University Seminars (USEMs): Spring 2013

University Seminars (USEMS) are designed to give first-year students the opportunity to develop critical-thinking skills and explore new ideas in an environment that encourages interactive learning and intensive discussion. The seminars are based on ideas that have changed the way we think about our relation to the world around us. The seminars are given by prominent faculty in departments and schools across the University, carry two or three hours of credit, and are restricted to 18 first-year students during the initial course enrollment. If space is remaining, second-, third-, and fourth-year students may enroll using a Course Action Form.

Refer to the Student Information System Course Catalog for a list of specific offerings each semester.

University Seminars (USEMS) are designed to give first-year students the opportunity to develop critical-thinking skills and explore new ideas in an environment that encourages interactive learning and intensive discussion. The seminars are based on ideas that have changed the way we think about our relation to the world around us. The seminars are given by prominent faculty in departments and schools across the University, carry two or three hours of credit, and are restricted to 18 first-year students during the initial course enrollment. If space is remaining, second-, third-, and fourth-year students may enroll using a Course Action Form.

Refer to the Student Information System Course Catalog for a list of specific offerings each semester.

Art and Ritual in Early China
2 Credit Course
Wednesday  3:30 – 5:20
Fayerweather  Hall215
Dorothy Wong, Associate Professor, Art

Great archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century have unraveled many riddles of China's ancient past. Astonishing finds include bronzes, jades, lacquer objects, and silk paintings of superb craftsmanship. Through a study of well-documented tombs and their grave goods, this seminar examines the form and content of ritual art of ancient China - from the Neolithic period (5000-1000 BCE) to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE). It also explores the Chinese notions of afterlife, ancestor worship, state ritual and immortality cults.

Chill: Low T Biology & Physics
2 Credit Course
Thursday 3:00 – 4:50
Pavilion VIII, Room B002
Carl Trindle, Professor, Chemistry

Low temperatures stimulate remarkable adaptation by animals and plants, and (at another scale entirely) allow the manifestation of remarkable physics - superconductivity, superfluidity, and other phenomena associated with Bose condensation. We will survey the phenomena of cold, from the search for absolute zero to the biological and cultural adaptation that permit survival under extreme conditions.

Clones & Genomes:  The New Biology
2 Credit Course
Thursday 2:00 – 3:50
New Cabell Hall 542
Michael Wormington, Associate Professor of Biology

Cloning humans, the creation of genetically identical individuals from differentiated adult cells,
and once the exclusive domain of science fiction, has moved to the front pages of reputable
newspapers and prestigious scientific journals. In 1997, the first scientifically substantiated report of a cloned mammal, Dolly the ewe, fomented considerable debate and discussion, and evoked vigorous responses from politicians, pundits, professors, theologians, and entrepreneurs alike. In the past decade, Dolly has been joined by a plethora of cloned mammals. A comparable method of gene transfer used to propagate these cloned animals has been successfully used to treat female infertility in humans. The generation and exploitation of human stem cells and "therapeutic cloning" continue to raise profound ethical and science policy issues. The completion of a "first draft" of the human genome sequence in 2000, has provided us for the first time with the genetic "blueprint" for our species and opportunities for unparalleled diagnostic and therapeutic options. This course will address the fundamental importance of cloning organisms to developmental and reproductive biology; the enormity of the impact of the human genome sequence on human biology; and the ethical, political and societal ramifications of both. Students will gain an appreciation for the intellectual and methodological challenges posed by these questions and the experimental approaches employed to answer them. The applications of these technologies and their moral, ethical, and legal ramifications will be considered and discussed in a variety of contexts. Topics and assigned readings will be derived from the scientific literature, books, magazines, newspapers and resources available online.

Construction of Self as Art
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 10:00 – 11:50
Ruffin Hall 102
Claude Wampler, Lecturer

This seminar will explore the act of constructing an alternate cyber-self, a creative process that has become a necessity, and examine its potential as an art practice.  We will concentrate on reading closely a select group of relevant philosophy, critical theory, performance theory, poetry and visual studies texts while looking at artists and art works (film, installation work, performance art, fashion design, dance, stand-up comedy, animation, internet-based video…) and discuss the performative nature of an invented disembodied self or art object that stands apart from its creator verses the performance of a live person or event.


