Think deeply. Communicate effectively. Work together.
This three-week course will have a dual focus. We will make our way through Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved (1987), which explores the emotional and physical legacies of slavery. And you will develop a repertoire of critical reading, thinking, and writing skills necessary for making the most out of your Kenyon education. Through learning about close reading analysis and through writing exercises, we will engage deeply with the difficult but crucial questions Morrison’s novel raises about memory and history, love and morality, stories and truths. By what means did people survive the personal and cultural pain caused by slavery? How did the experiences of enslaved men and women differ, and how did gender shape their struggles against slavery? What role can (or should) a novel play in memorializing a haunting historical experience? What demands can the dead make of the living, or the past of the present? Are there proper bounds within which love should stay? And how do people determine right from wrong, in the face of a system that deforms everything from sexual and familial relationships to their own consciousnesses? We will locate the novel within its historical and critical contexts both in the writing assignments and class discussions so that, by the end of this session, you will have built a toolkit of versatile resources that will develop you as a critical thinker, reader, and writer at Kenyon.
Through a series of case studies, we will analyze and evaluate data, draw conclusions from these data, and present conclusions in graphics and in writing. In the process, we will apply quantitative models and computational software to infer the meaning behind our results. Activities will include in-class discussion of case studies, workshops on quantitative reasoning, tutorials on using professional software, and a final, team project analyzing some research data. No prior coursework in statistics or calculus is assumed. Throughout this experience, students practice skills and habits that are crucial to professional success: visual and oral communication, effective teamwork, analytical reasoning, and intellectual fearlessness.
Topics vary by year, but typically include: behavioral factors in health research; sources of unequal representation in electoral politics; quantitative evidence for evolution; detecting racial discrimination in hiring processes; ecological health of forests; graphics that distort perceptions of data; and evaluating risk in medical research.