Expository Writing Course Descriptions

Individual Course Descriptions for Expository Writing (060.113), Spring2021

060.113.01  Alter Egos in Film (MWF 10:00)

Xavier Oliver

We are likely familiar with a number of films that feature characters who have alter egos, or “split personalities,” properly called “Dissociative Identity Disorder” (DID). How do these filmic representations of characters with alter egos inform our cultural understanding and awareness of real individuals who have split personalities?  How do they, positively or negatively, influence our perception?  In this writing course, we will first think through a particularly influential example of characters split between benign and destructive alter egos, as we consider the 1968 film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Students will write a brief essay interpreting the film. Next, we will view Lamont Johnson’s biographical film Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase (1990).  Students will evaluate the view of a critical source focused on Johnson’s depiction of Dissociative Identity Disorder and will offer their own interpretation of the film. Finally, we will turn our attention to how the alter-ego trope operates in a contemporary film by turning to M. Night Shyamalan’s Split (2016).  For their third and longest essay, students will view Shyamalan’s film and, in conversation with selected pieces of contemporary film criticism, will develop their interpretation of the film’s portrayal of alter egos and how it might influence our understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

060.113.02  Who Owns the Past? (MWF 11:00)

Richard Essam

Does an ancient sculpture belong to its creator, to a particular culture, to all of humanity?  Who owns the past?  Scholars, cultural heritage professionals, and lovers of ancient history must grapple with this question when considering whether to return museum objects to their countries of origin, whether to study objects of questionable provenance, and even whether to visit and support museums and other cultural institutions.  In this writing course, we will begin by reading Kwame Anthony Appiah’s essay “Whose Culture Is It?”  Students will write a brief essay analyzing Appiah’s critique of the concept of “cultural patrimony” when applied to objects created before the rise of the modern nation-state.  For the second essay, we will consider the question of cuneiform tablets illicitly excavated in Iraq and Syria and sold on the black market.  In his provocatively titled essay “Censoring Knowledge,” David Owen argues that scholars should publish such texts.  Students will evaluate Owen’s argument in light of the position papers of two scholarly organizations against which Owen is reacting, and will come to their own views.  For the final essay, students will consider the Parthenon Marbles, taken from Greece to England by Lord Elgin in the early nineteenth century with a—possibly fictitious—decree of permission from the ruling Ottomans, and long claimed by Greece.  We will read short essays by the Greek culture minister, a museum director, a legal scholar, and the Trustees of the British Museum, and students will enter the debate over whether the British Museum has an ethical obligation to return the marbles to Greece, an argument that has implications not only for the British Museum but also for the question of who owns the past.

060.113.03  Moral Relativism and Beyond (MW 12:00)

Theodore Korzukhin

Moral disagreement is a puzzling phenomenon, and perhaps a deep one that tells us something about the nature of morality. The problem, in brief, is this: on the one hand, if moral facts are just like ordinary facts, then it is hard to understand why some moral disagreements are so hard to resolve; on the other hand, if there are no moral facts, then it is hard to understand what we are disagreeing about. One possible reaction to these difficulties is moral relativism: the view that what is right and wrong is somehow relative to individuals, or to cultures. The job of the first essay will be to try to gauge how attractive moral relativism really is (we will be reading Timothy Williamson’s Tetralogue to help us think about this). But the problem of moral disagreement points to a larger question: how do we know what we know about morality? And here a second problem arises, for we have some good reasons to think that we evolved to be moral creatures, and the question is: what does our evolutionary history tell us about our current moral beliefs? The hope is that if we understand how we have come to make moral judgments, we might understand what it is we do when we make moral judgments, and also understand whether we can, and to what extent, trust our moral sense. Joshua Greene argues, in his Moral Tribes, that evolutionary considerations support utilitarianism and debunk our non-utilitarian moral intuitions. In the second essay, we will try to figure out whether Greene’s utilitarianism is a plausible moral view. Then, in the third essay, we shall enter into a larger critical conversation about Greene’s claim that evolutionary evidence debunks our non-utilitarian moral beliefs.

060.113.04  Moral Relativism and Beyond (MW 1:30)

Theodore Korzukhin

Please see the course description listed above for Section 03 at MW 12:00.

060.113.05  Personal Identity and Survival (MW 12:00)

Kathryn Brophy

We intuitively understand that, in some important sense, we are the same person we were ten minutes ago, or ten years ago, and will continue to be the same person into the future. What is less clear, however, is what exactly makes these kinds of claims true.  In this writing course, we will explore the philosophy of personal identity, and answer questions such as: What are we? What features are needed for us to persist through time?  What sort of events is it possible for us to survive, and what sort would determinately end our existence?  We will begin by exploring a paper by Derek Parfit, who argues that a special sort of psychological continuity is what guarantees our persistence through time.  Students will critically analyze Parfit’s views, paying particular attention to his distinction between what matters to survival and what matters to identity.  For the second essay, students will read excerpts from Eric Olson’s The Human Animal, in which Olson argues that our survival ultimately consists in the continued biological functioning of our human bodies.  For the final assignment, students will consider the work of Marya Schechtman, who argues for a more holistic view of personal identity that combines psychology, biology, and social considerations.  In this final essay, students will engage Schechtman in conversation with others, and argue their answer to the question: What constitutes personal identity?  

060.113.06  Politics and Violence (MW 12:00)

George Oppel

When we think about political violence we tend to focus on specific examples of war, genocide, terrorism, assassination, or revolution.  But the deeper causes, meanings, and justifications of political violence are also worthy of attention.  In this course we explore how major political and literary thinkers have tackled the following questions: What is political violence?  Are we all implicated in political violence, or is it something we can blame solely on the actions of states and leaders?  And when, if ever, can political violence be justified?  In the first segment, Defining Political Violence, we read essays by Abraham Lincoln and William James, and you write a short essay that responds to their views on the nature of political violence.  In Unit Two,  Violence and the State, we read Machiavelli’s account of state violence, and, as a practical example, we consider the use of torture by the US government. You write an essay on the torture issue that engages with the views of a prominent thinker.  In Unit Three, Violence and the People, we focus on themes of conspiracy, assassination, mob-rule, and the power of political speech.  We read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and you write a longer essay that offers an interpretation of the play in light of the thinkers we’ve already read. The overriding aim is to develop your ability to write clearly and persuasively as you engage with these fundamental questions and classic texts.  

