Fall 2020 (un)common reads

These courses are discussion-oriented, one credit seminar courses centered on a book.

Please use the UF Schedule of Courses to find times, places, and other course information.

Books listed by Topic Area:

Books are listed in more than one category, but please peruse them all.

Full listing of all courses:

(un)common reads courses - all

CourseClass NumberTitleSectDay/PeriodInstructorSyllabus
IDH2930  15589 Lord of the Rings  0171 M/5 Alexander, Cory  Lord of the Rings 
IDH2930 23236 The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures 0172 W/4 Selfe, Terry Kit Spirit Catches You 
IDH2930 23258 Challenging Conversations: exploring the vaccine controversy* 0173 M/8 Stoyan-Rosenzweig, Nina Vaccine Discussions 
IDH2930  26246 Health, Chemicals and Environment* 0176 W/5 Delfino, Joseph Health, Chemicals & Envir 
IDH2930  26249 Different in STEM: Confronting the Lack of Diversity in the STEM World Today*  0177 T/6 Shaw, Ana/Nancy Ruzycki Different in STEM 
IDH2930  20909  Building Wealth: How Ordinary People Become Millionaires and Extraordinarily Generous 008B  W/8 Jones, Jennifer Amanda Building Wealth 
IDH2930  26281  Exploring the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) 0190  T/8 Gillen, Martie Children & Trauma 
IDH2930  26276  Insects and Plants 0187  T/3  Sourakov, Andrei/Willmott, Keith Insects and Plants 
IDH2930  26250 Physician Writers in the Post-Modern Era 0178 R/9  Cogle, Christopher Physician Writers 
IDH2930 26253 Crazy Love and the Bible-A reading of the Song of Solomon 0179 M/6 Abend, Dror Crazy Love 
IDH2930 26258 Common Ground and the Possibility of the Common Good 0181 R/9 Best, Todd Common Good 
IDH2930 26267 Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations 0182 F/9 Ardelt, Monika Philosophy for Life 
IDH2930  26277  Voyage of the turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur 0188  T/7  Pajuelo, Mariela Voyage of the turtle
IDH2930  26269 Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy  0183  R/7  Rogers, Vern 50 World Shaping Things 
IDH2930  26270 Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America* 0184  T/10  Smith, Craig Dopesick 
IDH2930  26271 Darwin's "The Origin of Species"  0185 R/9 Austin, James  Origin of Species 
IDH2930  26274 The Greeks and the Irrational 0186 R/9 Papke, Roger The Greeks and the Irrational 
IDH2930 26278 "Mr Tompkins in Paperback" (an amnibus of "Mr Tompkins in Wonderland" and "Mr Tompkins Explores the Atom") by George Gamow 0189 W/10 Hages, Chuck Mr. Tompkins 
IDH2930  26299 Animals and Why they Matter, by Mary Midgley 0191 R/4 Peterson, Anna Animals and Why They Matter
IDH2930  26302 Detecting Texts: Alan Robbe-Grillet's Uncommon Detective Novel  0192 T/3 Ewert, Jeanne Carol Detecting Texts 
IDH2930  26304 Proofs from the BOOK-some of the icest proofs from all over mathematics 0194 M/8 Bona, Miklos Proofs from the BOOK 
IDH2930  26307 Wise Guy: Socrates and The Search for the Good Life 0195 W/9 Agnelli, Sara  Wise Guy 
IDH2930  26312  Why Zoobiquity? Exploring One Health and the connection between humans and animals* 0200 W/9 Gollakner, Rania Why Zoobiquity 
IDH2930 26316 "The Big Truck That Went By", The Earthquake in Haiti and the Challenge of Global Health 0202 W/8 Lauzardo, Michael The Big Truck 
IDH2930  26317 Drug Addiction-the hell on earth and how to not lose hope* 0203 W/4 Grundmann, Oliver Drug Addiction 
IDH2930  26318 Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World 0204 W/2 Donnelly, Anne Range 
IDH2930  26322 Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System 0206 W/9 Stonecipher, Jessica-Jean Stuffed and Starved 
IDH2930  26341 Leadership Strategy and Tactics, by Jocko Willink 0207 W/9 Dickrell III, Dan Leadership Strategy 
IDH2930  26338 When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing 0209 M/4 Hershfield, Selman When 
IDH2930  26339 Madagascar: The Eighth Continent: Life, Death and Discovery in a Lost World 0210 R/8 Tennant, Michele Madagascar 
IDH2930  26362 The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus* 0211 W/8 Beatty, Norman The Hot Zone 
IDH2930  26373 "Fantasies of Female Power in Pop Culture: A Reading of Susan Douglass's The Rise of Enlightened Sexism"* 0213 W/5 Walther, Angela Fantasies of Female Power in Pop Culture 
IDH2930  26376 Healthcare Provider Intensive & Palliative Care Experiences Explored Through Comics* 0214 T/9 Pomputius, Ariel/Ansell, Margaret Taking Turns
IDH2930  26384 How to Be an Antiracist* 0215 W/10 Cowley, Matthew How to Be An Antiracist 
IDH2930 26387 Hamilton and Yellow Fever* 0218 M/9 Adkins, Lauren/Stoyan-Rosenzweig, Nina Hamilton and Yellow Fever 
IDH2930  26388 Alexander Hamilton: Revolutionary, Political Philosopher, Rap Battler 0219  W/6 Adams, Sean Alexander Hamilton 
IDH2930  26389 The Damsel Saves Herself: Misogyny and the #MeToo Movement* 0220 M/10 Boehm, Shelby Damsel Saves 
IDH2930 26390 Intellectual Freedom: power, bias, control, authority, safety, privilege, censorship, technology, rights and social justice* 0221 T/4 Keith, Brian  
IDH2930  26419 Hidden Notes: Exploring Unsung Careers in the Music Industry 0224 W/4 San Filippo, Giselle/Wilson, Scott Hidden Notes 

