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2005-06 Catalog Home

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2005-06 and 2006-07

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Areas of Study

Africana Studies
Anthropology
Arts Program
Astronomy
Athletics and Physical Education
Biology
Chemistry
Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
Comparative Literature
Computer Science
East Asian Studies
Economics
Education
English
Environmental Studies
Feminist and Gender Studies
Film Studies
Fine Arts
French and French Studies
General Studies
Geology
German and German Studies
Greek, Latin and Classical Studies
Growth and Structure of Cities
Hebrew and Judaic Studies
Hispanic and Hispanic-American Studies
History
History of Art
International Studies
Italian
Linguistics
Mathematics
Music
Neural and Behavioral Sciences
Peace and Conflict Studies
Philosophy
Physics
Political Science
Psychology
Religion
Romance Languages
Russian
Sociology
Spanish

 

 

 
 
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Academic Opportunities

Minors and Concentrations | Combined M.A./A.B. Programs | Summer Language and Study Abroad | Preparation for Careers | Special Programs | Centers for 21st Century Inquiry | College Seminars | Praxis Program

Minors and Concentrations

Many departments, but not all, offer a minor. Students should see departmental entries for details. The minor is not required for the A.B. degree. A minor usually consists of six units, with specific requirements to be determined by the department. If a course taken under the Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) or Haverford College’s No Numerical Grade (NNG) option subsequently becomes part of a student’s minor, the grade is not converted to its numerical equivalent. There is no required average for a minor.

The following is a list of subjects in which students may elect to minor. Minors in departments or programs that do not offer majors appear in italics.

Africana Studies
Anthropology
Biology
Chemistry
Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
Classical Culture and Society
Comparative Literature
Computational Methods
Computer Science
Creative Writing
Dance
East Asian Studies
Economics
Education
English
Film Studies
French and French Studies
Gender and Sexuality
Geology
German and German Studies
Greek
Growth and Structure of Cities
History
History of Art
International Studies
Italian
Latin
Mathematics
Music
Philosophy
Physics
Political Science
Psychology
Russian
Sociology
Spanish
Theater Studies

The concentration, which is not required for the degree, is a cluster of classes that overlap the major and focus a student’s work on a specific area of interest:

  • Creative Writing (with an English major)
  • East Asian Studies
  • Environmental Studies (in an anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, English, geology, growth and structure of cities, or political science major)
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Geoarchaeology (in an anthropology, classical and Near Eastern archaeology, or geology major)
  • Hispanic and Hispanic-American Studies
  • Neural and Behavioral Sciences (with a biology or psychology major)
  • Peace and Conflict Studies

Combined A.B./M.A. Degree Programs

The combined A.B./M.A. program lets the unusually well-prepared undergraduate student work toward a master’s degree while still completing her bachelor’s degree. Students in this program complete the same requirements for each degree as do students who undertake the A.B. and then the M.A. sequentially, but are offered the unique opportunity to work toward both degrees concurrently and to count up to two courses towards both degrees. A full description of requirements for the program and application procedures appear at http://www.brynmawr.edu/deans/ABMA_Program.shtml.

3-2 Program in Engineering and Applied Science

The College has negotiated arrangements with the California Institute of Technology whereby a student interested in engineering and recommended by Bryn Mawr may, after completing three years of work at the College, transfer into the third year at Cal Tech to complete two full years of work there. At the end of five years she is awarded an A.B. degree by Bryn Mawr and a Bachelor of Science degree by Cal Tech. Programs are available in many areas of specialization.

In her three years at Bryn Mawr, the student must complete the College Seminar, quantitative, foreign language and divisional requirements, as well as a prescribed science program and the basis for a Bryn Mawr major. (Students completing the program have had majors at Bryn Mawr in mathematics, physics and chemistry.) Students do not register for this program in advance; rather, they complete a course of study that qualifies them for recommendation by the College for application in the spring semester of their third year at the College. Prerequisites for recommendation include completion of courses required by Bryn Mawr and a minimum of one year each of chemistry, mathematics (including multivariable calculus and differential equations) and physics. Approval of the student’s major department is necessary at the time of application and for the transfer of credit from the Cal Tech program to complete the major requirements at Bryn Mawr.