060.113.07  Vaccines, Science, and Values (MW 1:30)

Rebecca Wilbanks

Recent measles outbreaks have made vaccination policies a subject of newspaper headlines and target of legislation in statehouses across the country.  In this writing course, we will read behind the headlines to understand why “vaccine hesitancy” persists, and what we should do about it.  Vaccines are a public health intervention that produce a common good, yet are enacted on individual bodies.  When individuals refuse vaccination for themselves or their children, health professionals and policy makers must weigh competing values, such as autonomy and justice, as they aim to balance individual and social welfare.  Further complicating this aim, people’s attitudes toward vaccination can be shaped by divergent ideas about the meaning of health and social responsibility, as well as by their trust in scientific institutions and knowledge.  In other words, scientific evidence alone cannot resolve vaccine controversies; navigating science and values together is vital to achieving just policy in a democratic society.  We will begin by reading arguments for and against compulsory vaccination from the bioethics literature; students will choose one of these philosophical perspectives to analyze for their first essay, looking for a flaw in the author’s argument.  Next, we’ll explore the metaphorical and symbolic dimensions of vaccination with Eula Biss’s On Immunity, a work of creative nonfiction that blends memoir and cultural analysis.  Students will respond to a secondary source that comments on Biss’s text and offer their own interpretation of her work.  Finally, we will enter into an ongoing conversation as we evaluate New York State’s decision to end religious exemptions for vaccination.  Students will draw on evidence from a variety of sources to argue their own policy recommendations.

060.113.08  Politics and Violence (MW 1:30)

George Oppel

Please see the course description listed above for Section 06 at MW 12:00.

060.113.09  Nature, Culture, and Climate Change (MW 3:00)

Nathan Doherty

How should human beings understand their relationship to the natural world?  Are we, as some see it, simply part of nature and as inseparable from it as other earth species?  Or is nature alien to us, an inherent challenge that we must master if we are to live in security and prosperity?  And what is at stake in how we answer these questions?  In this writing course, we will consider these questions in a systematic way as we attempt to come to our own answers.  First, we read an excerpt from Leviathan (1651) by the political theorist Thomas Hobbes.  For Hobbes, life in the “state of nature” is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  In this view, our only hope is to construct political societies in opposition to nature.  Students write a brief essay analyzing Hobbes’s argument and demonstrating where it might be flawed.  For the second essay, we turn to the work of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen, who coined the term “Anthropocene” to describe the current geological era in which humans are “overwhelming the great forces of nature.”  Students evaluate the merits and flaws of his argument and offer their own view.  In the third and longest essay, students enter a conversation about how to respond to climate change.  Sources include the work of influential scientist James Lovelock, historian and sociologist Bruno Latour, and JHU political theorist Jane Bennett.  By engaging in this scholarly debate, students will advance their own arguments about how to understand the relationship between human beings and nature in the face of a pressing global challenge.

060.113.10  The Politics of Pop (MW 3:00)

Tobias Huttner

Critics find many ways to dismiss pop music: it’s too commercial, too repetitive, too shallow, inauthentic.  At best, it seems, pop music can be numbingly escapist; at worst, it represents the degradation of art and the domination of the marketplace over subjective expression. This course in expository writing will look at pop differently. We will ask what a three-minute pop song can tell us about contemporary America—its troubling social contradictions, its potential aspirations—and we will look to the music itself to try to answer this question. We will think about how pop can register and record the sound of protest, how it can express new and potentially subversive identities, and how it can unwittingly reproduce historical forms of violence and exclusion, all while still answering to the commercial demands of selling records. The soundtrack to the course will include a range of genres and artists from the 1960s to the present—from rock-and-roll to early hip-hop, from top-40 pop to DIY punk, and beyond. In the first unit, we will consider the matter of pop music and social protest. Students will choose one song among three that we’ll have listened to as a class to analyze for their first essay, asking in particular how the song expresses its political meanings and desires. The second unit will introduce the politics of the music industry, and students will write an essay analyzing one song from class and evaluating one critical source.  For the third and longest essay, we will study the complexities of a single, remarkably ambitious recent pop project—Beyoncé’s 2016 video-album, Lemonade—asking how it deploys and reinvents pop sensibilities toward its own ends.  Students will analyze Lemonade in conversation with several critical sources to develop their own argument about the politics of pop in contemporary American life.

060.113.11  Private Eyes and Police Detectives (TTH 9:00)

Sophia Franchi

The explosion of crime narratives across media and cultures over the past two centuries has centered on two figures who are often opposed: the individual who operates in a private capacity (for example, the gentleman detective or the private eye), and the police officer who operates in a public capacity, as an agent of the law or state. This writing course will look closely at selected nineteenth- and twentieth-century works, both literary and filmic, in which these two figures are set in uneasy, and even competing, relationships. We will ask how the representation of these figures affects how we think about crime and what constitutes ethical and legal transgression.   How might they help us understand the boundary between private and public life? And what kinds of anxieties, overlapping or divergent, do they express about the shifts in class structure, domestic life, and gender roles that marked the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? To begin, students will select one of Edgar Allan Poe’s canonical “Dupin” tales and, in a brief essay, will explore the motivations and methods that define this paradigmatic version of the private detective. Next, we will read excerpts from two novels by Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist and Bleak House, both of which feature officers of London’s newly created Metropolitan Police Force. Students will evaluate the view of a critical source, D.A. Miller’s The Novel and the Police, and will consider the novels’ treatment of the new figure of the public police inspector in light of Miller’s arguments. For the third and most extensive essay, we will watch the Coen brothers’ 1996 film Fargo. Students will engage with various critical sources to explore how the traditions of the detective story evolve both to reflect the society of which they are a part and to illuminate it, and will offer their own interpretation of the film.   

