Forthcoming seminars

"It [the seminar] just got me thinking in different ways"

--Taylor Eaves, BS with Honors, 2013


Fall 2013

HONO 1395/3394, MW 1:45-3:00

Utopia and Dystopia: Political Visions of the Human Condition

Offered by Dr. Geoff Wells

Sir Thomas More’s Libellius…de optimo reipublicae statu, deque nova insula Utopia is the first literary reference to “utopia,” but it was not the first, nor will it be the last, to describe the ideal commonwealth. Whether as prescription or ironic satire, efforts since Plato’s Republic to imagine and describe the best or happiest state have intrigued and mesmerized us, and will continue to fascinate us so long as we struggle with and against our own imperfections, and as we hope for a better existence in the midst of so much human agony and suffering. But salutary visions can as easily frighten us: prescription is so much easier than subscription. How do we know when beauty is ugliness, and ugliness beauty, or the despair of mankind our best hope? Are we prisoners of the reality we know? When is the ideal our greatest enemy? When is the ease from labor only the new drudgery or the freedom of leisure only the travail of slavery? Is there an end to history? We will explore these questions in literature, film, art, and popular culture, on a journey that takes us from our first visions of Eden and the fall of humanity to the rapturous visions of emancipation through our own efforts to create the ideal state and the millennium of peace on earth.


Spring 2014

HONO 1396

The Culture and History of Food


--A Savory Course for Spring 2014

Mondays 6:30-9:30

GH 216


For more information see:

Professor Niler Pyeatt

Gates Hall 301


The Chef recommends: "You'll get your fill in this class!"

Nothing is more basic to human history than food, how we get it, what we do to it, and what it does to us. In this course, we will take food for thought, and explore the changes in eating, cuisine, and diet over the past several centuries.


The menu of topics includes:

  • Why did people decide that "dieting" was a good thing?
  • When did it become impolite to eat with your fingers and blow your nose on the table cloth?
  • Is there a connection between food and theology?
  • Why did Americans try so hard to ban the drinking of alcohol for so many years, and what happened when they finally succeeded?
  • When was the restaurant born and how have changes in lifestyle affected people's eating habits?
  • How did sugar contribute to the building vast empires and fortunes and to the enslaving millions?             
  • What was the “Hot Drink Revolution” and how did it change the world?
  • Is the cheeseburger really a stealth weapon for the arteries?


So, bring your appetite for learning and your thirst for knowledge.  And bring your Diner’s Card...because the Honors Program won't take American Express.


Textbooks: (check back later for updates)


Fall 2014

HONO 1397/3394

MWF 9:00     

Alost Human: “Were”ing Wolves in American Literature

Course Overview:

This course is structured to help students to think critically about the ways “nature” and concepts of the natural are reflected, constructed, and deployed in American literature and culture, particularly in the way that wolves and wolf-like animals are depicted in that literature. We will read some American “animal stories,” watch a couple of films dealing with the same sort of stories and also read critical and theoretical works that challenge ideas about animals in our culture.

Questions to keep in mind:

How are wolves and dogs deployed in literature to either reinforce or subvert ideas of nature and human “nature”? How do authors allow (or not) these animals to have a voice? Is there a difference between “talking animals” and animals speaking? How do these ideas of animals reflect (or not) our cultural attitudes toward human beings?

Proposed book list:

Claremont, Chris. Wolverine. Ill. Frank Miller. New York: Marvel, 2009 (original 1982). Print.

London, Jack. “Call of the Wild.” Saturday Evening Post, June 20-July 18, 1903. Web. 22 Feb, 2011.

Lopez, Barry. Of Wolves and Men. NY: Scribner, 2004.Print.

McCarthy, Cormac. The Crossing. New York: Vintage International, 1995. Print.

Russell, Karen. St. Lucy’s School for Girls Raised by Wolves. New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2007. Print

Wolves: Behavior, Ecology and Conservation. Ed. L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2007. Print.




An American Werewolf in London.



For more information contact:  Dr. Maria O’Connell, GH 211B ; 291-1102; maria.o’


Spring 2015


HONO 1395.01, MW 3:10-4:25

Nature, Society and Conservation

offered by Dr. Andrew Kasner

This course will cover the biology of selected species with unique importance to Texas, its economy, and its citizens.  In addition, it will cover issues related to nature appreciation and ecotourism, conservation of nature, and modern day problems of sustainable use of natural resources.  It is intended for any student, not just those in the sciences, in order to help them gain an understanding of their relationship to nature regardless of their career path.               

TEXTBOOKSLeopold, Aldo.  1949.  A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

(Special Commemorative Edition, 1989).  Oxford University Press.  ISBN 0-19-505305-2.

Dunn, J.L. and J. Alderfer.  2011.  National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North

America, Sixth Edition (paperback).  National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.

ISBN 978-1426208287.


You will be required to spend time “birding” on your own and one or more Field Trips will be taken as part of the class.  These are meant to enhance your academic experience and perspective.  At least one local field trip will be taken to view local wildlife and learn about conservation issues in the Southern High Plains.  A “capstone” field trip may also be taken over a weekend later in the semester during which we may go birding and capture and band birds in the field.  Please come prepared and dress appropriately for field trips (close-toed shoes and pants, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.).  Also, many of the places we may visit will have others there seeking to enjoy nature – please respect this with quiet, professional behavior at all times.


Tentative List of Topics*

What is conservation?

“Biophilia” (or a history of man’s love of nature)

Ecological services and the “Tragedy of the Commons”

What is sustainability?

Ecotourism, nature appreciation and economics

North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

Endangered Species Conservation and Management

Bird Biology and Migration for the amateur naturalist

*Readings will be assigned prior to covering the topics above.  Some readings will be from the scientific or popular literature and some will be from the course text.