2016-17 Senior Tutorials
- Accessing Arabia
- Alt Endings and Odd Futures: Dystopian Film as a Voice of the Present
- American Comedy and Saturday Night Live
- The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- “Burn Him at the Stake”: Race, Hatred, and Violence in the Borderlands
- Creative Nonfiction Workshop
- Frailties of the Mind
- Girls, Girls, Girls
- Industries of the Future, Economic Growth, and the Changing Face of Higher Education
- Interpreting Contemporary American Short Fiction
- Liberty or Death: A Look at Voting Theory and Electoral Policy
- Look Up: A Study of the Night Sky
- One Hundred Years of Solitude
- Psychology: A Brief Survey of Theories of Personality Development
- Public Health and Infectious Diseases
- Sports Writing
- Thinking You Know When You Don’t Know How You Think: An Exploration of the Modern Science of Unconscious Cognition
- U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America & Cuba—A Whole New Ballgame
This course will be a study of the Arabic language, both learning some of the language and learning about the language. Students will learn basic language skills, learn about the history and structure of Arabic, and learn how others have approached the language.
The course will start with an exploration of linguistics focusing mainly on the question of how humans form and learn languages. What aspects of language are present in all languages, and how are some languages, especially Arabic, distinct? How do we learn languages? Then, students will explore the history of the Arabic language and situate its current diglossic nature and many dialects within a historical and cultural context. How does the Arabic language reflect and how has it shaped Arab culture and history? With a context for understanding the language, students will then learn how to read and write the Arabic script and learn basic Arabic phrases. An emphasis will be placed on understanding what exactly they are learning, i.e. “Would someone on the street say this? Would a newscaster say this?” Lastly, students will read about people discovering Arabic and Arabia for the first time. How is their experience similar to those who have done it already? What should they be prepared for should they choose to study the language?
In the ongoing debate on whether art imitates life or life imitates art, dystopian fiction precludes a definitive answer. Spanning centuries, the genre has presented narratives rooted in a familiar reality while altering that reality to provide myriad answers to “If that, then what?”
The responses to this question speculate on how human behavior adapts to situations of extreme stress, most of which represent the real-life conditions humankind endures. Alt Endings and Odd Futures examines some of these responses as demonstrated through films dating back to the 1960s. Taking one film from each decade thence, we will explore how the films may have been informed by the period during which they were made, as well as the ways in which the narratives continue to resonate despite the temporal remove.
In this course, students will explore the roots of satire comedy in the United States in service of understanding the hit late-night comedy sketch show, Saturday Night Live. We will identify the show’s historical impact by watching a variety of sketches and reading and writing about the show’s arguments. We will also explore the show in its current form.
To close the course, each student will either write and perform their own argumentative sketch or develop an extended critical argument about an episode that they will submit for publication. The texts for the course will probably include many short clips; a variety of opinion essays; a podcast episode; some tweets; and two books about SNL—Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, and Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live.
There’s a story that a college professor’s son told his dad he was dropping out of college because he was disengaged, uninspired, at loss. His father told him he could do whatever he wanted to, but he asked his son if before he did so, would he just read The Brothers Karamazov. The son agreed; he read it in a single setting; he went back to college intellectually hungry and morally reinvigorated.
This is one of the great novels of all time, about family, murder, religion, treachery, spiritual crisis, forgiveness. This book changes lives.
In Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, Paul D describes Delaware as “the meanest place for Negroes he had ever seen outside Pulaski County, Kentucky, and of course the prison camp in Georgia.” As a “border state,” Delaware’s history is deeply tied to both slavery and freedom, to injustice and racial progress—a contested, liminal space for questions of race, from its founding right through to the present. On numerous occasions, the nation, and even the world, looked to Delaware to make sense of the most fundamental American questions of race.
In this tutorial, we will take up the charge Bryan Stevenson gave St. Andrew’s to lead the charge in pushing for Delaware to remember, memorialize, and actively engage the history of racial violence in the state. This includes the lynching of George F. White, who was burned at the stake by a mob of white men and women in Wilmington in 1903. For many years, narratives of Delaware history identified White as the only man lynched in Delaware, but the story is more complicated than that. Recently, historians have uncovered evidence of other lynchings in the postbellum period, and there have been incidents of racial violence in the 21st century that many argue should be understood as lynchings.
In order to more deeply understand the history and legacy of these lynchings, we will consider the larger history of race and violence in Delaware: in slavery and the presence of the Underground Railroad; in the desegregation crisis that exploded in Milford, Delaware in the fall of 1954, just months after the Brown v. Board decision was handed down; in the “riots” in Wilmington in 1968 following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; in the state’s ongoing struggle with institutionalize racial inequities in the criminal justice system, the education system, and culture.
In addition, since we will be focused in significant ways on how to tell the stories of these painful and traumatic pasts, we will study how both fiction and non-fiction have approached crafting narratives of memorialization. How should different methods of memorialization and cultural storytelling be employed?
