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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.

2024 Maymester Courses

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: Tim 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. Students will learn the genealogy of science fiction, study key works in its 200-year history, analyze how sci-fi evolves through different mediums (novels, pulp magazines, films, video games), and debate the ethics of science, technology, and engineering in representations of AI. The course includes several field trips to NC State University Libraries, including Special Collections, the Game Lab, and Innovation Studio. Ultimately, we will try writing some science fiction and speculative futurism ourselves, culminating in a course project in which students use generative AI to compose and illustrate an original story.

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

Introduction to Philosophy

Do we have free will? What is consciousness? Can AI become conscious? What is a good argument? What is the nature of reality? How do we obtain knowledge? What determines the moral rightness of an action? Are we obligated to help the poor? How should we treat animals? By addressing these questions (and many more), PHI 205 will enable students to think critically and reflect on the nature of philosophy and its value.

Course ID: PHI 205
Course Fulfills: GEP Humanities, College Philosophy
Professor: Sanem Soyarslan

Cultural Anthropology: Rebels, Rogues and Rule-Breakers

How can we understand the constant tension between the pressure to conform and the drive to be different? Is the world more made by rulers or by rule-breakers? In this introductory anthropology class, we will closely examine rule-breakers, rebels, and radical social experiments from across the globe. In doing so, we will attempt to unravel the underlying tension between social structure and individual agency, the nature of culture, and how systems of power are disrupted, altered, reworked, and re-asserted. By engaging with theory, closely reading ethnographic texts, analyzing films, and writing analytic essays, students will critically examine the way the social world is continually made and remade.

  • Course ID: ANT 252
  • Course Fulfills: GEP Social Science, GEP Global Knowledge, CHASS Social Science
  • Professor: Christian Doll