Gateway Descriptions - Academic Year 2017-2018

 

GW 100-1
What is a University and Why are You Here?
(unavailable for registration)

 

GW 100-2
Utopianism

Utopian thinkers like Thomas More and Charlotte Perkins Gilman imagine the good life and build a world to foster it. For utopians, the best of all possible worlds sets the limits for the right—what the state will designate legal and illegal. Liberal thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and John Rawls take the opposite approach. They imagine the worst of all possible worlds and build a state to control it. In this class we discuss, debate and judge the merits of political, philosophical and literary works written by utopians and their liberal critics.

 

GW 100-3
The Dream the Dreamers Dreamed: Race and the American Dream

In 1936, black poet Langston Hughes wrote "Let America Be American Again," which was rooted in a hope that folks left out of the American Dream would unite to demand that America become "the land that never has been yet," the "dream the dreamers dreamed."  In 2016, National Book Award Winner Ta-Nehisi Coates, in Between the World and Me, returns to the powerful idea of the "dream," which for him has become a metaphor for white racial innocence, an amnesia about the centrality of race in the making of the American Dream.  In this course, we will explore how black intellectuals and activists in the last 100 years have understood the "dream" in very different ways, some hopeful, some mournful, some despairing, but always with a sense that America's future is at stake.

 

GW 100-4
Rethinking Cultural Stereotypes (Understanding Self and Others)

Exploration of our understanding of other cultures by examining cultural stereotypes, how we and society view people from different cultures and how they view us. We will examine our multicultural selves to understand others, rethink our preconceived stereotypes, promote cultural understanding, and engage in critical thinking, reading, writing, research, and discourse.

 

GW 100-5
All in the Game

The Wire is one of television's most critically-acclaimed programs.  At one level, it is a police procedural about an investigative unit tasked with infiltrating and indicting one of Baltimore's biggest drug cartels.  However, this narrative largely serves as a dramatic occasion to deeply investigate the intricate networks of cause and effect among and within various social relations; police, politicians, criminals, and victims.  Nothing is simple in the fictional world of The Wire.  All relations are complex and multifaceted.  As its 2003 Peabody Award citation notes, "The intensity of the series rises not so much from crimes committed and solved as from the moral struggles faced by those people whose entire lives are being transformed through economic conditions and technological transformation beyond their control...There are no simple solutions in this world where ambition and privilege taint those in authority and dignity defines many who commit crimes."

 

GW 100-6
Understanding Comics

Comics?  as high art?  as serious literature?  It’s true: comics have moved off the drugstore rack and onto the winner’s lists of prestigious literary prizes.  With Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics as a guide, we’ll explore the workings of the comics form.  As we read and analyze both classic and contemporary examples of the comics form, we’ll investigate how the mind processes the comics form, the interplay between word and image, what happens between panels, and how time flows through a comics narrative.

Warning: No superheroes; no manga.

 

GW 100-7
Citizens of the World

What is globalization, and what does it mean to you as a college student in central Illinois? What is the role of the United States in the world? What, as individuals, can and should we do about events happening in other parts of the world? In this course, we will explore the topic of world citizenship as we learn and practice essential writing skills, paying particular attention to techniques of argumentation and research. We will analyze such issues as cultural encounter, education, and international conflict as we hone vital critical thinking and writing skills. Ideally, through writing, we will not only locate our place in the world, but also discover who we are.

 

GW 100-8
Critical Thinking:  The Intellectual Weapon of Mass Construction

What is the lasting value of a university degree?  What does it certify?  Does it prove that a graduate can think critically?  Or, does it prove that a graduate has just memorized more facts? This class approaches critical thinking from the perspectives of the broader   humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and fine arts.  We will consider multiple ways of knowing and understanding by challenging language, analogy, logic, context, and even one’s own heart-felt personal assumptions.  Most important, we will learn that academic study and success each require much more than retention of facts.  Rather than simply distilling down facts into memorized single-use algorithms, we will learn to connect and conceptualize facts to create a new and richer understanding of a given knowledge base, and subsequently, apply that understanding to the challenges of career and life pursuits.  

 

 

GW 100-9
The Once and Future Myth:  King Arthur for All Time

This course will look at the legend of King Arthur as a master narrative: one which expresses, as it spans the centuries, the deepest aspirations of Western civilization. As we examine this myth in its various medieval and modern manifestations, we will seek to determine how and why this ancient story continues to resonate for the modern world.

In our perusal of medieval narrative and modern retelling – both written and cinematic – we will analyze the myth through critical textual analysis, and evaluate its meaning for both medieval and modern audiences. Coursework will be comprised of a combination of analytical and creative writing.

 

GW 100-10
Women and Revolution in 20th-Century China

The fundamental changes in the lives of Chinese women over the past century serve as an especially appropriate context for a Gateway course.  They are extremely relevant to our own lives today: the experiences of Chinese women served as a direct catalyst to the growth and expansion of the “second wave” of feminism in the U.S. during the late 1960s and early 1970s, the legacy of which is still very much with us in the year 2015.  In addition to its inspirational quality, the role of women in the Chinese revolution has also sparked debate on questions that still arise among those seeking sexual equality: Can revolution lead to liberation, or not?  More fundamentally, what does it mean to achieve “liberation”?  Is liberation for women the freedom to do what a man can do?  Or is it freedom to be “feminine”?  Can women’s liberation, however defined, be accomplished for women, or is it necessary that it be accomplished by women?  How does women’s liberation fit into the larger agenda for social revolution—an agenda that in China included the country’s national liberation from imperialism and the liberation of oppressed peasants and workers from undue exploitation?  Have Chinese women prospered more under the bygone period of revolutionary socialism or under the market economy of today?  Wide differences of opinion on these questions will be the subject of readings, discussions, and compositions in this class as each of us strives to understand and ultimately to take a position on the competing conceptions.

 

GW 100-11
Editing Life

Students will engage with topics related to the use of biotechnology to alter the DNA of living organisms.  Topics discussed will include genetically modified organisms, gene therapy and technologies currently being developed to edit and remove deleterious mutations from developing embryos.

 

GW 100-12
The Mathematics of Online Security and Privacy

Students will read, reflect, and write on issues surrounding the control of information.  This requires learning the basics of how information is stored, transmitted, and kept secure, and thus the course will include an introduction to mathematical cryptography.

 

GW 100-13
Did You Freely Choose This Class?

Are your choices determined before you make them, perhaps by some combination of your genes and your social environment or perhaps by neural activity that you can’t consciously control? If your choices were pre-determined, would that mean that you aren’t responsible for what you do? Would it mean that your future choices have, in a sense, already been made? Would it mean that they aren’t really yours? Or aren’t really choices? The problem of free will is one of the most vexing, enduring, and fascinating puzzles about the human condition. In this course, we will study a variety of experiments from neuroscience and social psychology that have been said to pose serious challenges to the claim that we have free will. We will ask, what exactly do these experiments show about the precursors to our choices? Do they show that we don’t have free will, or have their results been misinterpreted?

 

GW 100-14
Did You Freely Choose This Class?

Are your choices determined before you make them, perhaps by some combination of your genes and your social environment or perhaps by neural activity that you can’t consciously control? If your choices were pre-determined, would that mean that you aren’t responsible for what you do? Would it mean that your future choices have, in a sense, already been made? Would it mean that they aren’t really yours? Or aren’t really choices? The problem of free will is one of the most vexing, enduring, and fascinating puzzles about the human condition. In this course, we will study a variety of experiments from neuroscience and social psychology that have been said to pose serious challenges to the claim that we have free will. We will ask, what exactly do these experiments show about the precursors to our choices? Do they show that we don’t have free will, or have their results been misinterpreted?

 

GW 100-15
Get a Life: Life Narrative in Practice and Theory

This Gateway Symposium will explore the field of life narrative, an interdisciplinary field which has burgeoned in the last two decades. Life narrative studies includes autobiography, memoir, diaries, blogs, letters, web pages, graphic novels, and other genres. We’ll read a young woman’s blog from Iraq, the testimonio of a Guatemalan activist, the memoir Girl, Interrupted (and watch the film), essays from a brilliant writer with MS, and a graphic memoir from the Holocaust, plus other readings. You’ll be asked to write four papers and keep a journal.

