Choosing a First-Year Seminar

Fall Quarter 2016 First-Year Seminars

The following seminars will be offered in Fall 2016.  Click on the "+" in front of a title to read the course description. When you have identified the ten seminars that interest you most, log in to your dossier and scroll down to First-Year Seminar Selections: Fall 2016. The deadline to submit your Top Ten list for Fall 2016 is July 31st at 11:59pm. 

Title
Day
Time
American Families since the Sexual RevolutionMW2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Christine Percheski
Sociology

Description:

In this course, we will explore how and why American families have changed since the 1960s. Although there are many topics related to families and family life, the focus of this writing-intensive course will be on marriage and other romantic relationships. We will discuss changes in the ways that people find a romantic partner, the characteristics of their partners, and the duration and types of their relationships. We will examine what these changes mean for the individuals involved and for the broader society. Topics include cohabitation, divorce, non-marital childbearing, and same-sex unions.

American Woman Auteurs: Novels and Films, 1900-1945TTH 11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Julia Ann Stern
English

Description:

This course challenges students to engage in the intense close reading of fictional and cinematic texts created or brought to expressive life by American women artists (writers and actresses) working between the nineteenth-century fin de siècle and the beginning of World War II.  Our Canvas archive features eight films starring Bette Davis, arguably the greatest film actress of Hollywood's classic period. We will talk during the quarter about terminology for the analysis of cinema, particularly the four so-called central principles through which to read and interpret filmic texts: cinematography; mise en scene; sound; and editing. We will read films through the methods of psychoanalysis, historicism, feminism, critical analysis of sexuality, gender, and race and in consideration of the studio system, star culture, and modes of spectatorship. This syllabus marks an early experiment toward thinking about Davis's films as literary works.

Anatomy: Evolution, Ontogeny & FunctionMWF9:00-9:50am

Instructor(s): Laura Panko
Biological Sciences

Description:

Anatomy is often thought of as simply a series of facts and spatial relationships that must be memorized. In fact, the structure of living things can only be fully understood and appreciated in the context of history (evolution), growth and development (ontogeny), and operation (function). This seminar will explore topics in the evolution, ontogeny, and function of organisms with backbones (vertebrates) that inform the scientific understanding of the human form. In the process of exploring these topics, the main learning goal of the course will be addressed: to practice the variety of writing skills needed by students to successfully communicate science ideas in college courses and beyond.

Animals in Global Literature & CultureMW2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Evan Mwangi
English

Description:

The seminar explores the representations of non-human animals in global texts to appreciate and critique the different attitude towards minorities and the powerless in global literary art and films. We will focus on texts that have circulated across the globe and especially those that refer to other cultures using images of animals or using animal narrators and characters. Reading short fiction and non-fiction works by various writers and theorists, we will assess if animals qua animals have any agency in the stories or if they only serve as stereotypical representations of human fears and interests. We will particularly critique the tendency of dominant categories to represent foreigners and racial and sexual minorities as wild animals to be tamed. Further, we will assess the appropriateness of comparing bad people with animals or criticizing human foibles by showing animals behaving better than humans. Our overall objective is to discuss and write about the role of good and enjoyable art in representing the interests of the powerless in society in a way that is appealing across cultural boundaries. We also emphasize the protocols of academic presentations, including how to craft orally and in writing persuasive arguments based on the careful analysis of evidence and texts; summarizing arguments made by scholars and artists; and acknowledging sources and citing primary and secondary texts appropriately. 

Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Pulsars & All ThatMW9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Melville Ulmer
Physics & Astronomy

Description:

There are two books to read for this class. These are both Sci-Fi books, but both authors sprinkled in some real astronomy. We will read in parallel the two books for this class. For Gateway (about space travel and being psychoanalyzed by a computer), the reading will be about 18 pages/per discussion session. For the Dragon's Egg  (mostly the development of life on a neutron) start with page 1 and read about 21 pages/discussion, except the last one where 6 more pages need to be read. Therefore the required reading is only about 68 pages week. At 1 minute per page, you won't be "hurting." You should spend most of your time that you devote to this class to writing papers. This is not a lecture class devoted to teaching you many detailed facts about compact objects (black holes and neutron stars) nor is the expectation that you spend most of you writing assignment time on researching your topic. Each class will have a student discussion leader. The discussion topics can be science issues, history related (the black hole book), or how you found the writing (e.g. exceptionally good or bad, and give examples and talk about why). At the end of the quarter, the discussion time will be replaced by 10-minute presentations by each student. Facilities will be provided for Power Point presentations.

#BlackLivesMatter and the Struggle for American DemocracyMW11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Debra Thompson
African American Studies

Description:

The eruption of protests in 2014 and 2015 condemning the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, and far too many other African Americans throughout the United States has raised serious and pressing questions about the nature of American democracy. Amalgamated under the rallying cry, discourse, hashtag, and organizational structure of Black Lives Matter, this movement has been heralded by some as a “new civil rights movement,” and lamented by others as a myopic, outdated, and unnecessary focus on the politics of race in the “post-racial” America of the twenty-first century. All sides, however, can agree that Black Lives Matter has substantially changed the conversation about race and racism in America and elsewhere, so much that Time Magazine shortlisted Black Lives Matter as its “Person of the Year” in 2015. This first-year seminar explores the ideological origins and contemporary politics of Black Lives Matter movement. It is divided into three broad themes. First, the Demands of/on Democracy will explore how Black Lives Matter engages questions about the substance, breadth, ethos, and limits of American democracy, including its historical inheritance from nineteenth and twentieth century movements for Black liberation. Second, the Devaluation of Blacks Lives will explore how Black Lives Matter has exposed the ways that American society is characterized by and perpetuates anti-Black racism, in that Black lives are too often subjected to police brutality and violence, mechanisms of state surveillance, a blatantly racist criminal justice system, formidable obstacles to the accumulation of wealth, restricted access to dwindling social services and public goods, environmental hazards, ghettoization and gentrification, deteriorating public schools, and a host of other social ills that tend to systematically target and disadvantage African Americans. Third, the Politics of Protest will explore the ways that Black Lives Matter has maintained its presence in social and mainstream media by using a variety of disruptive protest tactics, in which the seizure of public spaces works to interrupt the status quo by giving sustained attention to the social structures that too often remain hidden from or ignored by white, middle class life. 

