Foundations (FNDS)

FNDS 1201     Shakespeare on Page, Stage and Screen     3 Credit Hours

What has made the plays of Shakespeare so relevant to a well-rounded education in universities around the world? How do Shakespeare’s plays transcend his period making him, in Ben Jonson’s words, “not of an age, but for all time”? From comic books to live performance, Slings and Arrows to Kenneth Branagh, this course explores how Shakespeare’s plays are performed, adapted, and sampled in contemporary culture and the cultural significance of Shakespeare today. We shall discuss the literary, stage and film traditions of Shakespeare’s plays as well as the wholesale borrowings from, echoes and parodies of them in popular culture, such as Dr. Who, graphic novels like Kill Shakespeare, or TV commercial for products such as Levis jeans and H&M. This course challenges students to consider how the medium of the artistic work (e.g. film, play, TV commercial) affects interpretation and how we re-make Shakespeare in contemporary culture. Students will have the creative opportunity to ‘re-make’ Shakespeare themselves as part of this course. Note: the course will include an excursion to see a play at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada. (F, YR).

FNDS 1202     Democratizing Democracy: Expanding, Suppressing, Idealizing, & Ignoring the Right to Vote in Amer     3 Credit Hours

This course will explore voting in America, examining both historical and contemporary perspectives on the fundamental right of “the franchise” for American citizens. The course will emphasize the debates, reforms, practices, ideals and actualities of voting, which is widely regarded as an exemplar of citizenship enactment even while history illustrates clear exclusionary practices. (F).

FNDS 1203     Because Internet: The Language of Digital Media     3 Credit Hours

This course examines new forms of language resulting from the digitization of communication. Email, texting, the internet, and social media have changed the English language. The course introduces the field of sociolinguistics, which tracks these language adaptations and interprets associated social meanings. Students will examine formal and informal language practices, learning about academic and other styles and interpreting the significance of their language choices in different contexts. Studying language choices in this way creates an awareness of language that has widespread application to the speaking and writing tasks of academic and professional life, but even more importantly, to how individuals define themselves through their language. (YR).

FNDS 1204     Fearing the Unknown: Horror Fantasy in Hispanic Fiction     3 Credit Hours

A good horror story incites fear, one of the strongest emotions that we as an audience seek. Horror offers the possibility to talk about our irrational human fears through dark narratives. It makes a space for the inexplicable, the supernatural, the undead, while allowing the appearance of troubled characters: the non-normal, the bizarre, the other. While fear is universal, what are the contexts in which Hispanic horror is produced? What or who is the other in these contexts? What makes it different than other artistic productions in English? This course offers the opportunity to explore major Latin American and Spanish short stories, novellas, and films. It considers how religion and superstition, violence, and doubt inform Hispanic horror while intertwining it with other genres from the early 19th through early 21st centuries. (F, OC).

FNDS 1301     Trauma, Text, & the City     3 Credit Hours

An exploration of how artists and writers represent urban trauma (terror, violence, destruction, absence) to describe indescribable suffering. In the wake of urban chaos, how do writers make urban community possible? To answer this question, we will examine traumatic events in New York City (9/11) as well as London and Detroit to understand how emails, photographs, novels, documentaries, and films try to narrate chaos and stabilize urban history. In addition to films that experiment with narrative (such as _Memento_ [2000] and documentaries), texts may include writings by psychologists (Freud), urban historians (Sugrue), cultural theorists (Baudrillard), and novelists (Joseph Conrad). (F, YR).

FNDS 1302     Art, Power, and Persuasion     3 Credit Hours

Do you ever see election and political ads on TV or on apps and websites? What images do these ads use? How do they use visual media to draw your attention and influence your opinions? Can you detect the strategies they use? Do you think these attempts to persuade through imagery and words are effective? Learn about the use of imagery and words as means of political influence and persuasion while you develop your skills in critical thinking, writing, and research in this course. This course focuses on the historical examples of the “heretic king” Akhenaton in Egypt, the ideology of the Persian empire, the imperialist democracy of classical Athens, and the autocratic rule of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. We will investigate the visual and literary strategies that have been used for thousands of years to define difference, signal virtue, and garner public support. By the end of the semester, you will look at the images and words around you today with new eyes. (W).

