2019-20 Tutorial Offerings
- 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Arthurian Legends
- Can It Happen Here? Fascism in Fact and Fiction, Past and Present
- The Cinema Legacy of Film Noir
- Comparative Art History: Diversifying the Canon
- Constructing Reality: The Psychology of Perception, Emotion, and The Self
- Contemporary American Film as Literature
- Economic Theory in Daily Life
- Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend: In Print and On the Screen
- Girls, Girls, Girls
- Global Health
- History of Jazz
- Juvenile Justice from Nickel to Ferris
- Poets of Our Time
- The Signal and the Noise: Alternative Music as Commentary on Social Issues, Global Ethics, and Life Itself
- Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science
- U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Latin America & Cuba — A Whole New Ballgame
- Wilderness in the American Imagination: The Environment in American History, Literature, and Culture
- Writing Our Own Literature
- Yo! by Julia Alvarez
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Instructor: Sra. Ramirez
One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of Latin America’s novels of excellence and one of the most important novels of the 20th century. Nobel Prize Winner Gabriel García Márquez wrote it in 1967, and in the novel he breaks with all “realism” and introduces myth in fiction, constructing a mythical past in which fantastic elements are part of daily existence. Macondo, the town founded by Buendía family at the center novel, 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.
Instructors: Mr. Kunen and Mr. Mufuka
Arthurian legends are some of the most popular stories and tales that originated from England at the beginning of the Middle Ages. This period, which immediately follows the fall of the Roman Empire, is often depicted as a time of chaos and disorder. During this epoch, stories arose concerning a powerful warlord, named Arthur, who united Britons against the invading Saxons from Germany. Like most legends, the historical accuracy of these accounts is often called into question. What remains undeniable is the legacy these stories have had on the cultural identity of not only the British, but of Western civilization.
Although the legends state that King Arthur conquered by the sword, what makes him timeless is that he ruled by a code that "might is not right, but might for right." The "Round Table" is a metaphor for equality and Camelot a notion of what is possible for human society. In this course, we will begin with a discussion of a boy, a sword, and a destiny—a destiny so closely tied to the famous iconography of Excalibur, the Round Table, Camelot, and the Holy Grail. Through examining these symbols, we hope to uncover how the writers of the day understood the individual’s relationship to the self, community, and the divine.
Can It Happen Here? Fascism in Fact and Fiction, Past and Present
Instructor: Mr. Edmonds
In a new documentary about the 2016 presidential election, Senator Tim Kaine quotes Barack
Obama as calling then-candidate Donald Trump a fascist. Speaking to Hillary Clinton, Kaine (who was Clinton’s running mate) said, “President Obama called me last night and said, ‘Tim, this is no time to be a purist . . . You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House.’” Obama’s alleged comment both reflects and fuels a concern—particularly prominent on the progressive left—about the return of fascism in the 21st century. The years since Trump’s election have seen a resurgence in books and articles about fascism, and a search for “Donald Trump fascist” returns more than 60,000 results. Is this fear justified or simply a reflection of our polarized political moment?
A look back at history may offer some answers. In the 1930s, amidst the rise of truly fascist
governments in Italy and Germany and the economic upheaval of the Great Depression, there was a similar spike of writing on the issue of fascism. Among the best known of these works was the
ironically-titled It Can’t Happen Here, in which Sinclair Lewis challenged the complacency of
Americans and warned that it very much could happen here.
In this tutorial, which will span disciplines from history and philosophy to literature and film, we will examine fascism—in fact and fiction, past and present—and students will decide for themselves whether it can happen (or indeed, as Kaine’s comment might suggest, has happened) here.
The Cinema Legacy of Film Noir
Instructor: Mr. Hoopes
Film noir is one of the most iconic and American of film genres, and its legacy thrives in cinema today. Contemporary films like The Dark Knight, Se7en, Blade Runner, and John Wick all drew their tone and technique from the original film noir style. In this tutorial we will watch and explore several classic films from the 1940s and 1950s, including The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, and Touch of Evil, and we'll compare those to more recent films. We’ll examine character development, lighting and composition, plot elements, and music and sound, and we’ll find and uncover film noir's tangled connections to many present-day movies.