Buddhist PsychologyMW3:30-5:50pm

Instructor(s): Marcia Grabowecky
Psychology

Description:

In this seminar we will examine the nature of the mind from both Buddhist and traditional Western psychological perspectives. We will employ Buddhist techniques for investigating mental activity by incorporating a brief meditation period into class and homework activities. We will also examine written materials from both traditions, and these will form the primary basis for class discussion and written assignments.

Capitalism and Its Opponents in HistoryTTH3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Daniel Immerwahr
History

Description:

In this course, we will explore the history of capitalism and its opponents. We will do this mainly through reading the thinkers who have most shaped our understanding the capitalist system over the past 250 years, from Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations in 1776 to some of the recent writers who have inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement. Students will leave this class with an understanding of how capitalism works, how it has changed over time, and what the most important social theorists of the past centuries have said about it. Readings will include the work of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Friedrich Hayek, and John Rawls. 

Chemistry of Art: Color, Forgery, and the Effects on SocietyTTH9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Fred Northrup
Chemistry

Description:

A casual consideration of the fields of fine arts and science might suggest that they are completely unrelated disciplines. However if one looks more closely one discovers that art and science have developed in parallel fashion throughout history. Capabilities in the art world have changed dramatically due to scientific invention. Perhaps more surprisingly some aspects of scientific research have been driven by the need for new capabilities originally expressed from the art world. This seminar will consider the intimate relationship between chemistry and fine arts from the point of view of the evolution of capabilities through history, the evolution (or degradation) of individual works of art with time, the importance of chemistry in detecting art forgery, and the adverse effects of the link between art and science on economy and personal and environmental health.

The Chemistry of FoodMWF 11:00-11:50am

Instructor(s): Owen Priest
Chemistry

Description:

In The Chemistry of Food we will explore the chemistry and science of nutrition, cooking, food preservation, flavoring, coloring, and aroma. We will explore the science of salt, sugar & high fructose corn syrup, leavening agents, microwaves, proteins, and fats. What is the science behind genetically modified foods and why is it so controversial? What is celiac disease and gluten sensitivity? Is gluten sensitivity real? What does the science say? These questions, and more, will be explored through readings that will include the textbooks listed below. Grades will be based on class participation and short writing assignments, four papers based on the readings, and a final term paper.

The Credible WriterTTH2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Kathleen Carmichael
The Writing Program

Description:

What makes a writer credible?  In other words, how do readers determine what writers deserve their trust?  Every day we place our confidence in strangers who advise us on matters that range from the immediate (movies and restaurants) to the long-term (our money and our health).  Yet high-profile scandals—such as fraudulent reporting at the New York Times—remind us that we must not place our faith too casually.  In this course, we will examine the relationship between writers and their readers with an eye to understanding how the style, social context, and unspoken assumptions of a written work help inspire our confidence or elicit our disbelief in both the context of fiction and non-fiction.  Students will be asked to consider the ethical responsibilities both of readers, alert to the possibility of misrepresentation or fraud, and of writers seeking to establish their own credibility and authority. Course readings will include works of fiction, journalism, and writings from the natural and social sciences.  We will also consider practical topics such as how University library resources and experts can help students locate and evaluate key sources and develop authoritative arguments.

Death of the DinosaursMW2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Donna Jurdy
Earth and Planetary Science

Description:

The death of the dinosaurs as well as theories and evidence for other catastrophic extinctions will be examined. Geologic time and the history of life on earth, plate tectonics, dinosaur classification and behavior, periodicities, cosmic occurrences, and the search for Nemesis, the "Death Star" will be included in the seminar. Four papers. First paper is autobiographical. Second and third papers are on assigned topics. Final paper may be fiction or research.

The Economics and Politics of Mental Health DiagnosisMWF11:00-11:50am

Instructor(s): Benjamin Gorvine
Psychology

Description:

While those going in to the field of mental health typically think about it as a "helping profession", there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the economics and politics that have defined the development of the field. The purpose of this course is to explore some of the historical and economic forces that have shaped the field as it exists today. The course will begin with an exploration of the role of state mental hospitals in the U.S. in the early to mid-20th century, and examine the political forces that drove the de-institutionalization movement of the 1970s and 1980s. The course will also focus on the evolution of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (now in its 5th edition), and some of the problems that have emerged from the disease-based framework utilized in the manual. The aggressive way in which the DSM has been marketed internationally will be discussed. Finally, the course will explore critiques of the pharmaceutical industry and modern psychiatry. Some of these themes will also be explored through analysis of popular films and other media.

The Edible Word: Reading & Writing about FoodTTH9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Jeanne Herrick
The Writing Program

Description:

his is a course for people who love food: eating it, cooking it, growing it, and going to restaurants.   We will explore the connection between food and love, food and culture, food and religion, and food and family. We will also explore how the commercialization of food and agribusiness has changed what and how we eat. We’ll watch some famous movies on food: The Big Night, Jiro loves Sushi, and the important documentary, Food, Inc. Students will be encouraged to follow a food interest of their own as a topic for the writing assignments. We will also look at the two latest trends in food: molecular chemistry and foraging.

Experimenting in the Social SciencesTTH12:30-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Scott Ogawa
Economics

Description:

The goal of this course will be to learn the basic tools of game theory and use them to explore various topics including sports, politics, and evolutionary biology. During class students will participate in "economic experiments" where they will interact strategically with each other to see how well theory matches actual outcomes. We will discuss what such experiments reveal about economic models of decision-making and strategic interaction.

Food & CultureMW 11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Amanda Logan

Description:

Food is on everyone's minds these days. On the one hand, we have an unprecedented panoply of choices on supermarket shelves, while on the other, food activists call attention to issues of food politics, sustainability, and inequality. This class explores food through the lens of cultures past and present, to examine alternatives to and the roots of our modern food system. Anthropology is uniquely positioned to address the complexity of factors that define and motivate food practices. Food is at once culturally defined, biologically necessary, and historically situated. Some of the questions we will address in this class include: How do people decide what is edible, and what is not? What roles does food play in different cultures? What do our current concerns with food, from the obesity epidemic to the push for local, sustainable food sources, tell us about our own culture(s)?

