In this class, students will encounter a variety of works of American political thought from the colonial era to the present. American politics and political thought have always involved a diversity of beliefs and conflicts among them. We aim to think about the wide range of beliefs, and conflicts over beliefs, that characterize the history of American political thought. Just as no one political party has a monopoly on good ideas, no ideology has a monopoly on history—nor should it. Whether you are a liberal, conservative, or something else entirely, you will encounter readings that challenge your views. You will learn to analyze, to critique, and to read charitably arguments with which you do not necessarily agree. Taken together, you will become a deeper thinker and appreciate the breadth of the American experience.File: PS401ILS372-Syllabus_FINAL-Kapust.docx
What does science have to do with religion? What does it mean to have expertise about the natural world? And what difference do politics and funding sources make to scientific investigation? Learn how to think critically and historically about science in this course by exploring such fundamental questions across two millennia. We begin with ancient mythology and philosophy, then follow the movement of natural philosophical traditions into medieval Islam and Christendom, and finally turn to the ‘revolution’ in science of the 16th and 17th centuries with Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. These historical investigations provide vital insights into ideas of the ‘natural’, scientific observation, and experiment, as well as into our expectations of scientific knowledge and the scientific enterprise.File: HS_ILS201-fall20-syllabus-HSIA-FINAL.pdf
“Literature, Art and Violence in Latin America” explores art and literature from a wide range of Latin American countries – Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Puerto Rico to name a few – through historical and psychoanalytic approaches. In doing so, it addresses a wide range of topics: How can art help us understand Latin American violence? What kinds of activism and art can support social change? Students will also become familiar with diverse avant-garde approaches, from Stridentism in Mexico to Brazilian Anthropofagism. We will focus on novels that portrait the violence in different genres like poetry, novels, and theater, as well the work of artists such as Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Tarsila do Amaral, and Doris Salcedo, finding connections between art and literature as a way of speaking from the violence within the margins of culture.File: 1-Syllabus-Literature-Art-and-Violence-Fall-2020-Botero.doc
The goal of this course is to provide you with a critical framework for evaluating cultural products (literature, art, and movies) and some basic research skills to do narrative analysis. The notion of Magical Realism has to be understood under the light of Realism. According to Wendy Faris, “the essential difference, between realism and magical realism involves the intentionality implicit in the conventions of the two modes; where realism intends its version of the world as a singular version, as an objective representation of natural and social realities (…) in magical realism texts, ontological disruption serves the purpose of political and cultural disruption: magic is often given as a cultural corrective causality, materiality, motivation” (3). This quote foreshadows the importance of order and disorder, this place is where myth and reality make way into each other, blurring the boundaries of what is real and what is magical.File: 1-Syllabus-Magic-Realism-blb-Fall-2020-Botero.doc
Focusing particularly on the world of the ancient Romans, this course (in translation) interrogates the phenomenon and notion of “conspiracy”—as well as the related concepts of “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracism”—within the political, social, cultural, familial, and religious spheres. This course is divided into five parts. The first part offers an introduction to the course and sketches some of the basic phenomena we will be covering. In the second, we investigate some famous political conspiracies, including the so-called “Catilinarian Conspiracy” and the assassination of Julius Caesar. The third part turns to the Roman household to consider the social, familial, and gendered dimensions of domestic conspiracies, including the way that women, children, and enslaved peoples could threaten the notional “tyranny” of the paterfamilias. In the fourth part, we consider prominent religious movements that came into conflict with Roman authorities—especially the mystery cults surrounding Bacchus as well as sects of early Christianity—while the fifth part returns to the concepts of “conspiracy” and “conspiracy theory.” Interspersed throughout are periodic considerations of more
modern phenomena, including the Salem Witch Trials, the Red Scare of the 1950s, QAnon, and even contemporary political events (read: the election), which may, or may not, admit analysis as a “conspiracy” or “conspiracy theory.” As we shall see, “conspiracy” and “conspiracy theory” are useful, yet sometimes tendentious, concepts, which often reveal more about the society and culture in which they occur (as well as those who write about them) than the actual activities they purport to denote.
The goal of this course is to give you the tools to see the world around you in new ways, noticing things you may have missed and encouraging you to seek paths that both care for yourself and for all with whom you share this planet. This course truly is a blend of environmental studies and sciences - we use principles of chemistry, physics, and biology to understand our earth systems but we also explore societal issues like public health and social justice, and we do it all through the context of sustainability.File: ENVIR-ST_ILS-126-Syllabus-FA20-Lindstrom.pdf
This is an interdisciplinary, cross-college course that will bring together Theatre and non-Theatre students, scientists and non-scientists, empiricists and humanists. The aim is to introduce students to ways of encountering science and art so that one can think critically about why these two domains have for so long been seen as separate and even mutually excluding, and how one might bring them back into some sort of dialogue. While the title of the course suggests the main trajectory (“Theatre”), there will be room for students to pursue collaborative research and projects based in art forms other than traditional, literature-based theatre: spoken word, multimedia art, installation art, applied/educational theatre, site-specific performance, immersive theatre, and the like.File: SYLLABUS_F20__254_Theatre-Plays-with-Science_Vanden-Heuvel.docx
What does it mean to think? Is it a biological impulse or a social one? What does it mean to think critically? Simply to find fault? Or to employ intellectual rigor? Can we imagine a method of critical thought with the potential to change the world? This course takes the definition of “critical thought” seriously in order to expand our idea of what critical communication is and has the potential to be. Getting beyond the standard connotation of “critical” thought as “finding fault with others’ ideas,” we will explore other definitions of the word, including: constituting a crisis; involving grave uncertainty or risk; crucial or essential; and constituting a turning point.File: syllabus-ILS-200_F20-Vanden-Heuvel.pdf
In this course, we will
examine developments since the mid-seventeenth century that have brought about a dramatic
change in the way we understand the world and our place in it. How can we best explain why the
thing we call science began when and where it did? What forces formed it, and how in turn has it
become a powerful agent in shaping modern life? Tackling these questions is a major historical
challenge, one that will take us from the familiar and the local to the furthest extent of distant
empires. We will not find all the answers. But we will learn a lot about the connections between
commerce, industry, exploration, and war, changing conceptions of humankind’s place in nature,
and our ability to control the world around us. And, in the process, we will come to a new
understanding of the relationship between science, technology and society. This course is
suitable for undergraduates in any field. No previous knowledge is required: historical
background will be provided, and key scientific concepts explained, by the lectures and readings.
What does it mean to think critically? In an 1894 report defending the freedom of professor
Richard Ely to promote a Socialist agenda on campus, then-President of UW-Madison, Charles Kendall
Adams, wrote: “Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe the great
state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by
which alone the truth can be found.” This process of “sifting and winnowing” is a great metaphor for
critical thought and has a distinguished tradition at UW-Madison. The aim of this course is to continue
this tradition. In other words, we will learn what it means to “sift and winnow” and how to express the
fruits of this process persuasively.
This course will achieve these goals by exploring the arguments of famous political speeches.
We will observe critical thought and persuasion “in action” by reading, rehearsing, scrutinizing, and
imitating some of the greatest speeches in our collective heritage. By engaging an array of speeches
meant to inspire, provoke, contest, and transform their audiences, we will learn the principles of what
constitutes an effective argument. In addition, we will practice drafting, delivering, and arguing
speeches of our own creation and will examine the relationship between arguments that seek truth and
arguments that seek to persuade. Finally, to pay homage to Alexander Meiklejohn, the founder of ILS
and author of Free Speech and Its Relation to Self-Government (1947), we will examine threats to critical
thinking, including limitations on free speech and the tyranny of majority opinion.