Comparative Art History: Diversifying the Canon
Instructor: Ms. Gahagan
In this tutorial, we will compare art across time and space to explore the ways in which different peoples and communities have processed themselves, and their surroundings, through the creation of art. Through considering thematic pairings, students will develop skills of visual literacy, and visual, contextual and comparative analysis. Some of the themes we will grapple with include: glory of empire, female representation, the male gaze, violence and technology, toxic masculinity, and queer and gender-bending art. Students will draw from a variety of text and video resources to understand the historical forces that gave rise to the astonishing richness of imagery produced by such diverse groups. Students will design visual presentations that seek to compare given works across cultures and time periods, and will then write short comparative analysis essays that articulate how different artists have addressed the given theme. This tutorial attempts to specifically challenge the traditionally Western, male, heteronormative, art historical canon.
Constructing Reality: The Psychology of Perception, Emotion, and The Self
Instructor: Mr. O'Connell
In 1886 Thomas Huxley asked: how it is that “anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue?” In this tutorial we will study how our perceptions relate to our thoughts, how our thoughts produce our experiences, and how our experiences give rise to a sense of self. Although cognitive scientists are still struggling to answer Huxley’s question, their struggle has generated abundant insights and fascinating follow-up questions. We’ll read books and papers by Lisa Feldman Barrett, who challenges the conventional view that emotions are produced in response to external events; Anil Seth, who asks us to consider that we are all hallucinating all the time; Donald Hoffman, who argues that natural selection favors animals that misperceive reality; and V.S. Ramanchandran, who dissects the different forms of self that each of us generates.
Contemporary American Film as Literature
Instructor: Mr. Torrey
Although we don’t typically think of film as literature, cinema is a serious art form that adheres to many of the same narrative structures as novels and short stories. Like any good book, a film begins with a break in routine that disrupts the life of the protagonist and ends when the protagonist experiences a life-altering change of perspective. Although we don’t typically think of film as literature, cinema is a serious art form that adheres to many of the same narrative structures as novels and short stories. Like any good book, a film begins with a break in routine that disrupts the life of the protagonist and ends when the protagonist experiences a life-altering change of perspective. Over the course of this tutorial, we’ll watch, discuss and carefully dissect nine of the most significant and acclaimed films produced by American directors in the 21st century. In addition to weekly viewings and group discussions at the Motter House, students will write essays on each film, and, in some cases, put their own assertions in conversation with those of scholars and film critics. Overall, the tutorial aspires to expose students to a broad spectrum of contemporary film while continuing to hone the critical thinking and analytical writing skills they’ve developed over the past four years at St. Andrew’s.
Economic Theory in Daily Life
Instructor: Mr. Finch
Economics is primarily the study of scarcity. But the role of firms in using scarce resources to produce products that can generate a profit is only one application of economic theory. Economics has much more to say about the daily decisions of life, from deciding whether to hit the snooze button to choosing whether to spend extra time on your English paper or your math homework. Thanks to theories like comparative advantage, economics even has plenty to say about your choice of a mate. It can even explain how the line length in the servery can predict the quality of tonight’s dinner options. A number of authors have written extensively about the application of economics to daily life. This tutorial will read their offerings and students will write about their own ideas for using economic theory to improve their own decision making.
Texts read will include Tim Harford’s The Undercover Economist, Steven Landsburg’s The Armchair Economist, and Robert Frank’s The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas.
Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend: In Print and On the Screen
Instructor: Mrs. Roach
Elena Ferrante (a pen name—in fact, no one actually knows her real identity) has said that she likes to write narratives “where the writing is clear, honest, and where the facts—the facts of ordinary life—are extraordinarily gripping when read.” Indeed, I have never read a writer who is so raw, so candid. Set in Naples, Italy, her novels explore, in vivid detail, the complexities of friendship, love, gender, motherhood, family, and identity. From page to page, Ferrante takes her reader on a ride of real-time psychological and emotional upheaval: rage, tenderness, lust, abuse, betrayal, violence, and loyalty. In this tutorial, we will study the first novel in her Neapolitan series, My Brilliant Friend, both in print and in its recent iteration as a mini-series (for which Ferrante, herself, consulted) as we consider how the author depicts the many layers of this friendship within the world of Naples in the mid-twentieth century.
