Dating & Mating: The Psychology of Relationships

Amy Hammond, Psychology
Keywords: Relationships, Diversity, Sexuality, Family, Psychology

Humans are a social species; even the most introverted among us desires contact and connection with others. College is a time when we’re exposed to many new people, often those with different backgrounds, expectations, and experiences that inform our own understanding of who we want to be. We’re learning to navigate relationships with roommates, with new friends and professors, and to renegotiate the terms of our familial relationships. We’re trying to steer our way through romantic and sexual relationships or deciding whether we want those types of connections at all. Successfully navigating human relationships is exhilarating, frustrating, rewarding, heart-breaking, challenging, and ultimately necessary. Through scientific literature, personal exploration, and small research projects, we will explore some of what the science of psychology has uncovered about human relationships of all types with the goal of developing the knowledge and skills to enhance and improve all of our relationships.


Innovation: Where Good Ideas Come From and How They Got Us to Now

Michael Laffey, English and Communication
Keywords: Innovation, Invention, Cultural Studies, Technology, Media Theory, Communication

Do our best ideas come in a flash? Does a light bulb suddenly illuminate the darkness? Not so fast. This course engages with the argumentative strategies and tactics deployed in two 21st century books by Steven Johnson. Johnson is an American popular science author and media theorist who examines the role that innovation plays in natural history and in human cultural development. In the first of these texts, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, students are challenged to think differently about many of the everyday, common sense descriptions and explanations about creativity and invention. With the next text, How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, students are presented with the historical foundations that underlie many of the qualities that go unnoticed and are taken for granted in everyday life: glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light. Students will be assigned to conduct further research and produce arguments concerning the unexpected and unfamiliar roles played by what we often overlook. Ultimately this research will be presented in written essays, oral presentations, and audio documentary recordings to be broadcast on KSCL-FM, the Centenary College radio station


The American Tradition in Detective Fiction

Steve Shelburne, English

The detective story is very likely an American invention, the brain-child of the country’s first professional man of letters, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s stories are set in Paris, but the “exotic” location shadows the American city, and the qualities with which Poe endows his detective, C. Auguste Dupin, set the model for Sherlock Holmes and a raft of American detectives to follow. This course follows the development of the American detective from these earliest stories through the innovations of Dashiell Hammett (the Maltese Falcon) and Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep) and on to the work of the great Louisiana writers James Lee Burke (Creole Belle) and his daughter, Alafair Burke, two of the best detective novelists writing today.


Politics and Culture in American Film

Mark Leeper, Political Science
Keywords: America, Politics, American Dream, Popular Culture

This course uses great American films as a vehicle to discover and analyze core cultural and political values and what it is to be “American.” Topics include race in American film, sex discrimination, class and the “American Dream,” individualism v. authority (through prison genre films), sex and violence in American film, war movies (including the cold war), science fiction as fear of communism, American adolescence (through the “teen movie”), political films (e.g. “The Candidate”), the media in American film, and the mob in movies. A priority will also be to instruct students how to “read” films and not merely be a passive audience.


Aliens Among Us: Understanding Diversity with Science Fiction

Jeanne Hamming, English
Keywords: Science Fiction, Diversity, Community, Race, Class, Gender, Literature, Culture

One, if not the, defining characteristic of the science fiction genre, is what critic Darko Suvin calls “cognitive estrangement.” By taking the familiar, the everyday, the habitual, and re-presenting it as strange or alien, science fiction invites readers to see their own realities in a new light. In this respect, science fiction offers a valuable tool for exploring issues of diversity, not in some far-flung future world, but in our own everyday experience. In this course we will immerse ourselves in science fiction literature and film in order to “explore new worlds,” new ways of being, and new ways of understanding what it means to be human, and how we do (or should) relate to those unlike ourselves.


Leadership Reconsidered: Human as Leader

Karen Soul, Education
Keywords: Leadership, Transformation, Authentic, Servant, Balanced, Brave

What is a leader? Who is a leader? Is a leader born, appointed, elected? In this course, we will explore ideas and definitions of leadership through historical and current texts, as well as critically analyze the presence and actions of identified leaders through media. Guest presentations by campus and community leaders who came to their roles and execute their leadership in a variety of ways will serve as a platform for the analysis of leadership. Students will have multiple opportunities to explore their own interest in and capacity for leadership.


