2017 Mini-Courses


The Surprising Psychology of Everyday Life

Adam Mastroianni

Who’s happier: lottery winners or paraplegics? The answer––like many insights from psychology––will surprise you. This course, taught by a psychology grad student and stand-up comedian, pulls together psychology’s most fascinating findings to answer some of life’s deepest questions: what makes us happy, why can’t we all agree, and are we really in control of our own thoughts?

Dates & times (room TBD):
Monday, 1/9: 7-8:15pm
Thursday, 1/12: 7-8:15pm
Friday, 1/13: 5:30-6:45
Monday, 1/16: 7-8:15
Thursday, 1/19: 7-8:15pm

This course is open to the public and there is no enrollment cap.

Enroll here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfjC6F8gw_wKZviyveb8rZFOqDYjwui...


Science in context: breaking the boundaries between science and society

Amy Gilson and Michelle Frank

Ever feel like you’re doing research in a post-fact world? The role of scientists and other experts is contested. At the same time, the seemingly pure goal of understanding natural objects has been complicated because we now recognize that nature and culture are intertwined—sometimes inextricably. Our modern definition of “science” itself cannot be inferred a priori, but has been evolving over many centuries. This course will examine the history of scientific norms and institutions that led us to the practices of scientists today. It is designed to be practical and relevant to students who are doing research, especially scientific research, and are interested in improving scientific practices while engaging with the political system and people outside of their fields.
Students from all academic backgrounds are welcome!

Dates: 9 January – 19 January

Times: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8:30pm

Location:  Cabot Division Room (12 Oxford Street, Room 102 in Mallinckrodt Laboratories)

Enroll here: http://bit.ly/STSSci



Who Belongs Where: Migration In Theory, Film & Literature

Argyro Nicolaou

From the election of Donald J. Trump to Brexit and Marine Le Pen as a strong contender in the upcoming French elections, these past few years have seen anti-immigrant platforms dominate global politics. Referred to as a 'defining issue of the 21st century', mass migration - whether forced or voluntary - has always played a part in shaping humans' perspectives on politics, geography and culture.

This class will engage with cultural and political representations, definitions and experiences of migration across disciplines, media and time periods. It will address the following questions:

Who belongs where? Should we belong? What kinds of critical modes emerge from the act and writing of migration? How can culture help us address & resist the rise of anti-immigrant populism?

The class is structured around seminal theoretical texts of the 20th century as well as new work in political and cultural theory, coupled with literary works. It will provide participants a rare opportunity to engage in close reading, interpretation and discussion. Extra film screenings will allow us to explore the ways in which different theories are relevant to our understanding of cultural works across media.

The class is open to anyone and everyone interested in current affairs, politics, culture, literature, film, humanitarian work, the environment, their fellow citizens, the world.

No previous experience in anything necessary. Just an appetite for reading & discussion. You can find a draft syllabus here.

Tue, Thu 3-6pm

W screenings 5-7pm

Dana Palmer Seminar Room, 16 Quincy St.


Enroll here: https://docs.google.com/a/g.harvard.edu/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfkTJBt6Ol7-EgX...


Understanding Self-Harm: What is it, why do people do it, and preliminary research on how to prevent it

Kathryn Fox

For most people, it is difficult or even impossible to understand why people choose to hurt themselves. As a result, there is a lot of stigma and misunderstanding surrounding these behaviors. This course will provide an overview about different types of self-harm, providing information about what is typically included under this umbrella term, what is considered separate, and why people engage in these behaviors. Participants in this course will also learn about factors that may increase the likelihood that someone will engage in these behaviors as well as potential treatment and prevention strategies.

This class is open to everyone.

Dates: January 11, 12, 13, 18, and 19
Time: 10am-12pm
Location: William James Hall (exact room TBD


Enroll here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdb8C1PP5Gj4Dq8GZ09EBdHP6ttX6Kn...


Listening Backwards: Music Revival, Sonic Archeology, and How We Hear the Past

Natasha Roule

In this mini-course, we will discuss how listeners and performers have attempted to revive, recreate, and imagine sounds of the past. The course will focus on modern revivals of western early music – a repertory broadly defined as any music composed between ca. 1000 and ca. 1750 – but our conversation will also consider such modes of listening as reconstructions of the sounds of daily life in 18th-century European cities or poetry recited in the accent of Shakespearian English. Discussion themes will include musical authenticity, invented traditions, musical marketing, and exoticism. We will be joined for one session by the professional baroque ensemble, Les Enfants d’Orphée. At the end of the course, we will brainstorm a new critical framework by which to engage with modes of listening to the past and reflect on what it means to be an active and critical listener. This course is open to everyone, regardless of musical experience. Enrollment is capped at 12 participants.

Meetings on January 9th, 11th, 13th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 10:30 AM-12 PM
Location at Harvard Music Building, Room 4

Enroll here: https://goo.gl/forms/WH1NR2R5FUklU2If2


Competitive Beauty: Exploring Gender, Race, and Nationalism through Pageantry

Samantha Hawkins

Since the creation of the iconic Miss America pageant in 1921, beauty pageants have carried substantial weight in popular culture. The Miss America pageant, in particular, has professed to represent the ideal of American femininity—but what is this ideal, and how can we use pageantry’s exaggerated performances of gender and nationalism to understand the arrangement of identity claims it embodies? “Competitive Beauty” is an interdisciplinary course that examines this highly controversial institution as a site to critique larger representations of and relationships between beauty and race, gender, sexuality, and nationalism. We explore how the value and meaning of beauty, femininity, and ideas of the social roles of women have changed over time in the United States. Additionally, we analyze how the interplay between national identity and beauty plays out on the female body. Lastly, through guest speaker visits with pageant titleholders, we interrogate what inspires these women to compete, and how they reconcile tensions between empowerment and objectification, liberation and constraint.

Dates: January 10, 11, 12, 17, and 18 from 5:30 to 7:30pm
Location: 21 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA, Tozzer 203.
Come one, come all -- no pageant background or experience is necessary. This class is open to everyone!

Enroll here: https://goo.gl/forms/a4Cwr6mw629WB7sF2


Recreating the World with Words: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Beowulf and The Lord of the Rings

Yun Ni

Recreating the World with Words: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Beowulf and The Lord of the Rings
This course reads J. R. R. Tolkien’s recently published translation of Beowulf (2014) in tandem with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (books, 1937-1949, and movie series, 2001-2003) in order to situate Tolkien’s epic fantasy alongside its medieval sources and modern parallels. Tolkien reinvented Anglo-Saxon language, mythology and literature as a response to the pressing concerns on wars, aggression, and the construction of national identity in his own immediate historical context. In this course, themes to be addressed include myth-making and nation-building, creation and language, monstrosity and immortality, and religion and nature. Apart from a systematic examination on the history of Middle-earth, a comparative study of Old English and Tolkien’s fantasy Elvish languages, especially Quenya and Sindarin, will explore the connection between a hypothesized ur-language and its concomitant worldview.

Times: January 9-20, MWF, 2pm-4pm
Location:  Dana-Palmer House 102 - Seminar Room, 16 Quincy Street

Enroll here: https://goo.gl/forms/PQTRp6jZvFmGu7Uj2