From Fascism to Pussy RiotMW9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Elisabeth Elliott
Slavic Languages & Literatures

Description:

In this course we will explore some of the sociolinguistic issues (that is connections between language and society) in various Slavic speaking countries and areas (the Russian Federation, the former Soviet Union, the former Czechoslovakia, etc.) and in Central Europe (specifically, Turkish in Germany). We will also look at contemporary issues in Russia and the Ukraine as these relate to sociolinguistic issues, particularly the annexation of the Crimea, anti-gay laws in Russia, and censorship of Pussy Riot. Issues to be examined include: language policies, minority language rights, language vs. dialect, language planning, language and identity, and language and nationalism. As the final paper for this course, students will work on any geopolitical area in the world and examine the sociolinguistic issues particular to that region or linguistic variety. Some previous papers, for example, have looked at the role of Japanese in Korea; Koreans in Japan and language discrimination issues; the languages of South Africa; the status of African-American English (or African-American Vernacular English, or Black English) in the US and the controversy surrounding it in the 1990s in the Oakland, CA school district; US language change and the Internet and social media; Celtic in Ireland; the successful revival of a dead language, e.g., Hebrew, as the official language of Israel; language rights in the EU; American Indian languages; bilingualism in the US or Canada; Kurdish language discrimination in Turkey; and others.

Gender, Politics, and PowerTTH11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Julie Lee Merseth
Political Science

Description:

This course examines the role of women and gender in American politics with a focus on women's participation as activists, voters, and candidates. Topics include historical and contemporary women's movements, issues concerning the political representation of women, barriers to women seeking office, and the role of gender stereotypes in campaigns and elections. Throughout the course we attend to the intersections of gender with other identities such as race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and nativity and highlight, in particular, the participation and contributions of women of color. In addition, while this course concentrates on women as political actors in the United States, we briefly examine women's participation and representation in comparative perspective.

Globalization and Korean Pop CultureTTH2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Mii-Ryong Shim
Asian Languages & Cultures

Description:

This course explores contemporary South Korean popular culture – in forms such as television dramas, pop music, and genre films - as a case study for how globalization takes place in the cultural realm.  Instead of assuming globalization as a foregone conclusion or as a uniform process, we will examine the debates between the various proponents and critics of cultural globalization, as well as consider the transnational circulation and consumption of Korean pop culture within their particular geopolitical and historical contexts. 

Going Paleo: Ancestral Lifeway & Their Modern ImplicationsMW5:00-6:20pm

Instructor(s): Aaron Miller
Anthropology

Description:

Recently ideas about the "paleo-lifestyle" have begun to be spread in popular culture, often with prescriptions about how modern humans should conduct their lives in order to achieve better health and well-being. This course will survey some of these "paleo" recommendations and popular conceptions of our ancestors. These popular conceptions will be viewed critically against the evidence for what our ancestors actually did and what, if anything, it means for people living in the modern era. Some of the included topics will include dietary recommendations, exercise/barefoot running, childcare and feeding practices, and pathogen exposure/immune function.

Government and YouTTH9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Jannet Chang
Econmomics

Description:

Governments of all levels play an essential role in individual's day-to-day life, such as education, transportation, health and welfare. Some of the questions to be addressed in the course include but are not limited to the following: What are the roles of governments?  How do government policies impact individual decision making and vice versa? Under what situation is the government intervention desirable? What are the reasons for different levels of governments, such as federal, state, and local governments? The goal of this course is to acquaint students with various aspects of government sectors and give students the ability to critically evaluate current policy debates.

Growing up GayMW11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Shauna Seliy
English

Description:

As we are reminded every year at the movies, even if growing up sometimes includes a gun-slinging adventure (True Grit), or the creation of a billion dollar corporate empire (The Social Network), it is never easy. It can be especially tough when you feel like an outsider, say, in your school, your community, maybe even in your own family. Historically, this has often been the case for gay teenagers. In 2010, a string of suicides by gay teens brought attention to just how tough growing up gay can be. In response, the “It Gets Better Project” was developed by Dan Savage as a place where men and women who had learned that things do get better (and they do!) could tell their stories through short videos. Some writers and filmmakers have been turning out their own proof of this in movies and novels and essays for many years, in their own homegrown It Gets Better projects. Way back in 1952, for example, Patricia Highsmith, in her novel, The Price of Salt, gave her gay characters a happy ending. In this course, we’ll explore the (positive and negative) ways that authors and filmmakers have represented the experience of what it’s like to grow up gay. We’ll look at “growing up gay” as a subset of the coming-of-age genre. We’ll examine the ways in which the portrayal of young gay women and men has evolved in literature and film, paying particular attention to stories that allow room for a happy ending. 

Collaboration and Resistance in the HolocaustMW3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Benjamin Frommer
History

Description:

Nazi Germany’s genocide of European Jewry depended on far more than just members of the National Socialist Party and the country’s military.  From Vichy France in the West to the occupied Soviet territories in the East, the persecution, expropriation, and murder of millions involved countless civilians and state officials at all levels of government.  Many of those who collaborated with the Nazis did so for personal or partisan gain and/or because they were themselves antisemites.  Many others, however, were drawn into the process of genocide without necessarily having planned to aid the Germans.  At the same time some Europeans undermined the aims of the Nazis by sheltering the persecuted.  Jews, for their part, struggled to survive the genocidal onslaught and to undermine attempts to erase all memory of their existence.  Through a variety of texts and several films, we will explore questions of complicity and resistance from the villages and towns in which Jews and their gentile neighbors once coexisted to the sites where Nazi Germany enacted the ultimate stages of the so-called Final Solution.  

How to become an expert in Roughly Ten WeeksMWF11:00-11:50am

Instructor(s): Barbara Shwom
The Writing Program

Description:

Every day on television and radio, on the streets and in classrooms, we hear people expressing opinions about a variety of topics. The people who are most persuasive, however, are those who are most informed. This course is designed to give students the tools to develop an informed opinion, to present that opinion to others orally and in writing, and to persuade others to consider (and even accept) their point of view. In this seminar, you will have the opportunity to select a topic of your choice and research it in depth, using library resources, the Internet, interviews and surveys. You will also learn a number of techniques for presenting your ideas persuasively, both orally and in writing. By the end of the course, you will be in position to discuss your ideas in a thoughtful, authoritative way. In this sense, you will have earned the right to call yourself an expert on your topic.