Dying, Death and Grief
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 2:00 – 3:50
New Cabell Hall 334
Richard H. Steeves, Professor Emeritus, School of Nursing

I have taught this course since the fall of 2006. This course is an exploration of thinking about dying, death and bereavement. Although western culture and American culture in particular has a reputation for being death-denying, we do in fact confront images of and talk about death on an almost daily basis. This course will not be a study about death and dying in the news and popular media, rather it will be about those who have thought about our mortality seriously and extensively. The course will be divided into three foci: (a) writers, poets, and playwrights; (b) death professionals such as hospice workers, funeral directors, and grief counselors; and (c) social scientists who study homicide, suicide, bereavement and unrelated topics. The goal is to explore different ways of thinking about what may truly be beyond our understanding: death.

Gender, Violence and Culture
2 Credit Course
Thursday 2:00 – 3:50
New Cabell Hall 412 
Kathryn Laughon, Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Popular discussions about violence against girls and women grossly exaggerate some forms of violence and seriously minimalize others. In this course, we will explore how we define violence, theories of why violence exists, and will contrast what the data tell us about how girls and women experience violence across their lifespan with how female-directed violence is depicted in newspapers, magazine and entertainment media. We will examine how risk of violence varies according to the type of violence, the type of perpetrator, and the victims' age, race, and class. Students will critically examine how and why images of violence are presented and distorted in the news, songs, movies, and other media. Course materials include academic journal articles, newspaper articles, fiction, websites, and movies. Students will have the opportunity to observe course cases and meet with a prosecutor, victim advocates, survivors of violence, and sexual assault nurse examiners.

Genocide and Mass Killing
2 Credit Course
Monday 4:00-5:50
Pavilion VIII, Room 103
Jeffrey Rossman, Associate Professor, History

One of the defining features of the twentieth century was the repeated use of genocide and other types of one-sided mass killing by states against internal and external populations. In this seminar, we will explore these phenomena from a theoretical and historical point of view, with particular attention to ethnic and racial genocides (e.g. Armenia, the Holocaust, Yugoslavia, Rwanda), and the mass killings that have taken place under Communist regimes (e.g. Stalin's USSR, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia). While the experience of victims will be of central concern, we will also examine the experience and motivations of perpetrators, the explicit and implicit goals for the terrorizing/ genocide state and the response - or lack of response - by the international community. Requirements include readings of about 150 pages per week, active participation in class discussions, two four-page analytical book reviews and a final eight-page analytical review essay.

Great Historical Speeches
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 4:00-6:00
Robertson Hall 225
Rob Patterson, Assistant Professor, McIntire School of Commerce

This course explores some of the most notable speakers and speeches in world history. The course also cultivates an appreciation of the impact of public address in the formation of world history and culture with particular emphasis given to how this history and culture has unique links to contemporary culture. Additionally, this course deepens our understanding of public address as a rhetorical art, thereby increasing our competence as speakers and critics of visual, oral, and written messages. Furthermore, the course provides specific research and critical skills by using standards and approaches to the criticism of speeches, thereby honing and refining our ability to analyze and evaluate texts and the contexts and ideologies in which the texts are constructed. This course is well suited to building students' critical skills regardless if they pursue the arts, business, law, or other studies where critical thinking, communication competence, and analysis are essential.

Language in Detection
2 Credit Course
Monday 2:00 – 3:50
Pavilion VIII, Room 103
Mark Elson, Professor

Language in Detection introduces students to the discipline commonly designated Forensic Linguistics.  This is the area of Applied Linguistics treating the interaction of the language with the law, a domain in which language is of the most central importance not infrequently to liberty itself.  The data of Forensic Linguistics are texts, oral (i.e., relating to judicial proceedings, e.g., police interviews, trials) as well as written (i.e., relating to formal commitments, e.g., contracts, wills; or to evidence, e.g., statements, written threats).  This dichotomy will serve as the organizational basis of the course, preceded by a preliminary unit on terminology and basic linguistic principles of phonetics and pragmatics.  The course will include hands-on linguistic and pragmatic analysis of data in the form of documents, as well as transcripts of police interviews and courtroom activity.

