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Earn course credits quickly while exploring engaging topics in the humanities and social sciences. Maymester courses last three weeks during the month of May and offer opportunities to discover something new, learn by doing and fulfill academic requirements.

2021 Maymester Courses

Understanding Latino Migration (ANT 471/571)

This course seeks to provide students the knowledge and skills to navigate today’s migration debates. The course does so by communicating research that explains the histories behind today’s migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico; the drivers behind current migration patterns; how families, communities and policy-makers respond to migration in ways that can keep the process going; distinctions between labor migration and refugees; as well as the way public safety, family separation, poverty and other factors interact in migratory settings.

Students’ analytical skills will be honed in the transformation of this material into proposals, presentations and a final project that argue for students’ own analytical standpoints.

Course Fulfills: GEP Social Science, GEP Global Knowledge
Professor: Nora Haenn

Language, Communication and Culture (COM 292)

We use different modes of communication, depending on whether we are participating in classroom discussion, talking with our parents or boss, hanging out with friends, or visiting a different country. Rarely do we have the opportunity to consciously reflect upon our communicative behaviors. In this class, we will unpack some of the ways culture and society influence our communication and how our communication affects the culture and the society in which we live. Understanding how our words, shared meanings and contexts can affect how we express ourselves can be the difference between positive and negative communicative experiences.

Course Fulfills: GEP Social Science, GEP U.S. Diversity
Professor: Lynsey Romo

Survey of African American Literature (ENG 248/AFS 248)

This special Maymester version of the AFS/ENG 248 offering will afford students the opportunity to explore the African American experience through the community’s literature (from the 18th century to the present moment), but through the lens of the American Dream.

We’ll begin with early poetic works by Phyllis Wheatley whose very existence (as slave poet) at once defied expectation and yet demanded inclusion. Charles Chesnutt’s Conjure Stories at the turn of century, whose magical musings prefigure Toni Morrison’s own writings by a hundred years, are also necessarily about inclusion and an economy of value in a nation that insists it has little use for those marginalized. While Walter Mosely’s “Equal Opportunity” insists that the “American Dream” is for everyone, regardless of age, sex, and yes, race, jazz and blues artists that include Louis Armstrong, Howling Wolf and Bessie Smith and Hip hop artists such as Grand Master Flash (whose song “The Message” has become a classic anthem of African American perseverance in light of a good dream gone bad), Public Enemy, and everyone’s contemporary crossover darling Jay Z, all provide a soundtrack to this literary interrogation of our coveted American Dream.

As literary critics and social historians, we will attempt to show how these texts in turn define America as we see it, think it, and/or hope it to be. This course satisfies a GEP Humanities or the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Literature II requirement as well as the GEP US Diversity requirement.

Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, GEP U.S. Diversity, College Literature II
Professor: Marc Dudley

Women and Literature: Women and Gender in Comics (ENG 305)

This course surveys the representation of women and gender in comics from 1936 to 2021, looking at representation both in terms of character and of comics creators.

Across the course of the twentieth century women, especially, and to a lesser extent LGBTQIA+ characters and comics creators took a more prominent role in the industry. How has this shift shaped (or reshaped) how individuals along a complex gender spectrum are written and visually represented in such texts? How is graphic literature being defined by a more diverse creative community, including minority voices? What perspectives on gender and sexuality are put forth in comics? What affordances or constraints do comics provide in presenting complex body narratives? How do we evaluate comics and graphic literature in a literature class?

We will read mainstream and experimental graphic fiction, gender theory, and media theory, in addition to undertaking drawing activities, archival research, and hosting several guest speakers. The course offers an in-depth focus on comics as a medium for exploring gender.

Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, GEP U.S. Diversity, College Literature II
Professor: Margaret Simon

Literature, Art and Society: Heaven, Hell and the Afterlife (ENG 340)

This course surveys some of the great works of literature focused on heaven, hell, and the afterlife, including classical works such as Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid, European works from the medieval through modern eras, including Dante’s Divine Comedy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and diverse accounts of the afterlife from world literature, such as “The Descent of Inanna from the Great Above to the Great Below” (Sumer) and “The Feather of Maat” (Egypt). These will be paired with films and visual depictions of the afterlife, such as renderings of The Last Judgment (showing both heaven and hell) by Giotto, Bosch, and Michelangelo and Egyptian and classical funerary art. We will make virtual excursions to museums worldwide to view artworks from a variety of world cultures related to the afterlife.

Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, GEP Interdisciplinary Perspectives, College Literature II
Professor: Timothy Stinson

Science Fiction: Science Fiction and Steampunk (ENG 376)

Science Fiction and Steampunk explores the provocations of science and technology to the literary imagination. This seminar analyzes responses to historical shifts in technology, from nineteenth-century reactions to steam engines and telegraphy to more contemporary “steampunk” reworkings of the past.

Students will gain an understanding of the genealogy of science fiction, investigate its creative adaptation in “punk” subcultures, and assess how they reveal perspectives on communication, ethics, gender, and race. The course also considers how the genre of science fiction evolves through different mediums, from historical texts to graphic novels to films to video games to fan conventions to fabricated objects.

Across all of our materials, students will use a critical thinking toolkit for literary study and media analysis, producing daily writing assignments, a class presentation, a prototype steampunk object in collaboration with the NC State University Libraries Makerspace, and a final paper.

Course Fulfills: GEP Interdisciplinary Perspectives, College Literature II
Professor: Paul Fyfe

Film and Literature: Adapting Animation (ENG 382)

How have literature, comics, and other media shaped the production and technologies of animation? How is the influence reciprocal? While animation is often considered children’s entertainment, this course situates it as the technical coincidence of life and movement while examining its relation to multiple media. From hand-drawn work to claymation, stop-motion cutouts, or CGI, animation’s illusions generate wonder and are also put in the service of narrative effects.

This class will explore this relationship between animation and literary genres by asking how they mutually constitute, constrain, and give shape to one another while analyzing the source material and cinematic versions of industry films like Coraline and Alice in Wonderland as well as artisanal films like Persepolis and the work of Lewis Klahr.

Course Fulfills: GEP Visual and Performing Arts, GEP Global Knowledge, College Literature II
Professor: Andrew Johnston

Studies in Rhetoric and Digital Media: Designing Interactive Stories with Ren’Py (ENG/COM 395)

Students in this course will learn how to write and publish an interactive story or narrative using the popular, free, open source ‘engine’ called Ren’Py. Ren’Py is a Python-based ‘visual novel game engine.’ It has a devoted international following and is well supported. It is a platform well suited for beginners and more experienced content creators to learn how to develop interactive content in a technical environment without feeling overwhelmed.

The instructor will provide both the technical training in Ren’Py’s Python-based API as well as hypertext and multimodal theory, on which the class will draw to understand how to design ‘branch-based,’ interactive narratives and stories. An instructor-generated video providing an overview of the course is available at

Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities
Professor: David Rieder

Early American History (HI 253)

This course covers themes in early American history with an emphasis on diversity in the U.S. We will attend to the colonial clash and mix of cultures, the generation of an American consciousness, federalism and democracy in national politics, expansion and immigration, and racial and sectional division. This course will focus on questions related to four key topics: 1) the development of an American Self and the resultant Othering; 2) the symbiotic relationship of enslavement to freedom; 3) the incorporation of immigrants into the concept of whiteness; and 4) the evolution of gender and sexuality in American culture.

Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, GEP U.S. Diversity
Professor: Craig Friend

Black Culture Through Sports (HUMU/IPUS 295)

This course uses the history of American sport, as viewed through multiple perspectives, to examine political, economic, social, and cultural questions relating to the history of ideas and contexts concerning equality, citizenship, ethics, culture, identity, and commercialization. Themes include the tensions between amateurism and professionalism, the relationship between American sport and notions of nationalism and foreign policy, the intersection of sport and race, class, gender and sexuality, and debates concerning the parameters of fair play and competition.

