Course Descriptions


Divine Comedy: Theology Through Stand-Up

Joseph Smith

"If God showed up at a party, he'd be the least welcome person in party history," says stand-up comic Jim Jefferies as he thinks of all the strings attached to God's professed love for humanity. Humor disarms. That is why comedy so often cuts to the heart of the deep questions that people want to ask but are too often scared away by the musk of old theology and philosophy books. In this class we will explore questions of religion and authority, God and humanity, creation, evil, sin and redemption through the eyes of the world's funniest stand-up comics.

Ghosts, Witches, and the Supernatural Folklore of Pennsylvania

Thomas White

This course will explore the social and cultural history of Pennsylvania's supernatural legends and folklore. We will examine the evolution of such tales and discuss how they reflect changes in society and become a vehicle to carry alternate history and moral warnings. We will look at how tales of ghosts and witches often represent marginalized populations who are otherwise ignored as well as beliefs about the afterlife and dangers in society.

He called Me a MudBlood! Exploring Racism and Classism in Harry Potter

Jessica Mann & Luci-Jo DiMaggio

While considered a young adult fantasy series, Harry Potter offers readers the opportunity to explore historical and current real-world issues based on the series' social hierarchy as it relates to racial and socioeconomic ideologies. This course will explore how the world of Harry Potter's human and non-human beings relates to our experiences in regard to bias, power, allyship and privilege.

Humor and Hilarity in Music

Paul Miller

Why does music sometimes make us laugh out loud? This course interrogates hilarious, absurd and ridiculous music in representative works from the classical period to musical theater, jazz and hip-hop. Students will consider why they feel amused by certain musical utterances. We investigate several theoretical models of musical humor, focusing particularly on musical semantics (topic theory), musical discourse, rhetoric, and techniques such as incongruity, opposition, satire and notions of excess. Drawing from a dizzying, diverse and droll array of music, we invite students not just to laugh, but to consider why.

Making Apps for iOS and Android Devices

Richard Simpson

Students will learn to develop apps for iOS (iPhones, iPads) and Android devices using a visual programming language. Thunkable allows the user to create programs by connecting program statements together like Lego bricks. The visual nature of the programming environment supports beginning programmers in a way that traditional text programming (e.g., Java) does not. Students can download the apps they build to their own phone or tablet and run them.

Mockingjays and Mavericks: The Politics of The Hunger Games

Luke Sheahan

The bestselling dystopian book series and blockbuster movies thrilled millions. Many hailed the stories for educating a new generation on revolutionary ideas. What exactly are the politics of The Hunger Games? What was the historical and mythological content that inspired Suzanne Collins to write about oppression and revolution? What is the role of individuals like Katniss Everdeen in political change? What was the political system of Panem and why was it problematic? What are the promises and perils of revolutionary politics? This course explores these questions and inquires how The Hunger Games may shed light on politics today.

New Year, New World: 14-Day Challenge

Kathleen Glenister Roberts

January is a time for New Year's Resolutions: "New Year, New You!" Yet by February, 80 percent of us will give up. This course can help you break through failure by turning the whole nature of resolutions upside-down: instead of focusing on self-improvement and internal, individualistic goals (new you), we will try to form new habits that improve the lives of others (new world). Students will choose from Spiritan principles in peace, justice and environmental stewardship. The course material and small achievements each day can lead to a lifetime of joy and freedom that comes from solidarity.

New Year's Resolutions: What does the literature tell us about setting and achieving goals?

Melissa Kalarchian

This course will challenge you to set some achievable goals to make the New Year more positive and productive in uncertain times. This course will be run in a "virtual book club" format where students will select one of three different options related to positive psychology and the science of behavior change. Students will take turns moderating small group discussions and put principles into practice with experiential elements over the two-week period. Students will consolidate their experience with vlog- or blogstyle book review or explanation of how the course shaped their goal-setting, with student-selected prizes for the best entries.

