Course Catalogue:First Year Seminars
First Year Seminars provide a foundation for our students' intellectual lives both inside and outside the classroom by helping them to develop critical thinking and communication skills and practices; to enculturate themselves within the Colleges' intellectual and ethical values and practices; and to establish a strong network of relationships with peers and mentors on campus. The seminar topics vary each year, as do the professors who teach them, so the classroom discussions are always fresh and interesting.
Each Seminar is constructed around a different interest, like magic, social responsibility or country music, and Seminar classes are small ' usually about 15 students ' which helps students feel more comfortable in a new environment and allows the students and faculty members to develop close working relationships.
Examples of First-Year Seminar courses includes the following:
FSEM 003 First Person Singular What's up? What's happening? What's new? How you been? How you doing? We say these things every time we meet a friend --and we really want to know. Readers of memoirs ask these or similar questions, and memoirists give us the answers -- beautifully. We're lucky that curious people have so many memoirs to choose from. And for the last several years we've had memoirs from all over the world, not just the United States. This First Year Seminar studies the contemporary memoir in a multicultural setting. Through the books we read, we travel to such places as Somalia, the Sudan, Egypt, and Cuba. Students write critical essays about the memoir in general and the books we read in particular. They also write their own short memoirs - vignettes from their life. And students do research on the day they were born and complete an oral presentation on the findings. The course ends with students writing a final essay on what they think constitutes a good memoir. Typical Readings: Sebold, Lucky; Beah, A Long Way Gone; Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying; Ojito, Finding Maana.
FSEM 004 Outsider Women: Activists, Artists, and Outspoken Women in American Popular Culture "When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid."- Audrey Lorde. This writing instructive class examines 'outsider women:' women who worked to expose and heal deep political, economic and social rifts in American society, especially over issues of gender and racial justice, through the lens of popular culture in 20th century. Looking at popular texts produced by and about women including film, music, propaganda, and popular periodicals we'll ask: What forms of pop culture have been specifically targeted at women? What kinds of fears or anxieties about women did pop culture elicit and how did Americans negotiate those anxieties? How have women resisted or co-opted the messages they have received? How have 'outsider' women attempt to resolve long-standing political, social and economic issues regarding gender and racial justice? The course takes an interdisciplinary perspective on the questions above using students own expertise as consumers of popular culture as an entryway for exploring the diverse roles popular culture has played in 20th century history. In doing so, this class will be a space for critical engagement and dialogue regarding how forms of popular culture resist, respond to, and reveal the conundrum of race, gender, and sexuality in the 20th century.
FSEM 005 Trust and Betrayal Trust between people makes life worth living, and yet trusting others makes us vulnerable to betrayal. This seminar explores the nature of trust and betrayal, as well as related questions of power, morality, and knowledge: How do I know whom to trust? What makes someone trustworthy? How does prejudice influence whom we trust and distrust? By examining situations in which trust was betrayed by doctors who experimented on humans, corporations who manipulated science to make a profit, and business professionals whose conflicts-of-interest undermined the national economy, students will study the role of social institutions and personal morality. We will also study a variety of vexing questions that we find in our daily lives and in television and film... What is a trusting romantic relationship? Does it make sense to trust a vampire or a gangster? Am I trustworthy? Typical Readings: Baier, Moral Prejudices; Potter, How Can I Be Trusted?; Hobbes, Leviathan; Gambetta and Hamill, Streetwise: How Taxi Drivers Establish Their Customers' Trustworthiness; McGarity and Wagner, Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research.
FSEM 006 Sewing and Social Justice This seminar introduces students to sewing as a social justice practice. Focusing on mending and upcycling, this course will guide students through a semester-long upcycling project using textiles from their wardrobe and donated fabric. Through making, reading, and writing, we will unpack the concept of 'repair' as a physical action and social process. Readings will explore slow stitching, craftivism, feminist art, and community arts. Writing assignments culminate in two main pieces: a basic research paper related to the history of their textile choices and a fictional piece written from the perspective of their upcycled-sewn project. No sewing experience necessary.
FSEM 007 Magic & Occult in the Renaissance In this course, students will explore the surprisingly central role that magic and the occult played in the early modern period (Middle Ages and the Renaissance). Students will become familiar with definitions of popular magic, as well as magie savante (alchemy, geomancy and necromancy) as well as with artistic manifestations, such as relics, art objects, gems and talismans. Astrology, the art of divination and talismans will be considered in the context of the dreams of the Renaissance magus so the students may also consider how mysticism, magic and science were intertwined in the Medieval and Renaissance period.
FSEM 010 Beyond the Straight and Narrow: Identifying Heteronormativity and Heterosexism How did the United States come to terms with the concept of sexualities? How was sex conceptualized as behavior and transformed into how notions of roles and identity? Why does who we have sex with dictate what is normal, accepted, and granted power in the United States, in the workplace, and in other communities? This course highlights how notions of sex, gender, sexuality, and gender expression have been defined, normalized, criticized, and experienced within a variety of communities, and resisted via local, national, and global movements. Intersectionality of power, race, class, faith/no faith, and other difference is explored.