"Hunger Games" The Politics of FamineTTH9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Jeffrey Rice
Political Science

Description:

People starving is something that regularly appears on the news.  Often described as a natural disaster it pulls at the hearts of people with food on their table.  But what happens when it turns out that famines are not natural disasters but are the results of either incompetence or deliberate policies on the part of the state?  How do we deal with this knowledge.  How do we balance the concept of drought as distinct from the concept of famine?  This class will address this issue beginning with the assumption that famines are not mere natural disasters about which little or nothing can be done.  We will look into the mechanics of famine, the relationship between famine and war, famines and international aid (international aid and state reinforcement) as well as the 'marketing' of famines.  In no way will this knowledge diminish the severity or brutality of famines but will, instead, explain them with more complexity.  Examples will likely be Ireland, Ethiopia, and Bengal.

Immigrant StoriesMWF10:00-10:50am

Instructor(s): Charles Yarnoff
The Writing Program

Description:

In 2014, President Obama said, “We are and always will be a nation of immigrants." What can we learn about the implications of that historical fact by reading stories written by and about immigrants to this country? The goal of this seminar is to answer that question as well as these others: How do immigrant experiences differ based on the era and country of origin, and in what ways are they similar?  What happens to the relationships between parents and children through the process of acculturation into American society?  How do social institutions and structures impact the lives of immigrants as they seek to pursue the American Dream? How do differences in national origin connect with other differences, particularly gender, race, ethnicity, and class? We will read novels, memoirs, and poetry that range from the beginning to the end of the 20th century and that tell stories of immigrants from Barbados, China, Mexico, Russia, and elsewhere.

ImpressionismTTH11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): S. Hollis Clayson
Art History

Description:

The seminar will study Impressionism, an innovative kind of art that arose in France during the third quarter of the nineteenth century. We will ask many questions about it.  Was it truly a movement? Was it a style? What is the connection between Impressionism and the city of Paris?  Do the canvases define a philosophy of modern urban life? Do they mark the beginnings of “art about art”?  How was Impressionism shaped by competing image technologies? Why were the works denounced when they were first exhibited? What were the gender and sexual politics of the group? How did Impressionism change when it took root in the United States?  The fundamental question is this: why is such a strange form of art so widely loved today?   

Making of the Fittest: Issues in EvolutionMW11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Erin Waxenbaum
Anthropology

Description:

We recently celebrated the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. But what would he think of our world today? We have a sophisticated understanding of genes and the ability to trace our ancestry over generations. Yet despite this knowledge, conclusive and irrefutable proof that we have or are continuing to evolve has not been found. In this course we will address where we might have come from and where we might be going. We will cover some of the major "issues" in biological evolution ranging from those of originating in Darwin's time to the many questions that persist today.

Language & ChildhoodTTH9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Bob Gundlach
Linguistics

Description:

How do children achieve the remarkable feat of acquiring language? Which aspects of the human capacity for language are best understood as biological, as species-wide and species-specific? How do families, schools, and communities help shape children’s development as speakers and listeners, and eventually their development as readers and writers?  How does learning a first language (or more than one language) interact with learning to think, learning to imagine, and developing a sense of identity?  How is early language experience related to opportunities later in life? We will begin exploring these questions by reading I Can Hear You Whisper: An Intimate Journey through the Science of Sound and Language by Lydia Denworth and Why We Cooperate by Michael Tomasello. We will also sample firsthand the topics, methods, and forms of argument characteristic of current scientific research, We will then extend our exploration by considering how children learn to read and write and by reflecting on the role of language in children’s development of cultural and individual identity.

Law and the Civil Rights MovementTTH2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Joanna Grisinger
Legal Studies

Description:

This course explores the relationship between law and civil rights in modern American history—in particular, African-Americans' efforts to secure their legal, political, civil, and economic rights. How and why did the African-American civil rights movement pursue legal change (in the courts, in state and federal legislatures, and in administrative agencies)? How and why did legal actors (including judges, White House officials, members of Congress, and state governors) engage with civil rights reformers? What are the benefits of pursuing legal change, and what are the limits? In order to answer these and other questions, we will read and discuss court cases, statutes, speeches, memoirs, newspaper articles, photographs, and songs, among other materials.

Medical_MarijuanaMW3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Christina Russin
Biological Sciences

Description:

As use of medicinal plants has increased in the West, there has been heightened interest in the possible beneficial effects of marijuana. In this course we will explore this subject largely from a biological point of view, but also touch on the legal and societal ramifications of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use in the US. Topics covered include historical medicinal uses of marijuana, the efficacy of marijuana for various conditions and diseases, and societal impact of medical marijuana. 

Medieval MonstersTTH9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Katharine Breen
English

Description:

In the 1990s television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the medieval is the monstrous, erupting into a small-town high school in the form of vampires, werewolves, and succubi – as well as in an accompanying apparatus of Latin incantations, ancient manuscripts, and quasi-religious rituals. In this and other works of contemporary popular culture, the deep past is at once disturbingly alien and uniquely powerful, offering access to truths no longer available in the present day. In this course, we will investigate the middle ages and the modern world – and the relationship between them – through a series of case studies of dragons, grendels, werewolves, giants, hags, hybrids, and other monstrosities. What did these monsters mean in their own time, and what do they mean today? How do they threaten, and how do they help to produce, the civilized categories of family and nation? Is monstrosity ever positively valued – and if so, under what circumstances? We will proceed by pairing Buffy with the work of the medievalist critical theorist Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, the epic poem Beowulf with the 2007 film adaptation, the medieval romance Bisclavret with modern werewolf stories, and the alliterative poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with The Sword of the Valiant (1984). We will also look at different versions of the mythical encounter between King Arthur and the Giant of St. Michael’s Mount, and at the link between monstrosity and sexual sin in medieval church teachings and Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale. In analyzing all of these works, we will draw on medieval and modern theories of monstrosity as articulated by St. Augustine, Isidore of Seville, John Mandeville, John Block Friedman, Lisa Verner, and others.

