Fall 2022 Courses

What Is An (Ab)normal Body? course


This course asks how we understand what is and is not “normal” when it comes to the human body. We will examine this question through the lens of the history of science and medicine along with disabilities studies. Students will better articulate the body as a social, political and corporeal construct by engaging with this literature. This guiding question also encompasses within it additional historical questions such as “Who is a freak?” and, further, “How is the historical category of “freak” conflated with “super” abilities in fictional characters?” Each section of the course is introduced through a superhero as a guiding figure for different themes and sub-questions. We explore the genre of superhero comics as a flexible medium for considering disability and imagining and valuing different physical and cognitive ways of being.

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Big Questions course - What Is a Fact?


A fact is an interpretation of data. That’s what modern science is all about. That’s why there can be new facts. That’s why scientific truths can change. Newton’s gravitational theory was completely “true” a few hundred years ago. Now it’s true, but a bit less, because Einstein’s gravitational theory is more encompassing. Scientific “true” is not a blunt instrument backed up with the threat of violence. That’s the whole point. When you study biology, you’re studying how to make facts that are true in biology. You discover biological data. You interpret the data, and peer review among biologists validates your interpretation. The humanities is about how you make a fact at all.

“This is an English class. I’m very good at English. I know how to read poems. But I’m not going to plead with you for one second to like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’ I’m going to teach you that if you don’t study the nature of facts, you won’t survive in the modern world. This is the real STEM class. In the first five minutes of class one, you will understand why, and you will never forget it.” — Timothy Morton, Rita Shea Guffey Professor of English

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