Fiat Lux Seminars: Perspectives on September 11
Fall Quarter 2001

Understanding the Taliban

Instructor: John Agnew; Geography

  • What is the Taliban?  What is their political and military position in Afghanistan?  How does Afghanistan fit into the larger framework of Central and South West Asian politics?  What is the relationship between the Taliban and terrorist groups?

Understanding the Unthinkable and Incomprehensible

Instructor: Edward A. Alpers; History

  • In this course we will try to understand two fundamental questions that are raised by events of September 11.  First, how can people unleash acts of terror on innocent citizens?  Second, what are the consequences of mutual cultural ignorance?  To help us reach our goals, we will read about two very different situations that address each of these questions by itself and may provide a methodology for comprehending our current predicament.

Honor & Shame and the Clash of Civilizations

Instructor: Scott Bartchy; History

  • Honor and shame are core values in most cultures of the world, including many in which Islam is the majority religion.  Not understanding this fact has led to serious misunderstandings and misjudgments in the foreign policies of the USA.  In this seminar we will examine these values and the social codes which provide the doorway to an in-depth understanding of male and female socialization and behavior.  Comprehensive comparisons will be made with the social codes resulting from “western” values of individual achievement and guilt. Professor Bartchy is Director of the Center for the Study of Religion.

The Struggle to Understand, the Struggle to Respond

Instructor: Adolfo Bermeo; Cesar Chavez Center

  • Using film and readings, the events of September 11 will be examined in the historical context of U.S. foreign policy, the relationships between the developed and underdeveloped worlds, the rise of political Islam, and the use and nature of terrorism since WWII.  Students will consider possible U.S. responses to the events of September 11 and defend what the U.S. should do and why.

Bin Laden and Terrorism outside the U.S.: The Case of Uzbekistan

Instructor: Andras J.E Bodrogligeti; Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

  • In the post-Soviet period there was an attempt to establish an Islamic Republic in Uzbekistan.   Islam Karimov’s resistance in the Namangan meeting of radical Muslims.  On February 16 a group of Bin Laden’s agents carried out a concentrated attempt to kill President Karimov.  What were the conspirators’ objectives?  What measures did the Uzbek government take toward the danger of Asama Bin Laden efforts?  Were the Wahhabites involved in the plot?  Prospectives for the immediate future?

Navigating Between Blithesome Optimism and Cultural Despair

Instructor: Albert Boime; Art History

  • I intend to share the sense of crisis about my teaching mission that I experienced on September 11, and examine the context of Enlightenment values that have given meaning to my life’s work.  My faith in the unlimited creativity of human beings in solving the problems of their environment, in the capacity of the imagination to invent new solutions to economic, physical and psychological dilemmas, in the liberation of mental energy and fresh ideas from the fetters of dogma and fear, was sorely tested on that fateful Tuesday.  I will attempt to dissect and comprehend the events through their representations, for only through understanding can we prevent future recurrences of such events.

Information Technology and Infrastructure in Times of Crisis

Instructor: Christine L. Borgman; Information Studies

  • Computer networks (e.g., the Internet) and telecommunications are part of an infrastructure that underlies the nation’s – and the world’s – financial, transportation, power, water, emergency services, and communications frameworks.  The vulnerability of that interconnected infrastructure was never more evident than on September 11, 2001.  Yet the information infrastructure also enabled people to locate each other, to maintain contact, and to get information in a time of crisis.  In this seminar we will address questions such as, What is an information infrastructure?  What role does information infrastructure play in people’s lives? How can information technology be used to improve communications and access to information in times of crisis?  What are the threats to civil liberties (e.g., privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of access to information) associated with technology-based information infrastructures?  How can we advance global communications networks, in light of their use for good and for evil?

Making Sense of the New World Disorder

Instructor: Rogers Brubaker; Sociology

  • Democracy, in principle, requires well-informed citizens.  This is no small challenge. With all of cyberspace at our fingertips, not to speak of the broadcast and print media, we are awash in information: but are we well informed?  The horrific events of September 11 and their aftermath raise this question with special urgency.  In this seminar, we will discuss what ordinary citizens can do to make intelligent critical use of the media — and of web-based resources in particular to inform themselves about the events, their contexts, and their sequels.