Students considering this option should consult the program liaison in the Department of Physics at the time of registration for Semester I of their first year and each semester thereafter to ensure that all requirements are being completed on a satisfactory schedule.

3-2 Program in City and Regional Planning

This arrangement with the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania allows a student to earn an A.B. degree with a major in the growth and structure of cities at Bryn Mawr and a degree of Master of City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania in five years. While at Bryn Mawr the student must complete the College Seminars, quantitative, foreign-language and divisional requirements and the basis of a major in growth and structure of cities. The student applies to the M.C.P. program at Penn in her sophomore or junior year. No courses taken prior to official acceptance into the M.C.P. program may be counted toward the master’s degree, and no more than eight courses may be double-counted toward both the A.B. and the M.C.P. after acceptance. For further information students should consult Gary McDonogh, director of the Growth and Structure of Cities Program, early in their sophomore year.

Summer Language Programs

Summer language programs offer students the opportunity to spend short periods of time conducting research, studying a language and getting to know another part of the world well.

Bryn Mawr offers a six-week summer program in Avignon, France. This total-immersion program is designed for undergraduate and graduate students with a serious interest in French language, literature and culture. The faculty of the Institut is composed of professors teaching in colleges and universities in the United States and Europe. Classes are held at the Palais du Roure and other sites in Avignon; the facilities of the Médiathèque Ceccano as well as the Université d’Avignon library are available to the group. Students are encouraged to live with French families or “foyers.” A certain number of independent studios are also available.

Applicants for admission must have strong academic records and have completed a course in French at a third-year college level or the equivalent. For detailed information concerning admission, curriculum, fees, academic credit and scholarships, students should consult Professor Brigitte Mahuzier of the Department of French and/or visit the Avignon Web site at http://www.brynmawr.edu/avignon.

Bryn Mawr, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania, offers a summer program of intensive study in Florence. Focusing on Italian language, culture, art and literature, the coeducational program is open to students from Bryn Mawr and other colleges and universities. Courses carry full, transferable credit and are taught by professors from institutions in both the United States and Europe. Applicants must have a solid academic background and a serious interest in Italian culture, but need not have previous course work in Italian; introductory classes are offered. Students can make their own travel and housing arrangements, though most choose to stay at a hotel conveniently located in the center of Florence. Information about these accommodations is available through the program. Some need-based financial aid is available. For information, contact Professor Nicholas Patruno in the Department of Italian.

The College also participates in summer programs with the American Council of Teachers of Russian (A.C.T.R.) in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other sites in Russia. These overseas programs are based at several leading Russian universities and are open to Bryn Mawr students who have reached the Intermediate level of proficiency in speaking and reading. Summer programs are 8 weeks in length and provide the equivalent of 2 course units of work in advanced Russian language and culture. Many Bryn Mawr students also take part in the semester (4 units) or academic year (8 units) programs in Russia as well. For further information about the A.C.T.R. programs, students should consult the Department of Russian or ACTR at http://www.actr.org

Study Abroad in the Junior Year

Bryn Mawr encourages eligible students to consider studying abroad for a semester as a part of their undergraduate education, subject to the requirements of their majors. Study abroad can enhance students’ language skills, broaden their academic preparation, introduce them to new cultures, and enhance their personal growth and independence. Each student, in consultation with her dean, her major adviser, and the study abroad adviser, Li-Chen Chin, selects the program appropriate to her academic interests and abilities.

The College has approved about 70 programs in colleges and universities in other countries. Students who study abroad include majors across the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences. Last year students studied in Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom. Applicants must have strong academic records and must meet the language requirements set forth by the overseas program where they intend to study. Most non-English speaking programs expect students to meet at least intermediate proficiency level before matriculation.