*This course explores a social cause. Looking for others? Cross-reference Fall 2020 offerings here.

23258 Challenging Conversations: exploring the vaccine controversy

From the 1720s- when inoculation against smallpox was introduced to the Massachusetts Bay colony to the present day, some Americans have feared and opposed the practice of inoculation and vaccination. What was their argument against it, and why did they fear vaccines? Why do people believe what they do about vaccines today? This course uses the book Anti/Vax: Reframing the Vaccination Controversy, by Bernice Hausman, and evidence about past movements opposing inoculation and vaccine to examine the controversy over vaccinations. It will examine in greater depth why people oppose vaccines, and what arguments and evidence are relevant to their opinions. It also will examine the evidence used by doctors, and how misunderstanding and miscommunication affect how both sides respond to one another.

23236 The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures

The Spirit Catches You is the story of Hmong toddler Lia Lee and her parents as they navigate the unfamiliar territory of the Western healthcare system. Foua Yang and Nao Kao Lee fled the state-sponsored persecution of the Hmong people in their native Laos, arriving in California in 1980. Lia, the 14th of their 15 children and the first to be born in America, was diagnosed with a seizure disorder at the age of 3 months. The book follows the Lees’ journey through a health care system that is as unfamiliar to them as Hmong traditional culture is to Western medicine

Lord of the Rings

Class #25489 Face-to-Face
Class #27337 Online

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is one of the most influential and widely-read authors of the Twentieth Century. Tolkien’s most significant work, The Lord of the Rings, undertaken as a sequel to his children’s book, The Hobbit (1937), is estimated to have sold over 150 million copies since its initial publication in 1954. Through a close reading of Tolkien’s trilogy, including the consideration of Tolkien’s style, themes, and characters, this course will explore the reasons for LOTR’s astounding success, despite the work’s tepid critical reception. 

20909 Building Wealth: How Ordinary People Become Millionaires and Extraordinarily Generous

Published in 2019, the book Everyday Millionaires presents the findings of the largest study ever conducted on millionaires. Author Chris Hogan worked with a research team to survey more than 10,000 millionaires to identify how they built wealth. The findings debunk common myths about how millionaires live and become wealthy, and about the role of generosity in wealth-building. The goal of this course is for students to think strategically about handling money. Following what Hogan learned about millionaires, students in this course will learn to develop a zero-based budget, explain the benefits of compound interest, explain the differences between retirement investment vehicles, identify the character traits associated with wealth-building, and develop a philanthropic giving plan for their life. This course is designed for those who are unfamiliar with basic financial literacy concepts. No prior training is needed—bring your questions, concerns, and goals.

26281 Children and trauma

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events that affect children and have a lasting impact on health and well-being. Regardless of your career choice, you will most likely work with children and/or adults who have experienced ACE(s). We know that over 50% of adults have experienced at least one ACE. Early experiences have a broad and profound impact on an individual’s development and subsequent emotional, cognitive, social and biological functioning throughout the life cycle. Extensive research indicates that childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence, as well as financial and social problems.

