PREC 106 Cinematic Visions: Movies & the Meaning of Life
In this course we will use films to explore a variety of questions: What does it mean to be human? Who are we, and how do we know? What do we want out of life, and how should we go about getting it? What are our responsibilities to others? What does it mean to live "the good life?" We consider the ways in which film addresses these questions. Does film reflect the answers, or does it create them? In addition to film, we will use works from psychology, philosophy, and film studies to explore these issues.
PREC 107 Creating Monsters
One becomes a monster either by committing some "monstrous" act or by possessing some properties that designate them as essentially "other." This course examines and evaluates the psychological, sociopolitical, and ethical processes through which this occurs and will attempt to answer the question: What does the status of monsters tell us about what it is to be human? To do so, we will look at Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, William Shakespeare's Othello, and a number of shorter readings and films.
PREC 108 Creativity
This course will explore the phenomenon of creativity as an aspect of human (and non-human) behavior across a wide range of professional and academic fields, including the arts, social science, science, and the humanities, as well as an occurrence within nature. It will study creative thinking in relationship to critical thinking, both in theoretical and practical terms. It will engage questions about imagination, intuition, insight, inspiration, improvisation, empathy, creative problem solving, innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship.
PREC 113 Love
It may be true that "all you need is love," but why do we feel that need to love and be loved? This course explores four types of love (Affection, Friendship, Romance, and Unconditional Love) as they are expressed in both the arts and sciences, including literary/artistic and critical/theoretical perspectives, clinical research findings and movies and songs—and whatever else students bring to the course via individual projects and presentations.
PREC 114 Voyage to Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
Exploration, colonization, and cultural domination are common themes in human history. This course uses the setting of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to investigate the enterprising tendency of human nature. Initially removed from the influence of neighboring societies and cloaked with mystery, especially with the creation of the large "Moai" statues, its isolated history will be examined. Rapa Nui also provides a remarkably contained setting in which to observe and question human exploration, as well as to understand the development of societies -- and their collapse.
PREC 115 Science Fiction & Human Identity
Do humans differ in a fundamental way from thinking machines? What is the relationship of the body to our conception of the human, and how might it change with the advent of genetic or cybernetic augmentation? What is the likely endpoint or destiny of humankind? Science fiction stories can be read as thought experiments designed to explore deep questions about what it means to be human. Drawing on a variety of readings and films, our goal in this course will be to explore the issue of human identity as seen through the lens of science fiction.
PREC 116 The Social Life of Food
Eating is an ordinary activity with profound social implications. Our modern food system has utterly transformed what and how we eat. This course examines food in a broad social context, exploring the modern revolution in eating but also the impact of this revolution on our attitudes and assumptions about what food is and how we consume it. In addition to analyzing food science and food fads over time, we will consider the politics, ethics, and ecological impact of our contemporary food culture.
PREC 118 War
War has been part of human experience since the dawn of history. It is an instrument wielded by states and revolutionaries, combining brutal violence and high strategy, condemned and justified by theologians and philosophers. Today, as populations grow, resources diminish and its destructive power expands, war seems more omnipresent and threatening than ever. We will draw on insights from the natural sciences, anthropology, history, literature, philosophy, psychology, political theory and the fine arts to explore this central human phenomenon.
PREC 120 Monuments: Memory & Aspiration
The course begins with a detailed examination of a number of monuments, including the St Louis Arch, the Vietnam Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial and the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. Each example will be contextualized through readings, visual analysis, historical and cultural frames of reference, and in one case, a site visit. The course culminates with students, researching, conceiving, and finally designing memorials to a contemporary person or event. Our goal is to achieve a complex appreciation of memorials as they shape new meanings that link past to future, the civic to the personal, the sacred to the secular, and document to poetry.
PREC 121 Diversity & the Millennial Generation
What does it mean to live in a diverse and inclusive society? What conditions allow for an informed analysis of power and privilege in America? Our course analyzes a multiplicity of concepts: the uses of "colorism" in various communities, genderqueer citizenship, feminism, masculinities, marriage equality, new biracial identities, and the need for multicultural literacy in the new century. The goals are to develop the conceptual tools that help us see the cultural limitations of our own perspectives: to explore the power relations inside and outside our own groups, and to develop skills to interact effectively with people different than ourselves.
PREC 122 Gender in Film: Reality & Representation
How do we act out our gender roles in the real world? In what ways are they reproduced or exploited in art? This class looks at the presentation of gender in film and investigates what it can tell us about the way we act out our own gender roles. The overarching discussion analyzes aspects of gender that are accepted as “natural,” as well as those that seem to be “constructed” by society. The class will use the ideas found in our films and discussions to study the trajectory of changing notions of gender in society from the past into today.
PREC 123 Mayhem & Mischief in the Academy
This course explores representations of crime portrayed in an academic context through a range of American and British texts and films. In particular, the course examines how academic institutions have been depicted, and how these portrayals have evolved, especially in light of changing perceptions of race, class, gender, and sexuality. We clarify crime fiction’s basic formulas, examine the evolution of contrasting narrative structures, and consider the historical significance of different forms, such as the classic "whodunit" and the hard-boiled thriller. Through the choice of texts, topics as academic freedom, diversity, tenure, town/gown relations, academic integrity, and research are also examined.
PREC 124 Human Rights
While most people today profess support for "human rights," difficult questions emerge if we press deeper. What, exactly, are the rights that we all share? Are these rights universal or are they specific to certain cultural traditions? How should human rights violations be prevented? Once such violations have occurred, how should societies pursue justice and promote social reconciliation? We will examine these questions looking at specific human rights cases and drawing on readings from a wide variety of perspectives.
PREC 125 Epidemics & Societies
Outbreaks of infectious diseases can have tremendous impact on human societies and the lives of individuals. This course explores the political, social, and scientific responses to various epidemics, and the substantial ethical questions that can arise. Topics include efforts to eradicate diseases, the emergence of HIV, and perceptions of epidemics and disease in the media.
Leading up to a worldwide event -- Gun Control Theatre Action Week, May 27 through June 2 -- a play by Knox College theatre professor Neil Blackadder was selected for a new collection, "24 Gun Control Plays."
Rana Tahir, a double major in creative writing and political science, wrote dozens of poems and created 29 paintings after interviewing Kuwaiti residents about the 1990 Iraqi occupation.
Knox College awarded more than $1,750 in prizes in the 2013 Al Young Art Show. Organizing 200 art works in an array of media is a challenge, according student Katie O'Connor, who helped arrange the entries.