W Program Course Offerings: Fall 2015

ART 211W-01 - Ceramics: Introduction to Clay. Sandi Ginter. 3.5 Credits. (Please see "Tandems" at the end of this document.)

COMM 103W-04 - Introduction to Communication Studies - Susan Baxter. 4 credits; TR 3:30-4:45; W 3:30-3 (Section reserved for First-Year Cohort)

ENLT 106W - Becoming American - Ted Billy - 3.5 credits. (Please see "Tandems" at the end of this document.)

ENLT 109W-01 - Philosophy and Fiction - Joseph Cardinale. 4 credits; MW 11-12:15; F 11-11:50. This course will investigate the intersection between fiction and philosophical inquiry. Through writing and discussion, we will examine a selection of novels and stories that dramatize a range of philosophical problems, paradoxes, and questions: What is the self? What is happiness? What is reality? What is a perfect society? What is the relationship between mind and body? Are we free to choose, or are our actions determined by forces beyond our control? The assigned texts will invite us to consider and discuss how different characters and authors confront similar spiritual, ethical, and existential crises of meaning and purpose, knowledge and identity. We will read in order to understand, examine, and critique the perspectives of these authors, and we will write in order to discover, debate, and refine our own personal answers to the question they raise. At the end of the course, students will be better equipped to read critically, think dialectically, and draw connections between a diverse range of books and ideas. Writing assignments will include four out-of-class essays and two in-class essays. Authors may include: Leo Tolstoy, Albert Camus, Flannery O'Connor, Ursula LeGuinn, Franz Kafka, and others, as well as at least one film. Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1 - Humanities/Literature, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation).

ENLT 109W-02. Dialogue - Tom Bonnell. 4 credits; TR 9:30-10:45 and R 8:30-9:20. "Where are you now?" This question begins countless cell-phone conversations for a reason: speech craves a context. To process what someone is saying, we need to assess where they are coming from - both literally and figuratively.  The same need factors into our understanding of literature. Wherever dialogue occurs in poems, plays, short stories, and novels, it requires careful scrutiny. Situating speakers within dialogue (determining what they know, what they don't, what they're hiding, what they're feeling, what they want to say, what they might be unable to say, or why they're talking) is one of the vital aspects of reading, among others, that we will practice on a variety of works. Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1 - Humanities/Literature, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation).

ENLT 109W-03. Language and Literature - The Work of Literature - Aaron Moe - 4 credits; MWF 9-9:50 and R 8:30-9:20. This course introduces students to reading and writing about literature at the college level. The following question drives our exploration: this thing called literature—what work does it do? The course is concerned with what literature means, but is much more concerned with what literature does. As the course unfolds, students will explore and articulate many responses to this question including the following:

  • Literature can prompt existential/spiritual growth for the individual (Kafka);
  • Literature can expose the intersections between social and environmental justice (Alexie; Kincaid);
  • Literature can revel in the ways nature, culture, power, and politics interrelate (Alexie; Kincaid; Hillman; Dickinson);
  • Literature can cultivate a sense of dwelling in language and on the earth (Dickinson; Hillman);
  • Literature can explore the complexity of identity (Shakespeare; Alexie; Kincaid);
  • Literature can enhance an awareness of multispecies communities (Dickinson; Hillman);
  • Literature can create and sustain community (applies generally to al literature);
  • Literature can fight against a failure of imagination (applies generally to all literature);
  • Literature can explore transformative moments in individuals and in society (applies generally to all literature). 

Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1 - Humanities/Literature, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation).

ENLT 109W-04- Language and Literature - You're/Your Saint Mary's - Laura Haigwood. TR 11-12:15; W 1-1:50. This course introduces students to reading and writing about literature at the college level.  While studying fiction, non-fiction and poetry by and about Saint Mary's graduates, students will gain skill in effective writing, and in accurate, insightful literary interpretation. Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1 - Humanities/Literature, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation), LO2 - Women's Voices

ENLT 109W-05. Words of Love. Eva Mary Hooker. TR 2-3:15, W 2-2:50. The study of literature and the shaping of language into forms (fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry) that “contain” encounter (erotic, cerebral, divine): unions & breakings, mappings & explorations, habits of detour, loss & discord, terror & hate, anger & pity, the uses & disuses of memory and imagination. We will study the ways in which we use words to represent ourselves with skill, beauty and graciousness. We will study the ways in which writers, including ourselves, have shaped narrative and lyric so that they call into question the nature of love. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which writers and artists use making and unmaking as a way of unveiling the raw material of the soul. We will practice various kinds of making and unmaking by writing analytical essays and a lyric essay shaped by visual lyric and associative thinking. Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1 - Humanities/Literature, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation).