26242 Origin of Humans

The course is based on the book Lucy’s Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins authored by Donald C. Johanson, an anthropologist, and Kate Wong, a science writer. The book is readily available as a paperback or hardback and as an e-book for certain electronic media from Amazon.com. In 15 chapters, Johanson and Wong chronicle the excitement, competition, and exhausting work of hunting fossils of early humans and their ancestors. Johanson was the discoverer of the Lucy fossil in 1974 as a young paleoanthropologist, and he and his team have unearthed a total of more than 300 specimens of her species, Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy, is now dated to have been alive 2.3 million years ago. Her skeletal remains, the most extensive and complete that had been found by1974, stimulated a revolution in thinking about the origins of today’s humans. Johanson and Wong describe fossil skulls, jaw bones, teeth, and sometimes fossilized parts of leg or arm bones of a parade of hominid forms, including ancestors of Lucy, numerous Homo species, and finally modern humans, Homo sapiens. Johanson is careful to point out that there is not a linear progression from Lucy to modern humans. There were many branches in the human lineage, many extinctions, and competing hominids for survival. Good coverage in the book is given to Neanderthal humans, Denisovans, and Hobbits who lived  thousands of years before modern humans, and later co-existed with Homo sapiens and sometimes interbred with them. Since publication of the book, extensive new research has produced a voluminous literature and new discoveries about human origins, and movement of modern humans out of Africa into the Middle East, Europe, China, India, Australia, and North and South America.  The professor will use recent information from journal papers, some of which the students are expected to read, and some of which will be summarized and given to the students to update the most recent understanding of human evolution. Students will be expected to read Johanson and Wong’s book, and selected work in scientific journals. This will give a good sense of how anthropology is done and reported, and will expose students to some of the controversial interpretations in the literature. Additional supplements and discussion of evolutionary principles, archeological dating techniques, and climate change that likely played a major role in the long evolution of humans will be provided by the instructor. Classes will primarily be in the form of discussion of topics and use of self-study question sent to students ahead of the class. James L. Nation, Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Entomology & Nematology, UF, Gainesville.  

26276 Insects and Plants

Insects and plants are intimately connected. The arms-race between the two groups has produced examples of co-existence more fantastic than any science-fiction. The course will be based around a beautifully illustrated popular book (provided free of charge to students) by the world-renowned insect photographer, Edward Ross. Topics will range from insect-plant co-evolution to natural selection, and we also will visit museum collections, ecology labs and several local habitats to learn about the ways one can study insect-plant interactions.

26250 Physician Writers in the Post-Modern Era

This course introduces students to physician-writers in the Postmodern Era. Students will read short stories, poems, essays, movies and stand-up comedy sets written by physicians in the middle to late 20th Century and beginning 21st Century. We will discuss the physicians’ unique points of view, writing devices, and choices of topic. We will examine how physicians express their ideas about technology, humanity, and self in the Postmodern and Pre-Digital Age. We will compare the use of non-fiction and fiction, and scrutinize various literary devices by physicians in their communications to the public.

26253 Crazy Love and the Bible-A reading of the Song of Solomon

This course will explore the most passionate and sometime erotic book in the bible, a parable about the love of God and the magnitude of the human spirit. The course will include a reading of the song, some phrases from the song in the original Hebrew, and some literary and musical adaptations and references to the Song of Solomon.

26277 Voyage of the turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur

Sea turtles are among the most magnificent megafauna we encounter in the ocean. The story of these iconic creatures is one of survival and resilience, especially in today’s world. In this course we will cover the book The Voyage of the Turtle by Carl Safina, which explores the plight of sea turtles and how human intervention has impacted both positively and negatively these animals and their ecosystems. During weekly discussions students will learn not only about sea turtles but also about the scientific, political, and cultural challenges encountered while conducting marine conservation around the world. This will provide students with a better understanding of current issues faced in the marine environment and help them reflect on what the ocean means to them and what steps they can take to make a positive impact on the marine environment.
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

(1) Appreciate sea turtles and other endangered marine species, (2) describe the impact of human activities on marine life, (3) understand how scientific, cultural, and political issues affect the conservation and management actions carried out in the marine environment, and (4) recognize steps they can take to make a positive impact on the ocean.

26267 Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations

The book Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations makes ancient Greek philosophies easily accessible and relevant for modern day life. It is divided into different “teaching sessions,” starting from “Morning Roll Call: Socrates and the Art of Street Philosophy” and the “morning session” (Epictetus and the Art of Maintaining Control; Musonius Rufus and the Art of Fieldwork; Seneca and the Art of Managing Expectations) to the “noon session” (Epicurus and the Art of Savoring the Moment), “early-afternoon session” (Heraclitus and the Art of Cosmic Contemplation; Pythagoras and the Art of Memorization and Incantation; Skeptics and the Art of Cultivating Doubt), “late-afternoon session” (Diogenes and the Art of Anarchy; Plato and the Art of Justice; Plutarch and the Art of Heroism; Aristotle and the Art of Flourishing), and finally “Graduation: Socrates and the Art of Departure.” Because I am a big believer in experiential learning, students will practice living according to the philosophy (or philosophies) we discuss each week and write about and discuss their experiences.

26269 Fifty World Shaping Things

TV Dinners, the pill, robots, the S-bend, and the iPhone are just some of the inventions that have impacted the world’s economy in unexpected ways. This course will focus on the discoveries, surprises, and ramifications of some coolest and seemingly most boring inventions over time.

26270 Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America

• What are opioids?
• Why are they omni-present today?
• What is social stigma?
• How do we treat “addiction” and “addicts” in the United States?
• What is Fentanyl and why is it so dangerous?
• Why aren’t we reading Hillbilly Elegy?!
• Why is a healthcare company producing and supporting the arts and culture?!