FSEM 011 Britpop: From Beatles to Brexit Pop music is music of the moment: it crystallizes a specific point in space and time within a culture and preserves it in three glorious minutes of song. In this class, we'll immerse ourselves deeply in the history of British music from World War II up to the present day, from Vera Lynn to Adele, from the Kinks to the Clash, from David Bowie to Benjamine Clementine, from the Specials to Stormzy. We'll use this remarkable playlist as a lens to examine how British culture has evolved over the past seventy-five years, a culture that always seems to be accessible to Americans on some levels but also oddly impenetrable on others. (George Bernard Shaw famously described the UK and the US as "two countries separated by a common language.") By casting our imaginations overseas for a semester, we will inevitably come to reflect upon ourselves with new eyes as well; and by exploring one of the world's greatest musical legacies, we will come to hear contemporary music with fresh ears too.
FSEM 013 Violence in the Sea of Faith During the Middle Ages, the Mediterranean sea was home to people of the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These communities often fought violently for territory, converts, and wealth. This class explores the nature of religious violence in the pre-modern Mediterranean by examining the topics of Islamic expansion, the Crusades, and persecution. In the course, we will also challenge the assumption that all interactions were violent by investigating convivencia in Spain Egypt, and Sicily. We will read, many different types of medieval texts including crusade narratives, travel writings, biography, and chronicles. Lastly we will explore how science, art history, philosophy, and archaeology help us understand the complexity of the medieval world.
FSEM 014 Science versus Philosophy? World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has declared that "philosophy is dead." Neil deGrasse Tyson, a well-known astrophysicist, has dismissed philosophy as useless in contributing any understanding of the natural world. Is philosophy actually useless in telling us what the physical world is like? Some, like those mentioned above, think that philosophy can have nothing to say about the physical world. Others argue that philosophical inquiry into the world can still be insightful, but must be subservient to science. Some even argue that philosophy is integral to scientific investigation of the world. The exploration of these issues will determine to what extent philosophy should be a co-investigator with science in the task of understanding what the physical world is like or whether it should ultimately be abandoned.
FSEM 017 Old Art Meets New Chemistry: Technical Art History and Art Conservation This new branch of art history focuses on an artwork as a physical object: it studies the materials, techniques and production methods that went into its making, as well as artist's reflections on the process of creation. This course will be linked with the FSEM by the same subject taught by Walter Bowyer. (We have already requested to teach our courses on special designated time so that we may hold lab session together - these will be supervised by Walter Bowyer; the historical lectures. Discussion sessions will be supervised by me). The course will focus on the history of art technology as well aspects of applied science. Students will work hands on with a wide variety of materials and experience making specific ones themselves. The course will also include excursions to nearby labs that deal with historical conservation and/or reconstructions. (Both Walter Bowyer and I have received a private grant from Yale University to fund this particular aspect of the course).
FSEM 019 Archaeological Mysteries: Pseudo-Archaeology and the Battle for the Past Course Did aliens really visit the Egyptians or early Meso-Americans? Could ancient peoples possibly build sophisticated structures like pyramids, or the Nazca lines, or calculate the complex mathematical equations necessary for their astronomical projects, without a more advanced civilization's aid? Has Noah's Ark really been found? Does the Bible include evidence of UFO's? Did Atlantis really exist? How could anyone really verify whether the Piltdown Man was a hoax-doesn't science itself dictate that there are no definite answers? How can you tell when an archaeological or scientific discovery is fraudulent? Are "alternative" archaeologists really plucky, unappreciated champions of a truth that mainstream science wants to conceal? Are academic archaeologists closed-minded, unimaginative, agents of the status quo, intent upon keeping revelatory information away from the public? This course will review famous moments in 'Pseudo-Archaeology' then explain how to differentiate fraudulent/fantastical claims from scientifically supportable conclusions. We will also discuss why individuals might generate hoaxes or cling to unsustainable narratives, and why such misinformation about the past matters. Finally, we will investigate some properly documented/handled archaeological mysteries, in order to: 1) practice distinguishing supported claims from fiction (and maybe offer some responsible explanations of our own); 2) demonstrate that the rigorous application of scientific method does not stifle excitement or mystery; and, 3) marvel at the ingenuity of our distant ancestors.
FSEM 020 You Are Here: Geneva 101 Welcome to Geneva, N.Y., your place of residence for the next four years; the first four years of your adult life. This course sets up your Geneva home as a laboratory in which to seek to understand the complex interaction of forces that produce a "place." We will consider the richness of place from four different angles: demographics, natural environment, built environment, and human activity. Each approach will reveal something different, yet each will overlap with and influence the others. We will read a wide range of texts, walk streets and land, consider work and play, and talk to people who live in and look at Geneva. In the end, we will examine how we come to know and understand any location, while coming to know this place, Geneva, in a personal and profound way. This course is part of a Learning Community.
FSEM 023 Monkeys, Morality, and the Mind What am I? What can I know? Are my choices free? Is there any reason to be an ethical person? These are traditionally considered questions for philosophy, yet many recent scientific findings may influence how we answer them. In this seminar, we will consider the impact of contemporary science on philosophy and ask: What, if anything, does evolution have to do with morality? What do psychological findings about humans? Biases show about what (and how) we can know? Is the notion that humans have free will consistent with our current neuroscientific accounts of the brain? If human actions are highly dependent on situational/ contextual factors, as several recent psychological findings have shown, what does this reveal about my identity or personality? Typical Readings: Sommers, A Very Bad Wizard: Morality Behind the Curtain; Appiah, Experiments in Ethics; de Waal, Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved; and selections from Journal of Philosophy, Journal of Consciousness Studies.