ENGL 109W 06. Imagining the End. Sarah Noonan. TR 9:30-10:45, W 4-4:50. 4 credits. This class will examine literary works that take up death as a central theme – be it the death of the individual, the destruction of a specific community, or the apocalyptic annihilation of life on earth.  To help us navigate the moral and philosophical ambiguity of these narratives, we will turn to the late medieval truism that “to know how to live well, one must know how to die well.”  With this suggestion that planning for death should inflect how we live, we will

  • consider how these imagined endings might function to spur readers to reevaluate their ethical, social, and ecological beliefs and actions,
  • contemplate how “living well” might be defined by these narratives,
  • and ask how the death and destruction described within these works might create a potential space for new beginnings to take shape. 

Readings will range broadly and may include Gilgamesh, Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Daniel Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, amongst others.  Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1 - Humanities/Literature, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation).

• History 201W-01 - U.S. History to 1865 - Bill Svelmoe. (Please see "Tandems" at the end of this document.)

History 202W-01 - U.S. History Since 1865 - Jamie Wagman. 4 credits; TR 12:30-1:45 and W 1-1:50. This course melds U.S. History (which satisfies a Sophia requirement) with writing (which satisfies the W requirement). The class will focus on U.S. History from the Civil War to the present and on writing skills. Classroom presentations will cover such topics as the 1920's "Jazz Age," the Depression era, the two World Wars, Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, hippies, and Watergate. Students will learn to write persuasive arguments which incorporate both primary and secondary historical sources. The goal throughout will be to introduce students to fascinating historical topics and to help them find their own voice in their written arguments about those topics. Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1- Cultures and Systems/History requirement; LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation), L02 - Women's Voices

ICS 201W-02 Intro to Intercultural Studies - Julie Storme. MWF 2-2:50;  R 9:30-10:20. An introduction to intercultural studies through an examination of 1) the relationship between culture and identity, 2) patterns of behavior and attitudes engendered by intercultural contact, 3) systems of power and privilege, and 4) expressions of identity. The course emphasizes the necessity of intercultural skills in the pluralistic society of the United States in the twenty-first century. An understanding?of different perspectives is also fostered through the study of texts which voice the viewpoints and histories of various identity groups within the United States. Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1 - Traditions and Worldviews/ Histories, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation), and LO3 - Intercultural Competence A and B.

PHIL 110W - Introduction to Philosophy - Patti Sayre. (Please see "Tandems" at the end of this document.)

POSC 151W-03.  Political Issues - Amy Cavender. 4 Cr. MWF 9-9:50 and W 3-3:50. This course is designed to introduce students to some of the fundamental questions and issues of politics. We will begin by asking what questions should be considered “political,” and why they should be thought of as political questions. We will not, however, spend the entire semester in theorizing. Politics is a practical science, and we will consider the real-world implications of some of our provisional answers to fundamental political questions, focusing on current political issues. Though some of the topics we’ll cover are already set, the issues we discuss during the latter part of the semester will be determined by student interest. Please note that all assignments for this course are submitted electronically, and students will incorporate their W portfolio into the same website they use for their Integration of Learning portfolio for the Sophia program. Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1 - Cultures and Systems/ Social Science I, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation).

RLST 101W - Introducing Religious Studies: World Religions in Dialogue. Anita Houck. 4 cr. TR 2-3:15, Also meets W 2-2:50. How can learning about religion help us understand ourselves and others? This writing-intensive course will explore that question as we gain a sound basic understanding of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and the nature of religion. We’ll take four main approaches. First, we’ll practice scholarly tools that will help us understand religions, others, and ourselves better. Second, we’ll learn some of the major concepts that make these religions distinctive, and perhaps make them similar as well. Third, we’ll study different kinds of religious texts, from sacred scriptures to a contemporary documentary about rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism. Finally, we’ll examine the diverse, changing ways these religions are lived today and portrayed in contemporary media. Students will also have the opportunity to develop skills needed for college-level and professional writing. Writing assignments will explore different prose genres, including a research essay, and each student will create a portfolio of her work to submit. Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1 - Traditions and Worldviews, Religious Traditions I, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation), and LO3 - Intercultural Competence A.

