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Spring 2023 Courses

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Videogames as Literature: Analyzing Narratives in Undertale and The Beginner's Guide

“To me, video games are the ultimate art form. It’s just the ultimate media. I mean, it’s the sum total of every expressive medium of all time, made interactive.”

  • Phil Fish, award-winning videogame designer


As Fish says, videogames are among the most immersive mediums ever created, literally putting you in someone else’s (digital) shoes. The connections and memories players make with narratives in videogames are wholly unlike those that are made with, say, readers of a novel or watchers of a film. This class is for this purpose exactly — studying videogames and building videogame literacy in the same way we have done with other mediums.


In this class, we will discuss Toby Fox’s Undertale, a critically-acclaimed role-playing game with a strong narrative and memorable characters, and Davey Wreden’s The Beginner’s Guide, an interactive storytelling game where Wreden himself walks players through games made by his friend—one of gaming’s most mysterious figures, a developer named Coda.

Taught by Ishaan Shrestha & Genese Kim

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

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Comedy is Remedy: Healing through Laughter

Laugh your way to better health with laughter therapy! This exciting new approach in the medical field uses the power of humor to boost overall well-being and reduce stress and pain. Science agrees. Laughter is a universal language that has been shown to improve health outcomes for diverse populations around the world. Imagine being able to influence your emotional state and improve your chances of fighting off diseases and injuries, just by having a good laugh! This class is a unique blend of comedy and science, where we explore the art of making people laugh and the evidence behind its effectiveness. Get ready for an engaging journey filled with real-life discussions, improvisational exercises, and of course, laughter. We'll explore important questions such as when is it appropriate to use humor, how to use it effectively, and most importantly, why it's so crucial that we do. Come join us on a journey to discover the therapeutic benefits of laughter and how it can transform your life!

Taught by Phong Doozy

11:00 AM- 12:30 PM


Introduction to Neuroethics

Very much like any ethical issues that scientists need to be mindful of in research, there are neuroethical issues that neuroscientists have to be aware of. Since the brain is the central organ of the human body that is home to consciousness, decision making, homeostasis and more, there are certain ethical issues that ask for special considerations. For instance, if neuroscientists developed a drug to erase negative memories for trauma patients, should it be prescribed to the general public as well? If researchers found that specific areas of the brain activate when we show empathy to others, should the government use this information to develop army training programs to promote detachment for overly empathetic soldiers?
Throughout the course, we will go over the central nervous system (CNS) and discuss relevant neuroethical questions. After going through an overview of the brain’s structure and function, students will choose a neuroethical question they would like to explore. The class will work on better understanding the claims, research and thoughts to back their arguments. 

Taught by Gaon Kim

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM


The Influences of Early Childhood

Do you know that playing with toys, watching TV shows, going to school, and growing up as a kid help to influence who we are, how we think, and how we grow as a person? There is a misconception that young kids won’t be able to understand much, but children are beyond capable of understanding and doing things on their own! In this class, we will collaborate about the influences of early childhood that guide development, personality, inquiry, and creativity during early childhood. For example, we will watch kid TV shows to discuss what are some things that kids are learning from these shows, such as colors or social-emotional skills, and how are those topics being taught. We will examine how toys not only entertained children but also had social, political, economical, and emotional targets. Developmentally, we will talk about the external and internal factors from an ecological model to better understand how these influences can have a major impact on a child's growing up. Lastly, we will talk about the different methods of early education that helps to teach and develop a child. The class will focus on collaboration, discussion, and many fun activities to incorporate the lessons!

Taught by Jessica Vi Gomez

9:30-11:00 AM

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Still Here! Exploring Contemporary Indigenous Identity through Art of Resistance 

Often, we are taught about Native Americans as stereotypical figures existing only in history. The only problem with that idea is…everything! In this class, we will be fighting against that narrative by actively exploring and discussing modern-day Native American identity. But, wait—who gets to identify as a Native American? What’s blood quantum? How do tribes actually work? What is settler colonialism? Why does frybread smell so amazing and make my stomach hurt so badly? Through the works of modern Indigenous artists, we will discuss these questions in pursuit of deeper understanding, not answers. All you need to participate is a willingness to listen to rock music and rap, watch comedies, scroll through Instagram posts, listen to podcasts, and read some revolutionary writings about basketball—all created by contemporary Native artists and activists. If you’re lucky, I may even share some scary legends! Come ready to discuss, create, and laugh.

Taught by Cat Broderick

11:00 AM- 12:30 PM


Fiction or Fact? Literature as a Form of Social Commentary

Are fiction books really fictional? A lot of the fiction books that we read seem like frivolous stories about heroes and villains, with some voodoo or cyborg aliens sprinkled in there. However, in reality, many of the most well-known fictional stories that exist are enlightening pieces that provide deep insight into some of the biggest social issues facing humanity. For example, Harry Potter is a well-known children’s book that explores silly stories about wizards and their magic. However, a deeper exploration of the book shows that the Wizarding World parallels many of the social ills of our time period and world too. For instance, the concept of “Pure-blood Supremacy” under Voldemort’s regime (the character was actually based off of Hitler) has racial undertones and is reflective of notions of white supremacy and ethnic cleansing within our world. So, while on the surface, books such as these may not seem like anything of value, in reality, they are insightful commentaries on a significnat wider social issue. Throughout the course we would explore and dissect various books of different genres and time periods in a similar fashion. Therefore, if this seems like something that would interest you, come to class ready to discuss and have your minds blown by the true social contexts behind some of your favorite books!

Taught by Fatima Alyousefi

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

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