Course Fulfills: If taken as HUMU 295, GEP Humanities and GEP U.S. Diversity; if taken as IPUS 295, GEP Interdisciplinary Perspectives and GEP U.S. Diversity.
Professor: Stephen C. Ferguson, II

Note: When searching for HUMU 295 or IPUS 295 in the Enrollment Wizard, use the course subjects “GEP-HUMU” or “GEP-IPUS.”

Seminar in Liberal Studies: “Food for Thought” (MLS 501)

This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on the vital, rapidly-evolving, and highly interdisciplinary field of food studies. It takes students from the French foundations of modern gastronomy (the invention of the restaurant, start of modern food writing, rise of the celebrity chef, etc.), to the fascinating paradoxes of food production, consumption, and appreciation, with special attention to the ecological and social justice dimensions of our increasingly globalized and industrialized food supply.

Classroom sessions are complemented by guest speakers, tastings, and site visits (farms, markets, bakeries, etc.). In order to accommodate our students, most of whom are busy working professionals in the local community, the course schedule will be concentrated on weekends.

Course Fulfills: N/A (Graduate Course)
Professor: Michael Garval

Special Topics in Public Administration: Data Science for the Social Sciences in R (PA 498/598)

Do you think of yourself as someone who is not a “math person”? This course will challenge you to reconsider that idea. This course is designed to be an accessible data science class for students in the social sciences. Students will learn the how and the why of statistical analysis using an applied approach and an in-depth and hands-on exploration of one of the most prominent (and free!) statistical software programs available.

The course will introduce students to the statistics and statistical procedures most commonly employed in policy analysis as well as the statistical software used to implement them using R, a popular, command-based software package. Students will learn to find publicly available data to answer policy-relevant questions, to clean and process the data they find, produce visualizations and data summaries, conduct basic statistical analyses, and to display and write up the results.

This course will prepare students for advanced study of public and policy problems as well as provide a springboard into Data Analytics programs such as the program in the Department of Public Administration.

Professor: Jeffrey Diebold

Introduction to Philosophy (PHI 205)

One of the main aims of philosophy is to use a rigorous, logical approach to understand some of the big questions of “Life, the Universe and Everything.” In this course, we will see how philosophers have applied their logical tools to inquire about the existence of God, the nature and content of morality, justice, science, human minds and the very existence of a real external world. We will learn how arguments work, how they should be evaluated and how they have been used by real philosophers to answer each of these “big questions.”

Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, College Philosophy
Professor: Catherine Driscoll

Contemporary Moral Issues (PHI 221)

This course is intended to enable students to apply ethical analysis and theory to a broad range of contemporary moral issues, including euthanasia, suicide, capital punishment, abortion, famine relief, animal rights, and environmental concerns. Students can expect to gain not only training in the concepts and main theoretical approaches of moral philosophy, but also critical thinking skills needed for assessing morally difficult questions that we routinely face in our world today. The course will include a mixture of lectures, documentary viewings, and lively class debates and discussions. This course fulfils a GEP Humanities and/or the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Philosophy requirement.

Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, College Philosophy
Professor: Sanem Soyarslan

Religious Traditions of the World (REL 210)

This course provides a sweeping overview of major Eastern and Western religious traditions with attention to their teachings and practices as well as to the historical, geographical, social, and political settings in which they have arisen and developed. It pays particular attention to the lives of ordinary religious practitioners in contemporary society through three case studies: religion in the context of disaster, religion and contemporary world politics, and religion in the Raleigh area–two case studies that we will take up in class, and a final case study students will carry out with attention to the community.