SOC 203W-02. Social Problems - Susan Alexander.  4 Cr. TR 3:30-4:45 and R 4:50-5:40. This course provides a sociological (social scientific) perspective on contemporary issues that individuals regard as GLOBAL social problems. Information about social problems is presented in various media sites such as TV news programs, books or journal articles, and Internet websites. In order to highlight the interconnectivity among various social problems at the global level, particular attention will be given to two global concerns: the production and distribution of petroleum and climate change. Among the countries included in our discussion are: Iran, Venezuela, Chad, Nigeria, Kenya, China, Afghanistan, Mexico, Easter Island, and the United States. By learning to critically analyze the both the information/data and the media sites that present information, students will gain valuable tools for becoming a more critically informed global citizen. Sophia Learning Outcomes: LO1- Science for the Citizen/ Social Science II, LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation), LO3 - Global Learning B, and  L03 - Social Responsibility A.

Special Opportunities in the Curriculum: Tandem W Courses

Saint Mary’s offers first year students the opportunity to fulfill two Sophia Program requirements simultaneously in specially designed units called tandem courses. Students in a tandem enroll in both courses. The classes meet during a fourth W hour, usually dedicated to developing writing skills, with both instructors in the tandem.

The course material is coordinated to help students compare and integrate ideas and approaches from different disciplines. Students have the opportunity to work on the writing proficiency requirement in both courses. Students who have taken tandems often describe the experience as satisfying and enjoyable, both personally and intellectually:

“The tandem is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It’s an opportunity to apply what you learn, to question and think critically, and to get to know your tandem-mates well. The most interesting course you’ll ever take, with a broad base for your other courses to build on later (English, philosophy, psychology, etc.).”


Tandem: The Art of Living

ART 211W- 01 - Ceramics: Introduction to Clay. Sandi Ginter. 3.5 Credits. TR 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.  In tandem with

PHIL 110W - Introduction to Philosophy- Patti Sayre. 3.5 credits. MWF 11-11:50 and W 12-12:50

Both ceramics and philosophy are arts. The ceramicist, as artist, reaches for a deeper understanding of her medium. Her aim is to realize the potentials in clay through the creation of artefacts that — perhaps more frequently than those produced in any other of the fine arts—can be integrated and actually used as part of daily life, making that life a richer, more meaningful whole. The philosopher, likewise, reaches for a deeper understanding of her medium, in this case, life itself, exploring what it might mean to live a life that is a rich and meaningful whole.

In this tandem we will read our way in historical order through some highlights of western philosophical attempts to discover, by deploying our capacity for abstract thought, what goes into fashioning a meaningful life. Along the way, we will discuss the nature of beauty and creativity, learning what we can from the very concrete activity of bringing aesthetically satisfying meaning forth in the studio through both hand building and throwing on the wheel. Assignments in one class will in many cases connect directly to those in the other, allowing us plenty of opportunity for exploring the connections between these two challenging and engaging disciplines.

Sophia Learning Outcomes:

ART 211W:    LO1 - Arts for Living/ Creative and Performing Arts, Studio Art Course.

PHIL 110W:   LO1 - Traditions and Worldviews/ Philosophical Worldviews

            LO2 - Women's Voices (approval pending)

Tandem:     LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructor recommendation).


Tandem: Becoming American

ENLT 106W -  Language and Literature - Ted Billy. 3.5 credits MWF 10-10:50; W 3:3-4:20, in tandem with

HIST 201W - United States History to 1865 - Bill Svelmoe. 3.5 credits. TR 9:30-20:45

A British officer serving under “Gentleman” Johnny Burgoyne in the American Revolution remarked in his journal, after Burgoyne surrendered his entire army to a victorious collection of ragtag American farmers and militia, “It seemed that I was gazing upon a new race of men.” Indeed for the British it seemed as if the Americans had turned the world upside down, that a “new race” had arisen in the forests of the “New World.” Who were these new people, and what was (and is) an American? This course examines this question through the disciplines of history and literature. To gain a deeper understanding of the American character, we will be probing its cultural and intellectual roots in the time period between the first European settlements and the end of the most divisive conflict in American history, the Civil War. A close scrutiny of our past tells us a good deal about our present situation and perhaps even gives us a glimpse of our future.

HIST 201W explores the colonial experience (in both the Northern and Southern colonies), the tempestuous Revolutionary Era, the young republic, culture, Puritanism, the Great Awakening, the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Manifest Destiny, and the Anti- Slavery Movement.

The tandem class ENLT 106W follows the same chronology and specifically focuses on Puritanism, Romanticism, Transcendentalism, and Gothic literature. Major authors include Benjamin Franklin, Charles Brockden Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, and Harriet Jacobs.

Sophia Learning Outcomes:

ENLT 106W: LO1 - Humanities/ Literature

HIST 201W: LO1 - Humanities/ History

            LO2 - Women's Voices

Tandem:     LO2 - Basic Writing Competence (upon instructors' recommendation).