FNDS 1303     ART/France--ART/Japan     3 Credit Hours

We would be lost without our personal technology devices that allow us to chat with friends around the world, listen to music that has just dropped, or search/download high resolution images to study the culture of others every minute of our lives. Have you wondered how the exchange of ideas and images was possible prior to the digital revolution? This course focuses on cultural exchange in Japan and France during the second half of the 19th century. New technologies like photography, color lithography and ready-made art supplies allowed artists to explore their creativity in new ways. This period also was a time of increased international travel, international expositions, thriving private art exhibitions, and a flourishing print culture; all of these elements facilitated the rapid spread of information and images between Paris and Tokyo. We examine this dynamic flow of culture and ideas through the study of texts, photographs, paintings (Impressionist/Yoga/Nihonga), prints, advertisements, and fashion. Using the frame of Orientalism, we will study how some artists appropriated motifs, but we also will examine how others were inspired to change the way they represented the world because of an encounter with art or artists from the opposite side of the world. (F).

FNDS 1304     American Horror Stories     3 Credit Hours

This course analyzes American culture through the lens of its horror industry: in film, literature, art, and other forms of artistic and popular culture. Horror, because of its nature as an extreme form of representation and its association with the imagination rather than reality, has the ability to reveal certain truths and theories about history, culture, and ways of being that are difficult to access through other modes of expression. This course explores these truths and theories by studying American horrors in a way that contextualizes film, stories, art, and other forms of popular culture within particular social, political, and historical moments. Examples include: Cold War horror productions (the short stories of H.P. Lovecraft and Richard Matheson) and the use of aliens and other invaders as a stand in for outsiders and “others,” domestic horrors like The Nightmare on Elm Street and Beloved and the ways in which violence, gender, race and the home intersect, and a study of post-feminist heroines in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Pretty Little Liars. (F, YR).

FNDS 1305     Urban Monsters? Suburban Angels?     3 Credit Hours

If cities are the centers of human civilization, then why have we inherited horrific stereotypes of urban environments? This course traces gothic writers’ representations of “the urban monster” back to the historical and political issues that made the imagination of "urban monsters” and "suburban angels" seem necessary. Readings may include Dracula, Journal of a Plague Year, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Linden Hills. (YR).

FNDS 1306     Crossing Boundaries: ‘Passing’ and Social Identity in American History     3 Credit Hours

Have you ever thought that life would be easier if you had been born a different person? This course examines the stories of boundary crossers: individuals who choose to ‘pass’ for a member of a different social group. People who have lived on different sides of social identities offer a unique opportunity to understand the meaning of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in American society. Their experiences can help us understand social categories -- both what they mean and how they have changed over the course of time. What, for example, can a person who lived as both a woman and a man tell us about the significance of gender in our society? Ultimately, the course seeks to answer the question, what is the nature and significance of identity? (AY, F).

FNDS 1307     You Call Them Nobel Prize Laureates? A Worldwide Perspective     3 Credit Hours

This course will empower you to be a better reader and a better judge of what you read! We will learn to ‘close read’ international Nobel Prize bestsellers from various regions of the world. We will discuss the role of an author and that of the reader, what makes an author “a Nobel Prize winner” in Literature, and what these authors and books might have in common. By reading, discussing and critiquing, we will also learn their historical, geographical and cultural backgrounds. Finally, we will attempt to answer the question of which books deserve the Nobel Prize. (F, OC, W, YR).

FNDS 1501     Physics for 21st Century Citizens - the Science Behind the Headlines     3 Credit Hours

Does it surprise you that the GPS on your phone needs to know about Einstein’s special and general relativity to work properly? Are you confused by the claims and counter-claims in the current debate over global warming? Have you ever wondered whether a nuclear power plant can explode like an atomic bomb? About how spy satellites work? If you answer “yes” to questions like these, then Physics for 21st century citizens is for you. This is a mixed-format lecture/seminar course that takes a mathematics-free approach to everyday applications of physics. We focus on understanding the physics behind today's headlines. Students learn to describe the world around them in physical terms, without extensive mathematics, and to use their new-found physics skills to critically assess issues in the headlines, through the eyes of a physicist. Three credit hours. (F).

FNDS 1601     OK Boomer: Gen Z and Civic Engagement     3 Credit Hours

Climate change, violence, racism, sexism, and consumerism are among the concerns of young people born after 1996. How will this generation define the most important challenges in today's society, set about fixing these problems, and ensure they don't fall to the next generation? How is Gen Z going building a political community through civic engagement to ensure justice, safety, health, and sustainability? We will consider these topics using the tools of Political Science, Sociology, and History while exploring activism happening on campus and in the surrounding community in order to better understand the particular worldview of Gen Z, effective tools for social change, and the key factors that contribute to lasting activism and significant change. (YR).