Museums, War Memorials & Other CommerationsMW2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Laura Hein
History

Description:

This seminar will explore the topics of commemoration and remembrance as objects of historical analysis. It will include readings on memorials and other official commemorative forms, museums and controversies over museum exhibits, clashes over what should or should not be included in "official" histories of various sorts, oral histories, and materials that walk the thin line between personal testimony and public commentary. As such, it will be concerned directly with the construction of history in various forms, examinations of the strategies by which various constituencies claim something is or is not legitimate history, as well as with the historical content of the issues being commemorated. Special attention will be paid to the history of WWII and the Vietnam War.

Music & the MindMW9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): David Smith
Psychology

Description:

For many, music serves a valuable function in everyday life. Music can serve as a mode of artistic expression, a method of relaxation, a means of influencing mood, and an avenue toward transcendence. This course will focus on the human experience of music by integrating research and theory from cognitive, social, and developmental psychology. Special attention will be given to topics such as the perception of music, the development of musical expertise and creativity, the effect of music on cognition, the emotional impact of music, and effective musical instruction. 

Our Bodies Ourselves: The Woman's Health MovementTTH11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Amy Partridge
Gender & Sexuality Studies

Description:

The U.S. 1970s Women’s Health Movement demanded everything from safe birth control on demand to an end to for-profit healthcare. Some participants formed research collectives and published D-I-Y guides to medical knowledge such as the Boston Women's Health Collective's Women and Their Bodies or Carol Downer's A New View of a Woman's Body. Some movement members established battered women's shelters, underground abortion referral services, and feminist health clinics. Others formed local committees and national networks, such as the Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA) and the National Women's Health Network (NWHN), with the goal of transforming contemporary medical protocols and scientific research agendas. Because many of these local and national groups are still in existence, original movement goals continue to define the parameters of a "women's health" agenda in the present moment. On the other hand, the Women's Health Movement was (and is) a heterogeneous movement. Then, as now, groups with competing ideas about the healthcare needs of women as a group identified as part of same movement. Thus, an examination of historical and current debates over "women's health" is also a means of assessing several distinct, often competing, paradigms of health and disease. Moreover, how we articulate a "women's health agenda" depends on our (often taken-for-granted) ideas about gender, sexuality, and embodiment itself.

Perceptions of the UniverseTTH2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Michael Smutko
Physics & Astronomy

Description:

Human perception and understanding of the universe has changed dramatically over the centuries.  Astronomers used to believe that objects in the Heavens were attached to great crystalline spheres that moved about the Earth with accompanying music.  Today, astronomers believe that the Heavens are dominated by a mysterious “dark energy” force that may ultimately tear the universe apart.  On top of that, some physicists think that everything from electrons to gravity itself is made of vibrating loops of string-like energy moving through 11-dimensional space.  Which is stranger?  You decide.  We will discuss (in a non-mathematical fashion) how our view of the cosmos has evolved thanks to the work of Galileo, Hubble, Einstein, Schrödinger and many others.  We will explore not just their ideas, but also the intellectual struggles and the drama behind those ideas.  

Pickpockets, Poets & Other Sad Marvels of City LifeMW12:30-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Averill Curdy
English

Description:

In this seminar we will explore the idea of the City as a kind of paradise, where constant change defeats nostalgia, where the spectacle of street-life not only entertains, but also enlightens, and where variety invites experiment. While considering questions of performance, authenticity, and identity, we will also investigate the concept of the flâneur, or connoisseur of the street, and students will be asked to undertake urban explorations of their own. In addition to reading work by a number of poets and other writers, including Patti Smith, Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, and Langston Hughes, we will also look at collaborations between writers, artists, and musicians.

Political InequalityTTH2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Chloe Thurston
Political Science

Description:

This course examines various types of inequalities – in representation, in participation, and in resources – and their consequences for American politics and democracy. After surveying theoretical debates on the relationship of equality and democracy we will explore how social scientists have attempted to a variety of related questions: What are the consequences of the way electoral institutions are structured for representation and policy? Do policymakers weigh the concerns of their constituents equally? Do wealthier individuals or corporations have greater influence in the political system than ordinary voters?

The Politics of Public SpaceMW9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Jillana Enteen
Gender & Sexuality Studies

Description:

Are public spaces inclusive? To explore this question, this course will combine theoretical and fictional readings and films, as well as examinations of particular physical spaces and NU archives. We will query the ways in which different members of the Northwestern university student body experience access to public spaces. By focusing on a particular student building on campus and examining the specificities of access (either the Northwestern Library or the Norris Student Center, tba), the course will cover such deeply-entrenched topics as gender, sexuality, sexual identification, race, class, religion, ethnicity, and ability. The goal of this course is to query how public spaces are politically experienced in non-uniform ways as well as recognize the constructed nature of the concept of "public space." Our localized focus of a campus building will suggest broader ideas, rendering visible the vicissitudes of what constitutes publics and space that might be extended to multiple environments and settings.

Populism in America and WorldwideMW9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Jason Seawright
Political Science

Description:

Selfish, incompetent political elites are ruining the country, and real Americans need to stand up and take control back!" This kind of ideology, called populism, is familiar to liberals and conservatives; worldwide, it has a history as old as democracy, if not older. What makes a politician a populist? How and when does populism connect with citizens? What are the results of populists in government? These questions are always important, and they take on new urgency given current directions in American politics. In this class, we will read populists' explanations of themselves, study scholarly and journalistic accounts, and work toward a final paper presenting our own perspectives on populism.

The Press and the Political ProcessTTH12:30-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Lawrence Stuelpnagel
Political Science

Description:

Presidents and presidential candidates often claim that the press is either "liberal" or "conservative." But many factors drive what the public receives as news. Those factors include: the economics of the business; information biases that come from striving to be "objective;" work routines by journalists; and the need to tell a story in a simple fashion so that readers and viewers can easily understand the subject. This course will examine the impact of those factors have on the information that the public receives as "news."

Psychology and Weird BeliefsTTH2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Sara Broaders
Psychology

Description:

Lots of people have beliefs that other people think are just plain weird. Why do people have these beliefs? We'll look at "weird" beliefs within our culture as well as some cross-cultural examples, and try to understand what leads people to develop and maintain these beliefs. Another issue is that one person's "weird" belief may be another person's firmly held conviction. From this perspective, we'll also try to understand which beliefs are rational. Among the topics we may cover are: witchcraft, alien abduction, superstition, parapsychology, ghosts, evolution vs. creationism, repressed memories of abuse, multiple personality disorder, and spirit possession. Students will learn to use a wide variety of academic and not-so-academic resources (including empirical research articles, ethnographic descriptions, philosophical arguments, popular press books, and documentary films) to explore the bases for these beliefs and practices.

