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New Critical Inquiry Course Topics Range from Rap Music to the Economics of Sin

A required rite of passage for every Pomona College first-year student is the twice-weekly Critical Inquiry seminar. Helmed by faculty from across the disciplines, each course explores a topic—in total, 29 this year—of the professor’s choosing that students then wrestle with through reading, writing and class discussions. The goal is both simple and foundational: get students ready for the intellectual rigor of Pomona through writing.

This fall there are 14 new courses, some of which include:

“The Economics of Sin,” taught by Professor of Economics Eleanor Brown, will examine how the organization of society may tempt us towards gluttony, lust, pride, envy, sloth, wrath and greed from the angle of supply and demand. In the course, students will select and analyze an eighth “sin.”

In “Molecules and the Mind,” taught by Professor of Neuroscience Karen Parfitt, students will investigate how the brain works, psychiatric illnesses, issues of medical treatment with psychoactive drugs, questions about the nature of addiction and other issues by looking at personal accounts of individual’s struggles.

“Rap Music,” taught by Professor of Mathematics Gabriel Chandler, will trace the genre’s 40-year history, examine current issues like copyrights and explore rap as poetry. Students will compose their own rap lyrics.

Students in “Yes, But Is It Still Shakespeare? Surveying His Canon Through the Lens of International Film History,” taught by Professor of Theatre and Dance Arthur Horowitz, will discuss and write about films of Shakespeare’s work, looking at matters of cultural appropriation and cinematic and poetic license.

Professor of History and Classics Kenneth Wolf’s “Holy War in Early Christianity and Islam” class will use primary and secondary texts to consider the concept of jihad alongside imperial Christian attitudes and experiments with warfare.

A full list of this fall’s Critical Inquiry classes can be found here.

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