To help us with these questions, we will read a new book called Dopesick by Beth Macy. Macy is an author anwd contributor to various news programs and publications. Her new book helps to take on the questions outlined above and to create links between each of our lives and that of a culture of healthcare that deals with mental illness, including addiction, in specific ways mandated on a state-by-state basis. By combining this new book’s critical assessment of opioid production and distribution with Smith’s on-the-ground practical experience within the healthcare industry, this course will allow students to gain and extend their awareness of the ways in which addiction can be treated, the ethics of such treatment, the opportunities for improved, respectful, and innovative changes in the industry that will not only save lives, but may help to change the social stigma applied to addicts and addiction. The CEO and CMO of Column Health will join one class meeting by video during the semester.

26274 The Greeks and the Irrational

The Greeks and the Irrational (E. R. Dodds, 1951 University of California Press) is based on series of lectures given by Professor Dodds at Berkeley.  It has become a landmark work for advancing popular understanding of a truly formative period in the development of Western culture, as the Greeks transitioned out of their own Dark Ages into the Classical Period, which is exemplified by writers of the great tragedies and the rise of the Athenian schools of philosophy.  Dodds' analyses begin with a discussion of the heroes of Homer and how their behavior was shaped by guiding principles of an archaic shame culture.  With the development of the democratic city-states, these principles, although traditionally respected, no were longer satisfying so people sought out new ways to adapt to their changing world.  This led to the development of the so-called mystery religions, the worship of Dionysus, and the pursuit of ecstasy.  In response to their changing culture, the tragedians presented new guide posts for behavior, initially rigid and fatalistic, but ultimately introspective and almost modern.  In many ways, these changes primed the world for the cultural changes that followed from Plato and Aristotle and ultimately nurtured the growth of Christianity. 

26271 Darwin's "The Origin of Species"

Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” shares a deplorable fate with many other classics: it is known to everyone, yet rarely read. This is unfortunate because the book is much more than simply an overview of his theory, but also gives us insight into the intellectual milieu in which he developed his theory and in the later editions, his struggles to convince his peers of its accuracy. Students in this course will read and discuss the 1st edition of Darwin’s book which was written with a wide audience in mind. (it sold out in one day!) Each week students will be expected to read the assigned chapter (or part thereof depending on the length) and participate in class discussion. Each week, one student (or more if class size permits multiple groups) will be responsible for introducing the material and leading group discussion based on questions assigned the week prior. All students will reflect on these questions and will come to class with responses prepared to these questions. In addition students will be responsible for submitting a brief (~1500 word) blog at the end of the term in which they reflect on the material read in the class and how their perspectives on Charles Darwin, his ideas, and the historical setting in which they were formed have been affected by reading his book.

Learning outcomes:

Students will be able to advance a collective intellectual understanding of Darwin and his ideas through discussion, active listening and speaking.

Students will develop reflective thinking and writing skills by exploring what was learned and by making meaning out of the reading.

26362 The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus written by Richard Preston is an amazing, nonfiction, book detailing the discovery of the Ebola virus, and the scientists who worked so diligently to understand its origins. Based off the true accounts the book also details an actual outbreak that took place right here in the United States, which suddenly emerged in the suburbs of our nation's capital.

Student learning outcomes: Reading this book will allow the student to understand the complexities of actual infectious disease outbreak with a lethal virus. The hope after completing the course is that the student will gain insight and curiosity to pursue a career in the fields of biology, medicine, and public health.

Student assignments: Each week we will discuss our reading assignment in an open forum in the class. A homework assignment will also be given as it pertains to the reading. This will consist of a research objective to investigate current events in medicine and infectious diseases. The book has four parts describing different events as it pertains to the discovery of Ebola virus and the outbreak here in the United States. After completing each part the students will be asked to write a short essay based off 3-5 questions given. At the end of the semester each student will have completed the four parts. A final assignment will be given in the form of completing a project with a partner or small group to conduct a hypothetical infectious disease outbreak.

26249 Different in STEM: Confronting the Lack of Diversity in the STEM World Today

Different in STEM explores the barriers, biases and constructs which exist for those who are different in STEM fields. Despite many years of affirmative action, recruiting efforts and supports for the STEM pipeline, STEM disciplines remain predominantly white, cisgender, straight, male and non-disabled. This course will look at the relationship between and within the STEM community based on gender, religion, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, ability and race. Through readings and speakers, students will be introduced to layered barriers, biases, and constructs in STEM fields, and analyze complex issues around both personal and institutional structures which restrict access to those perceived to be “other”. Students will explore personal and institutional ethics and morality which form the basis of constructs. Students will work in interdisciplinary teams to explore barriers and biases around them using the intersectional issues discussed in class, and identify and propose an action plan to address and support inclusion in STEM fields.

26246 Health, Chemicals and Environment

The course will use the book ContamiNation by Mackay Jenkins. It discusses a health issue that the author encountered resulting in the removal of a benign tumor. This led the author to begin an investigation of various chemicals that one encounters every day from products used in personal care, prescription medications, and household and garden chemicals, all of which have possible human health effects. Students will discuss the material in the book in seminar style, make a presentation on a selected topic related to the book, complete homework assignments and a short term paper, and participate in a final exit interview. Attendance is required.