060.113.12  Cross-Cultural Encounters in the Middle Ages (TTH 10:30)

Nathan Daniels

For many, “The Middle Ages” evokes gothic cathedrals, pious monks, and knights in armor—images of a Europe isolated from the rest of the world.  But in fact, the exchange of ideas, goods, and services across continents was a regular feature of medieval life, in which people of different backgrounds, cultures, and religions frequently came into contact with one another.  In this writing course, we will consider what happened when a member of one culture visited another and wrote about the experience.  How were travelers’ ideas about other cultures and religions affirmed or challenged?  What did they learn about their own identities, and how can their encounters inform us about ours today?  To answer these questions, we will read selections from a series of medieval travelogues—chronicles of journeys across the medieval world.  Students will analyze these texts to consider how the authors’ religious backgrounds shaped the ways they interacted with the people of other cultures, and how they themselves were changed by the encounters.  For the first essay, students will read and analyze the Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, a twelfth-century Jewish merchant who traveled from Spain to Baghdad and Cairo, describing the communities he met in the process.  Next, students will read selections from the Rihla (Travels) of Muslim scholar Ibn Battuta as he journeyed across Africa, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia during the mid-1300s.  Students will evaluate an article by contemporary scholar Christine Chism about Ibn Battuta’s interactions with Christians in Asia Minor and will offer their own interpretation of the Rihla. For the final essay, students will read selections from the Travels of Marco Polo, in which the famous Christian traveler journeys from Venice to China to meet Kublai Khan in the late 1200s.  Students will enter into conversation with a variety of secondary sources and form their own arguments about Polo’s interactions with the cultures he meets on his journey.

060.113.13  Getting Married (TTH 10:30)

Noelle Dubay

Contemporary debates about the status of marriage in the United States, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act, have had to confront the question of how flexible the institution really is. What are the essential features of marriage, and what do certain theories tell us about how we imagine our selves, our ideal lives, and our romantic relationships? In taking a long view of the institution, we see that answering this question is not at all simple. It can be a legal contract, a religious ceremony, a social practice, and any combination of these—and only recently in history has “love” entered the stage as a powerful player. We will approach the question from various angles, considering also questions about selfhood, personal relationships, and social recognition through the lens of marriage. For the first essay, we’ll consider philosophies of marriage and divorce coming out of classical and enlightenment thought. What role does marriage play in conjunction with other questions about the ideal development of the self? Students will write an essay analyzing one of these philosophical texts. For Essay 2, we will read short fictional narratives describing the experience of being married, especially considering questions of gender inequality. Students will evaluate an interpretation of the story of their choice. Essay 3 will consider marriage in the 21st century. We will read a series of essays offering different perspectives on the usefulness and uselessness of the institution of marriage today, especially at the contested borders of its legal definition. Students will enter this conversation and argue their own point of view. 

060.113.14  Structural Injustice (TTH 10:30)

Jon Masin-Peters

Politicians, social scientists, and philosophers speak increasingly of structural injustice and of the need for structural rather than incremental change.  But what do they mean by “structural,” and what would make a structure “unjust”?  How should we respond to structural injustice?  In this writing course, we explore these questions through the work of contemporary scholars.  For our first essay, students evaluate the persuasiveness of Iris Marion Young’s seminal 2004 essay “Responsibility and Global Labor Justice,” which analyzes sweatshop labor.  Young argues that structural injustices are forms of disempowerment resulting from multiple social processes, none of which is the sole cause.  We should respond, she proposes, by broadening who counts as complicit in perpetuating these injustices, focusing especially on affluent consumers in countries far from the site of production.  The second essay asks students to evaluate the application of Young’s framework to a different phenomenon—colonialism.  Students read Catherine Lu’s essay “Colonialism as Structural Injustice: Historical Responsibility and Contemporary Redress.”  Lu uses Young’s theory to rethink who is responsible for Japanese colonial practices in South Korea during the Second World War.  For the third and final essay, students enter into conversation about the role of the oppressed in contesting structural injustice.  We read Clarissa Hayward’s essay “Responsibility and Ignorance,” which critiques Young’s responsibility model and argues for the oppressed to adopt a disruptive politics that employs spectacular direct actions to “wake up” complacent citizens.  We also read Tamara Jugov and Lea Ypi’s argument that the oppressed have an obligation to resist structural injustice.  By drawing on these sources, as well as previous readings, students argue their own view of how best to describe and respond to structural injustice.

060.113.15  Exploring the Philosophy of Love (TTH 12:00)

Sandy Koulass

What do you love?  Do you love your family?  Your friends?  Do you love hiking in the mountains, the music of Mozart, the idea of justice?  We use the word “love” in all of these contexts and more, but a satisfactory, shared understanding of the term seems elusive. Philosophers have disagreed about its meaning for thousands of years.  What is clear is that love plays a significant role in our lives.  In this writing class, we will explore the philosophy of love. We will begin with an excerpt from Plato’s Symposium, where we find love construed as an admirable pursuit of creativity and beauty.  This rather high-minded view of love is complicated by the arrival of a drunken and miserable Alcibiades, who is clearly stricken with love of quite a different sort.  For the first essay, students will analyze the excerpt from Plato, paying particular attention to the problem presented by Alcibiades’s arrival.  For our second essay, we will consider two modern philosophical accounts of love that have been influential in current debates: David Velleman’s argument for understanding love as an “arresting awareness” of the value inherent in another person, and Harry G. Frankfurt’s proposal, which broadens the concept of love considerably.  Whereas Velleman considers only love for people, Frankfurt offers a general account of love that could include love of activities, causes, animals, or just about anything else.  Students will evaluate one of these arguments.  Finally, in the third essay, we will consider several contemporary contributions to the philosophy of love, including Myisha Cherry’s “Love, Anger, and Racial Injustice,” as well as insights from the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, in our attempt to answer this ancient but still pressing question: What is love?