Managing Diversity in a Global Economy
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 2:00-3:50
Robertson Hall 221
Rebecca Leonard, Associate Dean, McIntire School of Commerce

Diversity is a competitive business strategy, which all organizations in today's global economy must understand and successfully navigate to remain successful. Understanding differences and creating inclusive work environments is a key skill for today's global managers. The objective of this course is to increase students' understanding and awareness of issues related to differences and the impact of differences on: individual behavior in organizations; team development and effectiveness; organizational change and effectiveness and organizational success. This course will examine, define, and create a greater understanding of diversity as a business imperative as well as challenge students to examine their own biases and stereotypes and how they can create positive change for a more inclusive environment at UVA and in their future global workplaces.

Media and the Civil Rights Movement
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 3:30 – 5:20
Cocke 101
Aniko Bodroghkozy, Associate Professor, Media Studies

The Civil Rights movement benefited from and to a significant extent required the attention from national media in order to achieve its political and social objectives. How did the media respond to, engage with, and represent this most powerful of social change movements? We will examine a variety of media forms: Hollywood cinema, network television, mainstream newspapers, the black press, news magazines, and radio in order to explore the relationship between the movement and the media.

Panarchy – Understanding Transformations in Coupled Human Naturals
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 3:00 – 4:50pm
Cabell 331
Robert Swap, Professor, Research

This course is intended to serve as a curricular stepping-stone in the transdiciplinary thinking appropriate for majors such as Global Development Studies, Environmental Sciences, Systems Engineering, Environmental Thought and Practice as well as Political and Social Thought. The course aims to challenge the student’s foundational knowledge of how coupled human natural systems function as well as the paradigms used to understand their dynamics.

Post-Soviet Political Challenges:  Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, Separatism and Irredentism
3 Credit Course
Tuesday 3:30 – 6:00
Clemons Library 322A
Yuri Urbanovich,Lecturer

The end of the Cold War coincided with a wave of national revivals that spread across Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and became one of the notable consequences of the collapse of communist regimes. This course will focus specifically on the origins of nationalism, separatism, secessions, and irredentist claims in the Russian Federation and other former Soviet republics. The first third of the course will be devoted to major theoretical approaches to nationalism and ethnicity in political science, the treatment of the “nationalities question” in Marxist-Leninist theory, and the history of Soviet federalism and “nationalities policy.” We will then investigate the role of nationalism in the confounding Gorbachev’s plans for reforming the Soviet system and the dynamics behind the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991. Finally, we will address the contemporary role of nationalism in the successor states, with particular emphasis on problems of nation and state building in the post-communist era, the conflicting logics of state sovereignty, national self-determination, and regional as well as cultural autonomy. We will also consider case studies of various post-communist “secessionist” struggles, particularly in Chechnya and the recent conflict in the Republic of Georgia (the Five-Day War). We will make sense of the present through an understanding of the history, culture, and politics on which it builds.

Re- journey to UVA’s Mount Jefferson
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 3:30-5:20
Clark G054
Nancy Takahashi, Lecturer and Department Chair

This course focuses on the forested tract of land called Mount Jefferson (aka Observatory Hill) on the western edge of the UVA Grounds.  Students and faculty pass by it daily, see its rise from many vantages around the Grounds, but for the most part the hill is a forgotten tract of land. Most are unaware that Jefferson purchased the hill at the same time he secured the tract of land for the Academical Village, for the use of its  lumber, stone, and water, which were vital to building and sustaining the University.  Students will journey through time and space – the physical and cultural history - to reconnect the lost  link between  the Central Grounds  and  Mount Jefferson. The hill’s cultural and natural resources will be revealed through the lectures and tours led by faculty in the departments across the University-- environmental sciences, astronomy, housing, engineering, and architecture and art.

Religion, Race, and Nation
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 3:00-5:30
Pavilion VIII, Room 103
Mark A. Hadley, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean, Religious Studies

An exploration of how constructs of race and religion intersect with ideals of American nationhood through the reading of classic texts by African-American authors such as Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin and others.