26389 The Damsel Saves Herself: Misogyny and the #MeToo Movement

The course will use Damsel by Elana K. Arnold to consider how misogyny affects women and the physical and emotional violence they endure. The novel begins like many other classic fairy tales: there is a dragon to be slain, a damsel to be saved, and a brave prince who must complete these tasks in order to become the king. For generations in the kingdom of Harding, this progression has always been the hero’s journey. Yet, Ama wakes up in the arms of Prince Emory with no recollection of her past and instead is told she needed rescuing. The damsel doesn’t know herself to be helpless, Ama is told she is powerless verbally and physically through her interactions with Prince Emory and others in the kingdom. As they attempt to tame Ama for life as queen, she questions why she needed to be saved anyways. We will read Damsel alongside discussions of the #MeToo movement and feminist philosopher Kate Manne’s concepts of “himpathy” and “herasure” to further unmask the socio-political environment that marginalizes women through misogyny as a systemic force. Our end goal will be to contemplate how we can continue to challenge and critique misogyny in order to be socially proactive citizens. This course is particularly important for undergraduates as they navigate how their identity further develops within a diverse campus community where they can use their voice as a positive asset for social reform.

26258 Common Ground and the Possibility of the Common Good

What exactly is the common good? Is there even such a thing as a “common” good anymore? As we find ourselves in another vicious election season, we experience deep divisions and differences about what we envision for society. Is there a way to unite our collective activity when we have so many different and oppositional visions of life? Is a collective and collaborative conversation possible in which we can nurture a healthy shared life together? Over the years, Wendell Berry has offered a voice that serves as a starting point for a conversation to reclaim the common good. Addressing our navigation of areas like food systems, ecology, community, difference, gender, race, economics, education, citizenship, technology, war and peacemaking, Berry works from a place of common rootedness to provide a vision for moving forward. These cultural focal points and their related questions are taken up by Wendell Berry in his decades of writing, as he asks readers to think more deeply about human activity in the world. For Berry, an English professor turned farmer/writer/cultural critic, that requires eyes and ears wide open as we seek to understand who we are, where we are, and how we might flourish in the midst of the place we find ourselves.

This seminar style course, rooted in discussion, will provide students the opportunity to read Berry’s essays carefully and reflectively. We will consider selections from The Art of the Commonplace alongside some of Berry’s short stories and poems, as well as supplemental film, poetry and other art. Our reading will feed what promises to be a rich ongoing classroom discussion as we join Berry in working on these questions. Additionally, students will further process the class content through short writing assignments as they interact with the book and the ideas to which it may point.

26278 "Mr. Tompkins in Paperback" (an omnibus of "Mr Tompkins in Wonderland" and "Mr Tompkins Explores the Atom") by George Gamow

Mr. Tompkins in Paperback is a book published in 1965 – which is a compilation of essays originally published in 1941 and 1944 as “Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland” and “Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom”. They were written by George Gamow, a famous physicist with a gift for whimsy. Gamow pioneered the practice of making complex or abstract scientific concepts accessible to the layman. In this work, Gamow describes scientific concepts (such as the speed of light, the gravitational constant, or Planck’s constant) through a series of entertaining adventures involving the character Mr. Tompkins – who falls asleep during a series of scientific lectures. This book is for non-scientists and scientists alike.

Mr. Tompkins in Paperback exemplifies a compelling lesson in the power of storytelling to reach an educational audience. Complex scientific ideas are presented in an entertaining way as opposed to through traditional textbook-based techniques. This work is also responsible for a generation of young minds (mostly in the 40’s and 50’s) being drawn towards an interest in science, a legacy worth preserving. In this course, weekly discussions will be used to provide context to the concepts introduced by Mr. Tompkins. Students will also develop their own story to explain a difficult or abstract concept of their choice.

26299 Animals and Why they Matter, by Mary Midgley

Animals and Why They Matter (1983), by the English philosopher Mary Midgley, was one of the earliest scholarly, full-length works on animal ethics. The book is rigorous and erudite, addressing many important thinkers and ideas, but Midgley's style is accessible, clear, and often drily humorous. This one credit class will introduce students to dominant western ways of thinking about the value of nonhuman animals and challenges to these worldviews. Assignments will include two short essays.

26302 Detecting Texts: Alain Robbe-Grillet's Uncommon Detective Novel

Alain Robbe-Grillet’s The Erasers is an uncommon detective novel. It takes the conventions of the classic detective story and dramatically undoes them. You can watch the magic happen if you pay attention to every little detail. You can guess the ending before the detective if you are alert. But you CAN’T read anything about the book in advance because everyone who talks about it feels free to give away the ending! Even Amazon’s blurb, so don’t read that if you want to hang with the class as we try to figure it out for ourselves by compiling what we know week by week. If you want to read it in the English translation, you are looking for Richard Howard’s translation. If you prefer to read in the original French, feel free. If you want to do both side by side, you’ll be able to watch a master translator at work. In addition to the novel, we will introduce the rules of detection with Poe’s story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and watch how they can get broken in Borges’s short story “Death and the Compass” before we start the novel itself. Grading will be based on three reading quizzes and a short (3-5 page) final essay.