Only foreign language majors or students desiring to study with programs for which one semester is not an option may receive a full year of credit for study abroad. Requests for exceptions will be considered from students who present a compelling academic plan requiring a full year of study outside the United States.

All students who study abroad continue to pay Bryn Mawr tuition and, for programs that include food and housing, room and board fees to Bryn Mawr. The College, in turn, pays the program fees directly to the institution abroad. Financial aid for study abroad is available for students who are eligible for assistance and have been receiving aid during their first and sophomore years. If the study abroad budget is not able to support all of those on aid who plan to study abroad, priority will be given to those for whom it is most appropriate academically and to those who have had the least international experience.

The Foreign Studies Committee determines a student’s eligibility by looking at a variety of factors, including the overall and major grade point averages, intellectual coherence of the study abroad experience in the academic program, and faculty recommendations.

Preparation for Careers in Architecture

Although Bryn Mawr offers no formal degree in architecture or a set preprofessional path, students who wish to pursue architecture as a career may prepare for graduate study in the United States and abroad through courses offered in the Growth and Structure of Cities Program (see page 187). Students interested in architecture and urban design should pursue the studio courses (226, 228) in addition to regular introductory courses. They should also select appropriate electives in architectural history and urban design (including classes in classical and Near Eastern archaeology, East Asian studies and history of art) to gain a broad exposure to architecture over time as well as across cultural traditions. Affiliated courses in physics and calculus meet requirements of graduate programs in architecture; theses may also be planned to incorporate design projects. These students should consult as early as possible with Senior Lecturer Daniela Voith and Associate Professor Carola Hein in the Growth and Structure of Cities Program.

Preparation for Careers in the Health Professions

The Bryn Mawr curriculum offers courses that meet the requirements for admission to professional schools in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and public health. Each year a significant number of Bryn Mawr graduates enroll in these schools. The minimal requirements for most medical and dental schools are met by one year of English, one year of biology, one year of general chemistry, one year of organic chemistry and one year of physics; however, many medical schools do require one additional semester of upper-level coursework in biology. Schools of veterinary medicine usually require upper-level coursework in biology. Students considering careers in one of the health professions are encouraged to discuss their plans with the undergraduate health professions adviser in Canwyll House. The Health Professions Advising Office publishes the Guide for First- and Second-Year Students Interested in the Health Professions. This handbook is available at the meeting for first-year students during Customs Week and at the Health Professions Advising Office in Canwyll House. More information about preparing for careers in the health professions, including the Guide for First- and Second-Year Students, is also available at the Health Professions Advising Office Web site, http://www.brynmawr.edu/healthpro.

Preparation for Careers in Law

Because a student with a strong record in any field of study can compete successfully for admission to law school, there is no prescribed program of “pre-law” courses. Students considering a career in law may explore that interest at Bryn Mawr in a variety of ways — e.g., by increasing their familiarity with U.S. history and its political process, participating in Bryn Mawr’s well established student self-government process, “shadowing” alumnae/i lawyers through the Career Development Office’s externship program and refining their knowledge about law-school programs in the Pre-Law Club. Students seeking guidance about the law-school application and admission process may consult with the College’s pre-law adviser, Jane Finkle, at the Career Development Office.

Teaching Certification

Students majoring in biology, chemistry, English, French, history, Latin, mathematics, physics, political science, Spanish and a number of other fields that are typically taught in secondary school, may get certified to teach in public secondary high schools in Pennsylvania. By reciprocal arrangement, the Pennsylvania certificate is accepted by most other states as well. A student who wishes to teach should consult her dean, the Education Program adviser and the chair of her major department early in her college career so that she may make appropriate curricular plans. Students may also choose to get certified to teach after they graduate through Bryn Mawr’s Continuing Education program. For further information, see the Education Program, page 133.

AFROTC — Reserve Officer Training Corps

Bryn Mawr students are eligible to participate in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) through an agreement with Saint Joseph’s University. All AFROTC aerospace studies courses are held on the Saint Joseph’s campus. This program enables a Bryn Mawr student to earn a commission as an Air Force officer while concurrently satisfying her baccalaureate degree requirements.

