Departmental Advisors
Director, MUSE
Mark Matheson
General Inquiry
Departmental Notes

For course descriptions and pre-requisite information click on the subject column next to the appropriate catalog number.

MUSE 1850 - 001 Queer Belonging


Queer Belonging: In this seminar we will explore what it means to belong as queer people. What does it mean for us to belong in our bodies, in our communities, in our families, and in our friend groups? What about in institutions such as history, media, healthcare, and schools? But more than that, what does it even mean to belong, and how might we queer (the verb) belonging in ways that just might open up more interesting, affirming, dare I say euphoric, possibilities for belonging? We will spend our time together intentionally building and nurturing space(s) for our own queer belonging and interrogating what this means for us. We will draw from various queer "texts" ranging from young adult fiction, to film, to art, to music, to historical accounts, to academic research to critically analyze the ways the possibilities for belonging have been structured and presented to us, so that we can make more informed choices about our own attempts at queer belonging. Finally, it is essential to know that this won't work unless we are attentive to the multiplicities of our identities so an emphasis on race, class, gender, ability, age, citizenship, and religion will run through the entire semester. 

MUSE 1850 - 001 Queer Belonging

  • Class Number: 19245
  • Instructor: HACKFORD-PEER, KIM
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: Yes
  • Seats Available: 9

Queer Belonging: In this seminar we will explore what it means to belong as queer people. What does it mean for us to belong in our bodies, in our communities, in our families, and in our friend groups? What about in institutions such as history, media, healthcare, and schools? But more than that, what does it even mean to belong, and how might we queer (the verb) belonging in ways that just might open up more interesting, affirming, dare I say euphoric, possibilities for belonging? We will spend our time together intentionally building and nurturing space(s) for our own queer belonging and interrogating what this means for us. We will draw from various queer "texts" ranging from young adult fiction, to film, to art, to music, to historical accounts, to academic research to critically analyze the ways the possibilities for belonging have been structured and presented to us, so that we can make more informed choices about our own attempts at queer belonging. Finally, it is essential to know that this won't work unless we are attentive to the multiplicities of our identities so an emphasis on race, class, gender, ability, age, citizenship, and religion will run through the entire semester. 

MUSE 1850 - 002 Old Meets New in Popular Media


The Old Meets the New: Hades & Persephone in Popular Media- In this course we will examine how and why the ancient Greek myths are still alive in popular media today. We will analyze the characters of Hades, the god of the underworld, and Persephone, the goddess of spring and the queen of the underworld, to better understand their sudden popularity in contemporary culture. We will explore the following questions: Why do we like “dark” heroes? Why are we intrigued by pictures of the underworld? What is appealing about the love story of Persephone and Hades? Why is it important to examine popular culture to understand the concerns of our contemporary world? What does popular culture reveal about modern American society—our hopes and our fears? How can an understanding of the ancient world also help us understand the present world in a deeper way? The “old” Greek texts we will examine: The Homeric Hymn to Demeter; Ovid’s stories of these gods and the underworld from his Metamorphoses; ancient visual art of the gods and the underworld. The “new” texts we will examine: Hades, the video game; music from the Broadway show, Hadestown; Hades and Persephone in the comics; a graphic novel; and a romance novel.

MUSE 1850 - 002 Old Meets New in Popular Media

  • Class Number: 19246
  • Instructor: TOSCANO, MARGARET M
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: Yes
  • Seats Available: 4

The Old Meets the New: Hades & Persephone in Popular Media- In this course we will examine how and why the ancient Greek myths are still alive in popular media today. We will analyze the characters of Hades, the god of the underworld, and Persephone, the goddess of spring and the queen of the underworld, to better understand their sudden popularity in contemporary culture. We will explore the following questions: Why do we like “dark” heroes? Why are we intrigued by pictures of the underworld? What is appealing about the love story of Persephone and Hades? Why is it important to examine popular culture to understand the concerns of our contemporary world? What does popular culture reveal about modern American society—our hopes and our fears? How can an understanding of the ancient world also help us understand the present world in a deeper way? The “old” Greek texts we will examine: The Homeric Hymn to Demeter; Ovid’s stories of these gods and the underworld from his Metamorphoses; ancient visual art of the gods and the underworld. The “new” texts we will examine: Hades, the video game; music from the Broadway show, Hadestown; Hades and Persephone in the comics; a graphic novel; and a romance novel.