FNDS 1602     Hope and Joy in Queer and Trans Lives     3 Credit Hours

Hope and joy are important tools, particularly for groups that experience oppression and violence. This course does not shy away from the more difficult dimensions of queer and trans lives. But our focus is centrally and emphatically on the ways that queer, trans, and other sexually and gender-diverse people produce hope, joy, healing, pleasure, and community. Perspectives of queer and trans people of color are integral to the course. The material is appropriate for students of all levels of preparation, including those with little or no prior knowledge of lgbtq issues. As part of the Foundations program, this course will also support students in acclimating to campus and to college-level work. (F, YR).

FNDS 1603     When Nature Strikes: Dealing with Natural Disasters     3 Credit Hours

Natural disasters kill on average 60,000 people per year. The vulnerability to disastrous events is influenced by physical factors as well as hazards perception and behavior, public policy, and economic factors. This course will draw from the physical, social, and behavioral sciences to examine the interplay between physical mechanisms and human dimensions of natural disasters. (W).

FNDS 1604     Biology is Not Destiny: Exploring the Role of Culture on Human Biology     3 Credit Hours

This is a course that will deal with some very “big questions” about human nature. This course is rooted deeply in anthropology, and anthropologists love asking questions about the nature of human existence. What does it mean to be human? How variable are humans from one another? What causes that variation? Are men and women really all that different from one another? Do races exist in biology? Are men born to be more aggressive than women? We’re going to approach these important questions through the lens of “myth busting”, where we’ll tackle one theme at time and see what anthropology and related sciences have to say about it. My goal is that you will leave the course with not only some understanding of anthropology and human existence (which should have a profound impact on how you view and interact with people around you), but that you’ll have developed some critical thinking and communication skills that will set you up for success in your college career and beyond. (F, W).

FNDS 1605     DIY in Detroit     3 Credit Hours

This course examines Do It Yourself (DIY) cultures in Detroit. Detroit’s larger story – of migration, cars, growth, shrinkage, revitalization – hides smaller stories of community, resilience, and people who have decided not to wait on societal structures and instead do for themselves. We will look at both historical and contemporary communities who have established their own structures of support and cultural production in the face of resistance and disregard. What social and economic conditions encouraged or required them to do it themselves? What are the benefits of do it yourself culture – ownership, control, connective communities, etc? (F).

FNDS 1606     The A to Z of Aging and Why it Matters NOW     3 Credit Hours

Psst! Guess what? You’re already aging! In fact, everyone around you is aging. So what? Well, the more we understand aging and the sooner we start applying what we learn, the better our life (and the lives of those around us) will be! In this course, we’ll skim the surface of gerontology—the study of aging—by exploring research and experiences related to the aging brain, the aging self, and the implications of an aging society. We’ll tackle topics ranging from Ageism to Zzzz’s (sleep!), equipping you with an understanding of gerontology that you can apply to your own life decisions, to your interactions with aging friends and family, and to your roles in the workplace and society at large. We’ll do all of this while building skills and highlighting resources that will equip you to make the most out of your UM-Dearborn journey (and beyond). Let’s go! (YR).

FNDS 1701     To Infinity and Beyond     3 Credit Hours

Many people have a love-hate relationship with mathematics. This stems largely from the fact that society treats mathematics as a tool to enable the sciences and engineering. Collectively we do not think of mathematics as a subject that is interesting in its own right, not as a subject that has evolved as humans have evolved, over thousands of years. This is a course aimed not at engineers nor scientists (though they would enjoy the ideas very much). It is designed for the rest of us. In this course, we treat mathematics with curiosity, asking questions about the when and why of various concepts. The number zero did not always exist; not all infinities are created equal; there are beautiful tangible objects that live in neither two nor three dimensions. More, we discuss the implications of these ideas on scientists and artists, on theologians and philosophers. In addition to the the Maor text, the subject matter for this course is drawn from a diverse set of works including a satirical novella by an English schoolmaster, a novel about a boy with autism who tries to solve a murder mystery, and perhaps one of earliest anthologies to include only mathematical poetry. (F, OC).

FNDS 1702     Infinity Plus One     3 Credit Hours

Mathematics: Queen and Servant of Science. How much mathematics do you need in life? Is it relevant to non-mathematicians? Is it something exclusive for a selected group of people? In this course, we want to explore the beauty of mathematics, see how it relates to anyone, and how useful it is for all of us. (F).

FNDS 3201     Weeds, Wastelands and the Salvation of the World     3 Credit Hours

What are the connections between cities, weeds, social problems and the climate crisis? This class considers the dynamic, evolving relationship between cities and nature in light of the the challenges presented by climate change. We begin with 19th century ecologists and sociologists contemplating changes wrought by urbanization and corresponding shifts in attitudes towards nature. We then consider 20th century conservation and environmentalist movements in relation to globalized trade patterns, habitat fragmentation and accelerating urban inequality. Finally, we consider the concepts of green infrastructure, patch dynamics and novel ecosystems and the prospects of urban life on a disturbed planet. And we will take a lot of walks. (AY, F).