060.113.16  Contemporary American Short Stories (TTH 12:00)

Donald Berger

In a 2012 interview with the New York Times, American critic M.H. Abrams was asked, “Why study literature?”  Abrams answered, because “it enables you to live the lives of other people.”  And in his book How Fiction Works, critic James Wood points us to fiction’s “extraordinary capacity . . . [to] tell us what a character is thinking.”  But how does a master of short fiction open a window to his or her characters’ thoughts and feelings?  How does the writer, as Abrams suggests, draw us into other lives?  In this writing course, we will examine how writers of American short stories use fictional elements such as point of view and description to create a character’s inner life.  For our first essay assignment, students will analyze one story from among a small set of stories by considering a question the story raises.  For Essay 2, students will evaluate a critic’s interpretation of how characterization operates in a story and, based on that evaluation, will offer their own interpretation. For our third and largest essay, students will develop an argument about a short story in the context of secondary sources, evaluating the critics’ views and offering their own.  Our readings will feature the work of some of the masters of contemporary American short stories including Raymond Carver, Grace Paley, Joyce Carol Oates, Junot Diaz, Gish Jen, Jennifer Egan, Richard Ford, Denis Johnson, ZZ Packer, George Saunders, Lorrie Moore, Edward P. Jones, Alice Munro and Lydia Davis.

060.113.17  Technology and the Future of Work (TTH 1:30)

Aaron Begg

Everywhere we look, robots and artificial intelligence seem to be transforming work and our ideas about it. Will machines continue to replace humans and make jobs obsolete? Can we envision a fully automated society? Does this look like a dream, or a nightmare? Today’s ideas about technology and the future of work have taken shape as robust theories for telling us how to understand the relation between society and technology, as well as political visions of guaranteed income for all championed by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and presidential primary candidates alike. This writing course examines competing accounts of the links between changes in work and technology, foregrounding recent debates about problems, causes, and solutions. Where does the drive to automate come from? Is technology the real cause behind present upheavals in work, or should we look to other causes? How do our assumptions about technological change shape our sense of political possibility? Will the robots take our jobs, or will they save us? After a brief introduction to the history of debates about technology and work, we’ll begin with two short essays on the origins of contemporary automation. Students will analyze either Antone Martinho-Truswell’s interpretation emphasizing human evolution over a long time-span, or Andreas Malm’s interpretation that focuses on social and political factors tied to capitalist development. Next, we’ll consider a leading account of the impact of automation on the labor market, at the same time as we evaluate the argument of a notable critique. In the first, Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee trace declines in demand for human labor to technological progress; in his critique of this account, David Autor portrays automation as complementary to humans in ways that result in the continued demand for human labor. For the third and longest essay, students will enter the debate around political solutions to the problem of automation, focusing on recent proposals for a guaranteed basic income.

060.113.18  Emotion(s) (TTH 1:30)

Michele Asuni

What are emotions?  The word “emotion” entered the English language only in the seventeenth century, borrowed from the French émotion, meaning “physical disturbance and bodily movement.”  Yet having a word for a concept does not guarantee that its definition will be straightforward.  In fact, trying to provide an exact definition of “emotion” has long proved challenging for philosophers, psychologists, and scientists.  Are emotions merely physiological responses to external events?  Or do they contain a rational element?  Do they speak to our conscious minds and thus help determine our moral judgments?  In this writing course, we will engage with a range of texts that explore these questions.  We start by reading passages from the ancient philosopher Aristotle, who defined emotions as “all those feelings that so change humans as to affect their judgments, and that are also attended by pain and pleasure.”  Paying particular attention to the volatile emotion of anger, students will write a short essay analyzing Aristotle’s argument.  For the second essay, we turn to recent physiological and neurological accounts of emotions.  We will read chapters from Lisa Feldman Barrett’s How Emotions Are Made and Antonio Damasio’s The Feeling of What Happens.  Students will evaluate the claims of either Barrett or Damasio and will offer their own views.  For the third and longest essay, we will read the work of contemporary philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who argues that emotions are not mere animal impulses or primeval forces with no connection to our thoughts but, rather, they are “suffused with intelligence and discernment” and are paramount to our ethical judgments.  Students will engage with Nussbaum by entering into a wider debate about emotions and will offer their own answers to the question of how we should understand emotions. 

060.113.19  No Justice No Peace? (TTH 3:00)

Nur Kirmizidag

How should political communities emerging from episodes of civil conflict and mass violence respond to wrongdoing?  How can such communities achieve justice and peace?  The answers to these questions have been contentious, resulting in a justice-vs-peace debate that sees justice and peace as opposed.  On the “justice” side of this debate are those who believe that unless a society responds to the innate desire to see past wrongs avenged, the cycle of vengeance will go on endlessly. Advocates of this “justice approach” contend that holding individuals accountable through prosecution is the only way to break the cycle of vengeance.  Advocates of the “peace approach,” on the other hand, believe the insistence on prosecution is not only impractical but also harmful to a community’s efforts to heal past wounds and build long-lasting peace. Instead, they contend, communities should focus on strengthening democracy and building peace through a justice based on forgiveness.  In this writing course, students will consider this debate as they engage with arguments from both sides. We will begin with one of the United Nations’ first publications on the subject, The Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-conflict Societies. Students will write a brief essay identifying a logical flaw in the U.N.’s approach. Next, we will turn to the “peace” side of the debate and read Desmond Tutu’s impassioned argument for a “different kind of justice” in his foreword to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report. Students will evaluate Tutu’s “justice as forgiveness” argument in light of the U.N.’s “justice as rule of law” argument.  For their third and final essay, students will read Mahmud Mamdani’s essay “From Justice to Reconciliation: Making Sense of the African Experience” in which Mamdani demonstrates weaknesses in both sides’ arguments. Using select critical sources, students will argue their own answers to the question and consider implications of their arguments for the future of society. 


Individual Course Descriptions for Expository Writing (060.113), Fall 2020

060.113.01  Alter Egos in Film (MWF 10:00)

Xavier Oliver

We are likely familiar with a number of films that feature characters who have alter egos, or “split personalities,” properly called “Dissociative Identity Disorder” (DID). How do these film representations of characters with alter egos inform our cultural understanding and awareness of real individuals who have split personalities?  How do they, positively or negatively, influence our perception?  In this writing course, we will first think through a particularly influential example of characters split between benign and destructive alter egos, as we consider the 1968 film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Students will write a brief essay interpreting the film. Next, we will view Lamont Johnson’s biographical film Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase (1990).  Students will evaluate the view of a critical source focused on Johnson’s depiction of Dissociative Identity Disorder and will offer their own interpretation of the film. Finally, we will turn our attention to how the alter-ego trope operates in a contemporary film by turning to M. Night Shyamalan’s Split (2016).  For their third and longest essay, students will view Shyamalan’s film and, in conversation with selected pieces of contemporary film criticism, will develop their interpretation of the film’s portrayal of alter egos and how it might influence our understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

