2017-18 Senior Tutorials
- The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- The Chaneysville Incident, by David Bradley
- The Citizen Body
- Classic and Contemporary Film Noir
- The Coming of Age Story
- Frailties of the Mind
- The Fringe: An Exploration of Weird Beliefs, Where They Come From, and What To Do About Them?
- From My Cold, Dead Hands: An Examination of the Gun Issue in America
- Girls, Girls, Girls
- Global Health
- Holding the Mirror Up to Nature: The Past Played Out on the Stage
- Interpreting Contemporary American Short Fiction
- Jesmyn Ward: Giving Voice to the Silenced
- Kazuo Ishiguro and Sophocles
- The Myth of Talent: Creativity as a Skill
- Native American and Hawaiian Mythology
- One Hundred Years of Solitude
- Original Story and Screenwriting
- Plays by Federico Garcia Lorca, 1898-1936 in Granada & Madrid, Spain
- The Rise and Fall of a Boardwalk Empire
- Sports Journalism Past and Present
- U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Latin America: Cuba — A Whole New Ballgame
- A Natural and Human History of the Upper Appoquinimink River, Delaware and Vicinity
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.
This haunting novel, written in 1981, narrates the story of a college history professor in Philadelphia, John Washington, who returns to his small hometown in western Pennsylvania for the funeral of an old family friend. But this trip home becomes a journey through his family’s past, through the town’s past, and ultimately through the country’s past. Through his own historical research, John Washington “discovers” his identity, but he also uncovers a heritage that forces him to reconstruct his vision of the world. This novel, one of the most unrecognized great American novels of the last 20 years, is chilling, mesmerizing, stunning.
While classical Athens invented the concept of a direct democracy, participation was not available to everyone and not every citizen had equal influence. In determining who led Athens when all were theoretically equal, this tutorial will focus on the physical human body of the Athenian citizen.
At the beginning of the tutorial, we will use Thucydides and modern interpreters of him to create an idealized image of the Athenian citizen. Then, relying primarily on the comedies of Aristophanes, we will examine public depictions of ideal citizens, disgraced citizens, and those, such as women, who could never be citizens. The appearance, sexual habits, and appetites of all these will be investigated to determine how Athenians wanted their citizens and their leaders to act.The basic format of the tutorial will be to apply secondary scholarship on gender, sexuality, and even food to the ancient Greek authors. Each week we will read parts of a Greek comedy and use secondary scholarship to work towards a better understanding of the role of the body in Athenian politics.
Film Noir is one of the most iconic and American of film genres and during that time period many notable movies were produced, including “The Maltese Falcon,” “Double Indemnity,” and “Touch of Evil.”
While these films stood out from other movies of the Hollywood Era, they also significantly influenced many directors and writers of today. In this tutorial we will watch and enjoy several classic film noir films from the 1940s and 1950s and compare those to recently made films of a similar vein. We’ll examine how are characters portrayed, lighting and composition, plot elements, and music and sound. Film Noir has its fingerprints in many present-day movies and we’ll find and uncover all of those tangled connections.
This tutorial will focus on the coming of age story in the United States. We will discuss the various ways growing up and entering adulthood are represented in popular culture.
Students will be required to watch films such as Boyhood, Boyz n the Hood, The Breakfast Club, watch episodes of shows such as “Friday Night Lights,” “Freaks and Geeks,” and “Blackish,” and read short stories by writers including Sherman Alexie, John Updike, and ZZ Packer. We will examine how the young characters develop from children to adults and how and when they recognize these changes. The course will also look at how these representations have changed over the past forty years.In addition to weekly screenings and discussions, there will be weekly 1-3 page writing assignments where students will be asked to analyze and critique the films, shows and texts.
Cognitive psychologists are finding that the human mind is a limited tool with specialized capacities and predictable weaknesses. These weaknesses typically go unnoticed; and are the focus of this tutorial.
