Syracuse University

SU News

Syracuse Symposium to offer spring seminar courses on 'Conflict: Peace and War'

November 19, 2010

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

Each year the Syracuse University Humanities Center organizes and hosts the Syracuse Symposium for the SU campus and community. Most symposium events take place in the fall semester. This year, however, the season will be expanded to include four seminar courses in the spring 2011 semester on the symposium theme of “Conflict: Peace and War.”

“Beginning with this year’s theme, the Syracuse Symposium Seminars will now add an academic component to the fall’s lecture and arts program, providing faculty and students with a unique opportunity to engage in more sustained research and humanistic inquiry,” says Gregg Lambert, Dean’s Professor of Humanities and founding director of SU’s Humanities Center.

Courses that will be offered in the spring include:

  • “Selected Topics: Peace War and Security” (ANT/HUM 300) Taught by Robert Rubinstein, professor of anthropology and international relations in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, this seminar will explore anthropological approaches to questions relating to peace, war and security. It considers to what extent there is a biological imperative for humans to war, and explores the socio-cultural and archaeological evidence about early warfare. The course considers the effects of colonial expansion on war among indigenous peoples and in postcolonial society. Insights gained from these studies are linked to anthropological approaches to contemporary peace and security issues. Topics considered include: postcolonial conflicts, peace operations and humanitarian intervention.
  • “Is Perpetual Peace Possible” (HUM 200/400) Taught by Lambert, this seminar builds around Kant’s idea of perpetual peace, and students will grapple with questions concerning peace and conflict outside the more specialized disciplinary settings where they are usually posed in the context of the historical failures that make the idea of perpetual peace appear impractical, if not impossible. Students will be asked to consider whether in modern Western societies, the separation of the so-called religious and more inward sense of peace and the highlighting of the outward political sense, referring only to the absence of civil hostilities, has contributed to the distortion of the entire meaning of peace. The environment of the seminar and its location in the general humanities is aligned to the overarching philosophical approach, which will give students the opportunity to pursue questions with no plausible answer, and should concern students regardless of their background, chosen area of study or prospective vocational goal.
  • “Seminar on Rhetoric and Public Address–Rhetorical Frames for War” (CRS 862) This seminar is taught by Kendall Philips, professor of communication and rhetorical studies in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. One of the most powerful and intense examples of rhetoric is the declaration of war; the words of such a declaration help to frame the notion of armed conflict and have fundamentally changed the course of human history. In this course, students will attend to major instances in which U.S. presidents have utilized rhetoric to frame, justify and declare states of war. Specific attention will be paid to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, Woodrow Wilson and World War I, Franklin D. Roosevelt and World War II, Harry S. Truman and the Cold War, and Lyndon B. Johnson and Vietnam. Watson Distinguished Visiting Collaborator David Zarefsky will also be involved in the course. Zarefsky is the Owen L. Coon Professor of Communication Studies and former dean of the School of Communication at Northwestern University, and a renowned expert on public address, rhetoric and argumentation. Zarefsky is the author of several important books and is currently president of the Rhetoric Society of America.
  • “Music of the Middle East and West Asia” (HOM 300/HUM 300).  Taught by Carol Babiracki, associate professor of music history and cultures in The College of Arts and Sciences, this new course offers an overview of rural and urban music cultures of Turkey, Israel, the Arab Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan–cultural areas long connected by trade, migration and cross-cultural artistic exchange. Students will take a broad, interdisciplinary view of musical life across the region, engaging history, ethnography, textual studies, aesthetics and the media. Topics will include signature musical genres, styles, and instruments; ideas and strategies of performance, improvisation, and innovation; the social organization of musical life; the impact of religion on musical life; politics and music; and broad historical forces such as trade, colonization, modernization, revolution, revival, war and reconciliation.

For more information on these courses, contact the Humanities Center at 443-7192 or visit

Recent News