These case studies make lived experience the primary context within which to interpret doctrines, institutions, practices, and dispositions within influential faith traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others. By gaining an appreciation for how these traditions emerged historically and how they take shape in our world today, we will learn about what religion is and how it works. This course fulfills a GEP Humanities or the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Arts & Letters requirement as well as the GEP Global Knowledge requirement.

Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, GEP Global Knowledge, College Arts and Letters
Professor: Levi McLaughlin

Special Topics in Sociology: Growing Up in an Unequal Society (SOC 295/SSUS 295)

What are the sources and nature of race, class and gender inequality among youth? How do these inequalities manifest within culture, families, schools, neighborhoods and communities? How do young people navigate the challenges they face? And what are the implications of inequality for young people’s adult lives? We will answer these questions by examining how race, class and gender inequalities influence young people’s circumstances, values, beliefs, behavior, interactions, educational opportunities and who they will ultimately become.

Topics include:

  1. How media, interactions, peer pressure and bullying influence young people’s feelings about gender and sexual orientation.
  2. Structural and historical sources of poverty, inequality, and residential segregation.
  3. How family and neighborhood conditions influence how kids feel, think and behave.
  4. How race and class influence kids’ access to good schools, their placement in advanced courses, their interactions with teachers and their educational performance.
  5. Sources and lasting implications of race, gender and class inequality in school discipline and policing.

An instructor-generated video providing an overview of the course is available at

Course Fulfills: If taken as SOC 295, College Social Sciences (not GEP); if taken as SSUS 295, GEP Social Sciences and U.S. Diversity.
Professor: Martha Crowley

Note: When searching for SSUS 295 in the Enrollment Wizard, use the course subject, “GEP-SSUS.”

Special Topics in Sociology: Race and Criminal (In)Justice (SOC/SSUS 295)

The criminal justice system serves as a fundamental mechanism through which racial and economic inequality are reproduced in society. This course will provide an in-depth analysis of the political and social origins and consequences of racial disparities in interactions with the police, arrest decisions, sentencing (including death sentences), and incarceration.

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and systemic racial disparities at every stage of the legal system mean that the brunt of our mass incarceration experiment is carried by Black and Brown citizens and communities, particularly those that are impoverished. Students in the course will learn to read and comprehend academic theory and research on race and criminal (in)justice, integrate what they learn in the classroom with what they learn and hear outside the classroom, and engage effectively with a variety of perspectives on race and criminal (in)justice.

Course Fulfills: If taken as SOC 295, College Social Sciences (not GEP); if taken as SSUS 295, GEP Social Sciences and U.S. Diversity.
Professor: Stacy DeCoster

Note: When searching for SSUS 295 in the Enrollment Wizard, use the course subject, “GEP-SSUS.”

Intro to Gerontology: An Interdisciplinary Field Practice (SW 260)

This course is an integrative seminar that introduces students to gerontology as an interdisciplinary field of practice. It helps students understand the demographics and psychosocial trends among older adults globally and in the United States, in order to provide a context for practice. Students will explore characteristics of diverse aging populations, social pattern, projections, myths and realities of aging, based on current data and scholarly reports. This course also addresses cultural issues and family dynamics, pathological and physiological changes in aging, theoretical and conceptual approaches that address disparities and impact ethical practice.

Course Fulfills: GEP Interdisciplinary Perspectives, GEP U.S. Diversity
Professor: Karen Bullock

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Register for Maymester

The 2021 Maymester session begins May 19, and the last day of classes is June 9. You’ll register for a Maymester course through MyPack Portal.

  1. After logging in to your Student Homepage, click Planning and Enrollment > Enrollment Wizard.
  2. Select 2021 Summer Term 1 from the “Term” drop-down list.
  3. Click the Add To Cart tab to search for Maymester courses (e.g. ENG 382).
  4. After locating the course you want to take, click Add to Cart to add the course to your shopping cart.
  5. Click My Shopping Cart to review your added course(s).
  6. Click Enroll to enroll in the courses listed in your shopping cart.