060.113.02  (MWF 10:00) canceled

060.113.03  Who Owns the Past? (MWF 11:00)

Richard Essam

Does an ancient sculpture belong to its creator, to a particular culture, to all of humanity?  Who owns the past?  Scholars, cultural heritage professionals, and lovers of ancient history must grapple with this question when considering whether to return museum objects to their countries of origin, whether to study objects of questionable provenance, and even whether to visit and support museums and other cultural institutions.  In this writing course, we will begin by reading Kwame Anthony Appiah’s essay “Whose Culture Is It?”  Students will write a brief essay analyzing Appiah’s critique of the concept of “cultural patrimony” when applied to objects created before the rise of the modern nation-state.  For the second essay, we will consider the question of cuneiform tablets illicitly excavated in Iraq and Syria and sold on the black market.  In his provocatively titled essay “Censoring Knowledge,” David Owen argues that scholars should publish such texts.  Students will evaluate Owen’s argument in light of the position papers of two scholarly organizations against which Owen is reacting, and will come to their own views.  For the final essay, students will consider the Parthenon Marbles, taken from Greece to England by Lord Elgin in the early nineteenth century with a—possibly fictitious—decree of permission from the ruling Ottomans, and long claimed by Greece.  We will read short essays by the Greek culture minister, a museum director, a legal scholar, and the Trustees of the British Museum, and students will enter the debate over whether the British Museum has an ethical obligation to return the marbles to Greece, an argument that has implications not only for the British Museum but also for the question of who owns the past.

060.113.04  Vaccines, Science, and Values (MW 12:00)

Rebecca Wilbanks

Recent measles outbreaks have made vaccination policies a subject of newspaper headlines and target of legislation in statehouses across the country.  In this writing course, we will read behind the headlines to understand why “vaccine hesitancy” persists, and what we should do about it.  Vaccines are a public health intervention that produce a common good, yet are enacted on individual bodies.  When individuals refuse vaccination for themselves or their children, health professionals and policy makers must weigh competing values, such as autonomy and justice, as they aim to balance individual and social welfare.  Further complicating this aim, people’s attitudes toward vaccination can be shaped by divergent ideas about the meaning of health and social responsibility, as well as by their trust in scientific institutions and knowledge.  In other words, scientific evidence alone cannot resolve vaccine controversies; navigating science and values together is vital to achieving just policy in a democratic society.  We will begin by reading arguments for and against compulsory vaccination from the bioethics literature; students will choose one of these philosophical perspectives to analyze for their first essay, looking for a flaw in the author’s argument.  Next, we’ll explore the metaphorical and symbolic dimensions of vaccination with Eula Biss’s On Immunity, a work of creative nonfiction that blends memoir and cultural analysis.  Students will respond to a secondary source that comments on Biss’s text and offer their own interpretation of her work.  Finally, we will enter into an ongoing conversation as we evaluate New York State’s decision to end religious exemptions for vaccination.  Students will draw on evidence from a variety of sources to argue their own policy recommendations.

060.113.05  Personal Identity and Survival (MW 12:00)

Kathryn Brophy

We intuitively understand that, in some important sense, we are the same person we were ten minutes ago, or ten years ago, and will continue to be the same person into the future. What is less clear, however, is what exactly makes these kinds of claims true.  In this writing course, we will explore the philosophy of personal identity, and answer questions such as: What are we? What features are needed for us to persist through time?  What sort of events is it possible for us to survive, and what sort would determinately end our existence?  We will begin by exploring a paper by Derek Parfit, who argues that a special sort of psychological continuity is what guarantees our persistence through time.  Students will critically analyze Parfit’s views, paying particular attention to his distinction between what matters to survival and what matters to identity.  For the second essay, students will read excerpts from Eric Olson’s The Human Animal, in which Olson argues that our survival ultimately consists in the continued biological functioning of our human bodies.  For the final assignment, students will consider the work of Marya Schechtman, who argues for a more holistic view of personal identity that combines psychology, biology, and social considerations.  In this final essay, students will engage Schechtman in conversation with others, and argue their answer to the question: What constitutes personal identity?

060.113.06  Politics and Violence (MW 12:00)

George Oppel

When we think about political violence we tend to focus on specific examples of war, genocide, terrorism, assassination, or revolution.  But the deeper causes, meanings, and justifications of political violence are also worthy of attention.  In this course we explore how major political and literary thinkers have tackled the following questions: What is political violence?  Are we all implicated in political violence, or is it something we can blame solely on the actions of states and leaders?  And when, if ever, can political violence be justified?  In the first segment, Defining Political Violence, we read essays by Abraham Lincoln and William James, and you write a short essay that responds to their views on the nature of political violence.  In Unit Two,  Violence and the State, we read Machiavelli’s account of state violence, and, as a practical example, we consider the use of torture by the US government. You write an essay on the torture issue that engages with the views of a prominent thinker.  In Unit Three, Violence and the People, we focus on themes of conspiracy, assassination, mob-rule, and the power of political speech.  We read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and you write a longer essay that offers an interpretation of the play in light of the thinkers we’ve already read. The overriding aim is to develop your ability to write clearly and persuasively as you engage with these fundamental questions and classic texts.

060.113.23  What Is Mental Illness? (MW 12:00)

Nikola Andonovski

Mental illness is on the rise.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year, while 1 in 25 suffers from a mental disorder which substantially interferes with their daily lives.  But what is mental illness? The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, doesn’t tell us much, though it uses terms such as “psychobiological dysfunctions” that might be deemed value-laden.  Is it possible to talk about mental illness in value-free terms?  If so, how can we do it?  And what is at stake if we don’t?  In this writing course, we will try to answer these questions by considering some of the major philosophical and scientific conceptions of mental illness.  For the first unit, we will read Thomas Szasz’s classic essay “The Myth of Mental Illness.” Students will write a short essay analyzing Szasz’s argument(s), with the goal of identifying an important flaw.  For the second unit, we’ll read papers by David Papineau and Rachel Cooper.  Students will evaluate Papineau’s argument(s), focusing on both the merits and the flaws.  In the final unit, we’ll read three representative essays from the contemporary literature (Boorse, Wakefield, Kingma), in which each author argues for a different conception of mental illness.  Students will critically engage with the existent arguments and will develop their own conceptions in their final essays.