Fictions of Terror vs. Real Terror

Instructor: Frederick Burwick; English

  • In arguments about the pretensions of realist drama in the 18th century, it was said that if a real execution was taking place in the town square, the population would go there rather than watch a pretend execution in the theater.  Does the population have a morbid curiosity to watch real gore and slaughter?  What is the purpose of violence in film, drama, and literature? Since the frequency and extent of terror and violence in the arts is not a constant, presumably the degree of morbid fascination is related to social events.  This seminar will discuss fictive terror as a phenomenon in the popular media in relation to incidents of actual terror.

National Security in the 21st Century

Instructor: Albert Carnesale; Policy Studies

  • During the Cold War, Americans saw the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal as the primary threat to U.S. security.  With the collapse of the Soviet empire, and in the wake of catastrophic terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, two fundamental questions arise: (1) what are the near-term threats to the security of the U.S. and other nations?; and (2) how might those threats best be met?

War, Terror and Violence: Reflecting on Machiavelli

Instructor: Brian Copenhaver; History and Philosophy

  • Is war a legitimate instrument of politics? Can war be a just act of the state?   How do wars waged by states differ from acts of violence by individuals?  Why is the word ‘terror’ used for some acts of violence?  This seminar will explore these questions from the point of view expressed by Niccolo Machiavelli in parts of The Prince, a book written almost five centuries ago but often cited today when such questions are discussed.

What Do We Tell the Children?: Parenting Issues

Instructor: Chandice Covington; Nursing

  • Children look to parents for cues to cope with stressful events.  The events of September 11 have placed parents in the situation of explaining and reassuring their children.  In this course, through guest speakers, discussion, and readings on “best practices,” students will address parental issues and approaches to the tragic events directed to the promotion of child and family health.

Implications of World Crises for Student Stress and Academic Achievement: Coping Strategies

Instructor: Winston Doby; Higher Education

  • Exploration of the relationship among world crises, students stress as they relate to student achievement.  Students will maintain a journal during the quarter, including interviews of other students.  Enrollment limited.

Historical Perspectives on September 11

Instructors: Ellen DuBois; History and Joyce Appleby; History

  • This course will have two tasks.  First we will do our best to set the events of and claims about September 11 in historical perspective.  Second, we will examine critically the historical claims being made by politicians in the media, to see how history is being used at this critical moment.

Stress and Coping in the Aftermath of a National Disaster

Instructor: Chris Dunkel Schetter; Psychology – Social

  • This seminar will explore stress and coping responses that occurred following the major disaster including post traumatic stress disorder.  We will read brief selections from the literature on responses to major disasters and we will collect and evaluate articles on media coverage of stress and coping following the terrorist attacks.  Videos may be utilized.   Personal experiences will be shared.  Community responses will be explored.  In short, we will consider the nature of this stress and the variety of responses that have occurred using a critical analysis of what is adaptive and what may not be.

Culture and the Deferral of Violence

Instructor: Eric Gans; French and Francophone Studies

  • Exploration of the hypothesis that human language and culture is essentially a means of deferring violence, and its application to the current situation.

America as Hyperpower

Instructor: Geoffrey Garrett; Political Science

  • The US today is far more powerful than it was during the cold war, arguably more powerful than any country in history.  There are many dimensions to America’s global dominance: commerce, politics, security, media and entertainment.  People in the US, on the street and in Washington, believe that American power has been used benevolently, for the good of all the world.  But reactions tend to be very different outside America, running the gamut from polite disgruntlement to mass protests, and finally to the tragic events of September 11.  How has the US used its power since the end of the cold war?  Why have many in the rest of the world reacted negatively to this?  How should the US act in the coming years?

An ‘East’ and a ‘West’? Thinking about the ‘Clash of Civilizations’

Instructor: James L. Gelvin; History

  • The purpose of this seminar is to examine recent writings about the ‘clash of civilizations,’ written by both Anglophone and Middle Eastern scholars, to put them into their historical context, and appraise their validity for understanding history and contemporary events.

Beyond Tears: Evidence, Fact, and Crisis

Instructor: Kenneth Graham; Law

  • An exploration of the evidentiary concepts that may help students and citizens avoid being misled by those who manipulate crisis for their own ends.