26304 Proofs from the BOOK-some of the nicest proofs from all over mathematics

After an initial discussion, each student will be assigned a chapter or section of the book, and will be responsible to represent it to the class at a given time. Time slots will be decided by drawing. Students who draw an early time slot will be given a shorter assignment. 

26307 Wise Guy: Socrates and The Search for the Good Life

   “I tell you that…examining both myself and others is really the very best thing that a man can do, and that life without this       sort of examination is not worth living”

Plato’s Apology of Socrates is the defense speech given by Socrates who is on trial for his life (399 BC). He has been accused for impiety and corruption of youth. Is he guilty or not guilty?

In Plato’s Apology, Socrates is not just a colorful and quirky figure from the distant past. He is an unrivaled guide to the good life – the thoughtful life – who is as relevant today as he was in ancient Athens. He encourages us to examine our lives deeply, pursuing reasons for living so important they would warrant laying even our lives on the line.

Socrates ultimately dies for doing what he deemed as right and moral and in his conviction that his deeds are in service of the good life.


26312 Why Zoobiquity? Exploring One Health and the connection between humans and animals

Using the book, Zoobiquity: the astonishing connection between human and animal health, we will discuss the overlap between human and animal medicine and how maximizing the connection between the two disciplines has the potential to revolutionize the approach to disease. The concept of One Health, and its application in finding new and innovative solutions to the most difficult health issues facing us today, will be explored throughout the course.

26316 Global Health Haiti "The Big Truck That Went By", The Earthquake in Haiti and the Challenge of Global

Jonathan M. Katz’s award-winning book emerges from his perspective as the only full-time American news correspondent in Haiti on January 12, 2010, when the deadliest earthquake in the history of the Western Hemisphere struck Haiti. In his personal eyewitness account, Katz vividly describes the terror, the devastation visited on ordinary Haitians, and the monumental yet largely failed relief effort that followed. According to the book description on Amazon, more than half of American adults gave money for Haiti, part of a global response totaling $16.3 billion in pledges. However, years after the unprecedented disaster and promised response, very little has changed for ordinary Haitians and in many cases misery was amplified. Discussion will focus on adding a personal dimension to the learning process. Guest discussants with direct knowledge of the events and issues described in the book will assist in making the discussions personal. ​ 

Drug Addiction-the hell on earth and how to not lose hope

Class #26317 - Drugs by themselves are neither good or bad – it is ultimately how they are used that will lead humans to label them as such. Oliver Grundmann, PhD, has researched both synthetic and natural drugs with mind-altering effects for over a decade. Those who have been used for hundreds of years as part of traditional medicine and rituals are often mis- or abused in modern society. Others are solely intended to either create a fantastic escape from reality or get the user hooked to cause a substance use disorder. Numerous personal accounts and the scientific literature are a testament to this growing problem of what is commonly called “addiction”. But there is more to it as seen through the eyes of a researcher. Accompany Dr. Grundmann as he discusses the landscape, effects, and impact of drugs on the individual and society.

26318 Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

In this New York Times #1 bestseller, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, science writer David Epstein explains, through examples from all fields, why generalists are those who excel in today’s specialized world. In an engaging way, Epstein uses research to describe how a wide range of experiences is the key to success. This is a discussion-based class. Student groups take the lead in guiding the class discussions. Attendance and participation is important. Students prepare 3 reflections. Also, each group extends the discussion beyond the textbook by presenting an external report.

This is of interest to every student regardless of discipline and age. It has important ramifications for education and career development. 

26321 Baking Leadership: Becoming a better baker, becoming a better leader

Baking School will take you beyond just recipes and lists of ingredients. Over the course of 20 lessons in 16 weeks we will be learning, discussing, and practicing all the fundamental techniques that will make us better bakers. We will touch on classic French pastry, bread baking, cake decorating, and more. You’ll walk through some of the swankiest types of baking to make you feel like you did indeed touch down in Paris, croissant in hand; but with plenty of helpful, practical basics as well, like bread, cookies, and those glorious layer cakes.
Baking is a way to work on your personal and team leadership skills. Throughout the course a leadership lens will be provided for each course session. Students will finish the semester by creating their own cake. Cooking, baking, or artistic experience is not required. The main requirements are a willingness to try and interest of the mind.

26322 Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

Students will read Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, written by Raj Patel over the course of the semester. There will also be a visit to the Wednesday Farmer's Market downtown and the Forks & Knives food pantry on campus. The text explores the global food system and the ongoing food crisis in an attempt to highlight current problems with our food systems and suggest innovative solutions. Students will keep a weekly journal for their reflections and are expected to participate in weekly in-class discussions. They will also prepare one public-facing paper for a local publication in response to the ideas, questions, and concerns raised in the course.

