What do the foods you eat tell others about who you are? In this seminar, we will look at how food has contributed to creating national identities, global migrations, economic inequalities, and international conflicts.
We will start abroad and then return home. In the first part of the course, we will look at case studies from four regions of the globe where food has united and divided: East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. We will explore these distant lands through nonfiction as well as fiction, the food itself (yes, there will be tastings), and popular culture. Then we will return to the United States and use food to think about our own identities.
Through ethnographic studies of contemporary Mississippi foodways or historical studies of community cookbooks housed in the Culinary Collection at Southern Miss, we will consider how what we eat makes us who we are.
A work composed for tape recorder? A piece written for amplified cactus? A piano composition that doesn’t require a piano? A string quartet performed by four players in four helicopters? Music whose score is a comic strip? These are but a few examples of twentieth-century compositions that defy conventions and place unprecedented demands on their audiences. Where do such works come from? What were the composers thinking? What is the role of the audience in these performances?
This seminar will attempt to determine what led musicians to reject tradition in favor of such “weird” approaches to musical composition. In our investigations, we will also examine parallel developments in the visual arts, dance, architecture, and experimental film. We will also look at audience responses to weird music, from indifference to eager enthusiasm to full-blown riots. No musical background is required.
War is a staple of the modern age – a staple covered in nearly every textbook. But those books rarely go beneath the surface history of great leaders, titanic battles, and flawed peace treaties. War, though, is much deeper; much more visceral than that.
This class will certainly look at why and what modern (read Napoleon and beyond) wars were. But it will also look at the humanity of war, using tools like prose, poetry, letters, diaries, and veteran visits to the classroom. War is violence at its most horrific; humanity at its most barbaric. I want to investigate the question of how this barbarity and violence interacts with the souls and psyches of the young men and women sent to fight war and with the families that they left behind.
From the pyramids of Giza to the rural highways of North America, usually outdoors and always for the many rather than the few, public art ranges from government funded monuments to urban underpass graffiti. Whether voicing support of power, criticizing the status quo or celebrating its local community, public art is meant to be experienced by the public.
In this class we will look at murals, sculpture, train tagging, and more. We will compare the imagery of the past to contemporary public art and ask: What are the motivations behind these artworks and what messages are they are trying to convey? Is the art acceptable to those who view it or is it confrontational? How does funding, or lack thereof affect the outcome of the artworks? Can civic monuments re-define communities? We will go out into our community and take note of the public art we encounter. We will become active participants in the communication that is public art.
Many of us believe that we will eventually be happy once we achieve our goals and get what we want—a college degree, the right job, the right income—not realizing that the happiness that results from getting what we want quickly fades, and that happiness is actually a skill that can be cultivated.
In this course, we will engage in a scientific and practical exploration of happiness, including factors that contribute to happiness, including character strengths, positive emotions, motivation, relationships, positive mental health, and physical health. We will explore theories of happiness and positive emotions, as well as what the research says about character strengths that are associated with happiness and well-being, such as gratitude, sense of humor, optimism, and perseverance.
You will learn what your own character strengths are and how to use that knowledge to capitalize on those strengths. We will learn about scientifically supported methods for increasing happiness, and you will be applying these interventions on yourself, so that you can learn skills to help you become the best version of yourself.
What we eat means so much more to us than just the nutrients that our physical body needs. In this seminar we will explore the myths, history, and physiology of food and nutrition, highlighting some interesting food trends and themes along the way. This interactive class will use the sciences, the arts, and the literature to learn more about how the foods we love to eat affect our mind, body, and emotions and conversely, how our culture affects the foods we eat. We will read Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach for an informative and entertaining digestive journey.
This seminar will surely whet your appetite and take you into the world of food and nutrition that travels beyond our kitchen table!
In this class, we will look at a single year that changed everything people thought about art, culture, and the political order: 1913.
In the domain of politics, the rise of nationalism would begin the lead-up to WWI and the end of the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman empires, while agitation by workers—including the famous Patterson Silk Strike—led to changing labor laws and debates about capitalism across the globe.
In culture, Igor Stravinsky’s controversial ballet, “Rite of Spring,” with Vaslav Nijinsky as the lead dancer, provoked a riot on its debut in Paris; back in the United States, the famous Armory Show shocked the public with new abstract art from Cubists, Futurists, and others. Literary modernism was born in the Poetry Bookshop in London and in the works of such writers as TS Eliot, Robert Frost, and Willa Cather.
Reading, studying, listening, and analyzing, we will examine these and other happenings in Europe and the United States as a means of understanding how the modern world was borne from them, and how they presaged the global crisis that would become World War I.