Winter 2003

1. Sound and the Environment

2. Early Modern Autopsies

3. Beautiful Minds

4. Modern Myths of the Middle Ages

 

1. Sound and the Environment

Professor Ellen Waterman (School of Fine Art and Music):

Sound and the Environment is designed as an introduction to the emerging interdiscipline of acoustic ecology. Pioneered during the 1960s in Canada by the internationally renowned composer and writer R. Murray Schafer (through the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University) acoustic ecology is now an international field which draws upon human geography, sound design, music, urban planning, architecture, psychoacoustics, ethnography, and ecology.

2. Early Modern Autopsies

Professor Alan Shepard (School of English and Theatre Studies)

This interdisciplinary seminar will study the representation of the human figure in the early modern period in the west, c. 1500-1800, primarily in literary and scientific texts, with lesser emphasis on other cultural artifacts, such as monuments. In particular, we will focus on the ways poets, scientists, and other writers and artists presented, dissected, and theorized the human body, especially in death. Late in the semester we will briefly compare what we have learned with the ways of anatomical dissection and post-mortem today.

3. Beautiful Minds

Professor Chris McKenna (Economics, AVP Research)

The movie A Beautiful Mind explored the strange life of the brilliant mathematician and economist, John Nash. In this seminar, we take a look into the wonderful world of game theory. Our window removes almost all of the mathematics conventionally associated with this area of study. We explore Nash's "one big idea," subsequent refinements to it, and some of its myriad applications in business, industrial relations, conflict, international relations and, of course, strategies behind recreational games. Through a series of examples, we will look at: how cold the Cold War was; why tic-tac-toe is boring and chess interesting; and why prisoners seem to have dilemmas. More importantly, we will learn how these and other disparate phenomena can all be studied and, in many cases the outcomes predicted, by using a single conceptual framework: game theory.

4. Modern Myths of the Middle Ages

Professor Elizabeth Ewan (History)

This course will examine some of the modern stereotypes commonly held about the Middle Ages and perpetuated in films and in popular fiction and histories. It will look at how scholars from a range of disciplines, including history, literature, archaeology, are history, science, and anthropology, have questioned and debated these ideas in their research. Among the issues and stereotypes which may be examined are the validity of the term "Dark Ages," the historical existence of King Arthur, family size and composition, the bloodthirstiness of the Vikings, health and life expectancy, the passive lady in the tower, the origin of distinctive national dress, the lord's "right of the first night," the backwardness of medieval science and philosophy, and the nature of violence in medieval society.