Students participating in the July Experience enroll in two courses from 14 liberal arts class choices. Classes meet for 90 minutes each weekday, with possible additional laboratory sessions in selected courses.
July Experience courses carry no secondary school or college credit; however, a powerful summer academic experience can be a valuable addition to a college application and excellent preparation for college.
Professors develop strong relationships with students and hold daily office hours at the Center for Teaching and Learning at the E.H. Little Library.
Coursework is graded on the following system: H (Honors), P (Pass) and F (Failure). Professors do follow-up with a detailed letter to parents/guardians. Secondary school officials are notified of the student's participation and course work results.
Because the college reserves the right to cancel courses without sufficient enrollment, July Experience applicants must list alternate choices. To ensure small class sizes, students may be assigned second or third choices.
Three Pounds, One Quadrillion Synapses: Discovering the Frontiers of Neuroscience (Biology)
Beginning with the proclamation of the "Decade of the Brain" by Congress in 1990, the last 20 years have seen an explosion in our understanding of nervous system function and dysfunction. In this course, we will explore some of the most exciting questions in neuroscience, all of which are currently active areas of scientific investigation. We will discuss recent discoveries in a variety of topics, including cognition, learning and memory, addiction, sleep and circadian rhythms, development and neurogenesis, sensory systems, neurodegenerative disease, and aging. We will focus on the critical questions researchers ask in these areas and on the data being generated to provide the fascinating answers. The format of the course will be mostly discussion and group work, with some lecture.
- Mark J. Barsoum, Assistant Professor of Biology and Director of the Math & Science Center, Ph.D. (U of California, San Diego), B.S. (U of California, Davis)
Hitler and Nazi Germany (History)
This course provides an overview of Hitler and National Socialism. We will follow Hitler's rise to power, examine Nazi ideology, study the organization of the Nazi party and state, and spend a good bit of time on the kind of culture the regime produced (as well as that which it oppressed). The scope of the course is thus interdisciplinary. It ranges from political, social, and economic aspects of Nazi Germany to various forms of cultural production: literature, film, sports, architecture, music, and the fine arts. We will conclude with a study of the Holocaust and its representation.
- Burkhard Henke, Professor of German and E. Craig Wall, Jr. Professor of Humanities, Ph.D. (U of California, Irvine), M.A. ( U of California, Santa Barbara)
Work and Occupations in Modern Society (Sociology)
Work is perhaps the most important way in which society impacts our social experiences and life chances, and its social significance extends beyond our personal identities and daily activities. It is closely intertwined with other social institutions, social structures, and social processes, especially social inequality. This course looks at work and occupations at both the macro level (e.g., the occupational structure, the U.S. and global economies, changes of technology and demographics) and the micro level (e.g., the demands of workplaces and occupations on workers' sense of self and identity; the influence of work on families). Topics include: work during and after the Industrial Revolution; major theoretical perspectives for understanding work; work and self-perception; work and self among professionals and managers; and the modern challenges of balancing family and work.
- Gerardo Marti, L. Richardson King Associate Professor of Sociology, Ph.D., M.A. (USC), B.A. (Pepperdine)
What's Happening in Mathematics? (Mathematics)
We explore several areas of mathematics not normally seen in the high school curriculum, including group theory, chaos, topology, and number theory. Results in these areas have helped make significant advances in the scientific community as well as our daily lives over the last few decades. A good background in algebra and geometry will be useful as we learn about the history, the mathematicians and the exciting developments currently taking place. Also useful - a great imagination!
- Donna Molinek, Professor of Mathematics, Ph.D. (UNC Chapel Hill), M.S. (Northern Arizona U), B.S. (Alaska, Anchorage)
More than Bleeps: Studying the Music in Video Games (Music)
Often trivialized as nothing but children's entertainment and scapegoated as the source of many societal problems, video games have become an integral part of our media culture. They now span from sprawling epics lasting hundreds of hours to relatively short, non-narrative puzzles on mobile computing devices. This course will offer a quick overview of video game history before delving into a survey of the music in a wide variety of games. We will cover some of the origins of video game music, which like the games themselves borrow heavily from the conventions of cinema. We will also study ways that video game music differs from film music, paying particular attention to the question of dynamic music (the term given to music that can react to changes in the gameplay). In addition to assignments that will require reading and writing (via essays and tests), there will also be projects that involve the creation of video game soundtracks using computers. Students completing this course will have a heightened vocabulary for discussing games and music as well as a sense of video game history and an understanding of the basic principles behind music and sound design. No musical performing or notation skills required, though some prior experience with Mac computers will be helpful.