060.113.07  Vaccines, Science, and Values (MW 1:30)

Rebecca Wilbanks

Please see the course description listed above for Section 04 at MW 12:00.

060.113.08  The Politics of Pop (MW 1:30)

Tobias Huttner

Critics find many ways to dismiss pop music: it’s too commercial, too repetitive, too shallow, inauthentic.  At best, it seems, pop music can be numbingly escapist; at worst, it represents the degradation of art and the domination of the marketplace over subjective expression. This course in expository writing will look at pop differently. We will ask what a three-minute pop song can tell us about contemporary America—its troubling social contradictions, its potential aspirations—and we will look to the music itself to try to answer this question. We will think about how pop can register and record the sound of protest, how it can express new and potentially subversive identities, and how it can unwittingly reproduce historical forms of violence and exclusion, all while still answering to the commercial demands of selling records. The soundtrack to the course will include a range of genres and artists from the 1960s to the present—from rock-and-roll to early hip-hop, from top-40 pop to DIY punk, and beyond. In the first unit, we will consider the matter of pop music and social protest. Students will choose one song among three that we’ll have listened to as a class to analyze for their first essay, asking in particular how the song expresses its political meanings and desires. The second unit will introduce the politics of the music industry, and students will write an essay analyzing one song from class and evaluating one critical source.  For the third and longest essay, we will study the complexities of a single, remarkably ambitious recent pop project—Beyoncé’s 2016 video-album, Lemonade—asking how it deploys and reinvents pop sensibilities toward its own ends.  Students will analyze Lemonade in conversation with several critical sources to develop their own argument about the politics of pop in contemporary American life.

060.113.09  Politics and Violence (MW 1:30)

George Oppel

Please see the course description listed above for Section 06 at MW 12:00.

060.113.10  Nature, Culture, and Climate Change (MW 3:00)

Nathan Doherty

How should human beings understand their relationship to the natural world?  Are we, as some see it, simply part of nature and as inseparable from it as other earth species?  Or is nature alien to us, an inherent challenge that we must master if we are to live in security and prosperity?  And what is at stake in how we answer these questions?  In this writing course, we will consider these questions in a systematic way as we attempt to come to our own answers.  First, we read an excerpt from Leviathan (1651) by the political theorist Thomas Hobbes.  For Hobbes, life in the “state of nature” is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  In this view, our only hope is to construct political societies in opposition to nature.  Students write a brief essay analyzing Hobbes’s argument and demonstrating where it might be flawed.  For the second essay, we turn to the work of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen, who coined the term “Anthropocene” to describe the current geological era in which humans are “overwhelming the great forces of nature.”  Students evaluate the merits and flaws of his argument and offer their own view.  In the third and longest essay, students enter a conversation about how to respond to climate change.  Sources include the work of influential scientist James Lovelock, historian and sociologist Bruno Latour, and JHU political theorist Jane Bennett.  By engaging in this scholarly debate, students will advance their own arguments about how to understand the relationship between human beings and nature in the face of a pressing global challenge.

060.113.24  The Politics of Pop (MW 3:00)

Tobias Huttner

Please see the course description listed above for Section 08 at MW 1:30.

060.113.11  Private Eyes and Police Detectives (TTH 9:00)

Sophia Franchi

The explosion of crime narratives across media and cultures over the past two centuries has centered on two figures who are often opposed: the individual who operates in a private capacity (for example, the gentleman detective or the private eye), and the police officer who operates in a public capacity, as an agent of the law or state. This writing course will look closely at selected nineteenth- and twentieth-century works, both literary and filmic, in which these two figures are set in uneasy, and even competing, relationships. We will ask how the representation of these figures affects how we think about crime and what constitutes ethical and legal transgression. How might they help us understand the boundary between private and public life? And what kinds of anxieties, overlapping or divergent, do they express about the shifts in class structure, domestic life, and gender roles that marked the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? To begin, students will select one of Edgar Allan Poe’s canonical “Dupin” tales and, in a brief essay, will explore the motivations and methods that define this paradigmatic version of the private detective. Next, we will read excerpts from two novels by Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist and Bleak House, both of which feature officers of London’s newly created Metropolitan Police Force. Students will evaluate the view of a critical source, D.A. Miller’s The Novel and the Police, and will consider the novels’ treatment of the new figure of the public police inspector in light of Miller’s arguments. For the third and most extensive essay, we will watch the Coen brothers’ 1996 film Fargo. Students will engage with various critical sources to explore how the traditions of the detective story evolve both to reflect the society of which they are a part and to illuminate it, and will offer their own interpretation of the film.

060.113.12  Cross-Cultural Encounters in the Middle Ages (TTH 9:00)

Nathan Daniels

For many, “The Middle Ages” evokes gothic cathedrals, pious monks, and knights in armor—images of a Europe isolated from the rest of the world.  But in fact, the exchange of ideas, goods, and services across continents was a regular feature of medieval life, in which people of different backgrounds, cultures, and religions frequently came into contact with one another.  In this writing course, we will consider what happened when a member of one culture visited another and wrote about the experience.  How were travelers’ ideas about other cultures and religions affirmed or challenged?  What did they learn about their own identities, and how can their encounters inform us about ours today?  To answer these questions, we will read selections from a series of medieval travelogues—chronicles of journeys across the medieval world.  Students will analyze these texts to consider how the authors’ religious backgrounds shaped the ways they interacted with the people of other cultures, and how they themselves were changed by the encounters.  For the first essay, students will read and analyze the Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, a twelfth-century Jewish merchant who traveled from Spain to Baghdad and Cairo, describing the communities he met in the process.  Next, students will read selections from the Rihla (Travels) of Muslim scholar Ibn Battuta as he journeyed across Africa, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia during the mid-1300s.  Students will evaluate an article by contemporary scholar Christine Chism about Ibn Battuta’s interactions with Christians in Asia Minor and will offer their own interpretation of the Rihla. For the final essay, students will read selections from the Travels of Marco Polo, in which the famous Christian traveler journeys from Venice to China to meet Kublai Khan in the late 1200s.  Students will enter into conversation with a variety of secondary sources and form their own arguments about Polo’s interactions with the cultures he meets on his journey.