Preparing for the Job Market Today

Garnet Butchart

"Preparing for the Job Market Today" equips undergraduate students with skills for success in the process of search, application, and interviewing for entry-level positions in today's job market. The essentials of professional preparing for the marketplace is approached from a communication perspective and is relevant for undergraduate students in any major. Modules include: effective resume design and cover letter writing; peer reviewing online; in-person and remote interview communication; designing the professional social media profile; workplace civility and inclusion.

Presidential Honeymoons: The First 100 Days of an Administration

Kristen Coopie

Since Franklin D. Roosevelt "set an impossible standard" after a whirlwind 100 days in office, U.S. Presidents have been judged on their action (or inaction) during their honeymoon period. This course will analyze the political, policy, and institutional issues faced by presidents immediately after taking office.

Rather than a chronological approach, we will instead investigate common thematic issues that each new administration must deal with, including staffing the administration, preparing a budget, issuing initial executive orders, and the first Congressional address. Additionally, we will discuss what may happen in the first 100 days of winner of the 2020 election.

Science Fiction and International Political Meaning

John Sawicki

The pedagogical benefit of science fiction as a genre is that it creates a literary lab to apply what we know of human institutions, behaviors, and values to be projected into different technological or physical conditions, and then postulate the results. It is enormously popular as entertainment. I believe it can also be very effective in teaching new riffs on political topics, such as equality, gender, ultimate meaning, God, the environment, etc.


All Roads Lead to Rome: Cinema, Comedy and Society in Italy

Giuseppe Losacco - Sociology - Duquesne In Rome Faculty

The goal of this mini course on Italian cinema is to focus on a film genre that belongs to cinema all over the world: the comedy. In the early 1950s, the most successful Italian genre famous all over the world, Neorealism, is deemed too complex and too dramatic for the Italian public, and the Italian public begins to turn to entertainment products from overseas. To keep Italians engaged in Italian film, a new style emerges in Italy called Commedia all'Italiana. Through satire and irony, a whole series of Italian comedians from the beginning of 50s up to now, have addressed social problems that characterize Italian society through an irreverent, comic, ironic but also a reflective gaze.

The objective of this course will be to analyze some of these important films with actors such as Alberto Sordi, Paolo Villaggio, Roberto Benigni, Carlo Verdone, Antonio Albanese up to the most famous of the current Italian comedians like Checco Zalone. We will explore how these comedians not only make us laugh, but also how they create important social commentary for the everyday Italian citizen and the Italian politician by presenting us with themes of beauty and darkness in Italian society.

It's Superbowl Time! The History of Sports and What it All Means

Mike Cronin - Irish History - Duquesne In Dublin

Why is Patrick Mahomes paid $45 million a year to throw a ball? Should we care that Lance Armstrong had to cheat to get his bike around France? And why do we embrace the violence inherent in much sport and expect everyone to shake hands at the end and yet play within the rules?

This course will explore the world of elite sports, from the NFL, through the Olympics and across the Atlantic to soccer and beyond. We will critically examine where modern sports came from, why it has become such a dominant passion for people across the world and what it means. This course will make you think about what you watch, and maybe see it differently next time.

Made in Italy: Food, Fashion, and Furniture - A Look at the Iconic Italian Brands

Nicolo' Tartaglia - International Business - Duquesne In Rome

Why is Italy so well known for design, style and sophistication? This course will explore this question and offer the opportunity for students to be exposed to top Italian companies and their business practices. We will explore the various reasons of Italy's competitiveness through its iconic brands and its overall business philosophy. This overview will investigate how Italians coordinate their cultural strengths of creativity, historical heritage, and technology to manufacture the finest design-intensive goods exported all over the world.

