2012-13 Catalog

Decorative graphic

Offering Description

Stop Making Sense


Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Steven Hendricks book arts, literature, creative writing , Laura Citrin social psychology, gender and women's studies
Fields of Study
literature, psychology, sociology and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
literature, psychology, sociology, writing, the humanities and social sciences.

Through the lenses of social psychology, literature and literary theory, we will inquire into the process of constructing external and internal realities. How does our conception of self, other and society depend upon learned social routines, metaphors and narratives? How do the ritual discourses and behaviors of everyday life become part of who we are and what we are capable of doing and thinking? What myths allow us to go about our days as if they made any sense?

In fall quarter, we'll equip ourselves with the psychological and theoretical models for understanding reality, culture and self as constructions. In winter quarter, we'll take a critical look at processes of conformity and assimilation, attempting to understand the mechanisms by which ways of thinking, feeling and acting become naturalized.

Our study of literature will range over 20th century novels, stories and essays, predominantly from Europe and the U.S.--works that challenge familiar literary forms and that relate strongly to themes and questions within our study of psychology. Creative writing work will give students another venue for understanding inquiries in literature and psychology. Our goal is not, however, to produce realistic psychological narratives; on the contrary, we'll look at how the conventions of psychological portraiture in novels frequently fail to take actual psychological insight into account, insights that challenge us more profoundly than the goal of realism. Our study of literary theory will focus on theorists whose work deals closely with the nature of literary meaning and the process of constructing the world through language. Over the year, we'll take in a sweep of 20th century theory, emphasizing the work of Roland Barthes as a thinker capable of making rich connections between the everyday mythologies of culture, the complexity of internal life, and the richness of literature.

Our study of psychology will enable us to examine how individuals construct their sense of self via observation of and interaction with others in social context. Possible social psychological themes to be explored include identity formation, social norms, social hierarchy, power, conformity, transgressions, obedience, prejudice, stigma, marginalization, groupthink, persuasion and moralization.

The program material will be taught via lectures, workshops, seminars, films and substantial reading of literature, theory and research studies. Writing- and research-intensive projects, as well as the reading of dense theoretical material, will make this a demanding program, designed for upper-level students prepared for more advanced work in the humanities and/or social sciences.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
February 25th, 2013 This program is ending after winter quarter. Laura Citrin is offering Student-Originated Studies: Research in Psychology and Related Social Sciences. Steven Hendricks is offering Student-Originated Studies in Literary Arts.