MUSE 1850 - 003 Reading American Poetry


Reading American Poetry: In this seminar we’ll read and discuss a representative selection of American poems. These works will provide historical and cultural context for much of the pain, division, and potential joy in American society today. There will also be poems about the inner life, about the rough and tumble of personal and group relationships, and about love. Poetry evokes the potential inherent in language to clarify and inspire—to open up what Walt Whitman points us toward, “landscapes of continents, and a plain public road.” He adds, with visionary conviction, that “not any one else can travel that road for you,/ You must travel it for yourself.” I look forward to our personal and collective journeys of discovery into the language of American poetry.

MUSE 1850 - 003 Reading American Poetry

  • Class Number: 19247
  • Instructor: MATHESON, MARK H
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: Yes
  • Seats Available: 11

Reading American Poetry: In this seminar we’ll read and discuss a representative selection of American poems. These works will provide historical and cultural context for much of the pain, division, and potential joy in American society today. There will also be poems about the inner life, about the rough and tumble of personal and group relationships, and about love. Poetry evokes the potential inherent in language to clarify and inspire—to open up what Walt Whitman points us toward, “landscapes of continents, and a plain public road.” He adds, with visionary conviction, that “not any one else can travel that road for you,/ You must travel it for yourself.” I look forward to our personal and collective journeys of discovery into the language of American poetry.

MUSE 1850 - 004 How to Fail Successfully


How to Fail Successfully: This course is all about failure; understanding how we fail, why we fail, and how often we fail, in order to succeed. We do this through getting to know ourselves. Reflection, more significantly, self-reflection is the map to our methods of learning; if we know how learn, we can fail successfully. In this course we will anchor our learning through fiction. We will follow our protagonist’s journey, identify their choices, and reflect on their transformation(s). Through our protagonist, we will reflect on our own selves. There is no one right way or wrong way to do this. So, I hope you will join me this fall, so we can journey together to find our ways of failing successfully.

MUSE 1850 - 004 How to Fail Successfully

  • Class Number: 19248
  • Instructor: VEERAGHANTA, SEETHA V
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: Yes
  • Seats Available: 3

How to Fail Successfully: This course is all about failure; understanding how we fail, why we fail, and how often we fail, in order to succeed. We do this through getting to know ourselves. Reflection, more significantly, self-reflection is the map to our methods of learning; if we know how learn, we can fail successfully. In this course we will anchor our learning through fiction. We will follow our protagonist’s journey, identify their choices, and reflect on their transformation(s). Through our protagonist, we will reflect on our own selves. There is no one right way or wrong way to do this. So, I hope you will join me this fall, so we can journey together to find our ways of failing successfully.

MUSE 1850 - 005 Petroculture: Fossil Fuels


Petroculture: How Fossil Fuels Have Shaped Our World- This seminar will study "petro" or "oil culture" through a focus on selected fiction and nonfiction and visual culture (cinema; photography) texts that illustrate how--in the 150 years since the advent of the petroleum industry--petrocapitalism is as much a cultural phenomenon as it is an economic necessity, political force, and environmental concern. Broadly conceived, petroculture encompasses or indexes: the emergence of corporate capitalism on both national and transnational scales; the triumph of automobile or car culture and, as a consequence, the transformation of the nation's transportation system and urban design (think freeways and commercial/residential sprawl); the predominance of “plastic” and “vinyl” products in everyday life; and apocalyptic anxieties associated with both ecological disasters/toxic environments and a dystopian post-petrocapitalism futures. Key texts for this course will be Richard Misrach and Kate Orff’s *Petrochemical America* and such movies as The Wages of Fear (1953), Safe (1995), Blue Vinyl (2005), Dark Waters (2019).

MUSE 1850 - 005 Petroculture: Fossil Fuels

  • Class Number: 19249
  • Instructor: TATUM, ROBERT S
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: Yes
  • Seats Available: 9

Petroculture: How Fossil Fuels Have Shaped Our World- This seminar will study "petro" or "oil culture" through a focus on selected fiction and nonfiction and visual culture (cinema; photography) texts that illustrate how--in the 150 years since the advent of the petroleum industry--petrocapitalism is as much a cultural phenomenon as it is an economic necessity, political force, and environmental concern. Broadly conceived, petroculture encompasses or indexes: the emergence of corporate capitalism on both national and transnational scales; the triumph of automobile or car culture and, as a consequence, the transformation of the nation's transportation system and urban design (think freeways and commercial/residential sprawl); the predominance of “plastic” and “vinyl” products in everyday life; and apocalyptic anxieties associated with both ecological disasters/toxic environments and a dystopian post-petrocapitalism futures. Key texts for this course will be Richard Misrach and Kate Orff’s *Petrochemical America* and such movies as The Wages of Fear (1953), Safe (1995), Blue Vinyl (2005), Dark Waters (2019).