060.113.13  Technology and the Future of Work (TTH 10:30)

Aaron Begg

Everywhere we look, robots and artificial intelligence seem to be transforming work and our ideas about it. Will machines continue to replace humans and make jobs obsolete? Can we envision a fully automated society? Does this look like a dream, or a nightmare? Today’s ideas about technology and the future of work have taken shape as robust theories for telling us how to understand the relation between society and technology, as well as political visions of guaranteed income for all championed by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and presidential primary candidates alike. But these ideas—like all ideas—have a history, and they evolved out of a broader discourse about automation beginning in the nineteenth century. In this course we will look at that longer history and ask what we should we make of all this talk of automation. Is technology the real cause behind past and present changes to work, or should we look to other causes? How do our assumptions about the role of technology in work shape our sense of political possibility? After an introduction to today’s debate about technology and work, students will spend the first two units of the course evaluating nineteenth- and twentieth-century essays about automation in light of their historical contexts and argumentative assumptions. With this longer view to hand, students will return for their third and final essay to enter into our own contemporary debate about technology and the future of work.

060.113.14  Getting Married (TTH 10:30)

Noelle Dubay

Contemporary debates about the status of marriage in the United States, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act, have had to confront the question of how flexible the institution really is. What are the essential features of marriage, and what do certain theories tell us about how we imagine our selves, our ideal lives, and our romantic relationships? In taking a long view of the institution, we see that answering this question is not at all simple. It can be a legal contract, a religious ceremony, a social practice, and any combination of these—and only recently in history has “love” entered the stage as a powerful player. We will approach the question from various angles, considering also questions about selfhood, personal relationships, and social recognition through the lens of marriage. For the first essay, we’ll consider philosophies of marriage and divorce coming out of classical and enlightenment thought. What role does marriage play in conjunction with other questions about the ideal development of the self? Students will write an essay analyzing one of these philosophical texts. For Essay 2, we will read short fictional narratives describing the experience of being married, especially considering questions of gender inequality. Students will evaluate an interpretation of the story of their choice. Essay 3 will consider marriage in the 21st century. We will read a series of essays offering different perspectives on the usefulness and uselessness of the institution of marriage today, especially at the contested borders of its legal definition. Students will enter this conversation and argue their own point of view.

060.113.15  Structural Injustice (TTH 10:30)

Jon Masin-Peters

Politicians, social scientists, and philosophers speak increasingly of structural injustice and of the need for structural rather than incremental change.  But what do they mean by “structural,” and what would make a structure “unjust”?  How should we respond to structural injustice?  In this writing course, we explore these questions through the work of contemporary scholars.  For our first essay, students evaluate the persuasiveness of Iris Marion Young’s seminal 2004 essay “Responsibility and Global Labor Justice,” which analyzes sweatshop labor.  Young argues that structural injustices are forms of disempowerment resulting from multiple social processes, none of which is the sole cause.  We should respond, she proposes, by broadening who counts as complicit in perpetuating these injustices, focusing especially on affluent consumers in countries far from the site of production.  The second essay asks students to evaluate the application of Young’s framework to a different phenomenon—colonialism.  Students read Catherine Lu’s essay “Colonialism as Structural Injustice: Historical Responsibility and Contemporary Redress.”  Lu uses Young’s theory to rethink who is responsible for Japanese colonial practices in South Korea during the Second World War.  For the third and final essay, students enter into conversation about the role of the oppressed in contesting structural injustice.  We read Clarissa Hayward’s essay “Responsibility and Ignorance,” which critiques Young’s responsibility model and argues for the oppressed to adopt a disruptive politics that employs spectacular direct actions to “wake up” complacent citizens.  We also read Tamara Jugov and Lea Ypi’s argument that the oppressed have an obligation to resist structural injustice.  By drawing on these sources, as well as previous readings, students argue their own view of how best to describe and respond to structural injustice.

060.113.16  Superheroes and Identity in Popular Culture (TTH 12:00)

Atesede Makonnen

Through the figure of the superhero and the medium of comics, we will explore how race, gender, and disability inform and shape representations of heroism. We will ask how these representations have changed over time, why they matter, and what we can learn about our society by thinking and writing about them.  For the first essay, we begin by thinking about the definition and power of stereotype, starting with the very first appearance of Black Panther in 1966.  Students will analyze the character and write a brief analysis.  Next, we watch Wonder Woman (2017) and, with the help of a secondary source, students will write an essay evaluating representations of gender as depicted in the film and will develop their own interpretation.  For the third and final essay, we explore representations of disability through Hawkeye, Batgirl, and Daredevil in Hawkeye #19, Batman Chronicles #5 Oracle: Year One, and Daredevil.  Students will enter into conversation with selected secondary sources and, by evaluating the views of those sources, will consider the impact of thoughtful representations of disability versus disability erasure. Through their critical engagement, students will develop not only their writing skills but also their own views on heroism and identity in popular culture.

060.113.17  Contemporary American Short Stories (TTH 12:00)

Donald Berger

In a 2012 interview with the New York Times, American critic M.H. Abrams was asked, “Why study literature?”  Abrams answered, because “it enables you to live the lives of other people.”  And in his book How Fiction Works, critic James Wood points us to fiction’s “extraordinary capacity . . . [to] tell us what a character is thinking.”  But how does a master of short fiction open a window to his or her characters’ thoughts and feelings?  How does the writer, as Abrams suggests, draw us into other lives?  In this writing course, we will examine how writers of American short stories use fictional elements such as point of view and description to create a character’s inner life.  For our first essay assignment, students will analyze one story from among a small set of stories by considering a question the story raises.  For Essay 2, students will evaluate a critic’s interpretation of how characterization operates in a story and, based on that evaluation, will offer their own interpretation. For our third and largest essay, students will develop an argument about a short story in the context of secondary sources, evaluating the critics’ views and offering their own.  Our readings will feature the work of some of the masters of contemporary American short stories including Raymond Carver, Grace Paley, Joyce Carol Oates, Junot Diaz, Gish Jen, Jennifer Egan, Richard Ford, Denis Johnson, ZZ Packer, George Saunders, Lorrie Moore, Edward P. Jones, Alice Munro and Lydia Davis.

