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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.

2023 Maymester Courses

Survey of African American Literature

This special Maymester version of the ENG/AFS 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.” America has long been touted the “land of opportunity”; we are, arguably, a nation of dreamers. With the help of several seminal texts, we will engage in an examination of African American literature in terms of its relationship to a national culture at large and that coveted “American Dream,” ever-revisited, often revised.

  • Course ID: ENG 248/AFS 248
  • Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, GEP U.S. Diversity, College Literature II
  • Professor: Marc Dudley

Literature, Art and Society: Heaven, Hell and the Afterlife

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 ID: ENG 340
  • Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, GEP Interdisciplinary Perspective, College Literature II
  • Professor: Timothy Stinson

Science Fiction: Humans, Machines and In-Betweens

This course explores the long literary history of artificial intelligence from Frankenstein’s monster to contemporary  machine learning. We investigate how the genre of science fiction develops as a way of defining (and often  redefining) boundaries of humans, animals, machines, computers, and artificial consciousness. Students will gain an  understanding of the genealogy of science fiction, explore key works in its 200-year history, analyze how sci-fi  evolves through different mediums, pursue sci-fi’s creative insights into futures thinking, and reflect upon the ethics of  science, technology, and engineering in representations of AI.

  • Course ID: ENG 376
  • Course Fulfills: GEP Interdisciplinary Perspectives, College Literature II
  • Professor: Paul Fyfe

Rhetorical Style: On the Page and In the Street (MALS Graduate Seminar)

What is (rhetorical) style, and how do the rhythms, cadences, and singsonginess created by artfully-deviant, syncopated rearrangements of words communicate feeling? How do great speakers and writers elicit feelings from us  through the ways in which their words seem and sound? And how do the stylizations of life related to the postmodern  ‘experience economy’ in which we live and work relate back to a study of syncopated style in spoken and textual traditions? You will be able to answer these and many more questions in this seminar. Style is not just about ‘flowery’ or figurative uses of language. When it is done well, style taps into the deep, affective rhythms to which we live our lives. To study and reflect (rhetorically) on the power of style, on the page and in the street, is to understand some of  the underlying structure that defines our emotional connections to the world in which we are engaged.

  • Course ID: MLS 501
  • Professor: David Rieder

Introduction to Philosophy

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 ID: PHI 205
Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, CHASS Philosophy
Professor: Catherine Driscoll

Sociology of Barbecue

This course will use North Carolina barbecue as a lens for examining how food is produced, sold, consumed and  understood. As sociologist John Shelton Reed stated 20 years ago, “I don’t think you can really understand the South  if you don’t understand barbecue—as food, process, and event.” This course aims to do just that. Barbecue will serve  as a gateway for our sociological exploration of such topics labor in food systems, agriculture and environmental  justice, race and food history, and food and community traditions. Class may include field trips.

  • Course ID: SSUS 295
  • Course Fulfills: GEP Social Science, GEP U.S. Diversity, CHASS Social Science
  • Professor: Sarah Bowen

LGBTQ+ Social Work (Undergrad or Graduate)

As LGBTQ+ identities sit at the forefront of social and political discourse, this course aims to foster practical skills in  students through real-world experiences and storytelling surrounding LGBTQ+ individuals and groups. Going beyond  concepts of rainbow capitalism and allyship, this course will arm students with the necessary skills needed to  advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and its intersecting identities across all spaces of life. Rooted in practical, in community education, students will get the opportunity to listen to and engage with activists, leaders, and community  organizers in micro, mezzo, and macro LGBTQ+ spaces.

  • Course ID: SW 495/595
  • Professor: Kim Stansbury