Because of the distinctive local nature of this work, we will try to do work on site when possible, with trips to visit the “sites of memory” whose history we will engage; to examine local monuments and memorials that have been erected to address the history of race in Delaware; to local archives in Dover and Wilmington; and (if possible) to speak with politicians about what can be done to tell these stories.
This tutorial will explore some of the greatest creative nonfiction essays from the last 50 years. We’ll read Didion, White, Mitchell, Dillard, Orlean, McPhee, and D'Agata. We will of course also make our own attempts through four short essays and a final capstone essay we’ll workshop together. A love of reading and writing and a sharp eye for finding beauty in the people and places around us is a must.
The human mind is not a splendid, all-purpose learning machine. Instead, it is more like a Swiss army knife—a limited tool with specialized capacities and predictable weaknesses. Such weaknesses, which typically go unnoticed, are the focus of this tutorial.
Why do people make so many unwise decisions? Using examples from our own experiences, we will ask why are we so easily distracted by trivialities, so easily led to false beliefs, and so comfortable with unreasonable conclusions? We will ask how our mental weaknesses have arisen and what can be done to compensate for them.
The development of this tutorial resulted from the controversial issues that have been a part of our society for quite some time but has come to the forefront as a result of the most recent presidential elections. This tutorial will focus on the following issues: healthcare, immigration, science and environment, gender, labor and wages, and education.
In order to stimulate our discussion and writing, we will read several articles as well as the following three books: Girl in Glass by Deanna Fei, Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, and Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. I look forward to engaging in discourse with you about these topics. (The title has been generated through the titles of the books—of course this tutorial is open to and welcomes every senior.)
This tutorial will focus on the interactions between future industries, economic growth, and higher education. Each of these areas is currently undergoing seismic and unprecedented changes. We will explore the current state of each, how they affect one another, and what they may look like over the next fifty years.
Students will write reflections on the following readings and also be responsible for locating and reporting on current events in a topic of their choosing: driverless cars, robots, immigration policy, and emerging alternatives to higher education are good examples. We will employ the theories of economics in our study, but a formal course in economics is not required.
Readings will come from Friedman (Thank You for Being Late), Ross (Industries of the Future), Ford (Rise of the Robots), Gordon (The Rise and Fall of American Growth), Piketty (Capital), Carey (The End of College), and others.
Short fiction is perhaps literature’s most complex, intriguing and impactful genre. By compressing the elements of novels into thirty pages or less, stories offer uniquely raw and intimate glimpses into the emotions, thoughts and conflicts of their characters.
Over the course of the tutorial, we’ll read, discuss and carefully dissect nine of the most significant stories published by American authors in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In addition to writing weekly analytical essays for group presentation and critique, students will also take turns serving as Story Experts, a role that will place them at the helm of a particular work’s class discussion. Overall, the tutorial aspires to expose students to a broad spectrum of contemporary writing while further honing their abilities to zero in on a story’s most meaningful moments and ask the critical questions—in writing and in discussion—necessary to understand them best.
This tutorial is designed for students to explore the historical significance of the voting regulations in America. We will focus on the intent of the framers when the Electoral College was included in the Constitution and examine the controversial political crisis the Electoral College has been part of more recently. At the same time, we will determine how the American voting experience has been defined for generations via political parties, restrictions, and political endeavors. In short, how it has shaped the historical outcome of our democratic process (i.e. Who votes? Why people vote? What votes count and what votes do not?)
Lastly, we will view the contemporary issues that the most recent presidential election has brought into focus. Should the electoral voting policy be abolished or blessed as a safeguard against fraud? How will this election’s results define the political landscape of America as she moves forward?
Have you ever looked up into the night sky and ever wondered what you are seeing? Ever wondered what else is out there? Ever wondered if that bright spot you see is a star, a planet, a galaxy, or maybe just an airplane? This course will combine a study of the Universe with observation of the night sky. You will learn about stellar and planetary astronomy, with specific attention focusing on the constellations and planets found in the sky each spring.
This year Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will feature prominently in the night sky. Other possible celestial objects for observation, depending on sky conditions, include the Full Moon, a total lunar eclipse, the Lyrids Meteor Shower, a transit of Mercury across the Sun, the Beehive Cluster, and the Whirlpool Galaxy.
The primary texts for this tutorial will be Welcome to the Universe by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott, and Cosmos by Carl Sagan. These texts will take you on a journey into the beauty and mystery of astronomy, science, art, and religion through 15 billion years of cosmic history. These texts, combined with other primary source documents, will help us ask and attempt to answer questions about the Universe as well as our place in it.
One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of Latin America’s novels by excellence, and one of the most important novels of the 20th century. Nobel Prize Winner Gabriel García Márquez wrote it in 1967. One of the most important characteristics of this novel is that García Márquez breaks with all “realism” and introduces myth in fiction. He constructs a mythical past in which fantastic elements are part of daily existence.