Girls, Girls, Girls
Instructor: Ms. Lazar
The development of this tutorial arose from controversial issues around gender that have been a part of our society for quite some time, but have come to the forefront of popular discussion as a result of the 2016 presidential election. This tutorial will examine the following issues through the lens of gender: healthcare, immigration, science and environment, 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.
Instructor: Dr. O'Connor
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 three physicians who made it their life’s work to address some of these challenges. We will read Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder and Second Suns by David Oliver Relin. Mountains Beyond Mountains tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, who began traveling 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. Second Suns chronicles the work of Dr. Sanduk Ruit and Dr. Geoff Tabin, two physicians working in the mountains of Nepal to provide eye care to remote populations. Their work, and particularly their development of a new surgical technique, have changed the approach to the treatment of cataracts all over the world. We will also view Out of the Darkness, a film that tells the story of their work. Together, these stories will expose students to the challenges of global public health and explore how individuals can make a profound difference in this field. We will also consider the public health work of Hans Rosling, and we will use his online tool Gapminder to assess trends in public health across the globe.
History of Jazz
Instructor: Dr. Geiersbach
What is this thing called jazz? Louis Armstrong famously replied, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” In this tutorial we will study Ken Burns’ important documentary on the topic and read selected articles by important jazz scholars, all in preparation for attending a live performance. Frequent short writing projects will be assigned for in-class presentation, plus a more substantial concert review. Some experience participating
in a musical ensemble is helpful but not required.
Juvenile Justice from Nickel to Ferris
Instructor: Mr. Robinson
Juvenile justice reform has been a political talking point in the western hemisphere since 16th century English courts ruled youth to have less than fully developed moral and cognitive capacities. The first juvenile court in America was established in 1899 in Cook County, Illinois. The Supreme Court formalized juvenile courts in the 1960s and by the 1980s state legislatures had passed punitive laws, including mandatory sentences for juveniles and adult court adjudication for certain crimes. The 1990s saw a sharp increase in juvenile prosecution and overcrowding of correctional facilities in conjunction with President Bill Clinton’s War on Crime. Hillary Clinton backed her husband’s plan by referring to a certain subset of youth offenders as “superpredators.” “We can talk about why they ended up that way,” Clinton said in a 1996 New Hampshire speech, “but first we have to bring them to heel.” In 2020, it’s estimated that between 48,000 and 60,000 youth are in a detention center on any given day.
The arc of history is said to bend toward justice, but where are we on that arc? When, if ever, is it moral or ethical to incarcerate juveniles? How are victims made whole? What does rehabilitation look like? What should rehabilitation look like? What resources should be provided? How can we decrease recidivism? How can we offer juvenile offenders reentry into mainstream schools and civilian life?
In this three-part, interdisciplinary exploration, students will attempt to answer these questions and more by (1) reading Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys, (2) embarking on short research projects to unearth the history of juvenile detention centers in Delaware, and (3) examining Delaware’s current juvenile justice system through research and site visits.
Due to the sacrifices required to accommodate off-campus research and site visits, students must be highly motivated with a deep, abiding interest in juvenile justice, equity, systemic racism, economics, public policy, and public education.
Poets of Our Time
Instructor: Mrs. Hurtt
Poetry reaches well beyond our English classrooms, and famous lines echo over the decades: “Just like hopes springing high / still I’ll rise” … “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood / and sorry I could not travel both” … “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” This tutorial will explore some of the most well-known, popular poets of your time—Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Tracy K. Smith, and others. Students will have some input on the poets and poems we study. Through readings, research, and writing, we will experience each writer’s unique voice, context and style.
The Signal and the Noise: Alternative Music as Commentary on Social Issues, Global Ethics, and Life Itself
Instructor: Dr. Hyde
Alternative genres of music such as rock, heavy metal, and punk are often negatively stereotyped as consisting of meaningless noise, or of promoting violence and even anarchy. However, there are many artists within these genres—if not most—who use their music as an almost poetic outlet for their personal views, producing eloquent musings on life, love, and death. Others tackle social issues such as racism, poverty, and corruption. These artists create music that often deliberately rails against mainstream views and societal norms. It is designed to be hard-hitting and emotive, to encourage us to have difficult conversations, and to confront and raise awareness of what the artists feel are important issues or injustices in our society or on a global level. A song or lyric may contain an inflammatory concept or theme, not necessarily because this is what the artist believes or supports—instead, their intention is to criticize this view or to shine a light on the issue. The Sex Pistol’s “God Save the Queen” is a classic example: despite its title—which is also the title of the official royal anthem of Great Britain—the song is actually a scathing criticism of the British monarchy.
