26 Sep Tell Us Your Dream TASS or TASP Seminar Topic
by Matthew Trail SP81 CB82 TA84
Two hundred and twenty-five TASPs have been held since 1954, and 54 TASSes since 1993, covering an extremely broad range of topics in the liberal arts. Indeed, surveying the range and succession of seminar topics over the last 60+ years is an interesting intellectual history of American academia in and of itself. Our first TASP seminar was titled “Emergence of Leadership in a Democratic Society; and Communication of Thought Through Language;” our most recent was “Pleasure and Danger: Bodies in History, Science, Literature, and Philosophy.” Our first TASS was “Play and Performance: African-American Music and Sports in the Twentieth Century” and our most recent was “African American Mobility and Travel Abroad: From Paul Cuffee to Ta-Nehisi Coates.”
We’d love to hear what dream TASP or TASS seminar you’d like to take (or teach). Maybe it’s already been covered! (Click on each link below for a list of all the seminar topics).
Here’s a topic I dreamed up:
Whither the Weather?
Mark Twain famously observed that “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Indeed, weather—both the everyday cycles of rain and drought, heat and cold, and the longer term cycles of seasons and climate—have been pivotal to many aspects of social existence, from religion and literature to history, social organization, and scientific innovation. Today, weather and climate change is at the forefront of pressing environmental challenges, social problems, and political debates.
This seminar takes an interdisciplinary approach to examining the role that weather, broadly defined, has played in primarily Western culture and history. How has weather and climate—and their social interpretations and constructions—affected and been used to understand human’s place in the world? As both local, and regional and global phenomena, how has weather and climate contributed to and undermined dominant forms of political and economic organization like the state? How is the current debate on human-caused climate change manifesting itself, not just in political terms, but in artistic, cultural, and religious ones? At the end of this seminar, participants will have a richer understanding and vocabulary with which to “talk about the weather,” and a better understanding of the issues involved in “doing something about it.”