventional academic genres. Potential projects include a semester-long blog, a creative memoir that mimics the writing choices of a contemporary writer, a soundtrack with a critical introduction, and a graphic essay. We’ll then use our first-semester knowledge as an entry into Spring semester, when we’ll read Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, explore USM’s McCain archives, and complete an immersive research project. 

Potential readings: Intimations by Zadie Smith, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Delta Blues by Ted Gioia, Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story by Guggenheim Museum, and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.



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