The AFROTC program of aerospace studies at Saint Joseph’s University offers both two-year and four-year curricula leading to a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. In the four-year curriculum, a student takes the General Military Course (GMC) during the first and sophomore years, attends a four-week summer training program, and then takes the Professional Officer Course (POC) in the junior and senior years. The student is under no contractual obligation to the Air Force until entering the POC or accepting an Air Force scholarship. In the two-year curriculum, the student attends a six-week summer training program and then enters the POC in the junior year.

The subject matter of the first and sophomore year is developed from a historical perspective and focuses on the scope, structure and history of military power with an emphasis on the development of air power. During the junior and senior years, the curriculum concentrates on the concepts and practices of leadership and management, and the role of national security issues in contemporary American society.

In addition to the academic portion of the curriculum, each student participates in a two-hour Leadership Laboratory each week. During this period, the day-to-day skills and working environment of the Air Force are discussed and explained. The Leadership Lab uses a student organization designed for the practice of leadership and management techniques.

The AFROTC program offers one-, one-and-a-half-, two-, two-and-a-half-, three-, and three-and-a-half-year scholarships on a competitive basis to qualified applicants. All scholarships cover tuition, lab fees, a flat-rate allowance for books and a tax-free monthly stipend. All members of the POC, regardless of scholarship status, receive the tax-free monthly stipend plus additional support for those not on scholarship.

Degree credit allowed toward the Bryn Mawr A.B. for AFROTC courses is determined on an individual basis. For further information about the AFROTC cross-enrollment program, scholarships and career opportunities, contact the Professor of Aerospace Studies, AFROTC Det. 750, Saint Joseph’s University, 5600 City Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa., 19131, (610) 660-3190. Interested students should also consult their deans.

Continuing Education Program

The Continuing Education Program provides highly qualified women, men and high-school students who do not wish to undertake a full college program leading to a degree the opportunity to take courses at Bryn Mawr College on a fee basis, prorated according to the tuition of the College, space and resources permitting. Students accepted by the Continuing Education Program may apply to take up to two courses per semester; they have the option of auditing courses or taking courses for credit. Alumnae/i who have received one or more degrees from Bryn Mawr (A.B., M.A., M.S.S., M.L.S.P. and/or Ph.D.) and women and men 60 years of age and older are entitled to take undergraduate courses for credit at the College at a special rate. This rate applies only to continuing-education students and not to matriculated McBride Scholars. Continuing-education students are not eligible to receive financial aid from the College. For more information or an application, contact the Continuing Education Program office at (610) 526-6515 or send a request to Continuing Education, Bryn Mawr College, 101 North Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, Pa., 19010-2899.

Katharine E. McBride Scholars Program

The Katharine E. McBride Scholars Program serves women beyond the traditional college entry age who wish to earn an undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr. The program admits women who have demonstrated talent, achievement and intelligence in various areas, including employment, volunteer activities and home or formal study. McBride Scholars are admitted directly as matriculated students.

Once admitted to the College, McBride scholars are subject to the residency rule, which requires that a student take a minimum of 24 course units while enrolled at Bryn Mawr. Exceptions will be made for students who transfer more than eight units from previous work. Such students may transfer up to 16 units and must then take at least 16 units at Bryn Mawr. McBride Scholars may study on a part-time or full-time basis. For more information or an application, visit the McBride Program Web site at http://www.brynmawr.edu/mcbride, send an e-mail to mcbrides@brynmawr.edu or call (610) 526-5373.

Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program

Women and men who hold bachelor’s degrees but need introductory science courses before making initial application to schools of medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine may apply to the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program. The Postbac Program stresses intensive work in the sciences. It is designed primarily for students who are changing fields and who have not previously completed the premedical requirements. Applications are considered for admission in the summer or fall only. Applications should be submitted as early as possible because decisions are made on a rolling admissions basis. The Postbac Program is highly selective. Please visit http://www.brynmawr.edu/postbac for more information.

