Past & Present in Critical Dialogue

Courses in this cluster examine the dynamic interplay between historical and contemporary perspectives on culture and politics, including how cultural and political practices from the past shape and inform current issues, debates, and challenges in the global landscape.

Course Descriptions

CC101: The Rise of Fascism(s)

Instructor: Amanda Minervini
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Analysis & Interpretation of Meaning
CRN# 15374
Block: 1

What does the term “fascism” mean, and which are its historical origin and conceptual antecedents? Which are some of the main theories of fascism? How has fascism been represented, which symbols did it create, appropriate, instrumentalize? What is its relationship to media? Why and how is fascism “fascinating”? Is fascism a recurrent “disease of power”? And, if we are seeing a resurgence of fascism in the contemporary world, why does it keep happening, and which are the similarities and differences from other instantiations of fascism?

One field trip.

CC120: Kings, Tyrants, Subjects, and Citizens in Ancient Greece

Instructor: Paul Salay
CRN# 15377
Block: 3

In this course, students will learn to identify and use an interdisciplinary set of academic writing conventions through examining various scholarly approaches to the diverse evidence for both power dynamics in ancient Greek society and the evolution of Greek political thought. The close reading of ancient Greek authors will let us consider various claims to political authority and legitimacy, and how some of these claims were challenged. We will also dig deeper to uncover the ways in which ancient Greeks organized, resolved disputes, and engaged in collective action. At the same time, we will look at the archaeological evidence for ancient social structures and reflect upon the ways in which the material record can complicate, complement, and contextualize literary sources. Finally, we will scrutinize the work of many prominent scholars of the ancient world, asking how historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and classicists approach the same topic from different disciplinary perspectives, each with its own conventions for research and writing. Throughout, our focus will be on understanding how scholars engage with the evidence and with various audiences inside and outside academia, thereby helping students think through these issues in their own writing for this course and beyond.


CC101: Chinese Culture: Traditional and Modern

Instructor: Hong Jiang
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Analysis & Interpretation of Meaning
CRN# 15376
Block: 1

This course starts with introducing students to learn Chinese concepts of nature, family, and self and how Chinese philosophical thinking (Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism) transformed way of art and life for the East but will focus on critical inquiry of social and political changes of Modern China. Students will explore and study of how these changes have conjured up Chinese society and cultural landscape. This is an introductory course, which will lead students to learn Chinese culture in a comparative and cross culturally way and in a broader historical, political, social, and global context.

Field trip to Denver Art Museum.

CC120: Getting Tipsy with Socrates

Instructor: Richard Buxton
CRN# 15375
Block: 2

In this class we will think about—and practice—academic writing in the Humanities through studying Plato’s Symposium, one of the most fun and fascinating works to reach us from ancient Athens. The Symposium follows the philosopher Socrates as he crashes a drinking party where leading intellectual and artistic figures discuss the nature of love, particularly sexual desire between men. The work provides important evidence for everything from Athenian social customs, the history of sexuality, philosophy’s competitive relationship with the arts and science, and emotional life 2500 years ago. It therefore gives us a chance to discuss how scholars from various disciplines have written about a single work in a variety of ways, bringing different questions and methods to bear on the same text. This will let us reflect on what is the same and different between academic writing in related Humanistic fields, while also seeing how our own voices as writers change depending on the kind of investigation we undertake—and what audience(s) we wish to address. Students will become comfortable with the conventions of academic writing in the Humanities, all while tackling an accessible work that asks deep questions about love and companionship in a good-humored manner.

There will be one day-trip to the CU Boulder Art Museum.


CC102: UN at the Movies

Instructor: Jiun Bang and Maria Sanchez
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Creative Practice
CRN# 15378
Block: 1

As a student, you have probably come across something called the ‘Model United Nations (MUN).’ But how much do you really know about the institution that we call the United Nations (UN)? Do you know how it came about? Have you read its charter? As much as the UN symbolizes the last hope for international cooperation for some, it also represents an enduring legacy of global inequality and hierarchy for others. Given this ‘Rorschach’ quality to the UN, this course endeavors to focus wholly and specifically on the UN itself: the good, the bad, and the ugly. In addition to getting to know the UN inside out, students will explore the portrayal of the UN in film, thereby adopting an interdisciplinary perspective to understanding and evaluating the UN and its activities.

CC120: American Frontiers: From the Wild West to the Apocalypse

Instructor: Leland Tabares
CRN# 15379
Block: 4

The open road--a quintessential American image. This first-year seminar centers the American frontier as a thematic framework for exploring narratives of citizenship, nationhood, and mobility in American literature, film, and media from the nineteenth century to the present. It asks: what accounts for the pull of the open road? How has its representation shifted across time? What roles have race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality played in shaping the American frontier? In answering these questions, we will place cultural narratives about movement alongside discourses on nationhood and upward mobility to theorize the coexistence of freewheelers and restricted travelers. Our journey begins with westward expansion in the U.S. during the nineteenth century and takes us through the rise of mass transit, global war, transnational migration, digital media, and science fictional futures, which all shape ideas of identity and belonging in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Along the way, we will understand how American frontiers function both as material spaces and as ideological orientations to sociopolitical developments. Our routes will range vastly, traversing American frontier spaces as they expand beyond the continental U.S. and even into the realm of the digital, before finally turning to imagine the world after the apocalypse.


Report an issue - Last updated: 05/26/2023