Reading and Writing Stories from the MarginMWF9:00-9:50am

Instructor(s): Penny Hirsch
The Writing Program

Description:

What do we learn when we hear stories from people who are marginalized by society – or when we write about our own experiences with marginalization? The goal of this seminar is to answer those questions while becoming more enlightened and skillful writers ourselves. Toward that end, we will read narratives of survival and protest by people who have been marginalized by race, gender, poverty, politics, religion, war, or prison. As we do this reading, we will also look at (a) philosophical issues, such as the relationship between stories and “truth” (what’s the line between fiction and non-fiction?) and (b) literary issues, such as whether mainstream stories are any different from “stories from the margins.” Then, focusing particularly on narratives related to our country’s astonishingly high rate of incarceration, we will examine the power of stories to reshape our understanding of contemporary issues, including marginalization and inclusion at Northwestern. Papers will involve analysis of personal experience, such as how you have benefited from, or have been challenged by, marginalization, as well as analysis and arguments based on research, exploring whether or how stories from the margin challenge our views of ourselves and the world.

Regulating New TechnologiesTTH2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Jim Hornsten
Economics

Description:

The rapid development of new technologies forces us to frequently revisit two age-old questions. First, how should we decide whether to adopt a cutting edge product for which the benefits and costs (perhaps in terms of compromised privacy, autonomy, security and ethics) are somewhat unknown? Second, to what degree should government regulators protect consumers of new goods and services? In this seminar, we will consider a range of government interventions - including laissez faire, paternalistic nudges, and the Nanny State - and explore ways various economic actors try to influence policy and adapt to an ever-changing economic environment. Our discussions will focus on topics such as drones and driverless vehicles, smart appliances and the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, virtual reality, sharing economy apps (Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit), performance enhancing drugs and implants, CRISPR and de-extinction, cybersecurity, police body cameras and wearables, space tourism and exploration, Bitcoin, nanobots, and other sci-fi ideas that have become reality.

Religion, Artificial Intelligence, and the Life of ThingsMW2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Sylvester Johnson
Religious Studies

Description:

For the past several centuries, human nature has been described through the unique capacity to think and reason. Over the past several decades, however, humans have become increasingly successful at designing machines to think and reason, the very activity that seems so central to human experience. The rapid emergence of intelligent machines is creating new attention to older questions that have concerned religion scholars for some time. Could a machine ever be spiritual? Is consciousness unique to humans? Could consciousness reside in things such as machines? How did Westerners come to view matter-versus-spirit in an oppositional manner? How has religion shaped the way Westerners view the capacity to be sentient and to act (subjectivity) and the lack of this capacity (objecthood)? What have the intellectual and religious traditions of West Africa (Orisha ontology), East Asia, and Indigenous America asserted about the nature of things versus the nature of people? Do all societies today share the same assumptions about the nature of personhood? If technologists throughout the globe succeed in developing cognitive machines that rival or surpass human intelligence, will these machines become human? This course examines the problems of religion and humanity that artificial intelligence (AI) is currently generating. Students will read texts by religion scholars, AI technologists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers of the mind to understand the theoretical, philosophical, and technological foundations for older religious claims about the nature of people and things. Students will study and understand (1) the conceptual paradigms on which claims of human exceptional are based; (2) religious claims about bodies and souls; 3) the basic architecture of cognitive machines; (4) what recent brain research reveals about human cognition; and (5) recent theoretical efforts (e.g., integrated information theory) to account for consciousness in things and people. On this basis, students will learn to engage skillfully with both classical and contemporary accounts of people versus things that are emerging in response to the rapid progress in AI.

Roman Love PoetryTTH12:30-1:50pm

Instructor(s): John Schafer
Classics

Description:

Across cultures and over centuries, love is probably the most familiar and universal topic of poetry. Yet that familiarity marks precisely the reason we are likely to be mistaken about it, even (especially?) in our own time and place (quick test: does the phrase "what we mean by love" sound perfectly clear to you?). In this class we will question "our" received ideas about love (whatever those are) by observing a cluster of Roman authors (Vergil, Ovid, Catullus, and others) questioning theirs - and by questioning their questioning in turn. Reading and discussing their works in English translation, we will see what happens when we treat what is strangest and most foreign about them as the easy part, and the easy part as the problem.

Rubik's Cubes, Square Dancing & MathmaticsTTH 3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Michael Maltenfort
Mathematics

Description:

What are the similarities between a popular puzzle toy and an offshoot of American folk dancing?  Both involve scrambling certain objects using a small number of operations.  In one case, plastic pieces are rotated by turning faces of a cube.  In the other case, human dancers move from one place to another by executing dance actions.  In both cases, it is important to be able to restore the objects to their original unscrambled state.  How can we understand this process?  In a scrambled state, what patterns persist?  In this class, we use mathematical permutation groups to tie together Rubik’s cubes and square dancing.  Mathematical thinking will allow us to devise and critique both unscrambling strategies and also the ways in which the strategies can be effectively communicated.  No prior knowledge is required.

Scandals and ReputationsTTH3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Gary Fine
Sociology

Description:

This freshman seminar is designed to expose incoming students to the basic approaches that historians, political scientists, and sociologists use to understanding historical memory. In particular, we examine how reputations are constructed by the public and by historians, and how scandals (including contemporary ones) come to be understood. Our primary focus for this course will be American examples, but the historical range will be broad, covering 1700-present. Given the controversy recently uncovered at Northwestern about the involvement of our founder, John Evans in the Sand Creek Massacre, the most significant genocide of native peoples on United States soil, we will discuss how the university should recall Evans' deeds.

