Academic Courses

This course explores themes and forms of contemporary Asian American literature: poetry, novels, and short stories by Chinese American, Japanese American, Korean American, Vietnamese American, and Indian American authors. We will examine how their works challenge U.S. ideologies such as the melting pot and the American dream as they dramatize Asian American exclusion, incarceration, labor exploitation, discrimination, and diaspora; and how coming-of-age stories portray familial strife between first and second-generation immigrants and conflicts within individual characters: children are torn between their dual cultures while parents feel they are living in the west in body and east in mind. Our close readings will also illuminate how complexities of national identity intersect with struggles concerning characters’ assigned gender, sexuality, class, and religion. Fulfills requirements in Writing, Diversity, Global Studies, and Literature. Questions? E-mail the instructor at mag20@pitt.edu. This course meets the Writing-intensive course and Course in Literature requirements for all students and the Diversity requirement for students admitted in the fall 2018 term. This course also fulfills a requirement for Global Studies and is offered in fall 2018.
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Does economic growth lead to democratization? Why do dictators hold elections? Enroll in the summer session of PS 1328 Authoritarian Politics to examine these questions! Students in the course will study theories and concepts related to democratization and authoritarian resilience. In the first part of the course, they will look at different approaches to the study of democratic transitions, specifically the role of class, institutions and leaders. In the second part of the course, they will explore how authoritarian regimes maintain rule. Topics will include the function of elections, the effect of foreign aid, and the role of propaganda in authoritarian countries. For more information about the course or to obtain the syllabus, please contact the instructor Evelyn Chan. This course is offered in the 6-eek-2 summer session.
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Learn the 4 skills of language, reading, writing, listening and speaking in Hebrew. The only ancient language that was revived 120 years ago. It is a root based language with only three tenses (in Hebrew 1 we teach the present tense only). By the end of the semester you will be able to survive in a Hebrew speaking place. And we do everything from the right side. You will be able to ask for directions and understand them, you will never starv as you will be able to order food in a restaurant, and enjoy great food. Anyone can benefit from Hebrew - linguistics students who need a non-traditional language, business and economics students who are looking into the wonder of Israeli economy, or science students who are thinking of doing some study abroad in Israel. This relaxed class teaches students about the language and culture of Israel using TV shows, films, games, and technology in addition to the text book to make studying and learing fund and easy. Take a fun break from sciences and use the other side of your brain! This course is offered in the fall 2018 term. It prepares students to take the next course, HEBREW 0102/JS 0014 Elementary Hebrew 2, in spring 2019. HEBREW 0102/JS 0014 meets the Second Language requirement.
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It's simple: understanding the first century of American life is essential to understanding it now. How did British, Dutch, French, and Spanish explorers and settlers of North America end up battling native tribes and each other, losing their empires, and witness the creation of the new United States of America? In "From Witches to Walden Pond" we investigate the story of early America with a focus upon religion, since that was a core identity for many colonists who were still waging the Protestant Reformation and fleeing religious persecution. However, early America was also home to "pagan" native Americans and slaves, atheists and deists, con men, and witch hunters. Through lecture, discussion and field trips, we tackle the religious, political, economic factors that drew European colonists to North America; the impact of religious pluralism on American life; the diversity of the religious landscape from the 17th to mid-19th centuries; religious themes in art and literature; and the encounters and conflicts between certain groups that eventually led to civil war. First year students will benefit from this introduction to studying American history and will enjoy the use of local and regional history through field trips that make the past come alive. Students closer to graduation and needing credits for American history will also find the course content essential for understanding how the United States was founded and what its founders hoped for. This course prepares students for lifelong understanding of the history of the United States and the often contested role of religion within it. Instead of arguing pointlessly about religion with family and friends, investigate the real history of religious conflict and the surprising emergence of religious toleration and protection of religion freedoms in the 18th century as the bedrock of the new democratic United States. Learn how such social factors as African slavery, native American tribes, the arrival of Catholic and Jewish immigrants, and the formation of new traditions (Shakers, Mormons, evangelical Protestants) challenged older assumptions about how to establish "liberty and justice for all." This course is offered in the fall 2018 term. Note: This course meets the Historical Change requirement for students enrolled prior to fall 2018. It has not been approved to meet the Historical Analysis requirement for students who enter in fall 2018 or later.
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This course examines the genre of gothic fiction from its origins in the late eighteenth century to the present. We will read a range of gothic fiction in order to consider treatment of such matters as sexuality, nation, race, and class. We will consider how the fantastical rendition of such political matters is related to the historical and cultural circumstances in which gothic fiction has been written and read. Students with an interest in popular culture and literature, or those who just want to find out why we love horror stories will enjoy this class. This course is offered in the fall 2018 term.