FSEM 028 Epic Fails: Not the Final Frontier Failure is often discarded and frowned upon within our society today; however, failure has led to great successes throughout the unfolding of our history. In this course, we will consider how failure is a part of learning and growing, and how it has paved the way for great discoveries, inventions, and ideas within various disciplines from the caveman to the computer. How can we begin to learn from our failures and the failures of others in strengthening our process of learning and doing? How can failure help us challenge ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones in the hopes of trying out new things, setting new goals, and helping us to pave the way to be more confident and successful in our futures in whatever path we go down?
FSEM 029 Why Are Some Countries Rich? Why are some countries rich while others remain poor? The answer matters because 'rich' versus 'poor' translates into significant differences in the quality of life of the 'average' person in these countries. The history of the post-WWII period is littered with the corpses of 'big ideas' that purported to answer this question and thus provide the key to growth. Colonial exploitation, low investment rates, inadequate spending on education, insufficient financial liberalization, among others, all failed to answer the question by themselves and certainly didn't provide the magic elixir for growth. We will examine the merits and the failings of these big ideas and consider some newer proposals as well. We'll particularly look at the roles of geography and of political, social and economic institutions and the incentives they create. There may be no single big idea that will work for every country, but we will identify some characteristics that clearly separate the "poor" from the "not so poor."
FSEM 038 Religion and Film: Exploring Meaning in Film The course examines religious themes and motifs as depicted in experimental, avant-garde and art films. These include themes such as transcendence, the sacred, exile and home, ritual, faith and doubt, knowing God, mortality, reincarnation, the fall, suffering, and so on, all having to do with the existential question of meaning in life. We will begin the term with a series of introductory essays that explore what is religion, the relationship between film and religion, and how to "read" or analyze film. We will then watch a feature-length film about every week and a half; read selected primary and secondary literature dealing with the religious theme depicted in the film as well as literature on the film itself and/or the director; and discuss and interpret the film after watching it. None of these films present religion in a traditional light. They often challenge mainstream assumptions about religion. And in some of the films religious motifs are not at all explicit. Through the process the first-year students will be introduced to the culture of the Humanities in general and methods of how to read and analyze written material and visual material while relating them together and to one's own life and the world one is familiar with.
FSEM 039 1970s Art and Politics In many ways, contemporary events seem to echo the climate of the 70's. In that decade, too, protest movements and scandal in government dominated the headlines. A society divided by class and education sometimes felt on the brink of schism. Can we really learn lessons can we learn from past events? Is it possible that the origins of the present trouble lie thirty years in the past? Drawing contextual readings by a range of historians, students examine literature, music, visual art, film and popular culture to consider answers to these and other questions. Typical readings include Schulman, The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics; From, How We Got Here: the 70's, and others. This course focuses intensively on essay writing, and students should expect to spend significant effort on improving their expository skills.
FSEM 040 Fields of Play: Improvisation in Life and Art Quick! Make a hat out of rubber bands, an old sock, and a map of the Northeast! Add on an unfinished sentence and take it in a new direction. Move across the room staying connected to someone else's earlobe...sing a nonsense song...draw your autobiography...Sound strange? We use improvisation every day when we talk with friends, react without thinking to something new, or walk our own pathway to dinner. Artists use improvisation deliberately, to create new melodies, discover unique movements, or create spontaneity on stage. Scientists use improvisation to test new theories, or to go beyond known limits. Business managers use improvisation to encourage creative thinking, solve problems, or to design products. The ability to improvise is innately human, but many of us find it intimidating. We don't like to be "on the spot," we worry about looking foolish, we like to feel in control, and the unscripted possibilities of "anything goes" seem more terrifying than liberating. Fields of Play: Improvisation in Life and Art is a course for students who want to challenge themselves, and to free their minds and bodies from doing the same-old, same-old routines every day. Improvisation is a practice; a discipline that has many forms but one prerequisite: the courage to let go of preconceived plans and trust yourwords/actions/expressions are absolutely right for the moment. Each class involves improvisational elements which demand total participation as a thinking, moving being.
FSEM 041 Playground Physics This course focuses on exploring concepts of introductory physics through experiential learning on the playground and in everyday life. This course is designed for students to have concrete experiences of abstract mathematical and physical concepts. For example, students will perform experiments related to conservation of energy and friction using a sliding board. They will experience angular momentum conservation on a variety of roundabouts, and the physics of pendulum on a swing. Students will be encouraged to design their own simple experiments to explore these topics. The experiential learning will be paired with the mathematical concepts.
FSEM 042 Face to Face: Interrogating Race Do we live in a post-racial world or a new Jim Crow society? What are the legacies of slavery, segregation, and apartheid? What is meant by white privilege? How do we value human life and what are the ways of developing emancipatory movements? This course examines the parallel structures of segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa. The basic premise is that through the lens of another culture we can come to examine our own. The causes and effects of segregation and apartheid on contemporary race relations are the central focus. How race affects gender, class, and social spaces is explored throughout the readings.
FSEM 050 Complexity and Chaos How do we gain a deeper understanding of the world around us, when so many things can seem unapproachably complicated? Mathematical modeling can help us understand many seemingly complicated phenomena with relatively simple tools. This course introduces the concepts of complexity, chaos and randomness, and uses them to give insight into a wide variety of topics, including population growth, evolution, the development of cooperation in society, the spread of wildfires and the weather. Along the way, the limits of these approaches and the value added by differing perspectives are discussed.