Meet the Giants: The Art of Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini in Rome

Elizabeth Lev - Art Historian - Duquesne in Rome

This two-week on-line class introduces three geniuses of Italian painting, sculpture and architecture through their masterpieces and their own words. Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini form a stylistic progression from the late Renaissance to the high Baroque, a development that can be traced through the analysis of their most celebrated works. Specifically, students will virtually "visit" Michelangelo's artistic achievement of the Pietà that inspired Caravaggio's revolutionary painting, then experience, via video footage, the magnificent theatrical endeavors of GianLorenzo Bernini.

This class will offer students the opportunity to delve into the intensive artistic activity of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and become acquainted with the techniques and styles of these three innovators. Select readings will allow students to become versed in art historical terminology, as well as hear the "voice" of the masters.

Modern Rome/Modern Pittsburgh

David and Ann Wilkins - Art Historians - Duquesne In Rome

This course will examine how three historical periods helped form the modern city of Rome; comparisons between Rome and Pittsburgh will enhance the students' understanding of how historical events can shape architecture and urban planning in modern cities. The three periods for Rome are: 1. Creating a Capital City for a New Nation (Rome after 1870/71); 2. Transformed by Fascism (the Role of Architecture, Art, and Urban Planning); and 3. Becoming a Global Metropolis after World War II. For Pittsburgh, we will examine: 1. Creating a City in the Wilderness: Pittsburgh becomes a Town and then a City; 2. The Role of Immigrants and Industrialization in Transforming the City in the late 19th and the 20th centuries; and 3. "Renaissance Pittsburgh" (Revitalization after World War II).

Treasures of the Irish Celtic World

Michael Collins - Historian - Duquesne In Dublin

Ireland lies on the north west of the European continent in the Atlantic Sea. The island has produced a unique form of art, which combines Saxon and Celtic influences. Students will take a virtual journey through six thousand years of history, illustrated with inspiring art and architecture. Using a wide selection of photographs, students will visit sites across Ireland as well as examining artifacts from museums and private collections.

The objective of the course is to introduce the students to the unique culture of Ireland from prehistoric to the Middle Ages through artefact. This is not a history of Ireland but an exploration of the artistic heritage of the Irish Celtic world.

Visual Cultures of Care in Italian Art

Christina Mifsud - Art Historian - Duquesne In Rome

This course presents themes of care, medicine, health and safety by examining art in Italy. We will give special concentration to the art of the Late Medieval and Renaissance periods (13th - 17thC). We will explore art forms such as painting, mosaic, sculpture, woodcuts and architecture. We will investigate these visual forms as cultural artifacts to allow students to better understand the importance of healthcare practices from the past and, in particular, how issues regarding healthcare and safety have permeated societal concerns for centuries.

Students will also gain an appreciation for, and a better understanding of, Italian art while cultivating basic art historical skills in particular description, stylistic and iconographical analysis. Each site visited and theme presented also introduces students to important historical socio-economic, political and religious contexts that produced the art. The course will consist of virtual lectures and virtual site visits to galleries, museums, churches, hospitals and palaces throughout Italy.

Writers, Rebels and Revolutionaries: Exploring Irish Literature

Caroline Elbay - Irish Literature - Duquesne In Dublin

‘To stroll through Dublin
is to stroll through history
...more a stage than a city'.
(Brendan Kennelly)

Students will experience an introduction to and a glimpse of the milieu that inspired some of the great stories of everyday life by a selection of gifted Irish writers. We will give particular attention to the notion of identity and hybridity in relation to language, nation, and ethnicity, as well as addressing colonialism and its aftermath as explored and presented by the writers on this course.

Students will learn to analyze and critically evaluate the literary works addressed during the course whose topical outline includes topics such as: A Question of Identity: The Context(s) of Anglo-Irish literature; English as a foreign language for Ireland/Irish writers; Political, religious and regional points of view in Irish literature; Yeats, The Abbey Theatre, and the creation of cultural identity; Dublin ReJoyce: The city as represented by James Joyce; Famine, Emigration and the Irish-American Diaspora'; Northern Ireland: A Nation Divided; Mná na hÉireann: Women in Irish Literature; A Decade of Centenaries: 2013-23.