Our Stories Told By Us: Public Art, Indigenous Expression & Cultural Documentation

Michelle Glaros, Art and Communication
Keywords: Community, Representation, Mardi Gras Indians, Second Line, Masking, Ethnography, Public Art

Who gets to tell our stories? Do we? Others? Does it make a difference? How do we know who we are? This course uses ethnography to explore the meanings of community, neighborhood, inclusion, and exclusion as well as the power of representation. We will begin with a case study: an examination of the history and functions of New Orleans’ African American masking and processing traditions. This case study will focus on the roles and practices of Mardi Gras Indians, Skull and Bones Gangs, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, second line parades, and the active documentation and preservation of these traditions through local DIY museums and collections. Participants in this course will not only learn about how such cultural formations function to bind people to a community and to protect and sustain its inhabitants, but they will also learn about the design and practice of distinctive public art forms that differentiate New Orleans and Louisiana from the rest of the nation and world. Using the Neighborhood Story Project as a model, students in this course will learn how to produce their own ethnographic studies of Shreveport’s indigenous neighborhood cultures and public art practices, thereby productively contributing to our local community’s presentation and preservation of its own distinctive traditions.


Paradise or Hellscape?

Utopias in Literature and Film Emily Leithauser, English
Keywords: Utopia, Dystopia, Technology, Politics, Environment, Popular Culture

Why has Orwell’s landmark 1984 been selling so well on Amazon? What accounts for the popularity of Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale? We are in what New Yorker writer Jill Lepore recently called “a golden age of dystopian fiction.” As thought experiments, utopias and dystopias invite us to confront the most pressing political, environmental, and moral challenges we face, while provoking us to think creatively about ways we might solve social problems or intervene in cultural debates. Students will encounter a range of texts that ask us—and often strongly urge us—to consider what an ideal society might look like, and what happens when our ideals, put into practice, go horribly wrong. Students may read works by Ursula Le Guin, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, and Kazuo Ishiguro and will study contemporary representations of dystopian societies currently airing on television, including Black Mirror and The Man in the High Castle.


Mormons in America: Understanding Beyond Stereotypes

Ross Smith, Music
Keywords: Mormonism, Diversity, Community, Society, Culture, Literature, Doctrine, Lifestyle, Faith, Tolerance

Revered and reviled, lauded and loathed, the Mormon church and its members are increasingly pushed to the forefront of public attention. As the fastest growing religious denomination in America, most people know very little about what it really means to be a Mormon. What is the actual doctrine of this Church? What makes up a Mormon lifestyle? Do Mormons still practice polygamy? Are they allowed to dance? Can Mormon women wear pants? As the Mormon church is increasingly recognized as an important part of American culture and religious life the question of a Mormon's place in society demands increased understanding of who and what a Mormon is. Can a Mormon serve in the political arena? Is a Mormon neighbor something to be feared? How can other religious or cultural people live and work aside the Mormons? This course will examine the Mormon church from historical, doctrinal, societal, cultural and personal perspectives, and will seek to understand how Mormons fit into American life, and how the rest of American society can (or should) relate to this sub-culture of America.


Bloody Caddo: Criminal Justice in Caddo Parish

Chris Ciocchetti, Philosophy
Keywords: Law, Poverty, Beliefs and Values, Community, Diversity

Caddo Parish has a reputation for being especially harsh on convicted criminals. We will study the leading philosophical justifications for punishment. From there, we will investigate the history of criminal justice in Caddo Parish, the structure of the Parish government, and on-going efforts to change the system. Students will meet with lawyers, judges, and others who work in the system, as well as people affected by the system, in order to learn from their experiences. We will examine how racism manifests itself in our Parish, both systemically and in personal beliefs, and explore efforts to create racial reconciliation in the Parish. Students will collectively choose an action they could take to make Caddo Parish more just. Throughout the process, we will reflect on our beliefs and values, what it means to live in a diverse community, and how we—individually and collectively—can put our beliefs and values into action. Students will work with the Centenary Political Union and the Beliefs and Values Leadership team to create and sustain their project.