The Secret Life of FetishMWF9:00-9:50am

Instructor(s): Jorg Kreinenbrock
German

Description:

Friedrich Nietzsche's famous characterization of German 19th century art and science as a crass fetish-being introduces the notion of the fetish into the vocabulary of cultural analysis. Since its origin in the ethnographic writings of the enlightenment in the 17th and 18th century, the fetish appears in many different incarnations in such heterogeneous discourses as theology, Marxism, sociology, psychoanalysis, the clinical psychiatry of sexual deviance, modernist aesthetics, popular culture, and anthropology. This class will give a historical survey of these transformations by focusing on crucial representations of the fetish, fetishism and the fetishist in literature (Sacher-Masoch, Hoffmann), philosophy (Marx, Adorno, Benjamin), psychoanalysis (Freud) and film (Lynch, Cronenberg, Farocki).

SleepTTH 3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Eric Mosser
Biological Sciences

Description:

Sleep is both mysterious and essential.  Essentially all multicellular animals sleep.  People can reject food and abstain from sex, but cannot help falling asleep.  The vital need for, and strong evolutionary conservation of sleep indicates that it meets a fundamental need, but what functions sleep serves, and how it is regulated are still open questions.  Sleep deprivation and circadian rhythm disruptions like jet lag and shift work have been demonstrated to affect immune function and may be linked to obesity.  Sleep disorders have become so pervasive that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared that they constitute a public health epidemic.  This course will examine the neurobiological basis and societal relevance of sleep and sleep disorders.

Surrealism: Then & NowTTH 12:30-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Jeanne Dunning
Art Theory & Practice

Description:

The Surrealist movement was centered in Paris in the 1920s and attracted artists working in a range of media including writing, theater, film and the visual arts. With particular emphasis on the exploration of Surrealist techniques, we will look at the history of Surrealism from its early inception in Dada through its height under the influence of Andre Breton. Breton described Surrealism as "…based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dreams, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all other psychic mechanisms…". We will experiment with automatic writing, collage, manifestos, dream journaling and the exquisite corpse, and we will look for ways in which the techniques and sensibilities of Surrealism are present in current art practice and contemporary culture.

Teens, 'Tweens, and AdolescentsMW11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Karrie Snyder
Sociology

Description:

This course examines the experiences of young people today and how the experience of being a young person varies greatly by socio-economic status, gender, and race/ethnicity.   We will also spend time looking at how life stages associated with youth (such as tween, teenager, and emerging adulthood) have evolved and why the road to adulthood is often longer today.  We will also think about how the media shapes societal views of young people and how young people use social media.  Finally, we will consider how the lives of young people today (Millenials) compare to earlier generations (including Baby Boomers and Generation X) and we will look at intergenerational interactions at home, in school, and in the workplace.

The Trial and the QuestTTH 2:00-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Cynthia Nazarian
French & Italian

Description:

The Trial and the Quest: Knights, battles, princesses and giants; these are the building blocks of tales of adventure. This freshman seminar explores heroes and the tests they face, the journeys they pursue, and the ways in which adversity and accident shape them. What is a hero? Why is a hero never born, only made? What are the lessons of failure and self-delusion that the quest teaches? Beginning with the Song of Roland, we will examine epic, Arthurian romance and comic parodies of knightly genres in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and then turn to contemporary film to trace the ways in which modern fantasy and superhero adventures raise old questions and provide new answers to the dilemmas and ordeals of the hero's self-defining mission. Works under discussion will include Chretien de Troyes' Lancelot, or the Knight of the Cart, Marguerite de Navarre's Heptameron, François Rabelais' Pantagruel and Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, as well as Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.

Tolerance: A HistoryTTH11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Michelle Molina
Religious Studies

Description:

Tolerance: A Global History. In this course we will explore the ways that global Christianity laid the groundwork for European ideas about diversity and tolerance. The aim of the course is to understand how the historically contingent confrontations with religious diversity were foundational to, and indeed, shaped the terms of the development of modern assumptions not only about religious tolerance, but also about tolerance of cultural diversity broadly speaking. One of the primary learning goals for students is to 1) gain the skills to interpret primary texts in order to 2) understand how the category of "religious" difference, while not disappearing, eventually ceded primacy of place to notions of "cultural" and "racial" differences by the end of the first era of globalization such that 3) all of these terms became foundational to understandings about the nature of human diversity, not only in the era of the European Enlightenment (18th century) but also today, as we continue to fight our own "culture wars" about difference and diversity. We will treat the European religious wars following the Reformation, but given that the primary aim of the course is to historicize the perceived possibilities and limits of "tolerance" in a global context, the bulk of the readings will demonstrate how ideas about human "sameness" and "difference" emerged from face-to-face encounters and conflicts in the first era of globalization. The course will foreground the entangled histories of early modern missionary encounters as the ground for working out ideas about how one ought to think about religious diversity in the global world and how modern ideas about tolerance emerged from early modern debates about what religious differences might be tolerated and which were "idolatrous." Accordingly, the course takes as its starting point the history of European expansion into the Americas and Asia under the Iberian Empires in the 15th century. Christian explorers and missionaries evaluated "difference" in terms of "idolatry" and "superstition." Idolatry was to be extirpated, but "superstition" led to the development of concepts about "cultural differences" that might be tolerated, laying the groundwork for what we think of today as "cultural relativism." We will take up four case studies: 1) the New World controversies about the humanity of the Indians, best represented in the polemical writings of Bartolomé de las Casas, but treated in greater depth by Jesuit missionary and proto-ethnologist, Jose de Acosta, 2) the controversies about Jesuit missionary cultural "accommodation" in Asia (the Chinese and Malabar Rites controversies); and 3) the experiments with religious toleration at the Mughal court under the reign of Akbar. We will end with a discussion of how 4) these global encounters influenced the ideas found in Voltaire's Treatise on Tolerance and in John Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration.

Truth in Representations: Hoaxes, Copies & RemixesTTH11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Elizabeth Lenaghan
The Writing Program

Description:

Media hoaxes, copies, and remixes have existed for centuries. But is anything different about these phenomena in our digital age? For instance, since it’s so easy to copy and remix digital data, do we do so more often? Do people feel pressure to make things up because they must produce content more frequently, faster, and across more platforms than ever before? Do technology and its crowd-sourcing capabilities render lies and thefts easier to uncover? In this course, we will explore answers to these questions as we examine several historic and contemporary examples of hoaxes, copies, and remixes. We’ll ask questions about both the positive and negative aspects of such examples with the ultimate aim of discovering what they can show us about broader concepts such as individuality, uniqueness, and authenticity. Students will also have the opportunity to engage in independent research on a hoax, theft, or remix of their choosing.