Recognizing and Dealing with Stress during a Time of Crisis

Instructor: Carlos Grijalva; Psychology – Behavioral

  • There is no doubt that the tragic events of September 11 impact us all in ways that can affect our mental and physical well being.  The purpose of this seminar is to gain a better understanding of “stress” both from a psychological and physiological perspective, and to explore ways to cope with and reduce the impact of stressful events.

The Search for Identity? Insurgent Islam and the Response of the West--the Sudanese Case

Instructor: Sondra Hale, Anthropology; Gerry Hale, Geography

  • September 11 raises questions of how we think about the interconnections among religion (Islam), global economics, culture, terror, war, and ourselves.  Problematic relationships between the U.S. and an Islamist regime in Sudan form a perplexing case involving issues of ethnic and religious identity, economic development, regionalism, human rights, and the use of violence.

Psychological Perspectives: Anxiety, Stress, and Depression

Instructor: Constance Hammen; Psychology – Clinical

  • Faculty and graduate students in clinical psychology will lead discussions on what we know about emotional reactions to trauma and stress, and how they may be treated in individuals, families, and couples.  Topics may include normal and abnormal fear and anxiety; post traumatic stress disorder; depression; reactions to stress; children’s responses to fear and trauma; treatments–including therapy, disaster debriefing, crisis intervention, community interventions.

The Map of Love an Exploration of Islam and the Colonial Experience through a Novel by Egyptian Writer Adhaf Soueif

Instructor: Katherine Callen King; Comparative Literature

  • We will explore and explode popular misconceptions about the quality of Islamic culture in Egypt, including the status of women and the effect of British imperialism and the stereotypes it sought and found.  We will look at violence and discuss whether the novel presents it as inevitable or as preventable.  We will read a few chapters every week and discuss these issues and other relevant ones as they come up.

Terrorism and the Politics of Knowledge

Instructor: Vinay Lal; History

  • While the world rightfully stands united in its condemnation of the bombings of September 11, the American mainstream media has remained impervious to those critical voices which have also drawn attention to America’s own record of imperialistic adventurism and the relation of the WTC bombings to American excesses in Iraq, Sudan, and the Middle East.  This seminar asks fundamental questions about how we constitute “terrorism” and its agents.  What are the categories of knowledge deployed to understand “terror”?   Should the continuing sanctions against Iraq also be considered a form of terrorism?   What is the relationship of the bin Ladens of this world to “Western state terrorism”?  Who defines and names terrorism, with what authority, and with what consequences?

War and Autobiography: Testimonials from Algeria and the Belgian Congo

Instructor: Francoise Lionnet; French and Francophone Studies

  • Selections from two novels dealing with the aftermath of the Algerian War of Independence, and one film dealing with the Belgian Congo.  The focus will be on the expressions of despair, mourning, and melancholia in these autobiographical narratives.

Women’s Participation in Political Violence

Instructor: Judith Magee; History

  • The course poses the question: What is women’s relationship to political violence?   Using a feminist lens, the course examines the participation of women in radical political movements in the late twentieth-century United States.  Women are often not the director actors in violent acts; more often they are victims, participants, or accomplices.   The course tries to understand the motivations, complex behaviors, and worldviews of radical women.

Understanding, Respecting and Honoring the First Amendment in a Terrorist Environment

Instructor: Joe Mandel; Law

  • We will examine judicial opinions and supplementary materials that address interpretations and applications of the First Amendment to the United Sates Constitution in the context of the country’s most politically charged and turbulent times.  This will include events that followed the passage of the Sedition Act of 1798, World War I, the 1920’s “Red Scare,” World War II, the “Cold War,” the Vietnam War.  We will explore this fundamental provision of the Bill of Rights, the ideal of free speech and various constraints and pressures on that ideal.  We will also explore how the judicial system has sought to define the outer limits of the protections the First Amendment provides in the context of various challenges to the American way of life.

Concepts of the Terror in Western Culture from the French Revolution to the Present

Instructor: Robert M. Maniquis; English

  • Religious, political, and literary aspects of terror in its modern Western contexts.   First session, one hour, thereafter every other Thursday evening for two hours.  Email instructor for place and time.

September 11th: Reflections on Terrorism, its Origins and Consequences

Instructor: Jose C. Moya; History

  • We will examine the nature of present-day terrorism, its historical roots, the Middle-East and the role of the U.S. in the region, and the impact of September 11th on domestic and international politics.