Using examples from our own experiences, we will ask why are we so easily distracted by trivialities, so easily led to falsehoods, and so comfortable with unreasonable conclusions? We will ask how our mental weaknesses have arisen and what can be done to compensate for them. Our sources will include Robert Burton’s On Being Certain, Dan Gilbert’s Stumbling On Happiness, Dan Ariely’s Predictable Irrational, and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow.
Is the earth flat? Did the holocaust happen? Were humans created in their modern form? In this tutorial we will look at the roots of weird beliefs; and at our habits of skepticism and credulity.
How do these habits create meaning in life? To what extent are weird beliefs inevitable, or perhaps even, desirable? To what extent do any of us adopt beliefs only after fair consideration of all available evidence? How can those divided by belief become less divided and more committed to a fair process for deciding truth?Sources will include The Unpersuadables: Adventures With the Enemies of Science by Will Storr, Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, and podcasts, such Skeptiko,On Being, Radiolab and This American Life.
Of the many polarizing issues in America today, perhaps none sparks more passionate arguments than the issue of gun ownership. Groups on both sides of the issue, using broad interpretations of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States as supporting evidence, have dug their feet in the sand and refuse to budge an inch.
As a whole, the government seems to have little interest in pursuing gun control reform, even as the unprecedented number of mass shootings in workplaces, schools, churches, and entertainment venues, rises every year. In the only country in the world in which the estimated number of firearms exceeds the number of people, is it possible to find middle ground on guns? Ground that makes the country a safer place to live, work, and play, while also preserving the rights guaranteed to citizens by the Constitution.
In this tutorial, we will complete a full examination of the gun control issue in America. We will begin by studying the role that private gun ownership played in the forming of militias, and an army, at the time of the Revolutionary War. We will read and interpret the 2nd Amendment and consider its original intent, as well as how individual versus collective rights apply in contemporary America. After investigating the role of private gun ownership throughout the rest of our country’s history, we will look at the modern gun issue. The primary text for this tutorial Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America by Adam Winkler will be supplemented with secondary readings from articles, editorials, and additional texts, representing both sides of the arguments.
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 political climate.
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, 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.)
The delivery of health care to underserved populations poses unique challenges for physicians, public health officials and governments. This tutorial will expose students to the stories of 3 physicians who made it their life’s work to address those challenges.
The first book we read tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, who began travelling to Haiti during medical school. The profound lack of access to health care among the Haitian people motivated him to work to change that disparity. The success of his work in Haiti with HIV and tuberculosis altered the paradigm for managing those conditions across the world, and Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder tells his story. The second book that we read chronicles the work of Dr. Sanduk Ruit and Dr. Geoff Tabin, two physicians working in the mountains of Nepal to provide access to eye care in underserved populations. The work of these two physicians, and particularly the development of a new surgical technique, have changed the approach to the treatment of cataracts in all parts of the world. Second Suns by David Oliver Relin tells the story of their work. Together, these books will expose students to the challenges of global public health and explore how individuals can make a profound difference in this field.
Since ancient times, people have wrestled with some of the most challenging questions of human experience, and of their particular historical moment, by playing them out on stage, making theater a particularly fascinating lens for considering important social, cultural, and political issues across time.
In this sense, plays are very much a product of the specific eras from which they emerge, and a lens through which contested pasts can be examined. At the same time, the very nature of a play is that it is interpreted and reinterpreted in each performance as a work of art—allowing future generations to reshape the original material to speak to their own moment. The study of dramatic literature, therefore, is an inherently interdisciplinary experience.
In this tutorial—functioning as literary critics, historians, theater artists, dramaturgs, and audience members—we will study some of the most important plays of the modern era to develop a deeper understanding of them as works of literature and art, and windows into the past. If possible, we will see a stage production of one of the works we study.
