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Special to Kalamalama by M.E. Randolph


THEA 3810: Theater of Ancient Greece and Rome

Dr. Saundra Schwartz designed this course for the East/West Classical Studies degree program, but it should apply to degree programs in any of the humanities, history and literature programs, and of couse, for theater minors. The social role that theater filled in ancient Greece and Rome is still being filled today, but by a much larger body of social, religious, and literary institutions.

“ Theater as we know it, European/American theater, originated in the city of Athens in Ancient Greece,” said Schwartz. “The development of theater as an art form went hand in hand with Athenian democracy,” she explained, “and allowed Athenians to question some of their fundamental values.”

Film and theater still play that role in society today, challenging cultural or political ideologies and exposing audiences to views of themselves that they might never accept in another form. Consider Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, a commentary set in the time of the Salem witchcraft trials, but consiered to be about the blacklisting of American citizens by the Cold War-inspired U.S. congress in the 1930s-1980s. Look around: there are the many plays and musicals about the Vietnam War, AIDS, the legal system, government cover ups, racism, and all the social ills that continue to plague modern society.

“ Many of the plots created in Ancient Greece are still in use today,” Schwartz said. “I recently saw the film The Illusionist at the Varsity Theatre. The plot follows the pattern of Euripides’ play, The Bacchae.”

The entire design of dramatic theater as an art form evolved from Greek tragedy. The themes of excessive pride leading to a character’s downfall, or a son falling in love with his mother, or a child who turns on a parent, to harm them or just defy them, and thereby coming to ruin, are all from the Greek theater.

SOC 3808: The Sociology of Gender and Sexuality

According to Dr. Dan Morgan, this is the first time a course at HPU has been exclusively devoted to a subject that is increasingly important to our society and in other countries around the world, as well.

The course is important to students in psychology and social work, Morgan said, “since they will inevitably find themselves dealing with some people with sexual identity or gender-related issues.

Gender issues are not confined to women, and sexual identity issues are not confined to homosexuals. They concern men and women, hetero and homosexuals, and the programming and expectations placed on people by societies, cultures, and the times they live in. These are not American issues but concern people all over the world.

“ Gender courses used to be thought of as women’s courses,” Morgan continued, “but more men are taking courses like this these days…. When issues concerning homosexuality are raised in class, students tend to be more protective of fellow classmates rather than being embarrassed by the topic. There are fewer ‘titters’ and more people glancing towards friends as if to indicate that they support them and their life choices.”

HIST 3880: Modern World Revolution

Dr. Marc Gilbert, who holds HPU’s National Endowment for the Humanities chair in world history, has always been interested in what drives a revolutionary movement in any culture. He looks for the common threads within different historical and contemporary revolutionary movements.

“ Revolutions rarely end the troubles people are facing,” Gilbert explained, “but they open new channels of thinking and new ways of looking at what it is to be human. New opportunities also inspire people to counter revolution, . . . redefining society, but more slowly.”

The course seeks to examine the processes that drive revolutionary movements and how individuals are affected by these process. Gilbert uses an interdisciplinary approach which includes literature, anthropology, and the arts, as well as the social sciences.

“ We will be looking at the shared and unique elements of Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Iranian revolutionary movements,” Gilbert said, “and at recent events in Chiapas, Mexico. Islamic revolutionary nationalism, and how it relates to the larger patterns governing revolutionary action, from foreign intervention to gender issues, are particularly relevant to current events.”

“ In history, and particularly in revolutions, events are rarely what you think they are. Historical movements are always more complex than they are presented to be,” Gilbert added.

HIST 3571: The African Diaspora

The influence of African culture is better known in Europe and America than the cultures of the Pacific and Mediterranean islands and the Muslim cultures of the Middle East. All one needs to do is listen to today’s popular music to recognize the vital contribution African rhythms and harmonies have made to world culture.

In this course, Dr. Allison Gough is interested in how African cultures intermixed and influenced other cultures, where they became subordinated or where they dominated the cultures of the regions into which they moved. “There are very few places in the world that have not been impacted by African culture,” Gough said.

“ We will be focusing on 1500 to the present,” she added, “because that was when the slave trade began, but we will also look at the eighth and ninth centuries because that was when the Moslems moved in and began to take Africans into Europe and the Mediterranean. As we get to the 20th century, we will look at voluntary migration as well, which will take us into African cultures other than the West Africans who were the primary source of the European and American slave trade.”

“This course absolutely has practical value for anyone who is going to go into psychology, sociology, political science, or anthropology,” Gough said. She added that while many students aren’t going to take up professional careers in those areas, “We are all going to be citizens of the world and it used to be the goal of American universities, and it still is at HPU, to produce good citizens and today, global citizens. This course is very important in doing that, especially given the enormous influence that African cultures have had on the modern world.”

HIST 2900: The Historian’s Craft

Originally created to prepare history majors to do research and write papers, this course is similar to HUM 3900 and may be a likely substitute for it in many degree programs.

“ It is a combination of a writing course and the study of historiography,” said Dr. Linda Lierheimer. “We will study different approaches to history, how to use sources, how to construct an argument based on evidence, and how to use footnotes or endnotes,” she explained.

“ The point is to demonstrate how historians address history. We don’t deal a lot with facts in this class; we deal more with meaning. I take a very humanities-based approach to history.”

PHIL 3300: The History of Asian Philosophy

According to Dr. Russell Alfonso, the course will explore the ideas and values of such philosophical and religious systems as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, and will examine how thinkers in these systems view some of the issues we face every day.

“ I plan to approach the course thematically,” said Alfonso, who explained that in a religion course, one might learn that the Universal Tao is not the same as the Tao of metaphysical belief. “A philosopher would look more deeply into what that implies, in human terms, for the people who believe in it,” he said.

“ We will be looking at how some of the concepts in these philosophies, such as Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths, can be applied to common issues we face today, such as poverty, disease, abuse, … overpopulation, environmental degradation, human rights issues, etc.,” he added. “Their philosophies give Asians a different perspective from western cultures. I hope to explore their world views, value systems, and the contrasts between our values and those found in Asian countries. We will be looking at the way these philosophies developed over time, and the ways in which they changed as they passed from one country to another.”



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