This tutorial aims to explore examples of these alternative genres of music, to decipher the messages and arguments being expressed, and try to understand what might have influenced these artists and their views. We will examine a variety of songs by a variety of artists from the 1970s until the present day, broken up by theme: songs that condemn war and describe its horrors; songs that rage about the damage we are doing (or may do) to our planet and ourselves in the form of pollution, climate change, and nuclear weapons; songs that tackle police brutality, gun violence, and the pandemic of school shootings in America; and songs that deal with love, loss, and grief.
Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science
Instructor: Mr. Sanchez
How does science work? Does it tell us what the world is “really” like? What makes it different from other ways of understanding the universe? The goal of this course is to observe, analyze, and understand how philosophers of science have approached these big questions. We will do this by surveying one hundred years of intense philosophical debate about the nature, purpose, and plausibility of various scientific frameworks. In doing so, we will introduce some main themes of the philosophy of science through a historical, philosophical, and scientific lens.
A background in philosophy will be very helpful in this course, although it is not necessary. The foundation of this course is the book Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science by Peter Godfrey-Smith.
U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Latin America & Cuba — A Whole New Ballgame
Instructor: Mr. Miller
The United States has a unique relationship with Latin America due both to historical coincidence and to 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 U.S. 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 countries 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, which is politico-historical in nature, we will explore the entire span of this relationship, and will follow current events in U.S.-Cuban relations as they occur. We will make our best guesses as to how the next phase of the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba will develop. There is no more timely a moment to take on this case study than right now.
Wilderness in the American Imagination: The Environment in American History, Literature, and Culture
Instructor: Ms. Pressman
How have Americans imagined wilderness over the course of American history? In what ways have we represented the natural world in art, literature, and popular culture? What can the Hudson River School painters, the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the plastic pink flamingo tell us about our changing relationship with nature? How have we sought to shape—and how, in turn, have we been shaped by—our interactions with the wilderness? How has our understanding of what is “wild” shaped the American environmental movement? This interdisciplinary tutorial will explore these and related questions, using a variety of sources from history, literature, art, popular culture and environmental ethics.
Writing Our Own Literature
Instructor: Ms. Reddy
In an interview with writer and educator Alexander Chee, he explains his journey to writing about himself and teaching this skill to his students: “How do we write our own literature? I am thinking of when I interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin and she told me she had to teach herself to write as a woman. Or my own first stories, when I did much the same as these students. In the 1980s, I had to learn how to write myself and people like me onto the page. My own life on the page felt impossible to explain in any detail when I was a student writer. I had to ask myself why I was embarrassed to mention that I was Asian-American, much less to center it in a story. Strangely, it took finding writers like Mavis Gallant and Gregor Von Rezzori, whose works described characters who had lived among several cultures, as they were writing about Europeans. Reading about someone who was of Austrian and French heritage may not feel like a mix of cultures, but I unexpectedly found permission there—white writers teaching me how to write mixed-race Asian-American characters like me.”
In this tutorial, we will examine how various Asian-American writers write themselves “onto the page.” By reflecting on their approaches, what they choose to examine, and how they tell their stories, you will be asked to complete a final project where you write your own story onto the page. For this final project, you will have the option to write in any of the genres we read in the tutorial: a “graphic” essay/portrait, a comedic piece that can be used in the form of a show or presentation, or a personal essay.
Yo! by Julia Alvarez
Instructor: Sra. Ramirez
This tutorial will focus on Julia Alvarez, a Dominican writer who was born in the US, but returned to her native country when she was three months old. She was raised in the Dominican Republic until she was 10 years old, at which point her family decided to return to New York City, where Alvarez witnessed fellow immigrant families seeking asylum or better life in the US. Today, she owns a farm in the Dominican Republic, where she also runs a school to teach reading and writing to local farmers and their families. In addition, Alvarez serves as a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College. Her novel Yo! is about a brilliant woman seeking her identity and her place in the world. More than ever before, Latina women more than ever are finding their place and making their history in the US, and Alvarez is the perfect role model for American Latinas today.