AP/EA Humanities & Social Sciences Courses
The university reserves the right to change or cancel class times and/or course offerings without notice.
- Principles of Economics
- An introductory course in the development and use of economic tools for analysis of public policy issues. The course begins with an introduction to the central problem of organizing an economy and allocating resources, emphasizing an overview of the market system in a private enterprise economy. Demand and supply analysis and the elements of long-run competitive equilibrium are developed. This is followed by an analysis of the foundations of consumer behavior, which determine market supply and demand. The course concludes with an examination of cases in which the competitive paradigm does not hold (monopoly, oligopoly), and a consideration of the problem of multi-market equilibrium in a private enterprise economy.
- Interpretation and Argument
- Students are presented with a systematic method of reading texts and producing arguments by learning first to summarize complex arguments, second to synthesize a series of separate but related arguments, third to analyze arguments for the problems they do and do not address and finally, to build their own arguments on a topic. The primary focus is on literacy and various literate practices: elements of reading, writing, language and culture. Students are introduced to arguments and positions regarding the role such practices play in representing and building knowledge.
This Changing Climate
This section of Interpretation and Argument is part of a campus-wide effort to integrate environmental issues into the undergraduate curriculum. As in any Interpretation and Argument section at Carnegie Mellon, you will develop the basic skills necessary to interpreting and composing academic arguments at the college level. Unlike other sections, you will at the same time develop what might be called an “ecological consciousness.” This is not to be confused with an “ecological conscience,” which implies moral or ethical judgment. While morals and ethics are a concern in this course, the goal is not to indoctrinate, but to educate. Students will be asked to develop, through their interpretations and arguments, a capacity for thinking and writing critically and persuasively about the environmental issues that have become part of our cultural landscape.
Cultural Resistance: Representation for the Hell of It?
Stephen Duncombe defines cultural resistance as “culture that is used, consciously or unconsciously, effectively or not, to resist and/or change the dominant political, economic, and/or social structure.” This section asks the question: Is cultural resistance politically and socially effective? Participants will engage with arguments about the problems of representation, artistic autonomy, subculture, and political activism. Not only introducing participants to academic essays, this course will also equip students to critique and interpret the arguments made by artists, musicians, authors, and activists in the many media of resistant representation. The texts in this course will include film (Fight Club), music (Rage Against the Machine), print/literature, painting/sculpture, performance art, and web sites. In short, participants will learn to self-consciously “read” their culture and to recognize the powers and responsibilities attending their position as makers of cultural meaning. They will engage with texts through a variety of in-class activities and field trips, as well as by completing the three core writing assignments. By the end of the course, participants will enter the larger conversation by constructing their own arguments about a question of their choosing within the issue of cultural resistance and political efficacy.
American Race: Arguments of Identity
This Interpretation and Argument section explores the construction, deployment and
maintenance of race in an American context. Students will read arguments that define problems in terms of the definition, categorization, origins and validity of racial groupings. The course discussions will prepare students to identify constructions of race across cultural mediums and interrogate the validity of those constructions. The texts in the course range from theoretical to culturally embedded and will form the three core Interpretation and Argument writing assignments: Argument Summary,
Discourse Analysis and Contribution. By the end of the summer, students will construct their own arguments about a particular question within the issue of the construction and maintenance of race in the United States.
Reality Television and the Discourse of the Real
Though we often think of reality television as a new phenomenon, the first “reality” show, “An American Family,” was actually broadcast by PBS in 1973. Since then, the number of reality shows has skyrocketed, now comprising 56 percent of all American television shows. In this course we will take reality television shows as our primary texts, examining them as a whole as well as discussing the various subgenres (such as the Romance, the Adventure and the Makeover) and debate some of the questions they raise: How “real” is reality TV and does it really matter? What are the ethical implications of putting “real” people, non-actors, in front of the camera? What do these shows tell us about celebrity culture? About American culture generally? About gender, class and race? In addition to the shows themselves we will also read critical media studies on reality TV as well as cultural theory to help us frame these debates. Using the scholarly literature on reality TV, students will learn to summarize, synthesize and analyze arguments, and eventually to contribute an argument of their own.
- Looking Forward, Sliding Back? Nineteenth Century Stories of Progress and Decay
England in the nineteenth century witnessed impressive growth in its commercial, military and scientific ventures. This course will examine several texts from the nineteenth century to explore the ways in which England's many narratives of progress were haunted by fears of decay. Evolution's grisly counterpart was devolution, or degeneration. Commercial expansion brought fascinating and exciting products to England, products that were not always beneficial to English consumers. We will read Thomas DeQuincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821) and discuss ways in which overseas trade bred fears of Eastern infection and Otherness. Narratives of industrial manufacture will inform our reading of Hard Times (1854). Finally, the impact of Darwinian and other theories of evolution, criminality, the populace and the metropolis will guide us through The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), and Dracula (1897). We will finish with a novel that ties together themes of empire, commerce, otherness, criminality and evolution -- Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Students will be asked to give a short presentation and write two papers.