Students enrolled in the Postbac Program may elect to apply early for provisional admission to an outstanding group of medical schools with which Bryn Mawr has a “consortial” arrangement. Students who are accepted at a medical school through the consortial process enter medical school in the September immediately following the completion of their postbaccalaureate year. Otherwise, students apply to medical school during the summer of the year they are completing the program.

The following are Bryn Mawr’s “consortial” medical schools:

  • Brown University School of Medicine
  • Dartmouth Medical School
  • Drexel University College of Medicine
  • George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University
  • SUNY Downstate College of Medicine
  • SUNY at Stony Brook School of Medicine Health Sciences Center
  • Temple University School of Medicine
  • University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey — Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • University of Rochester School of Medicine

Summer Courses

During Summer Sessions I and II, qualified women and men, including high-school students, may take courses in the sciences, mathematics and intensive language studies in Russian. Students may use these courses to fulfill undergraduate requirements or prepare for graduate study. The current summer-session calendar should be consulted for dates and course descriptions. Each course carries full academic credit.

Centers for 21st Century Inquiry

Bryn Mawr’s interdisciplinary centers encourage innovation and collaboration in research, teaching and learning. The four interrelated centers are designed to bring together scholars from various fields to examine diverse ways of thinking about areas of common interest, creating a stage for constant academic renewal and transformation.

Flexible and inclusive, the centers help ensure that the College’s curriculum can adapt to changing circumstances and evolving methods and fields of study. Through research and internship programs, fellowships and public discussions, they foster links among scholars in different fields, between the College and the world around it, and between theoretical and practical learning.

The Center for Ethnicities, Communities and Social Policy is devoted to the interdisciplinary study of diverse communities and the examination of social-policy questions in the North American context. The Center sponsors research by faculty and students, hosts visiting scholars, and provides a forum for public discussion of issues significant to academics, policy-makers and the broader community.

The Center for International Studies brings together scholars from various fields to define global issues and confront them in their appropriate social, scientific, cultural and linguistic contexts. The Center supports collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and prepares students for life and work in the highly interdependent world and global economy of the 21st century.

The Center for Science in Society was founded to facilitate the broad conversations, involving scientists and nonscientists as well as academics and nonacademics, that are essential to continuing explorations of the natural world and humanity’s place in it. Through research programs, fellowships and public discussions, the Center supports innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to education in the sciences, novel intellectual and practical collaborations, and continuing inquiry into the interdependent relationships among science, technology and other aspects of human culture.

The Center for Visual Culture is dedicated to the study of visual forms and experience of all kinds, from ancient artifacts to contemporary films and computer-generated images. It serves as a forum for explorations of the visual aspect of the natural world as well as the diverse objects and processes of visual invention and interpretation around the world.

Praxis Program

The Praxis Program is part of the Civic Engagement Office and is located in Dolwen on Cambrian Row. Praxis is an experiential, community-based learning program that integrates theory and practice through student engagement in active, relevant fieldwork, enhances student learning and builds citizenship skills. The program provides consistent, equitable guidelines along with curricular coherence and support to students and faculty who wish to combine coursework with fieldwork and community-based research. The three designated types of Praxis courses — departmental courses, interdepartmental seminars and independent studies — are described on page 44 and at http://www.brynmawr.edu/praxis.

Praxis courses on all levels are distinguished by genuine collaboration with fieldsite organizations. A dynamic process of reflection incorporates lessons learned in the field into the classroom setting and applies theoretical understanding gained through classroom study to work done in the broader community. The nature of fieldwork assignments and projects varies according to the learning objectives for the course and according to the needs of the organization.

The role of the Praxis Office is to assist faculty in identifying, establishing and supporting field placements and to develop ongoing partnerships with community organizations, such as social service agencies, schools, government offices and museums. Field supervisors orient the student to the fieldsite, identify placement objectives and oversee the work of the student at the site. Field supervisors frequently visit the classroom as guest presenters and co-teachers. Faculty members retain ultimate responsibility and control over the components of the Praxis Program that make it distinctly academic: course reading and discussion, rigorous process and reflection, and formal presentation and evaluation of student progress.