26341 Leadership Strategy and Tactics: A Field Manual

In the military, a field manual provides instructions in simple, clear, step-by-step language to help soldiers complete their mission. In the civilian sector, books offer information on everything from fixing a leaky faucet to developing an effective workout program to cooking a good steak.

But what if you are promoted into a new position leading your former peers? What if you don’t get selected for the leadership position you wanted? How do you overcome imposter syndrome, when you aren’t sure you should be leading? As a leader, how do you judiciously dole out punishment? What about reward? How do you build trust with your both your superiors and your subordinates? How do you deliver truthful criticism up and down the chain of command in a tactful and positive way?

These are all questions about leadership―the most complex of all human endeavors. And while there are books out there that provide solid leadership principles there is no leadership field manual that provides a direct, situational, pragmatic how-to guide that anyone can instantly put to use.

Leadership Strategy and Tactics explains how to take leadership theory, quickly translate that theory into applicable strategy, and then put leadership into action at a tactical level. This book is the solution that leaders at every level need―not just to understand the leadership game, but also how to play the leadership game, and win it.

This class will meet once a week for one hour and discuss various concepts covered in the book.

26338 When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

In physics there is no difference between the time interval from 8am-9am and that from 8pm-9pm. Yet for people there often is with "morning people" being more awake at 8am and "evening people" being more awake at 8pm. In this book Daniel Pink presents the scientific evidence for these differences for this and many other examples of why "when" matters. These include not only individual behavior but that of groups of people. Have you ever noticed in group projects how activity picks up markedly halfway to the deadline? Longer time scales all the way up to an entire lifetime are examined. Why do certain dates serve as time landmarks, e.g. the new year or a specific birthday such as going from 19 to 20 years old? Along with understanding comes the possibility to use time more effectively. This is not a book on time management, but the author does suggest some "time hacks" which we can apply to our own lives.

The course will meet weekly to discuss each section of the book starting at the beginning with individual behavior and going progressively to larger groups and to long time scales. Two students will be selected as discussion leaders for each chapter. There will be an emphasis on how the material covered in the book relates to us. Consequently, there is an experiential component of the course where students and the instructor will apply the material we learn in the book to our own lives. This might involve keeping a log of activities, but this is also one of the few courses where an assignment consists of having a "nappachinno" or taking more breaks followed by focused activity. We will also do some group activities in class to examine the effect of time in group dynamics.​

26339 Madagascar: The Eighth Continent: Life, Death and Discovery in a Lost World

Madagascar is best known in the west for its unique flora and fauna, with over 80% of its wildlife found nowhere else. But this engaging country is also home to 23 million people, comprising 18 distinct ethnic groups, unified by a common language and Malagasy identity. Madagascar - The Eighth Continent: Life, Death and Discovery in a Lost World introduces the reader to the unique fauna, flora, and cultures of Madagascar through the authors’ travels with researchers in herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians), paleoecology, archaeology and primatology. Not only do readers learn about the biodiversity and cultures of this fascinating “eighth continent”, but they also get a sense for the joy of scholarly exploration and discovery in the natural world, what it is like to be a field-based (rather than laboratory-based) researcher, and the rationale for and continued importance of such work. While describing these discoveries, the author interweaves stories of Malagasy history, the mystery of the peopling of the island, and culture (language, music, religion, written and oratory arts) into the conversation, providing much fodder for discussion. Overall, this book is a celebration of the people, the wildlife, and the culture of Madagascar.

This (Un)Common Read course is perfect for students with an interest in/love for nature, exploration, discovery, and learning about distant lands and cultures. We will read the book Madagascar - The Eighth Continent in its entirety. Prior to some readings, the instructor (or students, if interested) will provide short introductions to the localities, wildlife, people, and customs described in the readings, augmented by photographs (unique species, environment, habitat loss, the local people and cultural activities) from recent trips to Madagascar. One of the unique strengths of the class will be the sharing of first hand experiences and impressions from multiple trips to the country, providing valuable context to the readings.

Although Madagascar is the focus of the course, this class will provide students with an overview of field research, and why it remains important in the modern world of science. Students will be able to view Madagascar as a model for research in areas such as conservation and sustainability, and the importance of culture and the buy-in of the local peoples. Students will be graded on class participation and a presentation on one auxiliary reading. Finally, students will complete a class project –academic paper or poster, or artistically creative work related to the course. The last class meeting (or two, depending on class size) will be used for students to present and discuss these final projects. This is an opportunity for students to get creative with class content and what they have learned.

Madagascar: The Eighth Continent stands alone as a great read, but this course makes an excellent primer for two other classes at UF: ZOO4956: Madagascar – Biodiversity & Conservation in a Developing Country (UF’s study abroad course in Madagascar) and Global Biodiversity and Culture: Integrating Conservation and Human Well-being (a course offered through the Biology Department and part of UF’s International Scholars Program).