FSEM 055 Russians Discover America How do you define America? Does your definition mesh with what the rest of the world might think? This course explores American culture and identity by proposing and testing definitions for these terms. Our raw material for this project includes words, sounds, and images created by Russian and Soviet artists and travelers, as well as familiar images from American life. Some of our texts are fictional, some are not, and some blur the boundaries between the two. Some were created by people who visited the U.S. and went home again, some by exiles both voluntary and involuntary, and some by artists who simply imagined America from afar. Throughout the semester, we will pay attention to ways in which an artist's or an outsider's perception - the ability to make the familiar strange - can deepen our understanding of images, objects, and literary works that we thought we knew well.
FSEM 056 Bird Osbsessions: Beauty of Beas We are a world obsessed with birds; bird watching is one of the most popular hobbies in the nation and bird enthusiasts spend thousands of dollars on equipment, bird feeders, and on vacations to catch a glimpse of unseen species. Conservationists advocate spending millions of dollars on saving and protecting birds, such as the ivory-billed woodpecker and the California condor, from extinction. Why are we so obsessed with birds? Is it their amazing ability to fly, their almost implausible migrations, their vibrant colors, their curious personalities? What do birds represent to us and other cultures? In some religions, birds have been invoked as symbols of peace, power, trickery, gluttony, and intelligence. Do the lives of birds really embody these anthropomorphic characteristics? Do birds represent hope for spring, for the environment, or for the future? In this course, we'll examine the lives of birds, the people who are obsessed with them, and their interactions from a variety of perspectives. We'll explore birds as models for conservation and science, as religious symbols, and as subjects of art and literature. You'll also have an opportunity to connect with the environment of the Finger Lake region by learning about and observing our local birds. This course is part of a Learning Community. Visit page 19 for more information. Typical readings: Kaufmann, Kingbird Highway: The Story of a Natural Obsession That Got a Little Out of Hand; Cokinos, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds; Gallagher, The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker; Chi, Songbird Journeys; Heinrich, Mind of the Raven.
FSEM 060 Alcohol in College Alcohol abuse continues to be a serious problem on college and university campuses across the nation. Participants in this seminar will examine this problem from both natural scientific and social scientific perspectives. Readings will include public health and social science research literature on the scope of alcohol use in college and the theories proposed to explain that use. The natural science literature will be used to explore the pharmacological effects of alcohol on the brain, related health risks, and the relationship of blood alcohol concentration to risk and harm. Seminar participants will participate in ongoing research on the scope and consequences of alcohol use on this campus. Finally, educational models for abuse prevention and harm reduction will be explored and evaluated for effectiveness. (David Craig) Typical readings: Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine, Stephen Braun; Drug Use in America: Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives, Peter Venturelli; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Alcohol and Health Special Report to Congress; and selected articles on research conducted on the HWS campus.
FSEM 061 The Secret Life of Trees Land plants account for about 82% (by weight) of all living things on the planet. Trees contribute most of that. Trees provide humans with habitat, food, building materials, fuel and-perhaps most important-nearly half of the oxygen that we breathe. Trees clean urban air and rural water; they block erosion and cool cities on hot days. However, for most people, trees are inanimate objects. In fact, some people may not even consider them alive. Trees are alive and new research shows that trees-plants in general-actively sense their environment, react, communicate with one another, cooperate and compete in ways far more complex that we ever realized. In this seminar we'll dive into the new biology of trees. We'll try to see the world from the tree's perspective. And we'll consider how connecting back to nature through an appreciation of trees can help us be happier, healthier more creative human beings.
FSEM 066 Thinking Critically About God The concept of God has shaped how billions of people have lived their lives. Different religions have different ideas about God, but there are some common themes, and many of them raise serious questions: If God is all-powerful, can he create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it? If God is all good, then why is there evil in the world? If God is all-knowing (including the future), then how can I have free will? We will examine these and many other tough questions by reading classic and contemporary writings. Students will engage in at least two structured classroom debates and will also write frequently about many challenging topics. This course is a rational inquiry into these issues that is open to everyone, regardless of their belief system. Please note: There will be several required films outside of regularly scheduled class times. Typical readings: Various proofs of God's existence by Aristotle, St. Anselm, St. Thomas, etc.; Hume, Dialogues on Natural Religion; Plato, Euthyphro; Mackie, Evil and Omnipotence; Russell, Why I'm Not a Christian; Rachels, Does Morality Depend on Religion?; Pascal, The Wager; Leibniz, The Best of All Possible Worlds; Lewis, The Screwtape Letters; Stoppard, Arcadia and Jumpers, selected films, including Groundhog Day, Crimes & Misdemeanors, and A Clockwork Orange.
FSEM 072 Rock Music and American Masculinities Elvis, Dylan, the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen. They were some of the central figures in the history of rock music in America and England from the 1950's to the 1980's. But what kind of men were they? This seminar offers an interdisciplinary look at the lives of these men of rock through the lens of men's studies: i.e., through the history and theory of men's identity and experience. In their study of the biographies of the men who made the soundtrack of mid-20th century Anglo-American popular culture, students will develop an appreciation for the role of gender, race, class, sexuality, and nation in shaping men's lives.
