FR 481: Dreams of the new in Postwar France
Wednesdays 4-6:40 p.m.
Room TBA…will be on north campus and likely in a seminar room
Professor Fernanda Negrete
Open to all majors….no prerequisites!
Registration #: 23546
A number of French writers, thinkers, and artists after
World War II proposed radical notions of the
new. They decided that the only way to revive language, space, and time,
after these key elements of symbolic life had collapsed under the traumatic
events of the Holocaust, was to begin creative work at “degree zero”: by
starting without the guidelines and standards left behind by cultural
traditions in a world that had fallen apart. In other words, these French
authors, through experimental fiction, theory, cinema, and theater confront the
destruction of the collective and of its very stage to ask what it means to
think and write, to make an artwork, or to build and inhabit a city after it
has been shattered by human acts of violence.
To think “the new” also entails
asking what it means to remember, dream, and repeat. In colloquial speech we
talk about “our dreams” as our great wishes and projects for the future. For
its part, Freudian dream theory —where dreams refer to the productions we carry
out in our sleep— claims that a dream is the fulfillment of a wish. But what
happens when the future “our dreams” envision has been shattered? What kinds of
wishes are left? And how do we understand nightmares here? Freud himself asked
this question by thinking of (WWI) war veterans’ insistent nightmares, and
discovered an important function of repetition in the unconscious, which is
especially relevant when the work of remembering faces the obstacle of trauma.
This unique sense of unconscious repetition was key for both psychoanalysis and
the French authors who developed New Wave cinema, the New Novel, “writing
degree zero,” as well as other new conceptions of community (Freud, Agamben,
Nancy, Blanchot, Guattari, Oury and Guattari) and the subject of unconscious
This seminar will involve
discussions in different formats (roundtable, small groups) around texts,
films, plays, viewings, invited lectures. Evaluation will be based on consistent
attendance and participation supported by preparation, and on mid-term and
final papers (5-6 pages for the midterm, 9-10 pages for the final).
TH 425-Media and Performance Seminar
Professor Lindsay Hunter
Registration #: 301130
Mondays and Wednesdays 3-4:20 p.m.
188 Alumni Arena
Course description: This course will consider various forms of mediated and
intermedial performance in order to examine the particular habits,
possibilities and affinities of performance in mediatized contexts.
Possible areas of focus include television and televisual performance,
intermedial theatre, and performance in video gaming and in online contexts.
For Spring 2020, we will consider the ways
representational media’s power to dissemble and intersects with the theatrical
urge toward enacting the artificial to produce the phenomenon of hoaxing, in
which a constructed falsehood masquerades as true and actual. Though the
concerns of this course are perhaps best demonstrated by the contemporary
phenomenon of “deepfakes”—that is, video doctored by artificial intelligence so
that it appears to document happenings that never occurred—the use of
representational media to present the fraudulent as real is hardly new.
Victorian spirit photography, allegations of faked moon landings, and
purposefully misleading journalism all point to the facility media possess,
even in a pre-digital era, to enact misrepresentation on a large scale. The
easy manipulability of digital media, however, certainly brings concerns about
hoaxing, fraudulence, and representational dishonesty into new territory, requiring
us to refine our critical perspectives: what separates the hoax from mere
untruth or disingenuousness, or from the artifice and illusion of
theatre? In an effort to better parse the unique possibilities and
affordances of the hoax, we will investigate its performative nature—that is,
its manifesting in the world through enactment—as well as the ways deception
and representation collude in the hoax’s constitutive acts.
Consider taking an Honors seminar this spring! There are three courses offered and they are all open to ANY major and there are NO Prerequisites for these courses for Honors scholars.
CSE 410: Algorithms have arrived. What’s Next?
registration #: Please contact Tim Matthews for registration into this course at firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Atri Rudra
214 Norton Hall
Algorithms make decisions in all parts of our
lives, starting from the mundane (e.g. Netflix recommending us movies/TV
shows), to the somewhat more relevant (e.g. algorithms deciding which ads
Google shows you) to the downright worrisome (e.g. algorithms deciding the risk
of a person who is arrested committing a crime in the future). Whether we like
it or not, algorithms are here to stay: the economic benefit of automation
provided by algorithms means companies and even governments will continue to
use algorithms to make decisions that shape our lives. While the benefits of
using algorithm to make such decisions can be obvious, these algorithm
sometimes have unintended/unforeseen harmful effects.
This class will look into various algorithms in use in real life and go into
depth of both the societal as well as technical issues. For students who are
more technologically inclined, the hope is that this course will open their
eyes to societal implications of technology that such students might create in
the future (and at the very least see why claiming “But algorithms/math
cannot be biased” is at best a cop-out). For students who are more
interested in the societal implications of algorithms, the hope is that this
class will give them a better understanding of the technical/mathematical
underpinnings of these algorithms (because if you do not understand, at some
non-trivial level, how these algorithms work you cannot accurately judge the
societal impacts of an algorithm).