There are three levels of Praxis courses (see below), which require increasing amounts of fieldwork but do not need to be taken successively: departmental courses (Praxis 1), interdepartmental seminars (Praxis 2) and independent study (Praxis 3). Praxis courses may be offered in any department and students may enroll in more than one Praxis course at a time. Students enrolled in more than one Praxis course are sometimes able to use the same field placement to meet the requirements of both courses. Praxis-style courses taken at other institutions are subject to prior approval by the Praxis Office and faculty supervisor.

A Praxis I Departmental Course uses fieldwork as a form of experiential learning to enrich the study and understanding of a single disciplinary topic. Fieldwork typically constitutes 25 percent of total coursework assigned. Students typically complete one 2- to 3-hour fieldsite visit a week. Students are eligible for Praxis I courses according to departmental guidelines.

A Praxis II Interdepartmental Seminar is a multidisciplinary course combining more substantial fieldwork with an academic focus on a central topic (e.g., geographic location, historical period, social issue, etc.) studied from several disciplinary perspectives. Field-work typically constitutes 50 percent of total coursework assigned. Students typically complete two 2- to 3-hour fieldsite visits a week. Praxis II courses are available to sophomore and higher-level students who are in good academic standing.

A Praxis III Independent Study places fieldwork at the center of a supervised learning experience. Fieldwork is supported by appropriate readings and regular meetings with a faculty member who must agree in advance to supervise the project. Faculty are not obligated to supervise Praxis III courses and may decline to do so. Departments may limit the number of Praxis III courses that a faculty member may supervise.

Students who plan to undertake a Praxis III Independent Study should submit a completed Praxis III proposal to their dean for her/his signature at pre-registration and then return the form to the Praxis Office to be reviewed by the Praxis Program Director. The Praxis III learning plan — which must include a description of the student’s course, all stipulated coursework, a faculty supervisor, a fieldsite, a fieldsite supervisor and fieldwork responsibilities — must be approved by the Praxis Program Director by the beginning of the semester in which the course will take place. The Praxis Program Director will notify the Registrar’s Office when the Praxis III learning plan is approved, at which point a course registration number will be created for the course. Students are encouraged to visit the Praxis Office to discuss possible field placements, although they are not discouraged from developing their own fieldsites.

Praxis III fieldwork typically constitutes 75 percent of total coursework assigned, with students typically completing two 4- to 5-hour fieldsite visits per week. Praxis III courses are available to sophomore and higher-level students who are in good academic standing. No student may take more than two Praxis III courses during her time at Bryn Mawr.

College Seminars

Co-Directors

Gail Hemmeter, Department of English
Stephen Salkever, Department of Political Science

Steering Committee

Linda Caruso-Haviland, Dance Program
Jody Cohen, Education Program
Alison Cook-Sather, Education Program
Robert Dostal, Department of Philosophy
Michelle Francl, Department of Chemistry
Paul Grobstein, Department of Biology
Jane Hedley, Department of English
Mark Lord, Theater Program
George Pahomov, Department of Russian
Bethany Schneider, Department of English

The College Seminars are discussion-oriented, reading- and writing-intensive courses for first-year students. All students are required to take a College Seminar during the first semester of their first year. Topics vary from year to year, but all seminars are designed to engage broad, fundamental issues and questions, ones that are not defined by the boundaries of any academic discipline. The purpose of the seminars is to help students become better close readers and interpretive writers. Course materials are chosen to elicit critical thinking and lively discussion, and may include, in addition to books and essays, films, material objects, social practices, scientific observations and experiments. Seminars offered in recent years include

Questions of Gender: Engendering Questions

What does it mean to be male or female in our culture? Fact and myth interact in complex ways to produce a society’s “knowledge” of sex and gender: the process of that interaction in our own society will be the guiding thread of this course. We’ll look at how sex difference is established biologically in human beings, and consider various ways in which male-female difference matters, or is supposed to matter, in everyday life.

