Signature Seminars

About the Signature Seminars/HNRs 401H3

The Honors College offers Signature Seminars on cutting-edge topics taught by top professors, who are named Dean's Fellows in the Honors College. You must apply to participate, and if admitted, will be designated a Dean's Signature Scholar – a great plus for your  resume. These seminars give you three hours of honors credit  and in some cases, may also satisfy requirements specific to your degree. Please consult individual course pages for more information. 

Check out our Spring Public Preview Lectures introducing the Fall 2024 Signature Seminar lineup. (You will also receive a reminder email.)

For a full listing and descriptions of past Honors College courses, visit our course archive.

 The Geography of Star trek

Bronze sculpture of a woman suspended mid-air with an arched back

Preview lecture will take place Thursday, February 8th, 5:15 p.m. 

Class will meet 2:00-4:45 p.m., Thursdays, Fall 2024

In the over fifty years since it first aired, Star Trek has become a cultural touchstone throughout the world. While a source of entertainment, it can also be viewed as a reflection of our contemporary world, one  created by Enlightenment, British imperialism and the expansion of the American Empire. The geography of the Federation is the geography of planets, solar systems, and fictional political entities; empires, hegemonies, coalitions, republics and alliances.

Over the course of the semester, we will use excerpts from all the TV shows and films, with readings from academic work on the importance of Star Trek as a cultural and political text to examine the political and social geography of the messages that are embedded in the text and subtext of the show. Whether deliberately, or through their own unconscious, and conscious, biases, the creators, writers, showrunners, and performers have used Star Trek to both support and subvert the cultural and political norms of the late 20th century and early 21st century. In learning how to critically examine Star Trek, the class will not only gain a greater understanding of contemporary worlds society and politics, but also a greater understanding of how that world is influenced by the media that saturates our lives.

Professor Fiona Davidson of the Geosciences Department will lead this seminar. Learn more on the Geography of Star Trek course page.

Technology Craft

a cross section of a logPreview lecture will take place Monday, February 12, 5:15 p.m.

Class will meet 10:00 a.m.- 1:45 p.m., Monday through Saturday, Summer Intersession 2024

Technology is often associated with modernity and the cutting edges of human achievement. We instead consider it as something old, as the continuation of the ancient and universal human traditions of tool use and craft. A central question in that tradition is to start with a tool and ask simply “What can you do?”. In this course we will apply this question to some of the most modern tools, CNC routers, laser cutters and 3d printers. We will think about tools as physical objects, as computer models (which in some cases can control machines) and in the abstract, with the goal of balancing between theory and practice, seeing how each supports the other.

Note: Students who take the August Intersession Signature Seminar on Technology Craft are encouraged to enroll in the Fall 2024 one-hour Forum. This course will not meet, but rather students will make projects based on the skills that they’ve learned and will present those projects at the end of the Fall semester.

Professors Vincent Edwards (School of Art) and Edmund Harriss, (Department of Mathematical Sciences) will lead this seminar. For more information visit the Technology Craft course page.

A lioness roars

Preview lecture will take place Thursday, February 22nd, 5:15 p.m. 

Class will meet Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 9:40-10:30 a.m., Fall 2024.

This Signature Seminar takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Gothic art and architecture as a cultural phenomenon. Starting with Abbot Suger’s renovation of the royal abbey church of St.‐Denis in Paris (1140) and culminating in the architectural extravagance of America’s collegiate Gothic campuses, seminar participants will tackle medieval building and medievalism from a variety of topics, including Gothic and medicine, Gothic and gender, and Gothic and empire.

Professors Lynda Coon(Honors College Dean) and Kim Sexton (School of Architecture) will lead this seminar. Learn more on the Gothic course page.

A lioness roars

Preview lecture will take place Thursday, March 7th, 5:15 p.m. 

Class will meet Tuesdays, 2:00 - 4:45 p.m., Fall 2024.

What we wear and where it comes from tells us much about who we are as individuals and a society. The history of fashion is inextricable from identity and power, as clothing, accessories, and body modification (e.g. tattoos, piercings, cosmetic surgery) illustrate a range of meaning-making and aesthetic decisions that inform how people see the world and, in turn, how they are experienced within it. This course will explore fashion as theory, art, practice, and industry, attentive to the myriad ways it has impact on and is affected by the social, political, and economic terrain in which clothing and accessories function with meaning and consequence. We will cover topics ranging from fashion's design, production, marketing, consumption, the ethical considerations regarding fashion and identity (including race, disability, class, gender, sexuality, age, and size), universal and adaptive design, environmental and climate concerns, sustainability, labor, and the teaching and passing on of culturally informed sewing, beading and other craft practices. We will engage writing and a variety of material objects - archives, visual and performance arts - and seminar discussions will posit the implications of past and current research on fashion and accessories for the present and next steps for fashion as an interdisciplinary field of study cutting across rhetorical studies, art history, apparel design, literary studies, American Studies, Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies, Disability Studies, Environmental Studies, and Legal Studies, etc. In closing, the course will support the development of each student finding or further developing their own fashion and style studies research, writing, and creative projects, with an eye toward exploring the broad implications of their interests for theory, methodology, and pedagogy of this field.

Professor Eric Darnell Pritchard, Department of English, will lead this seminar. Learn more on the Fashion, Identity and Power course page.