MUSE 1850 - 006 Sparking Connections


Sparking Connections: Place, Community, Attention- In this one-credit seminar, first-year students will reignite some of our “lost connections.” Through critical engagement with media, our physical environment, and our relationships, students will examine three different connections under threat in the 21st century: attention, place, and community. Through scholarly articles, short videos, and experiential learning, students will consider how these connections have impacted their understanding of the world, and their experiences in it. Most importantly, students will actively consider how they might forge new connections that spark resiliency, curiosity, and empathy.

MUSE 1850 - 006 Sparking Connections

  • Class Number: 19250
  • Instructor: SEEGERT, NATASHA L
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: Yes
  • Seats Available: 12

Sparking Connections: Place, Community, Attention- In this one-credit seminar, first-year students will reignite some of our “lost connections.” Through critical engagement with media, our physical environment, and our relationships, students will examine three different connections under threat in the 21st century: attention, place, and community. Through scholarly articles, short videos, and experiential learning, students will consider how these connections have impacted their understanding of the world, and their experiences in it. Most importantly, students will actively consider how they might forge new connections that spark resiliency, curiosity, and empathy.

MUSE 1850 - 007 Theater as Interpersonal Space


Theater as an Interpersonal Space: We are born to act--it's what we do to stay alive, to create, to mate, to feel, and to belong. When we stop acting, life as we know it ends.  Theatre exists to go into the cracks of life in order to better understand the complex conflicts within us and between us.  Actors create "lived in moments" of human conflict with the moral intent to inspire and to heal.  Theatre is, by nature, a meta-cognitive process of story-telling and art-making.  Most importantly, theatre, at its core, is just play.  So, let's risk a little fun together pretending to be characters with conflicts to solve and see if anything insightful, educational, and meaningful shakes out as we work.  No theatre experience of any kind needed, just you.   As Social Cognitive Neuroscientist Uri Hasson from Princeton states: “Cognition materializes in an interpersonal space.” Theatre is the ultimate interpersonal space.

MUSE 1850 - 007 Theater as Interpersonal Space

  • Class Number: 19251
  • Instructor: JOHNSON, XAN S
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: Yes
  • Seats Available: 13

Theater as an Interpersonal Space: We are born to act--it's what we do to stay alive, to create, to mate, to feel, and to belong. When we stop acting, life as we know it ends.  Theatre exists to go into the cracks of life in order to better understand the complex conflicts within us and between us.  Actors create "lived in moments" of human conflict with the moral intent to inspire and to heal.  Theatre is, by nature, a meta-cognitive process of story-telling and art-making.  Most importantly, theatre, at its core, is just play.  So, let's risk a little fun together pretending to be characters with conflicts to solve and see if anything insightful, educational, and meaningful shakes out as we work.  No theatre experience of any kind needed, just you.   As Social Cognitive Neuroscientist Uri Hasson from Princeton states: “Cognition materializes in an interpersonal space.” Theatre is the ultimate interpersonal space.

MUSE 1850 - 008 Art of Making Things Happen


The Art of Making Things Happen: Many authors, including Carnegie, Harragan, and Gladwell to name a few, have written guidebooks and manuals for how to “get it done.” Perhaps only loosely rooted in science, they offer practical tactics for creating and navigating change and working effectively with people. Let’s dissect their work, merge and transform ideas, add our own…and reimagine the art of making things happen in a post(?)-pandemic world.

MUSE 1850 - 008 Art of Making Things Happen

  • Class Number: 19252
  • Instructor: PAISLEY, KAREN P
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: Yes
  • Seats Available: 3

The Art of Making Things Happen: Many authors, including Carnegie, Harragan, and Gladwell to name a few, have written guidebooks and manuals for how to “get it done.” Perhaps only loosely rooted in science, they offer practical tactics for creating and navigating change and working effectively with people. Let’s dissect their work, merge and transform ideas, add our own…and reimagine the art of making things happen in a post(?)-pandemic world.