FNDS 3301     Restless Women     3 Credit Hours

This class invites you to reflect on the lives of select women from very different historical periods. Some of the women played the roles that the society prescribed for them. Some of them stepped outside of – or even deviated from – the social norms that defined their lives. Yet many others were put in very difficult life situations in which they had to make – what we would define today as – choiceless choices, and yet choices that they had to make. In this class, we will call them ‘restless’ -- women who searched for solutions in desperate situations, for ways to express themselves, for ways to find satisfaction and redefine their own lives. Their lives can teach us about the importance of the individual in history, but they also show how our lives are defined by the context in which we live: the place and time, historical events, social norms, and the ethnicity, class, race, and gender we are born into. This means that looking at individual lives provides us with lenses to have a closer look at societies at various historical junctures and places: at norms that organize them as well as various subtle changes that they undergo. (F, OC).

FNDS 3302     Multimedia Art     3 Credit Hours

How does something new in art emerge? How do artists use their own body as a medium for art? How is the body augmented by film, video, and sound equipment in multimedia art? This course examines the interconnected histories of multimedia and performance art from the 1910s to now. Multimedia art is an innovative twentieth century genre that combines elements from film, literature, music, drama, visual art, and design. We consider the many ways in which the body and technology intersect as we trace how new imaging and sound technologies have changed the ways in which we perceive the world and express ourselves. This course allows you to better understand our contemporary media landscape: no artistic skills are required. (W, YR).

FNDS 3401     Reporting on the Middle East: Revising First Drafts of History     3 Credit Hours

Western journalists reporting on the Middle East are part of a larger group of diverse travelers to the region that have shaped narratives about it for global audiences. Journalists from the Middle East are part of a larger group of modern professionals that influence trends of political and social change at home and also aim to represent their home societies to global audiences. In this course, we will use the tools of today's Middle East specialists to investigate the narrative frames used to simplify the complexities of past and contemporary events. As a final project, student research teams will do scholarly revisions of press accounts that they select from among today’s headlines and “breaking news” segments. (YR).

FNDS 3402     Modern Crime: Jack the Ripper     3 Credit Hours

During the summer and fall of 1888, five prostitutes were gruesomely murdered in Whitechapel, a district in the East End of London. The killer, who identified himself as “Jack the Ripper” was never identified and the unsolved case has been the focus of amateur sleuths and detectives (known as “Ripperologists”) for over 100 years. It has also been the topic of media attention and sensationalism, both then and now. It has spawned numerous tabloid articles, books (both non-fiction and fiction), movies, websites and blogs. There is even a Jack the Ripper musical. Jack the Ripper was, in many ways, the first modern serial killer and the case provides students with a unique view of issues of class, gender and race as they relate to society, crime and the media, both then and now. (AY).

FNDS 3901     Cultures in Contact: The Arab Near East and the West     3 Credit Hours

Arab Near East-West relations were not always frayed and confrontational. We look beyond colonialist legacies for sustained cultural contacts and their lasting effects. As such, we examine Arab contributions to humanity from late antiquity through the the age of European explorations and Arab cultural awakening thanks to introduction of printing presses by the French in Egypt and the Americans in the Levant. (F).

FNDS 3902     Who Owns the Past?     3 Credit Hours

The past is not neutral. This class explores this idea, recognizing how representations of and stories about the past play a role in modern discussions and conflicts. Issues such as race, religion, national sovereignty, and both individual and group rights to self-determination, education, and property are all deeply entwined with how we learn about and tell each other about the past. We consider archaeological and historic sites and controversies in Asia, Africa, the Mideast, and the US, and focus on discussion and argumentative writing skills. (F, OC).

FNDS 3903     Rules of the Game: How Institutions Work     3 Credit Hours

Topic Title: Rules of the Game: How Institutions Work All transactions/economic activity occurs under an underlying framework. This can range from: if I bash your head with a rock I get your wooly mammoth to going to the grocery store to buy food to dating to the gig economy. In this class we will discuss a wide range of institutions; that is the framework under which exchange happens. We will begin with formal institutions of government rule of law, patents and foreign development. Next we will analyze informal institutions that deal with common pool resources, the market for body parts and culture. At the end we will discuss various criminal organizations. While there are no prerequisites for this course an introduction to economics class is highly recommended. (AY, W).