Understanding Contemporary WarfareMW3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): William Reno
Political Science

Description:

This course is designed to introduce students to the analytical approaches and research methods political scientists use to study questions related to contemporary conflicts.  The course will begin with a focus on basic concepts, such as the organization and behavior of armed groups, their relationships with non-combatants, and the roles that violence and information play in the course of armed conflicts. The second part of the course will address broad questions relevant to recent and ongoing conflicts. Why does Islamic State use violence in particular ways? Do new information technologies and media changed how wars are fought? Have new forms of warfare reduced the utility of force, and if so, for whom? What do we know about suicide attacks? What is "terrorism" and does the category have any utility?  The third part of the course will concentrate on policy debates. What is US policy with regard to contemporary conflicts? Has the way that the US fights wars changed to adapt to new conditions?  Are US policy makers and US war fighters effective in achieving their goals?  What is the impact of these choices on the societies where wars are fought?

Values of BiodiversityMW3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Joseph Walsh
Biological Sciences

Description:

One of the major challenges of our changing world is the loss of biological diversity.  An overwhelming majority of people agree that we should work to save biodiversity, but their views are largely based on vague, positive feelings about nature rather than concrete justifications.  This course investigates those concrete justifications.  The first half of the course sketches out the argument for preserving biodiversity (i.e., "thinking globally").  The second half of the course focuses on the practice of ecological restoration in forest preserves a few miles from campus (i.e., "acting locally") not merely as a way to preserve biodiversity, but as a path to redefining a sustainable relationship between nature and culture.  the readings for the course range from classics of environmental writing to recent research papers in the primary scientific literature.  Biodiversity also needs to be experienced directly, so we will take a field trip to a local forest preserve where we will roll up our sleeves and help restore a native habitat and see how much biodiversity means to the people with whom we live and work.

What is College for?MW9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Sandford Goldberg
Philosophy

Description:

This course will address various conceptions of the aims and value of a college education. We will look at arguments from various quarters: humanist, economic, sociological/political, and skeptical. We will consider the question of the value of a college education not only from the perspective of the person in college, but also from the perspective of the broader community.

What is DemocracyMW3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Axel Mueller
Philosophy

Description:

In this seminar we will examine some of the fundamental ideas and questions behind democracy and provide a reading of their "inventors". Some of the questions are: What is democracy? Is it a form of government, a value, an ideal, a political system, a form of life, a bit of all this? Is democracy always the best political solution (in wartime? general starvation?)? Why should the whole of the people decide and not the specialists in the respective questions? Are all democratically taken decisions automatically legitimate (what about minorities' rights?)? How should all citizens in a democracy participate in politics? By direct self-government of the people or by voting representatives? Is everything democratically decidable or does the individual have unalterable rights? Is tolerance and/or free speech necessary for democracy and how far can it go?

Why Gender Matters in EconomicsMW9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Sara Hernandez
Economics

Description:

In this seminar, we will look into the many different facets of the economics of gender. We will learn about economic decisions that individuals and households face from a unique gender perspective and ask ourselves: do women and men behave differently in economic circumstances? The topics we will cover include, among others: the status of women around the world, education, marriage, fertility, labor supply, bargaining power, and discrimination. For each topic, we will study concrete examples emanating from all over the world. Students will learn to use a wide variety of academic and not-so-academic resources (including empirical research articles, ethnographic descriptions, and popular press books).

Wild Child: Separating Humans from AnimalsTTH3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Tessie Liu
History

Description:

Through the autumn and winter of 1799 in central France, a naked boy was seen swimming and drinking in streams, climbing trees, digging for roots and bulbs, and running at great speed on all fours. He was captured in January 1800 by local farmers and brought to Paris. This "wild boy" from Aveyron became an overnight sensation, the object of curiosity and endless speculations about the relationship between instinct and intelligence and questions about the differences between humans and animals. The young doctor Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, who undertook the task of socializing and educating the wild child, carefully recorded the boy's progress. Itard's work ultimately transformed the treatment of mental retardation and to a revolution in childhood education that is reflected in every preschool program in our time. This course introduces students to the philosophical and attitudinal changes regarding nature, childhood, and family life that enabled society to view the "wild boy" not as a freak or savage, but as a person inherently capable of civility, sensibility, and intelligence. The course material is designed for students interested in intellectual history, psychology and education.

Women at the Border: The Marginalization of Latinas in the U.S.MWF2:00-2:50pm

Instructor(s): Patricia Nichols
Spanish & Portuguese

Description:

Latina immigrants to the U.S. often leave intolerable circumstances and brave life-threatening border crossings in pursuit of the American dream. Yet, those who succeed in crossing the geographic border almost inevitably find that the marginalized existence they hoped to leave behind takes on an equally powerful form in their new world as they confront economic, political, racial, and cultural barriers ‘north’   of the border. Immigration has become one of the ‘hot’ buttons of contemporary social and political dialogue. Through the prism of the Latina experience in the United States, this class will explore causes and consequences of global migration in the 21st century, analyze the marginalization of third-world immigrants in first-world society, and seek to develop an understanding of the evolving ‘face’ of America.  Students will further examine how their own ancestral experiences have helped shape their perceptions of this new world order. Issues to be explored through literature and film include: Immigration: global attitudes and experiences in a post 9/11 world Dangers: physical and psychological dangers risked as Latinas cross both geographic and social borders Racism: the role race plays in creating barriers for Latinas Stereotypes: images and misconceptions of Latinas in American film, television, media, etc. Traditions: how attitudes and practices within the Hispanic community itself impact Latinas Challenges & Triumphs: women who have successfully ‘crossed’ the border and what that means Personal Journey: students will research personal histories (“How did I get here?”) in order to understand how cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds impact the formation of attitudes and perspectives.

Writing about Literature & ExperienceMWF9:00-9:50am

Instructor(s): Marcia Gealy
The Writing Program

Description:

In this seminar we shall read selected fiction, poems, and essays and respond to them in writing as a way of clarifying our ideas and communicating them effectively to others. Writing assignments will include response papers to the reading and three essays of varying length.  Some of the authors we shall study are William Blake, Franz Kafka, Alice Munro, Marjane Satrapi, and Raymond Carver.