FSEM 077 Metacognition and Social Justice: Learning, Thinking, and Knowing This course answers these questions and serves two purposes. One is to introduce students to meta-cognition, reflective practice and self-assessment. Students will explore how the continual assessment of one's own process, knowledge, and critical questioning guides learning progress and development. Students will examine learning theory including, Bloom's taxonomy. Kratwohl's effective domains. Fink's taxonomy of significant learning. Kolb's learning cycle, and Perry's meta-cognition as a means of self-discovery in relationship to identity and foundational theories of social justice. The second purpose is to apply meta-cognitive techniques to exploring and investigating to foundational principles and theories of social justice rooted in civil rights social movements, within which concepts such as social justice, oppression and liberation are central categories for analyzing, evaluating and transforming interlocking systems of discriminatory institutional structures, cultural practices, and social behavior. Issues of power and powerlessness are central to the course as they illuminate how social arrangements are imagined, constructed, and challenged. Students will be introduced to key concepts, methodologies, and competencies connected to the field of social justice studies.
FSEM 078 Sustainable Living and Learning We are all consumers. We buy things. We use things up. We throw things away. Often we do all of this without considering the life cycle of these "things." Think about all the t-shirts you own. Do you know what materials make up your t-shirts? Moreover, do you know what was required to get these t-shirts to you in the first place? While these questions may seem to have simple answers, the reality is that each of the "things' we consume has a complex secret life of its own, one worthy of further consideration. This course will explore the complex relationship between sustainability and consumption, paying specific attention to the myriad ways in which individual consumption practices shape global outcomes.
FSEM 080 Climate Change: Politics. Policy, and Possibility Climate change is occurring faster than expected, yet the United States remains immobilized in its face. Does this prove true the statement that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism as we stare almost hypnotically into the depths of catastrophe? In this course, we will first seek to understand what climate change means for the world and the United States. In particular, we will consider how climate change interacts with social and economic inequalities. Next. we will consider what can be done to manage its effects and what that might mean for social organization. Finally, we will consider political movements and public policies that offer us hope in limiting the causes of climate change, including one grassroots movement that took shape on the shores of Seneca Lake.
FSEM 087 The History of Original Sin What is the relationship between changing views of human nature and major historical transformations? Does one come before and cause the other? Or does asking the question in those terms miss the point: are changing theories of human nature themselves the essence rather than the obvious cause or consequence of epochal shifts? This seminar tries to give these and related broader questions focus by examining the history of the Christian doctrine of original sin and the making of some of the deepest held assumptions in the last few centuries in parts of the world most affected by the presence of Christianity.
FSEM 091 Earth vs. Humans: fire, flood, environmental collapse, and other disasters Humans are part of the Earth system. But sometimes it seems like the planet is out to get us, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, climate change, environmental collapse and more have affected us from the dawn of Homo sapiens. In fact, climate change may have made us who we are. Natural disasters have wiped out entire cultures and localized events became legends thousands of years old. How have these events shaped human culture? What kinds of disasters can we anticipate and plan for? Has history taught us prudence?
FSEM 094 The History of Everything Did you know that it was not until 300,000 years after the "big bang" that light occurred, or that in the year 2000, the tenth largest economic entity in the world was Microsoft (Australia was thirteenth, to put things in prospective)? David Christian's Maps of Time is an example of a recent form of historiography called "big history," because it attempts to locate human beings from the perspective of much larger contexts than the traditional historical periods. Christian's book begins nanoseconds after the 'big bang," describes the development of the universe, the formation of our planet, the origins and evolution of life, including human life, and continues to trace human history through the origins of agriculture, the development of cities, states, and civilizations, the development of world religions, etc., up to globalization and the modern world, and then it peeks into future. What this course will do is to give us the opportunity to orient and seek to understand ourselves in relation to a variety of contexts from the cosmic to the global to the national and the local, contexts which, as Christian's book shows us, no matter how vast, or distant, or alien they may seem, create the patterns that play an intimate role in shaping our lives.
FSEM 098 Fictional Facts: The Chemistry of Science Fiction Science is an integral part of our lives but can also be the point of much debate. Some would argue that the heating/cooling systems in our homes are integral while others might argue that vaccines are not. Science fiction stories have argued these roles and more for decades. This seminar will examine how the development and role of science has been portrayed and expanded through the work of science fiction novels and short stories, focusing specifically on chemistry.
FSEM 105 Golf Course Architecture: Literature, History, and Theory What is actually at play when someone plays golf? Game design theory suggests that golf is the occasion for a certain experience shaped by rules, actions and skills of the golfer, and the golf course itself. Unlike a basketball court, each golf course is unique, due to a deeply intentional design by a golf course architect. As Alister Mackenzie insists "The essence of golf is variety." We approach multiple questions: What are the basic elements of golf course architecture? How do golf course architects imagine the game of golf when they design and build a golf course? What kind of experience do they intend for the golfer? What impact have diverse people, male and female, black and white, rich and poor, who have played golf had on the history of golf course design? What are the actual lived experiences of golfers, and how have they changed over time? We will pay special attention to the work of important architects who were active locally, and we will visit some of their amazing creations. (Note: Playing golf is not a requirement, and learning how to golf and learning how to design a golf course are not included in the syllabus.) This seminar is part of a Learning Community requiring students to enroll in SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology which is also a Service Learning course. Visit the Learning Community webpage for more information.