Macondo, the town that the Buendía Family founds, is more than just a place in the world; it is a state of being. We will discuss the novel within the frame of Latin America’s history and the creation of memory. Among the topics of discussion are: solitude, love, solidarity, history of Buendía Family as metaphor of Latin America’s history, incest, chastity, dreams, time, selfishness, public vs. private spaces, and death.
The tutorial meets twice a week for a length of two periods per meeting time. In the first meeting, we will discuss the reading and in the second meeting the students will discuss their work. Essays should be given to peers the day before the class meets. Each student is responsible for preparing the essay for the tutorial, and for helping to lead the discussion.
This course is designed to introduce students to some of the better-known theories of personality development. Beginning with Freudian or psychoanalytic theory and concluding with the biological/neurological approach to understanding human behavior, we will also cover Neo-Freudian, Humanistic, Existential and Behavioral theories.
In each instance, the students will be asked to understand, apply and critique what they are learning. There will be reading and writing assignments for each theory. Written work will provide a primary opportunity to apply theoretical concepts to real life. Students will learn how to employ each theoretical construct to explain healthy personality development, unhealthy development, and therapeutic approaches that arise from the theory.
This tutorial will focus on the epidemiology of infectious diseases. We will look at the work of public health professionals in the containment and prevention of disease, and we will consider the major advances that have been made in public health over the last two centuries.
We will read two books on the topic. First, we will read The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks by Steven Johnson. This book tells the story of Dr. John Snow, a London physician, during a widespread cholera outbreak. His work to control the spread of the disease was revolutionary at the time and is thought of as the beginning of the field of public health. Our second book will be The Great Influenza by John Barry. This book describes the political, biologic and geographic factors that contributed to the influenza outbreak in 1918 that killed more than 50 million people. We will also discuss the impact of the most important public health advances, from hand washing to vaccines. We will finish by watching Contagion, a feature film made in conjunction with Center for Disease Control, that simulates the response to a major epidemic in today’s world.
In his foreword to The Greatest American Sports Writing of the Century, series editor Glenn Stout makes sure to note that “this series elects to refer to ‘sports writing,’ where sports is an adjective, rather than the compound word ‘sportswriting.’” This class chooses to do the same. We will look at sports writing first from a historical context.
The works we’ll read from some of the pioneers of the genre will give us a lens into American in the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, as professional and collegiate sports became an increasingly important part of American culture, and sports became a legitimate, rich subject for great writers. We will track the evolution of sports writing through The National Sports Daily experiment up to today by reading pieces from famed sports writers of all varieties. We will read these pieces as works of literature and storytelling, just as you would in an English class, as well as think critically about the place of classic sports writing in today’s media.
The course will be writing intensive, and thus there will be writing in the form of critical responses to the readings as well as original works on a weekly basis.
In this tutorial you will explore the remarkably pervasive role that unconscious cognition plays in human experience. The book Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules your Behavior will provide the common class readings. From these you will choose “breakout” topics to explore in greater depth, drawing on a large bibliography of available journal articles, interview transcripts, audio and video lectures, and book selections.
You may also independently choose topics and resources, including personal experience. The associated writing assignments may take the form of short critiques of the empirical underpinnings of specific unconscious phenomena, or reflections on their implications with respect to self-knowledge, rational choice, personal relationships, belief formation, moral agency and responsibility, and social policies. The written assignments may also take the form of personal reflections or short journalistic pieces (i.e. short popular science articles) crafted from a journal articles or audio/video lectures.
The United States has a unique relationship with Latin America due to historical coincidence and geographical proximity. Perhaps no other country in Latin America has as special a relationship with the United States as Cuba. Cuba's destiny has been inextricably tied to the foreign policy decisions of the United States since before its independence from Spain.
Indeed, Cuban independence followed directly from United States military intervention. The relationship has gone through many phases, beginning when both were colonies of European powers, through independence for one, then the other, through revolution, the Cold War and a fifty year estrangement during the Revolutionary Period, to the brand new age of regularized relations, to a horizon which is again cloudy on both sides of the Florida Straits. In this tutorial, politico-historical in nature, we will give a brief account of the pre-Cuban independence period, pay more attention to the pre-Revolutionary period and a devote a good deal of concentration to the Revolution and how it affected the relationship between the nations. However, the most attention grabbing part of this tutorial will no doubt center on what has happened is the past three years. President Obama moved significantly toward normalization of relations with Cuba in his final two years in office, rolling back as much of the embargo of Cuba as possible using executive action, including the re-establishment of embassies in Washington and Havana. One of the most open questions of President Trump’s foreign policy agenda is what he will do vis-à-vis Cuba. He could attempt to undo the Obama administration’s policies or he might choose to extend their reach. Added to the mix, the recent death of the patriarch of the Cuban Revolution may augur changes on the island itself. In a sense, during the last half of the tutorial, we will be following the most current of events as they occur. By the end of the spring, we will make our best guesses as to how the next phase of the relationship between the United States and Cuba will develop. There is no more timely a moment to take on this case study than right now.