Possible texts include: Henrik Ibsen’s groundbreaking A Doll’s House (1879), and its challenge to traditional gender roles that scandalized the world; Bertolt Brecht’s anti-war masterpiece, Mother Courage and Her Children (1939), written in response to the Nazi invasion of Poland; Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit (1944), a quintessential work of existentialism; Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949), often identified by scholars as the best American play ever written, which examines the “American Dream” and its limits; August Wilson’s Fences (1985), the sixth in his ten play cycle about the African-American experience, set in the early years of the Civil Rights movement; David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly (1988), loosely based on the relationship between a French diplomat and a Chinese opera singer in China in the 1960s, wrestling with questions of colonialism, Orientalism, and gender; Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia (1993), considered by many to be “the greatest play of the late 20th century,” which moves back and forth between the early 1800s century and the late 1900s, dealing with Romantic poetry, landscape architecture, fractal mathematics, and how the past echoes forward through time; and Sweat (2015), Lynn Nottage’s play about the working class in 21st century, post-industrial Pennsylvania—a play that many have argued is invaluable in understanding the appeal of Donald Trump to American voters. Students will help to select the plays we will consider, from these and numerous other options, based on their interests and previous experiences.
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.
In this tutorial, we will read Jesmyn Ward’s memoir Men We Reaped and her latest novel and National Book Award Winner, Sing, Unburied, Sing. One of the best—if not the best—writer of our time, Ward tells the stories of people who, historically, have had no voice. Her incisive portraits of men and women, both real and fictional as well as both alive and dead, will unsettle, surprise, touch, and haunt you.
In October 2017, Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for a body of work that has, in the words of the prize committee, “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”
Ishiguro explores what it means to be human and creates universes in which past and present are inextricably entwined – a fascination he shares with the ancient Greek tragedian Sophocles. In this tutorial we will read two Ishiguro novels (The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans) alongside one of the great masterpieces of world literature, Oedipus Tyrannus. We will investigate the dynamic interplay between past and present: not only in the texts themselves but also in how Greek tragedy can illuminate contemporary fiction – and vice versa.
Often, we think of talent and its product, creativity, as something that we either have or don’t have; like a gift that may or may not have been bestowed upon us at birth.
The reality is that creativity is more like a skill that is developed and nurtured like any other skill, through consistent hard work and practice. This tutorial is for anyone who wants to learn the daily habits necessary to build creativity, and begin to find creative inspiration in unexpected places. We will also explore the mental roadblocks that all of us have that prevent us from being as creative as we want to be. The course is a combination of reading, writing, and short, hands-on exercises that put us in the habit of flexing our creative muscle on a consistent basis. This is not a tutorial for strictly artists, but rather ANYONE looking to develop a creative approach to life.
This course is a study of the unique features and shared themes of North, Central, and South America, and Hawaiian indigenous traditions as expressed in myths, stories, and folktales. The course begins with the question of how mythology is defined and understood in the context of indigenous lifeways, and learning how to cultivate mythological literacy through a survey of the archetypes commonly found in these stories.
Through reading myths on creation, the hero’s journey, and communication with animals and the natural world, students will learn how these traditions understand the individual’s place in the world, the individual’s relationship to the community, and the connection between the community and the cosmos.
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. Novel 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. The essays should be given to the 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.
Screenwriting is a fun, creative writing medium because, when done successfully, the product is created into a wonderfully visual shared experience.
In this tutorial, students will study and practice the art of screenwriting to develop a step-by-step understanding of how to present their ideas and creativity. When Junot Díaz visited St. Andrew’s, he told the School that the most important element of being a creative writer is to read. Students in this tutorial will read a number of produced screenplays and watch how they are translated into film in order to create a basic understanding of the function of the art. Furthermore, they will study critical texts that break down the process of writing screenplays into tangible steps. Through various exercises, the study of successful contemporary screenplays, and the critical understanding of process, students will work throughout the tutorial to develop their own screenplay and tell their story.
This tutorial will focus on a Spanish writer who struggled with his sexual orientation. What felt so normal for him was ridiculed, judged and laughed at by the nationalists during the Spanish Civil war. He saw women, going through the similar shame of being afraid to speak and labeled as weak or submissive.