26373 "Fantasies of Female Power in Pop Culture: A Reading of Susan Douglass's The Rise of Enlightened Sexism"

“Using Susan Douglass’s analysis of pop culture in her book, The Rise of Enlightened Sexism, we will explore the impact and influence of powerful female figures in pop culture. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Olivia Pope’s Scandal, to Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, we’ll consider how these figures are what Douglass calls “fantasies” of female power that assure women all is well in a post-sexist world. Students will write analyses about their own favorite pop cultural icons through this cultural lens to consider the strengths and weaknesses of Douglass’s claims.

26376 Healthcare Provider Intensive & Palliative Care Experiences Explored Through Comics

This course focuses on addressing death and dying as a healthcare provider using the graphic novel “Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371” by MK Czerwiec.  This memoir of Czerwiec’s time as a nurse in a Chicago HIV/AIDS unit during the height of the AIDS epidemic in America covers her experiences as a newly-minted nurse learning to provide compassionate and competent care in an intense, high-pressure setting and her connections with the unique demographic of AIDS patients. 

26384 How to Be an Antiracist

This course challenges students to move beyond an understanding of racism as interpersonal hatred based on race, and instead focus on the structural nature of racism. The core argument of Ibram X. Kendi's 'How to Be Antiracist' is that not being racist is insufficient. This course explores the importance of making antiracism a conscious choice and how to work within our sphere of influence to undo racism and build a more equitable society.

26406 Gainesville Punk: A History of a City and a Scene

Just minutes from The Swamp stadium, the world of academia, and shiny new mixed-use developments, one of the nation’s most notable punk rock scenes has thrived for decades – often out of the view of the average Gainesville resident. Since the 1980s, Gainesville’s punk community has carved out its own niche local music scene that has impacted the national punk scene and mainstream music, with the success of acts such as Hot Water Music, Less Than Jake, and Against Me! But how does this underground movement interact, influence, and help shape its surroundings? The University of Florida, the City of Gainesville, and the culture of Gainesville have all been impacted by city’s punk scene and vice versa. In this course, we will explore these topics and more as we focus on the book Gainesville Punk: A History of Bands and Music by Matt Walker (The History Press 2016, paperback) accompanied by other relevant source materials. 

26390 Intellectual Freedom: power, bias, control, authority, safety, privilege, censorship, technology, rights and social justice

This is a discussion-based class in which we will consider a broad range of important and timely questions. What is intellectual freedom? Where does it come from? How is it expanded or diminished and what does it matter? When are ideas and/or speech too dangerous or offensive? When is censorship okay? Who should control and own information and what are the implications on the greater good? What is the purpose of higher education? How important is safety in learning? Fundamentally: how do power, technology, money, bias and privilege interact below the surface of these questions and seek to shape what we can experience and know? How have those forces shaped the personal and societal intellectual landscapes we occupy today? The course topics will be introduced and framed through readings and multimedia materials, popular and scholarly, but the focus will be our class dialogues. The class will be a space where we can reconsider our assumptions, think about important topics that some may have never really considered and benefit from the consideration of other people’s perspectives

26419 Hidden Notes: Exploring Unsung Careers in the Music Industry

You CAN have a career in the music industry and make money...and no, I’m not crazy. So much of our perceived interaction with the music industry is only a small part of the whole that it encompasses. Did you know that music careers can include music therapy, music engineering, and even music diplomacy? Which people in what jobs create music used in commercials and films? This course will explore the many, varied careers within the music industry, and expose you to the monetized aspects of the industry that you hadn’t perhaps heard or thought of previously. 

Students can expect weekly materials (eg. articles, videos, etc.) and discussions, and will also have the opportunity to directly engage with and learn from music industry professionals through interviews, guest speakers, and more. Students can also expect a creative final project at the end of the semester. 

26388 Alexander Hamilton: Revolutionary, Political Philosopher, Rap Battler

This course focuses on the unforgettable career of Alexander Hamilton, a rags to riches story set in the context of Revolutionary America.  Hamilton’s service in the Continental Army, his prominent place among the Founding Generation, and his role in the creation of the early American economic system marks him as an important historical figure; his enduring impact on American political economy and, most recently, in Broadway fame, makes him a legend. This class will use the 2005 award-winning biography of Hamilton, written by Ron Chernow, as its central text, but will also use clips from stage, film, and the web in order to understand how Alexander Hamilton’s legacy still lives in American popular culture. 

26387 Hamilton and Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson, follows the fictional story of Mattie Cook a 14-year-old living in Philadelphia during the 1793 outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia.  This epidemic, which took the lives of over 5,000 people, was particularly devastating in regard to the population of the time, and also profoundly affected the developing American party system, while also exposing ideas about race and disease susceptibility. The book provides an eye-opening account of what it was like to live during the epidemic and how that epidemic deeply impacted the lives of those living in Philadelphia. We plan to also pull selections from, A Melancholy Scene of Devastation: The Public Response to the 1793 Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic which is a collection of essays discussing the public response of individuals and groups to the yellow fever epidemic. Through these two works we hope to discuss the history of the disease, the advancement of modern medicine, how the epidemic affected political policies and views and how the yellow fever epidemic Philadelphia shaped our views of epidemics and the public’s response.

Back to top button