 

GW 100-16
Comedy Writing and Performance

This Gateway course will involve both the creation and performance of comedy material and the analysis of comedic performances and texts. Students will learn comedy improvisation techniques to develop comedy sketches and to improve their oral communication skills. The course will also critically analyze various forms of comedy, including stand-up performances, comedy sketches, situation comedies, comedic novels and comedic short stories and essays. Are there common elements that are repeated in different forms of comedy? Can comedy be used to address larger societal questions? Additionally, the course will examine psychological research in the field of humor.

 

GW 100-17
Legal Decision Making:  Logic or Experience?

"The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience." Though Oliver Wendell Holmes recognized the incompatibility between logic and law over 100 years ago in The Common Law, most Americans still react derisively when law or litigation leads to seemingly illogical and unjust results. At the same time, Americans are uniquely enamored with the jury system. Ironically, a substantial source of the perceived lack of logic may be a direct result of the nearly unrestrained confidence Americans place in juries. This colloquium uses as its source of reading, writing and critical thinking demonstrations of the tension between the judicial system's objective of procedural fairness, primarily through the use of citizen juries, and the desire that trials reach substantive conclusions fair to the parties and the community. Specific topics include the jury selection process, the use of artificial intelligence as a substitute for human decision making, the influence of politics and money on judicial selection, the use of expert witnesses, the legal conflict between religious convictions and medical science, product liability and class action lawsuits and the testimonial use of hypnotically refreshed or recovered memory.

 

GW 100-18
Hooking-Up and Hanging Out: Relationships, Young Adults, and Society

Is dating dead? Do young people only “hook up” now, instead of forming lasting relationships? How different are young adults’ relationships compared to previous generations? This course will explore the social and historical significance of how people form relationships and the ways they find meaning within them. In the process, we will also consider the category “young adult,” its cultural place within society and position within the life course. During the class you will work on building critical thinking and communication skills as we explore themes such as the “invention” of the teenager, the impact of technology on dating, and much more.

 

GW 100-19
Visual Literacy

Images are central to our life, but do we know how to critically read them? This colloquium explores the cognitive, affective, and perceptual modes of visual literacy. Students will gain skills in ascertaining how the visual serves aesthetic and ideological purposes, through writing about images and discussion on visual culture.

 

GW 100-20
The Democracy of Gods in East Asian Cultures

A writing course, while so named, is by its nature a thinking course, a course that trains students in the organization, formulation and effective delivery of thoughts and ideas. As the platform of such training, this course focuses on the East Asian conception of what is in Judeo-Christian context called “God” – the word “democracy” refers to the fact that this concept, in its East Asian milieu, exists in various names, forms and aspects, and serves various purposes.

 

GW 100-21
Living Visually:  The Graphic Novel as Coming-of-Age Narrative

This Gateway section explores the graphic novel in context of the history of the Western coming-of-age narrative.  By examining how the graphic novel encompasses both memoir and Bildungsroman, students consider how our contemporary visual culture informs the way we process and reflect on lived experience.  Students' reading and critical essags also guide the composition of autobiographical digital comics.

 

GW 100-22
Artistic Nuts and Bolts:
A Practical Guide to Finding Order and Meaning in Works of Art

Do you wish you could understand novels, plays, movies and music on a deeper level?  This course will teach you to identify techniques and patterns that are common to all works of art. By taking these compositions apart and analyzing their construction, we will attempt to build an understanding of how artists and authors create order and meaning. A possible tagline for the course would be “look closely; make connections.” Together, we will analyze and discuss a novel, some short stories, a musical and a film. For your individual project, you may choose any work of art—such as a poem, a painting, a piece of music, or a dance composition.

One of the objectives of the course is to increase your ability to analyze text and visual media critically. Make no mistake, however, about the main focus of this course. Its primary objectives are to increase your ability to think critically and to prepare you to write the types of papers that will be expected of you during your academic career.

 

GW 100-23
Take Chances, Get Edgy

Readers respond to writers who take risks. Consider an advice columnist who confesses to a heroin addiction in her past, or a W.W. II veteran who writes a black comedy about the Nazis. Both of these authors mine dark material in their own lives in order to open our eyes to pain and injustice.  While anyone can write in her diary about problems, the edge and bite in excellent literature comes from the skillful manipulation of language. Some writers are masters of sarcasm; others excel at pacing or creating visual images. In this course, students will not only analyze the styles of published authors, but they will also create their own original works—from personal essays to advice columns to satirical sketch comedies. They will mine their own lives for experiences that fuel the desire to communicate something to the world.

 

GW 100-24
Embracing Your Undecidedness: Designing Your Liberal Arts Experience at IWU

For those students who are undecided about what major to choose or who want to learn more about what a liberal arts education is all about, this Gateway class is for you!  Through reading and writing assignments, guest lectures, campus excursions, and extensive class discussion,  we will consider what college life offers students today, analyze who goes to college, reflect on why you are at a liberal arts institution, compare different academic disciples, and become more informed campus citizens.

 

GW 100-25(S)
We the People

The Preamble to the US Constitution begins with the words “We the People”. Populists around the world claim to speak in the name of the people and demand “Power to the People!” At its most basic definition, democracy is “rule by the common people”. But, who are the people? This course will explore the implications of different ways of answering that question through readings and sequenced writing assignments.

 

GW 100-26(S)
Controversies-Women's Health

An exploration of various health issues that are either unique to women or of specific significance to woman across their lifespan will be examined using current research findings, literature and media. Documentaries and films will be used to examine debates related to birthing, sexuality, and transcultural health issues. Health disparities related to gender, culture, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status will be explored locally, nationally, and globally.

 

GW 100-27(S)
It's About TIME!

What is the nature of time?
◦Does time flow freely and of its own accord?
◦Could time be nonlinear, reversible, or even cyclical?
◦To what degree can there be answers to such questions?

We often agree that "time is of the essence," but what is the essence of time?

Taught by a physicist, this course deals with perspectives on time from a variety of disciplines, including Philosophy, Anthropology, English and Comparative Literature (as well as Physics). Our readings allow us to analyze not only the concept of time, but also several different writing styles.

 

GW 100-28(S)
Peace and War in the Modern World

Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.”

Despite efforts by countless individuals, institutions, and governments for peace and stability, terrible wars have been fought and atrocities have been committed in the name of both ideologies and religions. Within these belief systems, attempts are made to justify such violence as morally defensible while the same acts are interpreted by those outside that belief system as evil, unjust and unjustifiable, and therefore the legitimate reason for counter-wars in order to restore the peace and order. Either way, the result of such wars is often a cycle of violence and instability rather than a stable and enduring peace.

This course concentrates on peace and war and their complex interrelations. Students will spend their time in critical thinking and argumentative writing through an exploration of peace and (just and unjust) war. They will study the religious texts and other writings and analyze different arguments made in support of war and peace. They will also read the works of peace activists and Nobel Peace Laureates such as the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, Elie Wiesel, Thich Nhat Hanh and John Lennon. In studying peace and war, they will develop the required skills for critical thinking, analytical writing, and effective presentation.

 

GW 100-29(S)
Native American Spirituality

In this course, we will examine the distinctive religious traditions and spiritual paths developed by Native North American communities, with specific emphasis on the Lenapé (Delaware), Cherokee, Lakota (Sioux) and Navajo nations.  Our challenge will be balancing the “outsider” perspectives of the academic study of religions with the “insider” understanding of religions within their own social, historical, and personal contexts. 

Like other Gateways, this is primarily a writing course, so we will spend a good deal of time, both inside and outside of class, thinking and talking about good writing practices and approaches to information.  The issues of Native American religious life from the past and the present will serve as the topics for readings, research, discussion, and writing.