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Course Descriptions

Humanities Curriculum

The 2015 humanities curriculum is organized around the theme of "the margins." This year, in light of a seemingly fractured world, divided by things religious extremism, political dualism, wealth and poverty, and disease and health we are going to inquire about human responses to extreme, or marginal, situations. All of the following courses examine, in some manner, the human response to extremity. 

Wrongful Conviction: The Causes, Consequences, and Responses
Dr. Margaret Lisuzzo

This course will utilize a case study approach to examine the causes of wrongful conviction. We will also answer questions about why these causes are more likely to impact marginalized populations. For instance, one main cause of wrongful convictions is bad lawyering, which is likely to effect defendants of low socioeconomic status because their lack of resources leads to the potential assignment of incompetent, or overburdened public defenders. The course will also address questions about the consequences of wrongful conviction by looking at life after exoneration and the resources available to individuals who have been exonerated. We will review both criminal and civil law to understand how the justice system can benefit or continue to victimize those who have been wrongfully convicted. Finally, the course will address individual and institutional responses to wrongful conviction. Responses can include things such as efforts made by advocates for policy change to allow more compensation to be given to exonerated individuals to efforts made by the justice system to punish responsible individuals when official misconduct is the cause of the wrongful conviction. We will review research conducted in the field of wrongful conviction as well as review case studies where different responses have been pursued. The goal of the course is to broaden the perspective of students who will potentially be in positions of power within the American justice system. 

Ghosts and Other Spirits of the Dead
Dr. Susan Kwilecki

From a scholarly perspective, this course explores the current American fascination with ghosts. Television programs, websites, and popular books portray Americans allegedly interacting with the dead in a variety of contexts. Ghost hunters marshal technology to detect phantoms vicious and potent enough to throw an adult down a flight of stairs. Mediums deliver comforting messages to the bereaved from deceased loved ones. Psychotherapists treat substance abuse as possession by the souls of dead addicts.

From media sources, students will develop a typology of contemporary ghosts and articulate its underlying cosmology. The class will attempt to explain the resurgence of archaic folk beliefs in an age of advanced technology, and consider the hypothesis that contemporary ghost perceptions are attached to an emerging view of the afterlife. A local ghost hunter and a local medium will speak to the class.

The Body and the Machine in Film and Literature
Dr. Erin L. Webster Garrett

This course will be taught from a Women’s Studies perspective and will look specifically at issues related to technology and gender construction. While together we will question how technology shapes and informs identity formation, and we will ask practical questions about why women and girls in science and technology “remain a rare breed.” Through screening films, reading short fiction, and pursuing hands-on activities, such as repurposing a computer into jewelry, we will look at the ways in which technology has been used in story and myth to define, differentiate, and discriminate the nature of human consciousness into male/technology and female/humanities spheres of influence. As a final point but as an overarching area of discovery, we will take a specific look at a digital archive of women’s journals composed as part of Radford University’s laboratory school in the early 20th century.

The Magazine Class Giving Voice to the Voiceless
Ms. Leigh Anne Kelley

The title of this course is drawn from the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, which holds that journalists should “give voice to the voiceless.” This course will examine media’s successes and failures in telling the stories of those who live in the margins of society through analysis of historic and contemporary coverage. Students will explore, not only what the media report, but what they fail to report. Students will then be given the opportunity to extend their understanding of content, images and audience through creative application, giving voice to the voiceless by working together as an editorial team to plan, produce and publish a magazine using “the margins” as the theme. There will be hands-on training in creating editorial budgets, designing layouts, compiling content and using Adobe Indesign.

Marginalized: Aggression and LGBT Population
Dr. Wendy Eckenrod-Green

Aggression permeates our society. This course introduces students to the concepts of aggression and acts of violence often experienced by individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT). Understanding how aggression develops and how to cope with aggressive behavior is critical, both in terms of personal and professional development. This course will address the origins of aggression and how aggression shifts over the lifespan. Students will be introduced to the different types of aggression (i.e., physical, relational, cyber bullying) and will be able to identify characteristics of both the victim and aggressor. The impact of aggression for both the victim and aggressor will be examined. In addition, coping skills and actions steps associated with aggressive behavior will be explored.

The Art and Science of Comedy
Dr. Matthew Turner

In this class we will study comedy in art and the humanities and try to try to understand how comedy functions and creates meaning. We will explore philosophical theories of comedy (even though they are rarely funny) starting in antiquity and move up though the present era with the study of semiotics.  We will look at examples of comedy in Literature, the visual arts, music, theater, and film, as well as on the Internet.  Students will be able strive not only to understand and appreciate the structure and logic (or illogic) of comedy, but will also work to create and demonstrate or perform their own comic works.

Political Engagement in the Twenty-first Century
Dr. Scott Dunn

Digital Ethnography: Mapping Cultural Identities in a Digitally Mediated World
Dr. Salvador Barajas

Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies
Dr. Ann Mary Roberts

Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum

The visual and performing arts curriculum is largely set after state-wide adjudication and is dependent (especially in the music program) upon the interests of the students accepted after adjudication.

In prior years students in the visual arts have participated in a robust curriculum, including jewelry making and ceramics and education in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques.

The music curriculum has been equally rigorous and robust. Prior Governor's School students have taken courses in chamber choir, music history, master classes by discipline, band orchestra, and group practice.

Students in dance have enjoyed classes in jazz, modern, improv, ballet, and dance technology.

Student in the theatre program have worked in improv ensemble, Broadway singing boot camp, audition preparation, workshops on the craft of playwriting and direction, and technique classes on breathing.

As our 2015 curriculum continues to evolve we invite you to check back here for updates.