Overall the hope is that students who will build the technology of the future
will be equipped to grapple with societal implications of their work (note that
we are not saying that folks building technology need to be activists but when
presented with two viable technical options they would pick one that has more
societal benefits) and students who will be the future decision-makers can make
more informed decisions on how algorithms can impact others (note that we are
not saying that decision makers should create algorithm themselves but they should
be able to understand how algorithms interacts with real life data).
Pre-requisites: Section A1 (which is for CSE majors) has a pre-requisite
of CSE 331 OR CSE 474. Section A2 (which is meant for non-CSE majors) has no
formal pre-requisites (besides being a junior in their major). For both
sections, willingness to think beyond your usual boxes and openness to
unfamiliar ideas will be crucial.
The main graded component for the students will be a project that the students
will be working on over the semester. The students will form groups of size 2-3
(depending on class size) and explore application of algorithms on some segment
of society. Ideally, the group should not have everyone from the same school.
The students are expected to come up an impact of the chosen algorithm in the
said segment of society that has either not been studied before or has received
little attention (either in popular media or academic research). The group is
supposed to identify a potential research question that can be investigated
further (some initial suggestions will be provided). The mini project will have
three main components: (1) a written report, (2) a YouTube video and (3) a demo
of a prototype. The students will submit a preliminary version of the report by
the middle of the semester so that they can get feedback from the instructor
that they can use towards their final report, video and prototype. Tentatively,
the final report should be up to 10 pages and the video up to 10 minutes long.
Each group will also meet with the instructor every week for a short (<= 10
mins) update on their progress in the last week. This is to ensure that the
groups are making sufficient progress as the semester moves along.
Students in Section A1 are expected to be the main contributors in their group
of building the prototype while students in Section A2 will be the primary
contributors in their group to looking into the societal implications of their
project. Students in two sections will be graded differently on the prototype
based on their primary contributions.
Every week, the class will focus on one segment of society (e.g. criminal
justice system or human resources (i.e. hiring)) and discuss the impact of
algorithms on that segment of society OR will talk about a stage in the
algorithm development pipeline. Students will be expected to participate in the
in-class discussion. Whenever possible, we will have domain experts (e.g.
someone from law school talking about the criminal justice system) come and
talk during the week.
Depending on the class size, the last week (or two) will be used to screen the
videos that various student groups have submitted and the groups will
answer any question or address any comments/thoughts that the class might have.
All this feedback will be incorporated in the final report and prototype, which
will be due in the finals week. We will use the final exam time for demo of the
If you would like to know more about this course, please stop by for Atri’s Honors College office hours from 2-3:20pm on Thursdays in Capen 106C. If that does not work, please feel free to email email@example.com
ASI 400: Service Learning in Buffalo Public Schools
Instructor: Dr. Joe Gardella
Mondays, 3:00 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. | 134C Greiner Hall
TO ENROLL in ASI 400 (CN: 21236): You will add this course to your shopping cart and register for it just as you would your other courses. This is no longer a restricted enrollment, and may count towards your Honors Experience credits, as long as you have not reached the maximum of 9 credits for the Honors Seminar category.
Course Description: Throughout the service-learning course you’ll serve as a mentor, tutor middle school students, and support teachers in the Buffalo Public Schools. The work for this course allows you to put your love of your own academic background and commitment to community engagement to work.
“It was about making a difference in that moment. About brightening their day for maybe only 40 minutes.”
“Furthered my own understanding of diversity and my leadership abilities.”
“This experience provided me with insight as well as the pure joy of seeing a nine year old smile.”
About the Instructor: Joseph A. Gardella, Jr. is the John and Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry at UB, and has been on the faculty since 1982. He also serves as the Director of the UB/Buffalo Public Schools Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP, isep.buffalo.edu), a National Science Foundation funded program which serves as the basis for collaboration with the Buffalo Public Schools in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Professor Gardella’s research interests are in quantitative analysis and surface chemistry, broadly applied to the study of environmental effects at polymer surfaces and tissue engineering with synthetic biomaterials. Besides his research interests, he has long standing interests in curriculum development for scientists and non-scientists. Professor Gardella has been active in program development in undergraduate research, interdisciplinary studies, service learning and other academic reform areas. He was the UB representative during the founding of the Western New York Service Learning Coalition (WNYSLC). He has been recognized locally and nationally for his work in all areas of academic endeavor.
HIS 419: Should I Stay or Should I Go?: “Home” and the Politics of Place in the African Diaspora
Instructor: Professor Dalia Muller
Mondays, 4:00 p.m. to 6:40 p.m. | 108 Capen
TO ENROLL in HIS 419 (CN: 24181): You will add this course to your shopping cart and register for it just as you would your other courses. This is no longer a restricted enrollment, and may count towards your Honors Experience credits, as long as you have not reached the maximum of 9 credits for the Honors Seminar category.