Worldviews and Ways of Life

How can we best make sense of the universe? What ways of life are more or less worth pursuing? We consider and connect these questions in texts from several different times and places. The first comes from Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E.: Sophocles and Plato. From ancient China, we look at writings from Confucius and Chuang Tzu. From early modern Europe, we compare Machiavelli’s The Prince, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Descartes’ Discourse on Method. We conclude with one 19th- and one 20th-century novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Don DeLillo’s White Noise.

The Injured Child in Psychology and Literature

Among 20th-century psychological and psychoanalytic theorists a broad consensus exists that childhood is a crucially important period in every human life. Patterns of behavior and feeling are established in childhood that persist into adulthood; a psychic wound received in childhood will leave scars that persist into adult life. This course will bring together psychological discussions of childhood injuries and their healing from the works of Donald Winnicott, Alice Miller, Erich Fromm and Karen Horney with fictional texts including Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Emily Bronte’s WutheringHeights, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Leo Tolstoy’s Childhood.

Memory and Imagination: The Self in Story and Society

In this course we consider the nature of memory and its relationship to imagination, both in the evolving life of the individual and in the development of the larger group or culture. We look at the relationship of identity to power, and address the question of how re-considering memory and identity might open up new imaginative spaces in global contexts. Our inquiry will include novels, memoirs, essays by anthropologists and poets as well as photographs, artwork and films. We will write descriptively and critically, drawing on memory and imagination as well as analysis to develop and revise our understandings.

We Live Here: Humans and the Environment

The purposes of this seminar are several: first, to examine some of the basic biological dynamics of ecology; second, to explore a variety of human impacts upon the environment and some problems they entail; third, to notice some of the ways in which different cultures and times have used the concept of “Nature” to frame the human place in the natural world; fourth, to sample some different disciplinary perspectives on the environment and its problems; and finally, to raise the question of improving and perhaps healing the rifts and tensions between the human and the natural.

Dance of the Spheres

Using models and experiences from the sciences, arts and literature, this course explores the varied and often unexpected interplay of different ways of knowing that have come to characterize the Western intellectual tradition. Among the questions to be considered: how do we as individuals and as cultures grow in our knowledge of ourselves and the universe; how do the ways of knowing that we construct affect what we know; are all ways of knowing created equal?

Islam, Politics and Modernity

Islam has been concerned with the practical problems of politics and society since the Prophet Muhammad sought to create a just community in seventh-century Arabia. Contemporary Islamist movements seek to modernize in the name of reason as well as revelation, using prior principles to address modern challenges. The course emphasizes works of history, fiction, social science, and film, to examine how Muslims have understood the relationship between politics and reason, how the challenge of modernity is understood, and how the political role of religion has been enacted. No prior knowledge of Islam is assumed.

Outsiders and Insiders: The Construction of Identity

In this course we will examine the categories of “outsider” and “insider” to look at the privileges, burdens and paradoxes that accompany each in relation to questions about gender, race, sexuality, class, history and power. The course is designed to present a diversity of learning approaches as well as materials, traditional classroom activities (group work, class discussion, etc.) as well as hands-on experiential learning. We will read poetry, novels and essays, as well as watch films. To help ground our exploration, we will read selections from theoretical texts that examine how identities and communities are formed.

Classical Mythology and the Contemporary Imagination

The myths of the Greeks and Romans have provided an inexhaustible imaginative source for artists throughout the history of Western civilization, and each age has rewritten these myths (by translating them or adapting them) to reflect its own interests and anxieties. Writers have superimposed their visions upon the source myth, and in turn these visions have been examined by literary criticism, creating a kind of archaeology of interpretation on three levels. In the tension between the source myth and its reinterpretations lies the interest and the challenge for us as critics and as writers.

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Bryn Mawr College · 101 North Merion Ave · Bryn Mawr · PA · 19010-2899 · Tel 610-526-5000