FSEM 106 The Secret Science of Learning What is learning? How do factors like sleep, intrinsic motivation, and socioeconomic background play into one's ability to learn? Can skills like creativity and work ethic be learned? Recent scientific evidence reveals that many intuitive study strategies are inefficient or just don't work. This course aims to expose students with an interest in science to our current understanding of how the brain processes information and the most effective learning strategies based on scientific evidence. We will experiment with these methodologies by applying them to the coupled introductory chemistry course. Students will reflect on their own learning process, by systematically trying study techniques, looking at the outcomes, and then adjusting their strategies. By equipping students with the current understanding of brain science and best learning practices, they will be able to create their own toolbox of techniques in order to better grasp scientific concepts and reach their full learning potential.
FSEM 108 Comix to Graphix Are comics and graphic novels literature, art, both, or neither? What does Wonder Woman have to do with political history? Why render the Holocaust in a comic format? This course surveys the history and development of comics and graphic novels, a thriving hybrid form. Collaboratively taught by a literature professor and an art historian, the course will use methods of literary and visual analysis to gain a deeper understanding of graphic storytellings. Students will read a range of works in these media, as well as theory, method, and criticism in the field. Students will process critical analyses as well as creative projects, both individually and in collaboration. This course helps students develop multiple skills of interpretation of narratives in a range of contexts. Readings may include Persepolis, Maus, Fun Home, and Scott Pilgrim, among others.
FSEM 111 Paris, Je T'Aime This course will examine contemporary French life in the light of American points of view about France today. We will study Paris as the perceived historical and cultural "center" of the French world. French life will be studied through its multiple productions, (the life of the city, cinema, literature and cuisine). We will pay particular attention on how Americans have related to the city and its culture, and by extension to French culture, by examining the experience of American expatriated in France, and how their representations may construct stereotypes of the "city of lights" and of France. This course is taught as a learning community with a French language course.
FSEM 112 Through the Lens: French and Francophone Cinema This course will be an in-depth study of French film, from its invention by the Frres Lumires in the late 19th century to the present day. Through readings, research, in-class discussions, and group viewings, students will study the history of cinema in the French (and beyond), the fundamentals of the analysis of film, and the vocabulary necessary for discussing film. Films will be shown in French with English subtitles and classroom discussions will be held in English, along with any assignments, exams, presentations, etc. Because a film cannot be divorced from the particular linguistic, cultural, and historical setting in which it is made, this course will also focus on those parts of culture and history that are relevant to the films assigned.
FSEM 113 Railroad to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in Upstate New York, 1800-1863 This course examines the Underground Railroad. A metaphor for a semi-secret interracial set of networks, the "railroad" helped slaves escape from the American South to the North and Canada. In the early 1800s, as the United States as a nation became increasingly divided over the issue of slavery, a secret network of abolitionists emerged. These opponents of slavery helped organize various secret routes and safe houses to smuggle enslaved people out of the South to the North and Canada. Enslaved people and those helping them to escape faced significant legal and geographical obstacles. In addition, enslaved people faced the emotional hardship of having to leave relatives behind in slavery. Despite this, over the decades prior to the Civil War, the network of departure points in the South, as well as safe houses and stations in the North increased as the number of enslaved people using this route to freedom increased. Upstate New York was a hub of the Underground Railroad. Why? In this class, we will examine why this region was a hub. We will also examine who was involved: who were the abolitionists and where did those fleeing slavery come? Lastly, we will examine how the Underground Railroad operated. This course will not only give us a greater understanding of the Underground Railroad, but also of the struggle for freedom waged by Blacks and their White allies, and the critical role that Upstate New York played in it.
FSEM 115 Active Forgetting. Memory: Notions of Remembering In this course we will look at a wide array of relationships to memory association, repetition and reappearance, as well as forms of `active' forgetting. In order to contextualize memory's role in visual and cultural theory as well as aesthetic politics-we will look at memory in the framework of art, history, psychology, and politics.
FSEM 116 Guerrillero Heroico: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of Che Guevara Over fifty years after his death, Che Guevara remains one of the most polarizing historical figures in the world. Pioneer of modem guerrilla warfare and architect of an anti-American revolution just ninety miles from U.S. soil, Che Guevara embodied the radical sixties in all of its turbulent glory: to some he was a young, handsome, anti-imperialist in the age of revolution; to others an uncompromising, violent, communist in the age of Cold War. He was both an 'icon of cool' and a 'ruthless mass murderer.' In death, the legend of Che and the controversy surrounding it have hardly diminished. The image of the Guerrillero Heroico has become the most widely circulated photo in the world, and one of the world's most ubiquitous branding tools, used to sell everything from t-shirts to vodka. Ironically, the world's foremost Marxist revolutionary has become a commodity, spread around the globe on the wings of capitalist enterprise. In this course, we will examine Che Guevara as a three-dimensional man of his times - a loyal son, a guerrilla leader, a willing executioner, and an ambassador for global revolution; and as two-dimensional symbol of a generation - of masculinity, of counter culture, of cultural appropriation, of commodification. For our final project we will design and sell our own t-shirts in hopes of answering the age-old question: What does it mean to wear a Che Guevara t-shirt?