Course Description: This course explores place-making and place-taking as forms of resistance among afro-descendants in the Americas from the 1500s to the present. People of African descent resisted forced displacement, enslavement, dehumanization, exploitation, discrimination and exclusion through flight, as well as through diverse forms of radical stasis. But to “stay” or to “go” was in many senses a false choice, as peoples of African descent found themselves besieged regardless of their decision to move or to stay put. Freedom, dignity and equality remained (and to a degree continue to be) elusive.
In this class, we will explore examples of flight (including maroonage, migration and repatriation), and examples of staying-in-place (such as affirmations of citizenship/belonging, rights-claiming and strategic assimilation). However, we will also explore examples of responses that map less neatly onto a resistance/assimilation continuum, or that reject the continuum altogether. Faced with the choice to stay or go, some afro-descendants chose something akin to “hovering.”
That is, they chose to stay but refused the demands and the terms of assimilation. In this class, we will examine “hovering” as a form of resistance that has not been adequately explored by historians of the African diaspora and that has the potential to reveal to us elements of Afro-Diasporic liberatory thought that have yet to be recognized.
This is a research-intensive course that is framed around one central project to which all students will contribute. Each student will be responsible for a major research contribution in the form of a 25-page paper, which will be subjected to peer critique. All papers will then be brought together in the form of a “book.” Class members will work together to title and organize the volume, as well as to write an introduction to the collected works. This course is appropriate for graduate students and advanced undergraduates, especially those writing or preparing to write senior theses on related topics. However, all students excited about the subject matter and eager to participate in a rigorous course are welcome!
About the Instructor: Dalia Antonia Muller is an associate professor of Caribbean and Latin American history at the University at Buffalo, as well as Director of the Honors College and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education. Her research centers on transnational history in the Americas, with a particular focus on Cuba, Mexico and the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Within this broad frame, she studies race, class, gender, mobility and movement, tracing the cross-border lives of itinerant individuals from political exiles to economic migrants and refugees. Her first book, “Cuban Émigrés and Independence in the Nineteenth-Century Gulf World” (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), traces the migratory routes, diaspora communities and the unique transnational politics that Cuban émigrés developed during the three decades of the wars of Cuban independence. Her current book project, “The Boundaries and the Bonds of Citizenship in Cuba During a Time of Transition,” explores the claims made to, and against the state by Cuba’s “Africans” as they struggled to carve out a place for themselves in an emerging nation and world increasingly determined to eradicate them.
PSY 446: Animal Cognition
Instructor: Dr. Eduardo Mercado
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. | 109 Capen
TO ENROLL in PSY 446 (CN: 23706): You will add this course to your shopping cart and register for it just as you would your other courses. This is no longer a restricted enrollment, and may count towards your Honors Experience credits, as long as you have not reached the maximum of 9 credits for the Honors Seminar category.
Course Description: Dr. Mercado’s “Mammalian Minds” seminar will focus on animal cognition and the philosophy of mind. Dr. Mercado is one of the few scientists in the world to conduct experiments on the minds of dolphins and whales. Students taking this seminar would learn about the history of animal cognition research, seminal demonstrations of various cognitive abilities in non-humans, and would gain a deeper understanding of how human cognition relates to the mental abilities of other animals. An overarching message of the seminar is that extensive training can dramatically affect how humans and other animals think and remember, and that neural plasticity is critical to determining what any individual of any species can do mentally.
About the Instructor: Eduardo Mercado is a cognitive neuroscientist with interests in brain plasticity as it relates to learning, memory, and perception. His interdisciplinary training includes degrees in computer science, electrical engineering, and psychology, as well as training in the philosophy of science and in computational neuroscience. Both the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation have funded his research, and he was named a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in 2009. He is also the coauthor of an an innovative undergraduate textbook—Learning and Memory: From Brain to Behavior (currently in its 3rd edition)—that was the first to integrate findings from experimental psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and clinical neuropsychology, as well as the first to fully integrate findings from both human and animal studies. He is currently working to develop new physiological monitoring techniques that can enable students to identify times during the day when their brains are maximally plastic.
Soc 469: “The Politics of Work, Poverty, and Punishment”
This upper-level seminar will investigate the intersecting
politics of work, poverty, and punishment in America. As an upper-level
seminar, this class will require extensive reading and intensive class
participation. In it, we will explore topics such as mass incarceration and
prison labor, race and citizenship, work and welfare, worker resistance and
social movements. Students will gain a deep and broad understanding of these
important and interrelated dynamics in American today.
Tues 1-3:40, Spring 2019
Professor Erin Hatton
- SOC 469 Seminar is now being offered from 2:00pm-4:40pm. To have this honors seminar added to your schedule, please email Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This upper-level undergraduate and graduate seminar will investigate the intersecting politics of work, poverty, and punishment in America. This class will require extensive reading and intensive class participation. In it, we will explore topics such as mass incarceration and prison labor, race and citizenship, work and welfare, worker resistance and social movements. Students will gain a deep and broad understanding of these important and interrelated dynamics in American today.