This playwright wrote his tragic plays to release the inner voice that was continuously interrupted, and to defy the pressures to act or behave the way society or religion demanded.
We will discuss Garcia Lorca’s plays in detail and write a weekly reflection. All of these reflections will culminate into your final paper and oral exhibition. I will read your reflections once you share them with me electronically. Your peers will have an opportunity to read your reflections in class. You will first read about Garcia Lorca’s life to better understand his tragic plays.This class is taught in English and/or Spanish.
Atlantic City, once considered the playground of the east coast has fallen into a state of demise.A city in ruins and poverty sits in the shadows of the looming and nearly abandoned casino buildings that once were the financial artery of this Atlantic town. The image is sobering.Reeling from record foreclosures, financial collapse and a state takeover, Atlantic City struggles to remember who she once was and agonizes over a future that seems doubtful.
The rise and fall of this boardwalk empire is not a simple nor isolated cautionary tale.Throughout the United States, countless cities, once prosperous and bustling with industry, sit in a state of decline.Impoverished and crime ridden, how do we turn these cities around for the citizens who still call them home and for a country who still depends on them? If we walk away, what are the consequences? This tutorial will carefully study the fate of urban America by primarily using Atlantic City as a case study.The concept of gentrification will be at the heart of our discussion. We will work together to consider the following questions: Historically, what has made cities grow and thrive?What tools were necessary to transform cities and to sustain excellence after a transformation? Additionally, we will examine the partnership between the public and private sectors and their potential collective work to rebuild the American city.
Can Atlantic City recover from this spectacular fall?The final project for this tutorial will allow students to answer this very question as they will have the opportunity to imagine an urban revitalization strategy for this forgotten boardwalk empire.
The goal of this course will be to gain an understanding the role of sports in American culture in the last 100 years and the way that athletes are thought of and written about in the media. The class will be divided into two sections.
We will start by studying early sports writing, both on-deadline pieces and early feature writing, to gain an understanding of the development of sports and sports writing over the last century with an eye towards how the perception of athletes and their place in popular culture has shifted over time. The next section of the class will be devoted to understanding sports media in many of its modern forms. Thinking about traditional forms like writing, television, and radio, but also Twitter and other social media outlets, we will explore the place of sports in our society today through the lens of how it’s talked about by the media. A highlight of the course will be the opportunity to Skype with multiple people who work in sports journalism today to gain their first hand insights.
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. President Trump has begun to dismantle pieces of the Obama administration’s adjustments to the relationship, though there are other parts that he has chosen to leave in place. 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. Indeed, the announcement of the first non-Castro leader of Cuba in nearly 60 years will occur this April. 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.
Know much about the natural history of your backyard, whether here or at home? What do you know of the plants, the flowers, the fruit that surround you?
Are dandelions edible?
What do you know of the animals these plants support? Are campus squirrels more at ease than woodland ones? How about the surrounding soil, water, and air? Is our land richer than that of the Great Plains? What has geology contributed? Does marl (Marl Pit Road) make Noxontown Pond water more basic? What’s been the effect of these resources on the quality of life for humans and our communities? Did Native Americans sleep and hunt here, on this very spot, 800 years ago? Why do we build houses on some of the richest land in America? What’s been the human influence on the natural resources over time? Where are we heading as a community, as a civilization? What will be the local effects of climate change…on you and your immediate environment?
We will be encouraged to explore, especially outdoors, to help us better understand sustainability and encourage its practice while having a fun, rewarding time trying to answer some of these questions; in the process, we will further appreciate the natural world and apply what we learn from our explorations and readings to our “backyard”, our natural world. We will learn a process and gain an appreciation that could be repeated in the backyards of our hometowns; the more we appreciate our natural environments, the better care we will give them for years to come.
Readings will be from celebrated writings including those from The University of the South’s David George Haskell: The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature and The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors.