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The Bidisciplinary Program provides students an opportunity to directly tackle significant academic questions and issues from the perspective of two distinct academic disciplines. Embodying the Colleges’ commitment to the role of interdisciplinary perspectives in a liberal arts education, Bidisciplinary courses are one-credit courses taught by two faculty members from two different disciplines and allow students to see the courses’ topics from multiple perspectives, to engage in interdisciplinary conversations about the topic, and to understand different pedagogical approaches to a common subject. Bidisciplinary courses are generally crosslisted with relevant disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs.

BIDS 200 Dialogues in Critical Social Studies We use social and cultural theory in our everyday lives but rarely very consciously. This course investigates ways in which hegemonic "common sense(s)" are constructed and changed, both in society and the academy, and the purposes they serve. The aim is to heighten awareness of personal, practical, and policy implications of social theory, and develop critical responses to it. (Dean/Dickinson)

BIDS 202 Urban Politics and Education This course interrogates how American political commitments have informed the urban educational experience. Specifically, this course examines how the history and politics of local, state, and federal governments have converged to shape the urban educational experience, and how the common schooling movement in turn shaped urban politics. In addition, we shall seek to understand the significance of schooling for various urban and suburban political communities as well as the reforms produced from resistance and contestation against and amongst those political communities. (Hussain/Rose)

BIDS 207 Contemporary American Cities This course will introduce students to key concepts, terms and interdisciplinary approaches to studying the field of urban studies. Through the television series The Wire, the course will begin by examining urban space both historically, economically, politically and cross-culturally. In this context, we will discuss the importance of cities to the economic, cultural, and political well-being of modern societies and examine how forces such as industrialization, decentralization, and suburbanization affect the structure and function of cities. (Kosta/Rose)

BIDS 210 The Curious Cook: the Science and Art of Cooking and Eating While cooking is an art, it is also a science. Every kitchen is a laboratory, and each dish is the result of a series of scientific experiments. To achieve great art in the kitchen, the cook must combine the fundamentals of food chemistry with a fluency in the scientific method. Students in this course will learn to cook, appreciate, and describe great food as artists and scientists. Excellence in reading, writing, and oral communication will be emphasized. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor; students must not have taken a college level science course. (Forbes/Miller)

BIDS 213 The French-English Medieval Connection In this course, students will become aware of the international nature of medieval culture in the courts of medieval England and France. Particular attention will be paid to the literary exchanges and influences shared between French and English literary genres (topics will change every time the course is taught and may include the epic, romance, fabliaux, drama, and popular and religious texts). (Erussard/Wells) Previous topics have included:

  • The Outlaws of Medieval Literature. This course explores the representations of outlaws in the medieval culture of England and France. Particular attention will be paid to the literary exchanges and influences shared between French and English literary genres. The readings will include texts from a variety of genres from lyric poetry to romance, popular ballade, hagiography and fable. Authors and characters will include literary figures such as François Villon or documented characters as Hereward. The course will also follow fictional villains such as Eustache the Monk or Reynard the Fox and legendary heroes such Robin Hood. All texts will be analyzed in the light of the historical, political, cultural, and literary contexts in which they were conceived and transmitted.
  • The Birth of Romance in France and England. The aims of this course are to introduce students to the origins and the development of medieval romance within the context of Anglo-Norman courtly culture. The medieval romances produced in the courts of England and France in the 12th century mark a great renaissance in both English and French vernacular literature. In this course, students will learn about the historical, political, cultural, and literary contexts in which medieval romance was conceived and the importance of medieval romance in the articulation of political power in the courts of England and France and in the development of vernacular literature in both countries.

BIDS 214 The Politics of Reproduction This course uses the disciplines of sociology and biology to examine contemporary policy debates concerning technological advancements in human reproduction. Policy topics to be addressed can include (but are not limited to): genetic testing and gene therapy, sex determination, paternity testing, assisted reproduction (e.g. surrogacy and in vitro fertilization), contraception, abortion, and childbirth (e.g., cesarean section and home births). Readings will draw on theoretical and empirical research in particular subfields in sociology (gender relations and the state, sociology of the family, sociology of the body) and biology (human development, genetics, cell biology). Prerequisite: SOC 100 or FSEM 021 or BIOL 167 with a minimum grade of C-. (Kenyon/Monson)

BIDS 245 Men and Masculinity This course offers a reinterpretation of men's lives from the perspectives of history and sociology, informed by pro-feminist men's studies. We assert that masculinity is problematic - for men and for women - but also, subject to change, since it is socially constructed and historically variable. We focus on men's lives in American society from the late 19th-century to the present, and explore the varieties of masculinities in the diversity of race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. This course allows men and women to come to a deeper understanding of men as men, and to re-think the male experience. The course syllabus includes small-group discussions, guest lectures, and films. Course requirements typically include three bidisciplinary essays: a biography exploring the problematics of masculinity; an analytic of men in groups; and speculation on solutions and social change. Typical readings: Pollack, Real Boys; Filene, Him/Her/Self; Johnson, The Gender Knot; Digby, Men Doing Feminism; Gonzales, Muy Macho; Monette, Becoming a Man; Kimmel, Men Confront Pornography; Coltrane, Family Man. (Harris/Capraro)

