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Introduction to Human Emotion: An Emotional Approach to Critical Thinking and Critical Writing 

Department: History                                                     

Instructors: Felicitas Hartung
Instructors' Emails:
Prerequisites: None
Schedule: Mon & Fri 6:00PM - 8:00PM PST

Course Description

Emotions are hiding everywhere. You can find them not only in our everyday language, but also in literature and photography, on posters and in advertisements, and even in newspapers. This course will help you detect hidden emotions and determine their purposes. Not only will we explore our understanding of certain emotions like fear and anxiety, and their usage in media and politics; we will also reflect on the relationship between academic writing and objectivity, and thereby learn how to evaluate arguments. The goal of this course is to make you a critical thinker and improve your style of academic writing.

Course Goals / Learning Objectives

Interdisciplinary approach. We will encounter questions, problems, and theories related to various disciplines:

  • Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Social Sciences
  • Cognitive Sciences
  • Literature and Linguistics
    …and more.

These are the main goals of this class:

  • Encountering Definitions of Emotions and their Shortcomings.
  • Differentiating between Emotions and Cognitions.
  • Reflection on Language: How Words Shape our Understanding of the World.
  • Understanding of how Emotions May Affect our Behavior.
  • Developing Strategies for Coping with Fear and Anxiety.
  • Reflection on Different Media Types: How Emotions can be Utilized for Political or Economic Purposes.
  • Application: Critical Thinking in Everyday Life.
  • Developing an Objective and Persuasive Style of Writing.

To achieve these goals, you will read assigned texts, design a poster, and write one essay. You will also have ample opportunity to participate in class.

Course Topics

Emotions – What they are and where to find them

  • Introduction to taxonomy
  • Definitions and concepts of emotion
  • Universalism vs. social constructivism
  • Emotional expression in literature
  • Advertising emotions

Emotion and Cognition

  • Emotion and memory
  • Reading historical events through emotions
  • Remembering politics
  • Emotional propaganda

Fear, Anxiety, and Conspiracy Theories

  • Biological and psychological aspects
  • Threat perception: appraisal theories
  • Coping strategies
  • Fear and conspiracy theories

Reasons and Emotions

  • Critical writing and objectivity
  • How to prevent emotions from sneaking in
  • Developing an argument
  • Emotions in thinking and writing


*Courses vary by experience and exposure to content. Instructors have the ability to change content and pace to serve the needs of students. Courses have been modified for online teaching.