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The things you thought you knew well as a child--well-known fairy tales, Disney classics--will take on completely new significance. You will see how folk traditions of the past continue to influence our world today. And you will learn how tales can stretch across a variety of cultures, using similar themes and motives to convey different cultural values. (I.e. Why is it important that the Prince in the Indian version of Cinderella finds our heroine with a nose ring, not a glass slipper? Why is it important that an older Italian version of Sleeping Beauty has our heroine awakened not by true love's first kiss, but by her nursing children? And why is it important that in some earlier versions of Red Riding Hood, the story ends with our heroine being eaten--no woodsman comes to save her?) In this course, we analyze folktales from across the Indo-European realm, including classics such as the Grimms, Perrault, Afanasyev, Basile, Aesop, and the Bidpai, as well as modern reworkings by Disney, Roald Dahl, Oscar Wilde, Anne Sexton, and Angela Carter. We will examine the aesthetic, social, historical, and psychological values reflected in these tales, and we will discuss significant theoretical and methodological paradigms in the field of folklore and folktale studies, including structural, socio-historical, psychoanalytic, and feminist perspectives. Finally, we will analyze the continuing influence of this folk tradition on popular and elite culture of our time. Upon completion of this course, the successful student should be familiar with a wide variety of Indo-European folktales, be able to discuss several approaches to studying them, be able to identify the most important motifs of these tales, be familiar with some of the most influential folklorists, writers, and editors of the tales, and be able to assess the significance of folktales for contemporary western culture. All readings, coursework, and discussions will be in English. This course is offered in the fall 2018 term. It meets the Literature and Regional requirements for students admitted before fall 2018, and it meets the Literature and Geographic Region requirements for students admitted for fall 2018
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This course is a partial survey of some important strands in the Western intellectual history. We will start with ancient Greek speculations in cosmology, philosophy, and medicine. Then we will look at some important subsequent developments in these areas and how they were influenced by the Greek tradition. These include, among other topics, the magical tradition that flourished during the Renaissance period. The latter half of the course will focus on the profound intellectual transformations in the 17th century which constitute what we often call The Scientific Revolution. The great scientific achievements of figures such as Descartes, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton will be discussed in detail. Overall, this course is meant to provide a broad picture of some of the most important elements in the Western intellectual tradition and their interactions in history. This course is offered in the 6-Week-2 Summer Session, June 25 through August 4.
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Ethical dilemmas in the practice of health care continue to proliferate and receive increasing attention from members of the health care profession, ethicists, policy makers, and the general public as health care consumers. In this course we will examine a number of ethical issues that arise in the context of contemporary medical practice and research by analyzing articles and decision scenarios. Topics to be covered typically include the physician-patient relationship; informed consent; medical experimentation; termination of treatment; genetics; reproductive technologies; euthanasia; resource allocation; and health care reform. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify and analyze different philosophical approaches to selected issues in medical ethics; have gained insight into how to read and critically interpret philosophical arguments; and have developed skills that will enable them to think clearly about ethical questions as future or current health care providers, policy makers, and consumers. This course is part of a core sequence leading to certification in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine Certificate Program, and is a companion course to HPS 0612 Mind and Medicine but may be taken independently. The course is of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-health care students. This course is offered in the 6-Week-1 Summer Session, May 14 through June 23 (instructor: Nora Boyd) and in the 6-Week-2 Summer Session, June 27 through August 4 (instructor: Haixin Dang).
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How can we understand our world? In western culture, science dominates all our answers to this question. But there are other ways. They can be found in the mythologies of ancient and modern peoples. This course will compare the scientific and mythological ways of seeing the world and their more subtle connections. In particular, we will turn to the remarkable events in Ancient Greece of 800-400 B.C. and discover how the scientific approach actually grew slowly out of mythological thought itself. This course is offered in the 6-Week-1 Summer Session, May 14 through June 23.
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English colonial expansion and pursuit of trade during the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries gave rise to a wide array of language varieties, among them the pidgin and creole varieties that arose in the plantation colonies of the Atlantic, Pacific and the Americas. In this course, students will examine the languages of enslaved Africans as they are reanalyzed/reformed in these new contexts. They will confront and challenge ‘common sense’ beliefs/ideologies about language, race, education, and power. In particular, students will: examine of the structure, history and use of Afro-American language varieties take a close look at the history and symbolic role of language in the lives of Blacks. examine how people’s sociocultural experience is reflected in language examine the relationships between language and social life in the African-American and Caribbean communities. consider implications of language differences for social and educational opportunities. This course is offered in the fall 2018 term.
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The course will provide students with elementary logic skills and an understanding of scientific arguments. Ours is an increasingly scientific and technical society. In both our personal life decisions and in our work we are daily confronted by scientific results which influence what we do and how we do it. Basic skills in analyzing the structure of arguments in terms of truth and evidence are required to make this type of information accessible and useful. We hear, for example, that drinking alcoholic beverages reduces the chances of heart disease. We might well ask what sorts of tests were done to reach this conclusion and do the tests really justify the claim? We read that certain geographical configurations in South America "prove" that this planet was visited by aliens from outer space. Does this argument differ from other, accepted scientific arguments? This course is designed to aid the student in making sense of a variety of elementary logic skills in conjunction with the application of those skills to actual cases. This course is offered in the 6-week-1 Summer Session, May 14 through June 23.
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A scientist announces that the sun contains a new, so far unknown chemical element, even though there is no hope of getting a sample. Another is sure that a famous predecessor has faked his data, even though he has seen nothing but the perfect, published results. Astonishingly, both claims prove to be sober and sound. We will explore the approaches and methods that make such miracles part of the routine of everyday science. This course is intended for students with little or no background in science. This course is offered in the 6-Week-2 Summer Session, June 25, 2018 through August 4..
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