Terror and Its Psychological Impact

Instructor: Alan Nagamoto; Psychology

  • The unprecedented acts of terror will likely leave indelible images in our memories.  In the wake of these shocking attacks and amidst rumors of additional attacks, there arises a unique opportunity for us to learn firsthand about psychological trauma and its many levels of impact.  This course will cover what is known about psychological trauma and also explore how this particular tragedy might impact us as a nation as well as individually.  Students will be encouraged to deepen awareness of the psychological effects of this tragedy as well as to articulate what new meaning can be found through these tragic experiences.

The World Conference against Racism: Illusions, Collusions, and/or Opportunities

Instructor: William D. Parham; Psychology

  • Thousands of participants, including world leaders and caucus groups representing populations from around the globe, attended the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) that convened in Durban, South Africa, August 29 – September 8, 2001. Answers to questions regarding the “real” outcome of the conference vary depending on the respondents being queried. Factors contributing to the successes and failures of the WCAR will be identified and the implications for said outcomes will be examined. Course participants will then be invited to review post-Durban recommendations for change and subsequently encouraged to think about ways of translating said or course generated recommendations into concrete programs for our campus and our home communities.

Silence, Slogans, and Flags

Instructor: Carol Petersen; Writing Programs

  • Along with moments of silence have come new slogans (“Attack on America”), new images (the changed New York skyline), and renewed patriotism (a flag raised, as in Iwo Jima, over a site of death and rubble).  We’ll consider the role of language, images, symbols, and symbolic acts in dealing with September 11.

Law and the Use of Force

Instructor: Kal Raustiala; Law

  • This seminar will examine both the international and constitutional law governing the use of military force.  The resort to force is a core attribute of the international system, but one that is increasingly bound by legal rules that govern how and when force may be used.  At the domestic level, the US Constitution allocates power among the branches of government with regard to the use of force.  One manifestation of that allocation was the Congressional resolution authorizing the President to use “all necessary and appropriate force.”  We will consider what role these various legal rules can, and should, play in influencing any military reaction to the September 11 attack.

Terror and the Dilemmas of American Power

Instructor: Geoffrey Robinson – History; Jessica Wang – History

  • Why did the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 occur?  How can the U.S. respond, without endangering liberties within the United States or making itself a pariah in the international community?  We will explore these questions from historical and contemporary vantage points, by considering the nature of U.S. foreign relations, attitudes of the Islamic world toward the United States, and American concerns with internal security throughout the 20th century.

Biological and Chemical Weapons: Assessing the Terrorist Threat.

Instructor: Ralph Robinson; Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

  • In the weeks following the Sept. 11 attacks, fears have increased concerning the release of biological or chemical weapons (BCW).  We will examine the types of agents that terrorist groups would most likely try to use.  A historical review of BCW use by armies and terrorist groups will demonstrate how effective these weapons can be.  The medical aspects of transmission, symptoms, treatment, and prevention will be discussed in lay person’s terms.  Finally, we will examine the defensive measures being developed that will hopefully prevent terrorists from successfully deploying these types of weapons.

The Terror of History: A Search for Justice

Instructor: Teofilo F. Ruiz; History

  • This course will explore the rise of violence and radical movements in the Western tradition, and the ambiguities that we have faced historically between combating these movements and creating a world which is just and peaceful.

Responses to National and Personal Tragedies in the Bible (Prophets and Psalms)

Instructor: Yona Sabar; Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

  • Selected texts of the prophets and the poets of the Bible.How do they reconcile their feelings of despair with their trust in God after an incomprehensible catastrophe?  Which metaphors and other linguistic means do they use to express their visions for a better future and recovery?  Knowledge of Hebrew preferred but not required.

Justice and War: The Ethics of International Conflicts

Instructor: Andrew Sabl; Policy Studies

  • War involves organized, deliberate killing. In spite of that, some wars are called “just” if they are fought for legitimate reasons, keep open the possibility of peace, and show proper respect for the rights of prisoners and noncombatants. This seminar will explore and debate the idea of just wars through short readings in ethics (historical and contemporary) and real-world cases.

Privilege, Power, and Difference: Is Tolerance Enough?