- Counter/Mass Culture: the Beats to Hip-Hop
This course will explore radical or counter-cultural forms from the mid-20th century to the present day, including the Beats, punk-rock, language poetry, and hip-hop rap, among others—as literary and cultural forms. Through literary analysis, semiotic readings and the methods of cultural studies, we will explore the explicit oppositional narratives of these cultural formations in their works and culture. As the course title implies, the question of mass appropriation of counter- or radical cultural forms lurks in the background of all these discussions and surfaces in specific cases—such as the Ginsberg Gap ad and of course, in punk and hip-hop. Given the nature of the material, classes will regularly involve a ‘sampling’ of audio and audio-visual performances. The instructor offers the unique historical perspective of having been an apprentice to Allen Ginsberg at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute in Boulder. Weekly digests and a final paper comprise the assignments.
- Introduction to Creative Writing
- Gives students practice in the reading and writing of various types of creative writing. This particular section will focus on poetry and fiction. We will discuss student submissions in a typical workshop setting, putting into practice the analytical skills necessary to grow as writers and critics. Excellent course for developing writing skills.
- The Novel: Survival of the Individual
- This course will look at the construction of the individual in popular culture and how the individual is both identified against and conflated with commodities, cultures, nations and a variety of collective identities. In order to understand the complex relationship between the individual and collective identification we will look at several novels from the 18th to the late 20th century such as Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and John Okado’s No-No Boy. In addition we will look at critical texts by Raymond Williams, Nancy Armstrong and Patricia Spacks to ask, what are the processes of individualism and how have they changed over time? Are there assumptions imbedded in the recognition of or demand for the individual? Also, are there forces that contradict the production of individualism?
- The Man-Made Monster from Frankenstein to Dracula
- Vampires, zombies, ghosts—monsters take many forms, and we all have some sense of what a monster is. This class will engage several 19th century examples of monstrosity in order to explore (1) how monsters or the monstrous can serve as social criticism; (2) why monsters are a cultural necessity; (3) how historical, individual and social contexts shape representations and receptions of the monstrous. What makes a monster? Who makes monsters and why? Is a monster-figure universal or in the eye of the beholder? We will begin the class with two Romantic monster tales born of the same taletelling contest: Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818) and John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819). Cultural narratives of religion, science, madness, criminality, race, class and gender will inform our readings of several short stories—including "Monos and Daimonos" by Edward Bulwer (1830), "The Victim" (anonymous 1831)—as well as the following novels: Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1846), Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). The class will draw on theories of the gothic, psychoanalysis, postcolonialism and gender to consider how monsters can be interpreted as expressions of social anxieties. Students will be expected to prepare several short writing assignments, an in-class presentation and two papers.
- Introduction to World History
- Focuses on two leading aspects of world history: the formation of major traditional civilizations with their distinctive features and the reactions of each to the challenge of Western dominance/industrialization during the past two centuries. Emphasis is on leading themes of world history, rather than a detailed chronological narrative. Eight principal civilizations or cultural traditions will provide the basic units for analysis.
- Development of European Culture
- This course surveys the evolution of European culture from 1500 to 1950. It defines “culture” broadly to include philosophy, literature, and art but also science, manners, sexuality, morality, and religion. Lectures, readings, and discussions will introduce students to what Europeans thought and wrote about these questions. Readings will include no “history books” but only novels, plays, and memoirs. We will discuss these writings, on the one hand, as “literature,” that is, as examples of literary styles and themes and, on the other hand, as documents that reveal much about the philosophical and social conflicts that divided Europeans. This summer, special emphasis will be placed on the role of science and technology in the development of European culture. Classes will include discussion and a field trip, and texts will include novels, plays, poetry and other cultural products.
- The Global and the Local: Pittsburgh in the World
- As historical phenomena, many “global” processes - imperialism, industrialization, urbanization, and migration - leave their imprint upon the local landscape in ways that may be either painfully obvious or barely acknowledged. A freeway system, for example, is not only a transportation conduit, but reflects the rise of American military power and the centralization of federal power during the Cold War. Less dauntingly, a neighborhood Taiwanese restaurant might very well be the end product of revolutionary changes halfway around the globe. Each week, the class will read literature that discusses the emergence of global systems of exchange in the modern and contemporary periods. The course will also require students to participate on weekly field trips within the city and its environs, in order to observe the physical environments created or altered by worldwide events.
- Development of American Culture
- This is an introductory survey of American history from colonial times to the present. The course focuses on cultural analysis instead of the more traditional emphasis on presidents, wars, and memorizing facts or timelines. The major theme of the course is the changing meaning of freedom over three centuries. Required readings include novels, memoirs, historical documents, and a study of the concept of freedom. There is no textbook; background facts and events are covered in lectures to provide students with context needed to think about and understand America’s cultural history. Assignments include exams and essays.
- War and Society in Revolutionary Europe, 1780 - 1815
- In this course, we will examine the ways in which the population of Europe “experienced” violence, war and the military in Revolutionary Europe. Readings will include several primary sources, including writings by Frederick the Great and Napoleon, selections of memoirs of soldiers and officers and observers, selected
public documents, as well as portions of selected secondary readings. The course will
focus on Europe, although a comparative element of the European military experience in North America will also be included. The course will be a combination of lecture and discussion, plus short writing assignments.
