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Fall 2023 MHC Special Topics and Colloquia

MHC Colloquia 

Torture in Fiction and Film

  • Mondays and Wednesday, 1:50-3:10

This course will consider both the concept and the lived experience of torture in the fictional context of literature and film. We will consider the political, moral, philosophical, social, and criminal aspects of torture as represented in fictional contexts. Toward the end of the course, we will examine the meaning of torture to the torturee, the torturer, the in-text audience, and ourselves as members of the reading/viewing audience. Perhaps the pain of looking in the mirror is worst of all.


Sandra Hughes, a native of western Kentucky, earned her BA in English, Spanish, and psychology at Kentucky Wesleyan College. After completing an MA in English at Marquette University in Milwaukee, she taught English for three years in Chiba, Japan. Upon returning to the US, she obtained her PhD in American literature from the University of Georgia, where she was also a Robert Park Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. Since 2004, she has taught at WKU, where she has won the PCAL and University Teaching Awards. She has taken students on month-long study abroad trips to Japan in 2008, 2013, and 2017, and to Italy in 2011. She has published work on Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, and Louisa May Alcott, and has delivered conference papers in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, the UK, the US, and Japan. Her article on Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" and James Wan's Saw was her first foray into scholarship of torture. She is a past president and current member of the executive board of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society. An avid traveler, she has visited 17 countries or territories, and hopes to add more soon. Her Labrador retriever, Sophia Pawthorne, is named for Hawthorne's wife.


Checkmate - Chess Strategy for Life

  • Mondays and Wednesday, 3:25-4:45

Chess playing is a core part of the class with an emphasis on how players develop the art of strategy making.  Strategy comes through learning from others and developing the skill of thinking beyond the present or past in the hope an opponent will act as desired.  Part of this process involves experiencing and learning from mistakes.  The practice of learning requires reflection and correction to help succeed.  Successful strategists and chess players apply these lessons.  This class involves playing chess for enjoyment and appreciation.  Through this approach, as well as readings and discussion, we will explore practical applications of strategy for our lives.

The purpose of the class is to illustrate, through play, how lessons can be gleaned in developing a personal strategy for life that considers the implications of our choices, capitalizes on opportunities, and learns from mistakes.


Dr. Kevin Modlin has been fascinated with power since his third year at WKU when he was a Congressional intern. Though he was not fully aware of that fascination until he was exposed to more experiences and ideas to grasp its scope. After developing an intuition of power as a Congressional Aide he got a MA in Applied Economics from WKU and a Ph. D. in International Relations from FIU where he explored the influence the balance of power has on global trade agreements.


Clashing World Views

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:20-3:40

Great Clashing Worldviews: The Legacies of John Locke and Karl Marx is a unique and fascinating course in political theory examining the antagonistic worldviews of two world renowned and consequential thinkers. Scholars will discover that the great differences between Locke and Marx on economics and government derive from profoundly different worldviews about the nature of reality.

Primary source readings in Locke's First and Second Treatises of Government and Letter Concerning Toleration will be analyzed against Marx's The Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital and other readings.


Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science, Dr. Yager has taught political theory courses throughout most of his 30 year career at WKU. His PhD in political science is from the University of California at Santa Barbara and his MSc in political theory is from The London School of Economics and Political Science.


Innovative Thinking (1-credit hour)

  • Wednesdays, 4:00-5:00

Everyone desires to be innovative.

But how is it achieved? Creativity and innovation can be learned, developed, and mastered. Innovative thinking and creative problem-solving processes are divided into practical steps that guide you from problem-finding to implementing your solutions. This colloquium offers a framework for creative problem-solving and a path to innovation.


Dr. Hasan Akdeniz is a Post-Doctoral Student who is working this year in The Center for Gifted Studies on WKU's campus.


Request for Special Topics/Colloquia Form

Fall 2023 Faculty

Dr. Kevin ModlinDr. Kevin Modlin
Adjunct Professor,
Political Science

Checkmate - Chess Strategy for Life


Dr. Sandra HughesDr. Sandra Hughes

Torture in Film and Fiction




Dr. Ed YagerDr. Edward Yager
Professor Emeritus,
Political Science

Clashing World Views




Dr. Hasan Akdeniz

Dr. Hasan Akdeniz
Postdoc Scholar,
The Center for Gifted Studies

Innovative Thinking


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 Last Modified 2/28/23