Instructor: Ronni Sanlo; Education

  • This seminar explores thoughts, identities, and ideas about privilege and power, the differences with which each student comes to the campus community, and the difference each student can make.

Literature as Mourning: China and Greece

Instructor: David Schaberg; East Asian Languages and Cultures

  • Examines texts from world literature, especially the Chinese and Greek traditions, as responses to the loss of loved ones and as ways of managing, cultivating, and redirecting the force of grief.

“Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War”

Instructor: Craig Smith; Medicine

  • The U.S. Special Forces will be on the front lines of the new war against terrorism.  In order to understand these forces, this course will focus on “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War” by investigative journalist Mark Bowden.  This book provides a strikingly detailed account of the 1993 nightmare operation in Mogadishu that left 18 American soldiers dead and many more wounded.  Dr. Smith serves as a general surgeon in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps.

What the U.S. Should Do to Be Popular in the Third World

Instructor: Earl Thompson; Economics

  • The reasons for the unpopularity of the U.S. government in the third world are examined.  The persistently negative reaction of the Latin American left wing against U.S. trade policies; the 20th century condemnations of the U.S. by essentially all communist countries; the “Ugly American” in Southeast Asia, the demonstrations against our WTO meetings; and the growing Arab hatred of the U.S.: Are these hatreds coincidental?  What do they have in common?  Although our policy makers clearly desire to help these countries, have we subconsciously evolved policies that are highly economically inefficient and essentially exploitative of the third world?

International English-Language Newspaper Coverage

Instructor: Dominic Thomas; French and Francophone Studies

  • The events of September 11, 2001 have generated a plethora of stimulating debates in the international English-language media.  The focus of the seminar will be provided by a consideration of these responses, reflection on perceptions of American foreign policy, the exploration of anti-American sentiment, and assiduous monitoring of emerging discussions.

Echoes of Terror in Brain, Mind, and Literature

Instructor: Allan Tobin, Medicine; Janet Hadda, English

  • Traumatic historical events, such as those of September 11, evoke both shared and highly individual responses.   In this seminar, we will discuss ways in which people cope with public terror in their lives.  We will examine the neurobiological and psychological effects of terror and the transformation of these responses into creative expression.

The Role of Art and Technology in Times of War

Instructor: Victoria Vesna; Design

  • What is the role and responsibility of writers, artists, architects, designers, musicians and other creative practitioners in these extraordinary times?  In this seminar we will begin with a short overview of mainstream and alternative culture in the US during times of war.  Then we will look at how creative use of technology can be employed to preserve our freedom of speech, promote difference and tolerance and create spaces for audiences to voice their opinions and share their feelings during times of conflict.

Perspectives on War and Terror thereto--through Theatre, Art and Music

Instructor: Tom Wheatley; Theater

  • Through the reading of plays, the listening to selected music, and the viewing of art, students will find parallels (through the ages) to our current crisis.  Students will discuss these and report on one or two.

Poetry and Loss

Instructor: Reed Wilson; English

  • It might be said that the art of poetry is often an art that consoles and challenges us through great feelings of loss.  In this course we will read selections from a number of contemporary poets, as well as write and share our own poems on subjects of loss.  No special experience with reading or writing poetry is expected, just the willingness to explore one of the many ways women and men have come to terms with the need to remember, to grieve, and to heal.

Psychology of Group Identity

Instructor: Victor Wolfenstein; Political Science

  • Enrollment restricted to students in Political Science 113.

At War with the Afghans and Chechens: The Russian Experience

Instructor: Olga T. Yokoyama; Slavic Languages and Literature

  • What is the experience of Russians in their recent war in Afghanistan?  What are their fears, prejudices, and sympathies towards the Chechens, whom they have been fighting for several years now?  How does Russian literature and film view the culture of Islam?  The seminar will examine such questions through the literature and film of a non-Islamic neighbor that has had Muslims within and around its borders since the Middle Ages, and which provide a fascinating perspective for exploring outsiders’ views of Islamic Culture.

Terror & Society in Bergman’s Films

Instructor: Jules Zentner; Scandinavian

  • Drawing on two films by Ingmar Bergman about terror, questions will be asked about the origins of terror in Society and, in particular, within male/female relationships.  Possible reduction in the threat of terror will be explored.