- Neil Lerner, Professor of Music and Co-coordinator, Concentration in Film and Media Studies, Ph.D., A.M. (Duke)
Economic Policy Debates (Economics)
The famous economist Keynes once said, "The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood." Indeed, economic theories form the basis of various policy recommendations of various politicians. Why, then, is there so much disagreement among policy makers and so much disparity between different policy positions? Is it because different economists have different goals, is it because they base their models on different assumptions, or is it because some are just wrong? In this course we will examine current macroeconomic issues through multiple perspectives and discuss the assumptions, implications, and basic mechanics of alternative economic approaches. Ultimately, this course will help you identify and understand your own favored model while increasing your appreciation for competing models as well.
- Shyam S. Gouri Suresh, Assistant Professor of Economics, Ph.D. (U of Texas, Austin), B.S. (Trinity College)
Life in the 'Global Village:' Challenges and Comforts of Intercultural Communications (Communications)
This course explores issues related to the intercultural communication process. We will consider the important role of context (social, cultural, and historical) in intercultural interactions. We will examine the complex relationship between culture and communication from three conceptual perspectives: the social psychological perspective, the interpretive perspective, and the critical perspective. It is through these three conceptual perspectives that we will strive towards a comprehensive picture of intercultural communication. From applying these approaches to the study of intercultural communication, we will also come to appreciate the complexity and dialectical tensions involved in intercultural interactions. This learning process should enhance self-reflection, flexibility, and sensitivity in intercultural communication which students will likely find useful whether interested in studying or working abroad or simply wanting to become better informed intercultural communicators in our increasingly diverse nation and world.
- Amanda Martinez, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Sociology and Education, Ph.D. (Texas A & M), M.A. (U of Houston), B.A. (St Mary's U)
Understanding the Great Depression of the 1930s. Did we not learn....2007-2010?? (Economics)
This course will look at the underlying causes of the Great Depression of the 1930s. We will discuss the philosophy of recovery, as well as the specific measures introduced. Many of these initiatives were unique and, even to this day, remain controversial. We shall discuss the premier and debated role played in recovery by President Franklin Roosevelt. Finally, we shall consider some similarities between the Great Depression and our recent economic problems and malaise, 2007-2010.
- Clark Ross, Professor of Economics, Ph.D. (Boston College), B.A. (U of Pennsylvania)
Social Movements and Youth (Anthropology)
In the 20th century social movements brought about tremendous social change worldwide. This course studies the role youth played in these social movements. Emphasis is placed on understanding how youth have challenged institutions that uphold social injustices such as ethnic discrimination, racism, economic exploitation, ecological destruction or religious intolerance. Students will be introduced to the different concepts and theoretical perspectives which explain the emergence, development and overall impact of social movements. In addition to being vehicles for correcting social injustices, social movements are viewed as potential sites for the creation of new cultural practices. Thus, youth participants in social movements are also key agents in the process of cultural transformation and/or revitalization.
- Nancy J. Fairley, Professor of Anthropology, Ph.D. (SUNY, Stony Brook), B.A. (Richmond College, CUNY)
Gossip: From Shakespeare to Politics to Pop Culture (English)
Given the recent publication of major critical works that focus on the interpenetrations of gossip, literature, and culture, ours is an auspicious moment at which to investigate the role gossip plays in literature, psychoanalysis, journalism, politics, television, and film. What does it mean for us to consider the operations of gossip in Shakespeare's Othello and Much Ado About Nothing alongside the "tittle-tattle" of Highbury in Jane Austen's Emma? What are the Medieval origins of gossip (a word that derives from the Old English godsibb, meaning godfather or godmother)? Can you gossip in the first person as a means of self-promotion? And how might we move responsibly from Woodward and Bernstein (All the President's Men) to Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass (Gossip Girl), or from the trials of Oscar Wilde to the celebrity gossip blogging of Perez Hilton? We'll tackle these and other questions as we consider the role gossip now plays in our lives, both on- and offline.