Righting Unrightable Wrongs
2 Credit Course
Friday 2:00-3:50
Pavilion VIII, Room 108
Franklin Dukes, Lecturer and Director Institute for Environmental Negotiation

From indigenous peoples pursuing a return of lands and sovereignty, to Japanese-Americans memorializing the experience of internment during WWII, to African-Americans seeking redress for slavery and its aftermath of segregation and discrimination, many groups have sought to right past harms and ongoing injustices. Can individuals, communities and nations ever make right what appear to be irreparable wrongs? This course examines that question for problems ranging from genocide and slavery to environmental contamination and racial discrimination. The literature of reparations and restorative justice will be enhanced by examining specific cases within the instructor’s experience. These include a site affected by severe environmental contamination and Japanese-American internment during World War II (Bainbridge Island, WA); a city coming to terms with killings of labor organizers and civil rights workers through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Greensboro, NC); and Native American communities in Virginia seeking redress for degradation of traditional cultural properties.

The closing theme of the class will be the question of the legacy of slavery and segregation at the University of Virginia and its impact on the surrounding community of Charlottesville-Albemarle.

Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union
3 Credit Course
Monday 3:30-6:00
Clemons Library 322A
Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer

This course is about Russian and the Soviet Union. It is designed to explore some of this country's major political themes of the twentieth century through an understanding of Russia's history, culture, and politics.

Schools in Film and Practice
2 Credit Course
Monday 6:30-8:30
Monroe Hall 114
Stephen P. Plaskon, Assistant Professor, Curry School of Education

This USEM will explore current trends and issues in American Education in two distinct ways: #1 - by examination of film representations of schooling in America and #2 - by actual work with students in after school or community agency programs in the local area. In recent years, a number of significant documentaries have been produced exploring a critical issues in American Education. Films such as "Waiting for Superman," "Teach," "School," and "Children's in America's Schools" have had a profound impact on educational policy and teacher recruitment. By critically examining these films and linking in-class discussions to actual experiences with children in after school programs or community agencies, students in this USEM will develop an understanding of and appreciation for the complex issues facing public school in America.

The History of Books
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 12:30-3:00
Pavilion VIII, Room 108
Michael Suarez, Professor

This seminar will teach students about the history of printing and publishing – and about books as vectors for change – in part by putting rare materials in their hands and leading them through group exercises in observation and analysis.  The students who take this seminar will thus have the opportunity to think about and discuss books and manuscripts based on their reading, their looking at photographs of materials of the www, and, then, their first-hand experience of the kinds of books they have been considering each week.  Thus, the seminar is not merely a discussion group, but a living laboratory that will, I hope, make students not only more textually sophisticated, but also more excited about the history of the written word.  In conducting the seminar, it will be my intention not only to inform and enlighten, but also to kindle in them a sense of wonder. 

The Origin of the Universe
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 2:00-3:50
Physics Building 210
Vittorio Celli, Professor Emeritus, Physics

Has the universe always existed or was it created from nothing? Is it finite or infinite in extent? Until the 1920s, scientists by and large left these questions to religion and philosophy. Then Hubble found that the universe is expanding, as predicted by Einstein's theory of General Relativity. Now we have plenty of evidence that, as far in the sky as our instruments can see, it all started about 13.7 billion years ago with a Big Bang.  But was there something before the Bang, and how did it come about? We will discuss what is known, what is still uncertain, or speculative, and what appears to be the ultimate limits of human ability to know, with readings from Hawking's "Brief History of Time," web sites, and current articles in this rapidly evolving field.

Trials of the Century
2 Credit Course
Thursday 2:00-3:50
Chemistry Building 262
Jack Ford, Legal Analyst

An examination of a number of the most famous trials of the past century, focusing on the legal significance, political and historical context, social implications, and media coverage surrounding each case. Trials studied will include the Lindbergh kidnapping case, the Scopes “Monkey Trial,” the Rosenberg espionage case, the OJ Simpson trial, and the Clinton Impeachment case.

US Latinas: Women Between Cultures
2 Credit Course
Monday 3:00-4:50
Cauthen House 112
María-Inés Lagos, Professor, Spanish

In the last decades, Mexican-American, Chicana, Nuyorican, Puerto Rican, Cuban-American, Dominican-American, and other Latin American women writing in the United States have created an important literary corpus that deals with being a woman in-between two cultures. This course will examine how Latina women have articulated in their narratives the experience of living within two sets of cultural codes, considering variants such as class, race, religious beliefs, sexuality, language, etc. The readings show the diversity within the Latino community in the United States and how Hispanic women from various generations have assimilated to US culture.