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Seminars

2017 – 2018

Over the course of several months, Tulsa teachers provided input regarding the topics for upcoming seminars. More than twenty TU faculty have offered to participate in TIfT as seminar leaders, providing dozens of potential seminar topics. With the leadership of the Teacher Steering Committee and feedback from current and past YNI Fellows and Tulsa teachers hoping to participate in TIfT, four seminars were selected for 2017-2018.


The Selfie and Modern Self-Invention
Denise Dutton
Assistant Provost, Director of the Honors Program, and
Applied Assistant Professor of Political Science

Given the dominant role of social media and students’ experiences crafting their online personas, an exploration of the modern project of self-invention might be both timely and relevant. Augustine’s Confessions arguably initiates the modern turn inward toward the self; Montaigne’s Essays, as they wonder about everyday ordinary experiences, read in many ways like a modern blog; Rousseau’s Confessions warn against the corrupting effect of convention on our natural sentiments in ways that might speak to the worries that reality tv exhausts our moral imagination and leaves us numb if not misanthropic; and Adam Smith’s impartial spectator haunts any attempt to distinguish our authentic selves from how we appear to others. These are just a few of the religious, literary and philosophical texts that invite us to explore why we feel compelled to “invent ourselves”. And the related question of how we undertake that project of crafting a self– through words, work, confessions, obsessions, art, hobbies, and more — engages even more genres. Michelangelo’s David, Whitman’s Song of Myself, Ellison’s Invisible Man, Crawford’s Work as SoulCraft and Coates’ Between the World and Me come to mind as examples of readings through which this theme might speak to English, Social Studies, History, and Elementary teachers. I am committed to thinking through this theme (what is the modern project of self-invention and how do we pursue it) from a range of perspectives: visual and literary analysis, social critique, and across a range of historical and cultural moments.


The Science of Cooking
Ty Johannes
Wellspring Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering

Cooking is the process of applying heat to prepare food, but cooking also involves the application of chemistry, physics, and math. Every time you walk into a kitchen, you walk into to a laboratory, but unlike a normal laboratory you are allowed to eat your experiment! The success or failure of most food dishes can be traced to the underlying science behind the dish. In this seminar, we explore how science and math can be used to explain different cooking techniques and how these concepts can be used to make food better. Specific topics that will be explored include baking, fermentation, heat transfer, colloids, diffusion, egg structure and uses, the different textures of chocolate, and the viscosity of olive oil. This fun and interactive seminar will include weekly cooking demonstrations.


From Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan and Beyond:
Art and Politics in American Popular Music
Sean Latham
Director of the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities,
Professor of English and Pauline Walker Professor of Comparative Literature

This seminar will draw on the unique resources available here in Tulsa to explore what popular music can tell us about modern American culture and politics. We’ll begin by looking at Guthrie as the first popular folk singer and songwriter who built his powerful lyrics around familiar melodies that anyone could sing. Using the music he created in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, we’ll explore topics like the Dust Bowl, Jim Crow racism, the idea of popular culture, and the rise of radio as a mass medium. When Bob Dylan first arrived in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1961 he was a “Woody Guthrie jukebox” and set out almost immediately to visit the terminally ill singer whom he idolized. Over the next several decades, Dylan would become the world’s most influential songwriter as he morphed from a Guthrie-like folksinger into first an iconic rock star, then a blues singer, a country musician who worked with Johnny Cash, a born-again gospel singer, and finally the inventor of what we now call roots music. We’ll trace these changes in Dylan’s music and persona by setting them against the turbulent political changes that shaped his music, including the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and September 11. In the process, we’ll look at why Dylan’s music matters so much and how it has been adapted by pop singers, hip-hop artists, and country stars. The seminar will include special trips to the Woody Guthrie Center and to the Dylan archives at the Gilcrease Museum, where participants will meet the staff and learning about the teaching and research resources available. In addition to the music, we will look at portions of Guthrie’s Bound for Glory, Dylan’s Chronicles, and selected literary works and films. Participants will need to have access to a subscription music streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music.


Scientific and Societal Impact of DNA: The Blueprint of Life
Robert Sheaff
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) encodes the instructions within our cells that make each organism unique. However, it is much more than simply a biomolecule. The discovery of DNA and our current understanding of its function have profound implications in both science and society that can be investigated from many different perspectives. Participants from any subject area are encouraged to apply for this seminar, where they will develop and design their own investigation incorporating relevant aspects of DNA into a unit fulfilling the needs of their discipline. DNA basics will be discussed, so a scientific background is not required. Potential areas of study include: junk DNA, sequencing the genome, designer babies, DNA computing, why Rosalind Franklin didn’t win a Nobel Prize, history of DNA discovery, the business of DNA commercialization, etc. These topics can be examined from a variety of different viewpoints, including but not limited to scientific, technological, societal, and philosophical approaches. The diversity of topics will provide participants with novel insights into their area of interest, and encourage cross disciplinary interactions.