060.113.18  Getting Married (TTH 12:00)

Noelle Dubay

Please see the course description listed above for Section 14 at TTH 10:30.

060.113.19  Technology and the Future of Work (TTH 1:30)

Aaron Begg

Please see the course description listed above for Section 13 at TTH 10:30.

060.113.20  “The Dark Side” of Progress (TTH 1:30)

Sarah Ross

What, the Victorians wondered, could science achieve, and what might be the consequences of creating what we cannot control? Across the nineteenth century, in the aftermath of the great innovations of the Industrial Revolution, the world seemed to be changing at an ever-accelerating rate.  Scientific and technological advances led to rapid economic progress.  But with this rapid progress came fear, a lurking sense that science was pushing humanity beyond its limits.  In this writing course, we will engage with a range of literary texts that venture to the dark side of progress, where anxieties about the modern, industrialized world come to be embodied as figures of fear. We begin with Charles Dickens’s short ghost story “The Signal-Man,” which considers strange encounters between humans and technology. Students will write a brief essay analyzing the story.  For the second essay, we turn to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1886).  Students will evaluate the view of a secondary source and will offer their own interpretation of Stevenson’s classic tale of the monster within. For our third and final essay, we will consider the archetypal mad scientist and his creation in James Whale’s 1931 film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). Students will enter into conversation with selected scholarly sources as they develop their own argument about the film and what it has to tell us about the dark side of progress.

060.113.21  Emotion(s) (TTH 1:30)

Michele Asuni

What are emotions?  The word “emotion” entered the English language only in the seventeenth century, borrowed from the French émotion, meaning “physical disturbance and bodily movement.”  Yet having a word for a concept does not guarantee that its definition will be straightforward.  In fact, trying to provide an exact definition of “emotion” has long proved challenging for philosophers, psychologists, and scientists.  Are emotions merely physiological responses to external events?  Or do they contain a rational element?  Do they speak to our conscious minds and thus help determine our moral judgments?  In this writing course, we will engage with a range of texts that explore these questions.  We start by reading passages from the ancient philosopher Aristotle, who defined emotions as “all those feelings that so change humans as to affect their judgments, and that are also attended by pain and pleasure.”  Paying particular attention to the volatile emotion of anger, students will write a short essay analyzing Aristotle’s argument.  For the second essay, we turn to recent physiological and neurological accounts of emotions.  We will read chapters from Lisa Feldman Barrett’s How Emotions Are Made and Antonio Damasio’s The Feeling of What Happens.  Students will evaluate the claims of either Barrett or Damasio and will offer their own views.  For the third and longest essay, we will read the work of contemporary philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who argues that emotions are not mere animal impulses or primeval forces with no connection to our thoughts but, rather, they are “suffused with intelligence and discernment” and are paramount to our ethical judgments.  Students will engage with Nussbaum by entering into a wider debate about emotions and will offer their own answers to the question of how we should understand emotions.

060.113.25  Horror and the Household (TTH 1:30)

Jo Giardini

Why is the family so often the site of terror in horror cinema? And how are changing forms of domestic space represented in film to give the audience an uncanny sense of danger?  Over the last fifty years, as American families have taken increasingly diverse forms, the norms of the single-family house have been displaced by a variety of other living arrangements.  During the same period, horror cinema has become regarded as a genre which makes innovative use of cinematic techniques to pursue social commentary and diverse forms of audience identification.  Analyses of race, gender, and sexuality have become central to criticism of horror film, as is evident in books like Carol Clover’s Men, Women, and Chainsaws and in forums like Blind Field Journal.  In this writing course, we will explore debates about the nature of family, gender relations, and the architecture of the home using the history of horror cinema to guide us. We will apply the basic tools of cinematic technique and analysis to a number of films, classic and recent. We will begin by watching John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), one of the more influential horror films of the late twentieth century. Students will be encouraged to analyze the film’s use of suburban space and its representations of childhood. Next, we will watch two horror films which focus on more subtle forms of violence within the domestic sphere: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) and Robert Altman’s 3 Women (1977).  Both films use experimental techniques to disorient their viewers. Students will choose one of these films, and write an essay which evaluates a critical interpretation. Our final assignment will focus on contemporary films using Jordan Peele’s Us (2019) as a case study, considering the film’s themes of generational trauma, replacement, and geographical scale. Students will read selected secondary sources which reflect the course’s themes, and will situate their own analysis of the film in the context of an ongoing and contemporary debate.

060.113.22  No Justice No Peace? (TTH 3:00)

Nur Kirmizidag

How should political communities emerging from episodes of civil conflict and mass violence respond to wrongdoing?  How can such communities achieve justice and peace?  The answers to these questions have been contentious, resulting in a justice-vs-peace debate that sees justice and peace as opposed.  On the “justice” side of this debate are those who believe that unless a society responds to the innate desire to see past wrongs avenged, the cycle of vengeance will go on endlessly. Advocates of this “justice approach” contend that holding individuals accountable through prosecution is the only way to break the cycle of vengeance.  Advocates of the “peace approach,” on the other hand, believe the insistence on prosecution is not only impractical but also harmful to a community’s efforts to heal past wounds and build long-lasting peace. Instead, they contend, communities should focus on strengthening democracy and building peace through a justice based on forgiveness.  In this writing course, students will consider this debate as they engage with arguments from both sides. We will begin with one of the United Nations’ first publications on the subject, The Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-conflict Societies. Students will write a brief essay identifying a logical flaw in the U.N.’s approach. Next, we will turn to the “peace” side of the debate and read Desmond Tutu’s impassioned argument for a “different kind of justice” in his foreword to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report. Students will evaluate Tutu’s “justice as forgiveness” argument in light of the U.N.’s “justice as rule of law” argument.  For their third and final essay, students will read Mahmud Mamdani’s essay “From Justice to Reconciliation: Making Sense of the African Experience” in which Mamdani demonstrates weaknesses in both sides’ arguments. Using select critical sources, students will argue their own answers to the question and consider implications of their arguments for the future of society.