BIDS 250 Composing Works: Music & Dance Collaboration This bidisciplinary course is co-taught by a choreographer and a composer for both dancers and musicians who want to explore composition in collaboration with musicians and dancers. Principles of dance composition will be investigated in relation to music composition, and musical scores will be envisioned with movement as an integral component. Improvisation will be practiced as a technique that inspires creative process. Myriad relationships and connections between music and dance will be tested as students and teachers collaborate to generate new compositional works and improvisational structures. The course will culminate in a performance of new music and new choreography. (Davenport/Olivieri)

BIDS 286 Gender, Nation, and Literature in Latin America This course examines the relationship between gender and national cultures in Latin America, from Independence to World War II (c. 1825-1945). As Latin American nations broke from Spanish colonial rule, state-builders confronted the colonial past and set out to forger new national identities and cultures. Specifically, state-builders sought to construct social citizenship and fashion national cultures in societies still asymmetrically ordered on the basis of the exclusionary colonial criterion of gender, ethnicity, class, and geography. Popular works of literature frequently cast the desire to reconcile the colonial order and assert modern nationalist identities in gender terms. In particular, the critical problems of state formation in Latin America-the hope and anxiety associated with post-colonial instability; socioeconomic equality, ethnic unity, and spatial consolidation; the quest for modernity; and the assertion of sovereignty and authenticity-often took on erotic overtones. Unrequited love, sexual union, and marriage became central metaphors for understanding (and naturalizing) national consolidation, and establishing the new hegemonic order. By tracing out the "national romances" of Latin America, we can learn much about the role of gender (writ large) in Latin American State formation, and the position of women in the region's post-colonial order. As such, this course will offer students parallel histories of the changing role of women in Latin American culture and literature, and the role of gender in the Latin American political imagination. (Farnsworth/Ristow)

BIDS 288 White Mythologies: Objectivity, Meritocracy, and Other Social Constructions This course explores the history and ongoing manifestations of "white mythologies”—long-standing, often implicit views about the place of White, male, Euro-American subjects as the norm against which the peoples of the world are to be understood and judged. Students will explore how systematic logics that position "the West" and "whiteness" as the ideal manifest through such social constructions as objectivity, meritocracy, and race, and as justifications for colonial interventions, slavery, and the subordination of women. (Rodriguez/Freeman)

BIDS 289 Picture It: Theory meets practice in Film Why do we regularly accept as an engrossing reality what is intended as fiction? Why do we binge-watch period costume dramas (think Downtown Abbey)?  Why do Jane Austen film adaptations inevitably prove box office hits?  Why do we never tire of (yet another) adaptation of The Christmas Carol.  There must be some magic involved in bringing a novel-written one or two centuries ago-to life on the screen.  Professors Robertson and Minott-Ahl will lead students in exploring what it means to adapt print storytelling to visual storytelling.  Students will write the script, film, and edit a short scene adapted from one of the assigned novels.  This course should be of interest to students in English, Creative Writing, Theatre, History, Media and Society, and Women's Studies.

BIDS 291 Middle Ages Art and Literature This course is part of a topics series. Each course concentrates on a single aspect, socio-cultural manifestation, geographical area, and/or development of Medieval culture. The courses are based on the assumption that art and literature are mirrors that reflect, react against, or imitate the social and historical conditions of a period. (Erussard/Tinkler) Previous topics have included:

  • Dante: James Joyce once exclaimed, "Dante is my spiritual food!" This course shows how Dante combined the Biblical, Islamic & the Classical traditions in a synthesis that became "spiritual food" for both medieval and later poets and artists. After an overall, systematic inquiry of Dante's world, life and earlier poetry, the course focuses on The Divine Comedy. In this context, Dante is observed as a geographer of the cosmos and student of the individual soul, as an explorer of the universal and the particular, of the timely and the timeless. The lectures follow Dante in his imaginary guided pilgrimage through the realms of the Christian afterlife and stop to look at the art that has influenced or has been influenced by the descriptions of hell, purgatory and heaven.
  • Vikings: This course will research and analyze the emergence of what has been called the “Viking Age.” It will follow the evolution of the Norse peoples from the realm of their mythology to their revolutionary ship building techniques, their conquest of Iceland, trip to America and family histories in the “Sagas.”

BIDS 295 Alcohol Use and Abuse: Causes and Consequences Alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug in contemporary American society. While attractions, pleasures, and possible benefits of alcoholic consumption may be debated, there is little argument about the debilitating effect and enormous costs of heavy drinking and alcoholism on the health of individuals, families, and society in general. The course brings together natural science and social science contributions to the interdisciplinary study of this phenomenon by incorporating a variety of academic perspectives including biology, chemistry, social psychology, epidemiology, and sociology, and by making extensive use of multimedia resources. Students explore the effect of family, genetics, peers, ethnicity, and gender on drinking and physiological effects of alcohol on the human body. Social patterns of drinking in various societal contexts also are examined. Educational programs are developed to share the course outcomes with the larger community. BIDS 295 can be applied for course credit in sociology and public policy majors and minors, and is part of the American Commitments Program of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. It has been recognized nationally as a model for courses about substance use and abuse. (Craig/Perkins)


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.