- Russian History from Communism to Capitalism
- This course covers a broad sweep of Soviet history from the revolution in 1917 to the turmoil of the present. Spanning almost a century of upheaval and transformation, the course examines the October revolution, the ruthless power struggles of the 1920s, the triumph of Stalin, the costly industrialization and collectivization drives, the battle against fascism, and the present attempts to create a market economy. The course provides essential background for anyone interested in understanding the explosive, history-making events in the former Soviet Union.
- What Philosophy Is
- In this introductory course, we will explore three major areas of Philosophy: Ethics, Metaphysics and Epistemology. Accordingly, the course is divided into three sections. In each section we will read primary sources and discuss some of the main philosophic problems associated with that area. These will include moral problems (Ethics), problems arising from debates about free-will, personal identity or intelligence (Metaphysics) and inquires about the scope and limits of human knowledge (Epistemology). We will then introduce some theories designed to solves such problems, and try to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these theories. We will apply different techniques and theories to issues that we might encounter in the real world. We will use class discussions, homework and papers to learn skills for evaluating arguments. These skills include how to present a philosophic argument, what are the assumptions that justify it, what are its weaknesses and strengths, whether such weaknesses can be resolved and, if they cannot be resolved, why.
- Introduction to Ethics
- This course provides both a historic and thematic survey of Western ethical theory. Key figures such as Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant, Mill, and Nietzsche will be presented as background to the thematic problems of relativism, egoism, and other concepts in ethical theory. Students will take part in the creative process of developing skills necessary to engage in reflective moral reasoning. This process will culminate in the use of interactive multimedia modules simulating real-world scenarios involving difficult moral choices. Participating in a class ethics committee will provide students with opportunities for personal reflection on the ways moral reasoning can be used to expand our understanding of hard choices and moral dilemmas.
- The Nature of Language
- Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It comprises many sub-fields, in
which the different aspects of language are investigated. The topics studied in linguistics range from the mechanisms of human speech production to the nature of linguistic meaning, from historical relations among languages to current linguistic change, from writing systems to abstract linguistic structure. This course will provide a broad introduction to the field of linguistics, surveying a number of the major subfields. The focus of the course is not on describing or analyzing one particular language, but on understanding the properties and nature of language as a human phenomenon.
- Logic and Proofs
- This web-based course introduces students to central issues in logic and develops their ability for constructing and refuting arguments. It addresses the question: How can one analyze the structure of rational discourse or, more specifically, the logical structure of argumentation? An answer to this question requires: (1) uncovering the logical form of statements; (2) defining the correctness of logical steps; (3) formulating inference rules for the logical forms; (4) designing strategies for argumentation with the inference rules. The course takes these steps for both sentential and quantificational logic. Presentation: The material is presented online, though some exercises must be done with pen and paper. Additional reading of historical and philosophical character complements the systematic online presentation. Small discussion meetings with collaborative reviews, substantive discussions and critical reflections supplement the online material. Note: This course meets less frequently and demands significant student responsibility and self-initiative.
- Arguments and Logical Analysis
- Are there rational methods that can further our knowledge? The notion of rational inquiry presupposes that there are appropriate methods for the pursuit of knowledge. In this course, we will investigate the means by which a successful argument justifies its conclusion, as well as various subtle ways in which other arguments fail. In the course of our inquiry, we will take a historically informed approach to studying logic and argumentative fallacies. We will also discover that these tools are useful for
constructing and analyzing arguments in all disciplines from philosophy and history to
psychology and physics. Our primary goal is to learn to use these tools to make our thinking and writing clearer, more precise, and more critical. To that end, our coursework will consist in homework and exams on topics in logic, as well as essays on a wide variety of topics. This course is intended for students from any discipline who would like to improve their writing and critical thinking skills.
- Elementary Russian I
- A beginning level Russian language course. The course takes a proficiency based approach to teaching basic skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Language is presented in communicative contexts illustrating cultural aspects of daily Russian life. Special emphasis is given to developing oral competency. One or two hours per day outside of class must be devoted to practicing language skills.
- Introduction to Psychology
- Examines major areas of scientific psychology. The primary focus is on the areas of neural and motivational control of behavior, memory and thought, social interaction and psychological development. Specific topics within these areas include brain function, motivational control systems, cognitive and perceptual information processing, problem solving, obedience and conformity, emotion, how our social, cognitive and language functions develop, the importance of childhood to adult functioning and psych-pathology. Includes a small number of computerized laboratory experiments and experiences in which the student will perform experiments and analyze real data.
All courses in AP/EA are subject to change. Additional courses may be substituted for current AP/EA courses offered.
If you'd like to take a class not available through AP/EA, some classes are open in Carnegie Mellon's Summer Session II courses for current college students. The faculty member teaching the course and the director of the AP/EA program must also authorize your decision. For a complete listing of these courses, contact Enrollment Services - The HUB at 412-268-8186.