Winter 2012 SINQ Themes

1 Nov

Winter 2012 Interpreting the Past SINQ Themes

Here’s an overview of what’s ahead in the winter term, please contact the instructor if you have questions about their Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) class. The PSU Registration System has all of the details about course meeting times, etc. If you have questions about the Interpreting the Past cluster, as always, feel free to contact Prof McClanan, anne [at]

We will be looking at a number of texts to examine the ideas of Justice and Law in ancient Greece. To this end we will consider other concepts such as the role of the divine and of the state in these matters. How do perceptions of of these things change through time?

Our theme is revolution and evolution in the long nineteenth century. We will critically examine examples from literature, science, art, and philosophy to understand how people during the period from the American and French Revolutions to the Russian Revolution brought about, experienced, and interpreted the tremendous cultural, technological, political, and social changes that brought the world into the modern age.

Title: Origins of Sustainable Environmentalism: In the Footsteps of Alexander von Humboldt. The explorations and investigations of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) are the basis of modern sustainable environmentalism. He originated the expression that “all things are connected” in nature, developed modern plant geography and climatology, and was an early ethnologist and advocate of human rights. We will follow his travels, replicate some of his research, and strengthen our own learning by creating hands-on learning modules for children in schools named for Humboldt (US, Canada, Latin America, and Germany). Be ready to SINQ a Humboldt canoe, learn about map-making, make and use a sextant, and find out more about the Humboldt Current, the Humboldt Penguin, the Humboldt Squid, and cyanea humboldtiana, which is on the US list of endangered plants.

Renaissance Selves: The European Renaissance, dating from approximately 1300 to 1700, saw the transition from the late medieval to the early modern world. It was the age of exploration and discovery, of the Reformation, of new celebrations of the ancient past and the arts. In this course, we will look at some aspects of this complex time, including developments in literature, visual art, science and navigation, concepts of cultural and gender difference, and the meaning of the sacred. We will be especially interested in questions of boundaries – between cultures, individuals, and parts of the self.
partially online

This SINQ will examine art, culture, and history of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Venice. The Republic of Venice, or “la Serenissima,” was celebrated throughout Europe as a model society worthy of emulation. Using a variety of primary sources and art works, we will examine and evaluate why Venice had this reputation, how the city maintained this status, and the extent to which the claim of Venice as the “perfect society” holds up under historical scrutiny.
fully online

Sentilles: This course will examine practices of looking, beginning with ancient Fayum portraits through the invention of photography. We will explore changing conceptions of image, art, and viewer, paying particular attention to how these ideas inform and (mis)shape contemporary understandings of what images are, how they work, and what might be required of viewers.
fully online


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