FSEM 117 Who Speaks in STEM Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) brands itself with a sort of intellectual objectivity. We observe the world as it is, without bias. However, STEM has a representation problem. Most of its disciplines are still dominated by white, male-identified people. A narrow perspective among scientists limits the kinds of questions we ask and the solutions we can find. This seminar will explore representation in STEM by listening to the voices of under-represented people within the fields and exploring representation by performing an authorship analysis on one of the top journals in paleontology, Prof Arens' field of expertise. We will reflect on some of the reasons behind ongoing under-representation and present our findings and recommendations in an essay for publication in the journal. We will also explore struggle and resilience through the speculative science fiction of Octavia E. Butler. And conclude the seminar by trying to imagine the world in which we would like to live and do STEM.
FSEM 124 Is Computing Biased? Every day people teach computers how to learn about humans. Machines learn which emails you would like to receive, which advertisements you would like to view, which medical diagnoses are appropriate, and which credit card transactions are actually yours. In short humans are training computers to understand humans in ways in which we have failed to understand each other before. However, as we train computers to think about humanity we are also teaching them our weaknesses. In this seminar we examine how humans are training computers to be biased. Typically, this is not happening intentionally but rather implicitly. Regardless of the intentions, the impact of biased artificial intelligence is real. The semester will be broken into three major questions. What is Implicit Bias? How do we train computers to learn? Can we stop teaching computers to be biased? Along the way we will consider the implications of these questions on our own learning and development.
FSEM 127 Hip-Hop Culture One of the most influential cultural movements of the late 20th century has been the hip-hop phenomenon. It is a complex social movement whose audiences are as diverse as the music. The "Hip-Hop Nation" comprises a community of artists and adherents who espouse street performance aesthetics as expressed through various elements of hip-hop. While students are going to be introduced to the history and evolution of the movement, a great part of the seminar will be dedicated to examining the interdisciplinary nature of hip-hop, in which poetry, drama, music, art, and dance are inextricably linked. Ironically, the marketing of hip-hop culture to mainstream America has contributed to the erosion of the very fabric at the core of its movement. This seminar will address the catalog value of hip-hop and the "commodification" of the movement from its inception in the Bronx River District in 1979 to the present.
FSEM 128 Country Music and American Society Surveys suggest that country music is both loved and hated by more Americans than any other music genre. These different attitudes are not simply a matter of individual taste. They are tied to deep divisions in US society. Traditionally, country music has been linked to the American working class, particularly to the parts of the working class seen as most traditional: poor rural whites from the South and Midwest. It includes romanticized images of small town life and traditional values, but also stereotypical images of 'rednecks' and 'white trash.' This class uses country music as a starting point for exploring such issues. In what ways does country music reflect the realities of working class life? In what ways does it distort or parody it? And what cultural and political issues are at stake in how we imagine country music and working class people?
FSEM 130 I Know What You Ate Last Summer Chemistry is a fundamental component of home and restaurant food preparation, as cooking is ultimately a series of complex chemical reactions. Chemistry is also essential to the production of food, from the most basic ingredients to the most elaborate industrial grocery store offerings. An understanding of how society produces food, and how these practices are both regulated and manipulated, can be informed by an appreciation of the chemistry that underlies these techniques. Students in this course begin by garnering a background in food-related chemistry; they then apply this knowledge to the understanding of food production and policy. Students will design and perform experiments using food, research and write about issues of food production and policy, and learn to communicate their finding.
FSEM 131 The Mindful Body This seminar is a "yoga class" that takes place in a studio setting. Sounds fun, yet continuously it will challenge creative students to connect their physical practices to social justice principles and to be brave enough to explore sensitive topics with peers and to unlearn habits of thought and action. The history and philosophy of yoga, human anatomy, social justice education, storytelling, movement as metaphor, and intergroup dialogue are a few of the subjects that comprise this course. Students will need to be ready to venture into new territory, new body, new connections, new thinking, and new understanding of the self in relations to other. The adventure will include ongoing reading, college-level writing, research, dialogues outside class, and honest evaluation of outcomes.
FSEM 140 Law and Order in Ancient Athens What did the law protect? How did the Athenians administer justice? How did the courts operate and what were the penalties? In this course we will read court speeches from ancient Athens and examine the ways in which rhetoric and law converged, and justice was administered. We will study how the Athenians defined, developed, and exercised law within their own cultural beliefs and how the Athenian legal system compares to modern western law including its differences, similarities and uniting principles. Law as an idea, then, is as central to this course as the practices and procedures of the ancient Athenian court system.
FSEM 141 The Lens of Stand-up Comedy It is one person in front of an audience with the goal of making others laugh. Yet stand-up comedy is so much more. Comedians force and challenge us to look at our lives, our communities, and society in ways that we may not yet have considered. Issues that relate to the dimensions of social class, racism, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural reproduction, and the very nature of human existence are explored both implicitly and explicitly. This course will examine the role of stand-up comedy in the human experience, the ways in which different comedians present and leverage their own lives, and what we might learn through the attempts of others to make people laugh. Text and videos will serve as context for active exploration of a wide variety of issues and topics.