MUSE 1850 - 009 Gaming the American Revolution


Gaming the American Revolution: The Room Where it Happens- The American Revolution is a formative event in American history. The outcomes of the revolution (unknown to people at the time) would establish independence for thirteen North American British colonies from Great Britain and pave the way for a new United States of America--now, the world's longest standing democratic republic. But, like all historical events, the meaning of the revolution--who should have freedom, why, and to what extent--were contested at the time and, in some ways, remain so today and in historical memory. This MUSE seminar explores the making of American democracy through a Reacting to the Past game called: Patriots, Loyalists, and Revolution in New York City, 1775-1776. The game transforms our classroom into New York City, 1775, where Patriot and Loyalist forces fight for advantage among a divided populace. Confronted with issues like bribery, the loss of privacy, and collapsing economic opportunities along with ideological concerns like natural rights, the philosophical foundations of government, and differing definitions of tyranny, students witness how discontent can lead to outright revolt not as passive note-takers, but as participants in "the room where it happens."

MUSE 1850 - 009 Gaming the American Revolution

  • Class Number: 19268
  • Instructor: HAGOOD, THOMAS C
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: Yes
  • Seats Available: 15

Gaming the American Revolution: The Room Where it Happens- The American Revolution is a formative event in American history. The outcomes of the revolution (unknown to people at the time) would establish independence for thirteen North American British colonies from Great Britain and pave the way for a new United States of America--now, the world's longest standing democratic republic. But, like all historical events, the meaning of the revolution--who should have freedom, why, and to what extent--were contested at the time and, in some ways, remain so today and in historical memory. This MUSE seminar explores the making of American democracy through a Reacting to the Past game called: Patriots, Loyalists, and Revolution in New York City, 1775-1776. The game transforms our classroom into New York City, 1775, where Patriot and Loyalist forces fight for advantage among a divided populace. Confronted with issues like bribery, the loss of privacy, and collapsing economic opportunities along with ideological concerns like natural rights, the philosophical foundations of government, and differing definitions of tyranny, students witness how discontent can lead to outright revolt not as passive note-takers, but as participants in "the room where it happens."

MUSE 1850 - 010 Living with AI


Living with Artificial Intelligence: As the machines around us become increasingly intelligent and ubiquitous in our everyday lives, we are facing a number of moral, legal and economic questions: What is the difference between intelligence and personhood? Will machines ever have a claim to “human rights”? What will work look like in a fully automated future? Does automation on this scale risk human autonomy? Can we find a way to develop technology in a socially responsible way? Who will decide what sorts of smart machines we build and employ? As the machines around us become increasingly intelligent and ubiquitous in our everyday lives, we are facing a number of moral, legal and economic questions: What is the difference between intelligence and personhood? Will machines ever have a claim to “human rights”? What will work look like in a fully automated future? Does automation on this scale risk human autonomy? Can we find a way to develop technology in a socially responsible way? Who will decide what sorts of smart machines we build and employ? Almost a century ago, in his short story collection I, Robot, Isaac Asimov raised these questions and proposed his Three Laws of Robotics as a way of managing the impact of artificial intelligence on human life. As digital technologies have developed, other scientists, philosophers and social theorists have revised and adapted Asimov’s laws as they have addressed the utopian and dystopian dimensions of a world filled smart machines. This seminar will look back at Asimov’s vision of robotics and the early history of artificial intelligence as we discuss our contemporary concerns and hopes for AI.

MUSE 1850 - 010 Living with AI

  • Class Number: 19901
  • Instructor: CULVER, STUART K
  • Component: Seminar
  • Type: In Person
  • Units: 1.0
  • Requisites: Yes
  • Wait List: No
  • Seats Available: 14

Living with Artificial Intelligence: As the machines around us become increasingly intelligent and ubiquitous in our everyday lives, we are facing a number of moral, legal and economic questions: What is the difference between intelligence and personhood? Will machines ever have a claim to “human rights”? What will work look like in a fully automated future? Does automation on this scale risk human autonomy? Can we find a way to develop technology in a socially responsible way? Who will decide what sorts of smart machines we build and employ? As the machines around us become increasingly intelligent and ubiquitous in our everyday lives, we are facing a number of moral, legal and economic questions: What is the difference between intelligence and personhood? Will machines ever have a claim to “human rights”? What will work look like in a fully automated future? Does automation on this scale risk human autonomy? Can we find a way to develop technology in a socially responsible way? Who will decide what sorts of smart machines we build and employ? Almost a century ago, in his short story collection I, Robot, Isaac Asimov raised these questions and proposed his Three Laws of Robotics as a way of managing the impact of artificial intelligence on human life. As digital technologies have developed, other scientists, philosophers and social theorists have revised and adapted Asimov’s laws as they have addressed the utopian and dystopian dimensions of a world filled smart machines. This seminar will look back at Asimov’s vision of robotics and the early history of artificial intelligence as we discuss our contemporary concerns and hopes for AI.