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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Neil S. Banas
CHID 480
Seattle Campus

Special Topics: Advanced Study of the History of Ideas

Examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework with an interdisciplinary perspective. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

This course explores the human and natural history of Pacific Northwest coastal waters, using two remarkable texts as a guide: Jonathan Raban's travelogue _Passage to Juneau_, and Robert Bringhurst's translation of and commentary on classical Haida mythology, _A Story as Sharp as a Knife_. We'll discuss chaos theory and the circulation of Puget Sound; coastal ecology and Northwest First Nations art; trickster figures and climate change; the Vancouver expedition and the Romantic Sublime. The unifying theme is the interplay between order and chaos, and how we react (in science, in literary criticism, in life) when we reach the limits of our knowledge and control. How do we, and how did the indigenous cultures on this coast, deal with natural unpredictability and all the dangers that result--from navigating a turbulent channel to managing a salmon fishery?

The format will be highly decentralized--more like a set of interlocking independent studies than a traditional course, with lots of room for students to follow their own interests in their reading, writing, and interaction. The syllabus from the last time this was taught (in more centralized format) is available at -- this will give a sense of some of the possibilities. (Fall 2013)

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Neil S. Banas
Date: 09/02/2013