- Maria Fackler, Associate Professor of English, Ph.D., M. Phil., M.A. (Yale), B.A. (Duke)
Pop cultura: U.S. latin@s in 21st Century Film, Literature, and New Media (Spanish)
In recent years, the term "Latin@" has come to be used to signify gender neutrality when referring to both U.S. Latinas and Latinos. Keeping the digital echo of this neologism in mind, this course examines contemporary U.S. Latin@ culture as represented in new media like blogs and websites as well as in literature, film, television, and popular culture more generally. We will analyze how these cultural productions represent U.S. Latina/o culture, as well as how U.S. Latina/os produce and negotiate their own representations. Students will learn to read a diverse array of texts critically, analyzing how the texts' rhetorical strategies, aesthetic structures, and ideological messages function. We will pay particular attention to how these texts represent race, ethnicity, masculinity, and femininity in the minority experience. Readings appropriate for high school students used in the course include blogs and tumblrs by Latino teens, Latino U.S.A: A Cartoon History, Mi Barrio (a graphic novel), short stories by Junot Díaz, and the film Raising Victor Vargas. All readings are in English, some with occasional Spanish words mixed in.
- Melissa Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies, Ph.D. (Columbia), B.A. (Columbia)
What is Yoga? a) Exercise b) Religion c) Spirituality d) Hinduism e) all of the above (Religion)
According to the latest survey, more than 20 million Americans practice yoga, and they spend more than $20 billion annually doing so (www.yogajournal.com). In this country, the new definition of "remote" could be "a place untouched by yoga." But what exactly is "yoga"? Perhaps surprisingly, many people are invested in the answer to this question, which raises important issues such as the (re)shaping of history, identity politics, and lawsuits in the American judicial system. In this course, we will define key terms such as "religion" and "Hinduism," read ancient texts and current newspaper/website articles about our topic, take a yoga class, and more. You will have to exercise your mind and body to figure out the right answer to the question, "what is yoga?"
-Marcy Goldstein, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion, Ph.D., M.A. (U of California, Santa Barbara), B.A. (U of Rochester)
Genre Bending: Creative Writing that Breaks All the Rules (English)
This course will begin with a broad overview of the two major categories that are thought to comprise contemporary creative writing: prose and poetry. After learning what makes up these formal genres, we as a class will work on dismantling these categories, studying recent texts that consciously scramble our understanding of what prose and poetry do. We will engage through both reading and writing the recent literary trend towards innovative writing that consciously resists categorization: poetry or prose; fiction or autobiography; creative, documentary, or critical writing. Instead, the texts at hand form hybrids. Our goal in this class will be less to learn the traditions and practices of a particular genre of writing than to shed those traditions and expectations as we feel and think our way towards forms that support, match, and challenge the subject matter we have chosen. We will read novels that engage the tools of poetry, poetry that engages the tools of documentary film, and fiction that slides into nonfiction. Above all, we will write, employing all the tools of every genre we can think of, and more.
-Christine Marshall, Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Ph.D. (U of Utah), B.A. (Bryn Mawr College)
Feeling the Beat: Dance Rhythms in Orchestral Music (Music)
From jig to jive, tarantella to tango, and minuet to mambo, this course will explore the use of dance rhythms and meters in orchestral music from the Baroque period to the present. Students will learn about the ways in which composers have borrowed, interpreted, and reinvented a variety of dances within concert music. Some composers use dance to reflect their heritage, others are pressured to adhere to the tastes of patrons, while others use dance as a vehicle for personal or social reflection within the orchestral medium.
While students are not expected to have any background in music or dance, they will be expected to participate in music-making and dance sessions as a part of the course. Throughout the course, students will learn basic rhythmic notation skills and will be given in-class notation assignments. Students will learn how to internalize dance rhythms through playing percussion instruments, and weekly studio dance sessions will introduce them to the basic physical vocabulary associated with different types of dance. Through the kinetic experience of rhythm and dance, students will learn how to recognize various dance rhythms by ear and discuss their use and relevance within the orchestral repertory. There will be daily reading, listening or viewing assignments, and writing assignments addressing the use of dance in orchestral pieces studied.
-Tara Villa Keith, Associate Professor, Orchestra Director, D.M.A. (U of South Carolina), M.M. (Penn State), B.A. (Franklin and Marshall)