In this course, you can learn how literature, philosophy, ethics, and language shape human culture. A central focus will be discussing and comparing powerful texts from around the world and how they have historically impacted the societies around them.
You will leave this course prepared to confidently enter the world of Humanities research.
Guest Speakers & Mentors
Omar Khir Alanam
Omar Khir Alanam was born in 1991 in a suburb of Damascus. He is an author, poet, and slam poet. His first books were published in German in March 2018 by Austrian editorial edition-a under the title "Danke! Wie Österreich meine Heimat wurde." ("Thank You! How Austria became my Home") In April 2018, the book was second in the nonfiction category on the bestseller list of the Austrian bookselling company Morawa. In March 2020, "Auf Der Reise im Dazwischen" ("On the Journey in the In-Between") was published by the Austrian editorial Edition Thanhäuser. In September 2020, "Sisi, Sex and Semmelknödel" ("Sisi, Sex and Bred Dumplings") was published edition a, and also reached the bestseller list.
Michon Benson is an Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Graduate English Program at Texas Southern University. A proud graduate of Jack Yates High School and a native of Houston’s historic Third Ward community, Dr. Benson has been an educator for over 25 years, teaching high-school school English and serving as a middle school principal before returning to TSU in 2014.
Dr. Benson joined the Thomas J. Freeman Honors College faculty in the fall of 2018. Honors students enrolled in her African American, American, and World Literature seminars engage in rigorous, relationship-based, and relevant assignments that not only foster their academic development and self-esteem but that also encourage peer collaboration and promote pride in the Texas Southern University learning community.
Among her on-campus activities, Dr. Benson co-develops programming as a task-force member of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; sits on the COLABS Student Enhancement Committee; sponsors student-led organizations; and represents the Thomas J. Freeman Honors College on the TSU Faculty Senate. Off-campus, Dr. Benson serves on the Hermann Park Rotary Club's education committee, designing African American history curriculum for secondary schools in the state of Texas; and she is a long-standing member on the advisory council of the Community Artists’ Collective.
In spring 2020, Dr. Benson became a Visiting Scholar with the Rutgers University Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice, and in spring 2021, Dr. Benson’s scholarship about the relationship between African American visual art and political activism earned her a four-year appointment on Howard University’s Social Justice Consortium. Her most recent scholarship includes contributing to, editing, and publishing The Maroon Journal of Arts and Letters, an annual anthology of faculty and student interdisciplinary essays, creative writing, and visual art. Currently, she is writing about the impact of technology on “Critical Race Narratives,” she’s completing an essay about novel approaches to reading Zora Neale Huston’s short story “The Gilded Six Bits,” and she anticipates publishing her first novella Athazagoraphobia in the fall of 2021.
Wallace Teska is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at Stanford University. He is a historian of Francophone West Africa with broad interests in histories of law, gender, and religion. His in-progress dissertation employs written and oral sources in Arabic, Bamanankan, and French to analyze the evolution of multiple formal and informal legal systems in Côte d’Ivoire and Mali from the pre-colonial period to the present. Before coming to Stanford, Wallace served as an TEFL volunteer in the Republic of Benin with the U.S. Peace Corps and worked as a legal analyst at an international law firm in New York. He holds a B.A. in History from Columbia University.
Wallace’s research has been supported by grants and fellowships from, among others, the West African Research Association, the French Colonial Historical Society, and the American Society for Legal History. In 2021-2022 he will undertake fieldwork and archival research in Côte d’Ivoire with funding from the Fulbright program.