FSEM 144 Parched: Past, Present, and Future of Water Water is a necessity of life. It is nature's ultimate paradox: the softest natural 'element' in both classical and eastern thought and yet one capable of overcoming all the others. Water is an agent of purification, healing, nourishment, and mechanical power. It is also an agent of destruction and devastation. Water is the most plentiful natural resource on Earth and yet a resource that increasingly proves unobtainable when humans seek and need it most. In the midst of global climate change, environmental crises for water resources and the political debates over water, we have come to the realization of our complete dependence on water. Students will examine and draw conclusions about the nature of humankind's encounter with water using maps, biographies, autobiographies, poems, movies, novels, and scholarly articles. Through lectures, class discussion, debates, short essays, blogging, and research papers, this course will provide students with the tools to explore how the environment naturally produces safe, clean drinking water; how humans obtain and use these water resources; water quality and water pollution; water treatment processes; energy generation; and how we can sustain our water resources in perpetuity.
FSEM 146 Thomas Jefferson and his World This seminar will focus on the writings of Thomas Jefferson and the intellectual, political, social, and economic worlds in which Jefferson lived. Our goal will be to use Jefferson's own writings and his astounding array of interests and concerns as opportunities to discuss the nature of law, partisan politics, democracy, rights, equality, the role of science in society, the philosophy of language, national identity, race and racism, empire, war and the political lives of women. While trying to understand Jefferson and his world, we will also be debating the relevance of these texts for our lives as citizens, and so critically reflecting on the role of the past in the present.
FSEM 148 Critiquing the Classroom What does it mean to be college educated? What is a college education for? Who belongs in our system of higher education? From skyrocketing tuition fees to campus open carry laws to debates about what topics even belong in the classroom, there is much that threatens to destabilize the American college experience as we know it. This course is designed to explore and challenge fundamental preconceptions of what it means to teach and learn in the context of higher education. "Critiquing the Classroom" is about understanding your relationship to the complex political world of the higher education, and about starting to explore what you might accomplish here. Topics will include: the politics of "knowledge production", sexism and racism on college campuses, the benefits and challenges of place-based learning, the influence of consumer culture on higher education, lessons from critical and feminist education, and the social geographies of campuses and classrooms.
FSEM 149 Comparative Mythology This course is designed under the premise that understanding myth is an important step towards understanding ourselves and our cultures. It is invitation to recognize the mythic in our daily lives. For most students, "mythology" means Greek, Roman or Norse mythology. However, this course will go beyond these sources and will compare them to myths from Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Asia. Students will discover the fascinating parallels that exist among the myths of widely separated cultures; they will see how parallel myths narrow the gaps between cultures and reveal what is constant and universal in human experience. After an introduction about the meaning of "myth" in time, history and religions, the course will be structured around the comparative study of the main types of myths: creation myths, flood myths, love myths, myths of the hero, journeys to the underworld visions of Apocalypse and the tricksters' myths. A final section will explore interpretations of myths, the difference between myth and religion or science and the idea of the 'monomyth."
FSEM 152 School Wars Why are people willing to march, protest and risk their lives and livelihood for schools they can believe in? There is no public institution that inspires, enrages and connects to American ideals about "public good" more than schools. But what is "good"? In this seminar we ask, what's worth fighting for in school... and why? We will interrogate the conflicts that rage over what the purpose of schools should be and who should decide. Public protests, creative peoples' movements and even military intervention have been waged with the aim of directing the destiny of public education. Through discussions, formal debates, group projects, lectures, films and readings we will trace dynamic interests that vie to influence schools and direct education policy. We will pay particular attention to the voices and ideas of educators, policy makers, grassroots leaders and community activists over the past fifty years. This seminar will help students identify, contextualize and articulate the multiple dimensions of major policy debates in American education. Students will learn how to approach topics such as charter schools, standardized testing and school choice as critical consumers of information and consider various political, cultural and historical perspectives."
FSEM 153 Fight-and-Flight: Radical Women in Exile The work of the politically mobilized women surveyed in this seminar challenges the common-place notion that we are physiologically conditioned to respond to threats in one of two contradictory ways: fight OR flight. Having lived in circumstances of repression and persecution for their political ideas and activities, and instead of letting themselves be silenced, these female artists and writers responded by going into exile as a way of continuing their struggle. They decided to fight AND flight. Aligned with the Fisher Center's theme for 2018-2019, "On the Move," this First-Year Seminar will explore the ways in which even the forced transnational mobility of exile can be a dynamic space for resisting and fighting back. Departing from and arriving to far flung places like Italy, Spain, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the USSR, France, and the US, the painters, photographers, signers, journalists, novelists, and organizers in this course's program produced political worker that made a loud and clear statement against racism and fascism, defending workers' power, and imagining a better world for all, wherever they went. Through written responses, discussions, presentations, and research essays, we will hone the analytical and writing skills necessary to read photography, painting, dance, as well as fiction and non-fiction texts. Josephine Baker, Tina Modotti, Remedios Varo, and Angela Davis are just some of these Rad Women On the Move.
FSEM 154 Pharoahs, Kings, and Generals: Political Power in Egypt The dramatic events in Tahrir Square in 2011 are still firmly in our minds, but Egypt's history is one of ongoing struggles over political authority and what it means to build a "just state." This course will explore the historical and contemporary expression of authority (political, religious, and social) in Egypt from the ancient to the modern, and the major resistance movements that each has elicited. The course will involve an interdisciplinary exploration of history, literature, art, and social science, but will center on an introduction to some of the core concepts of comparative politics. These will include but not be limited to an exploration of a variety of sources of authority, legitimacy, power, obedience, and resistance. We will also discuss the role of heterogeneity-of language, ethnicity, and class- in the making of Modern Egypt, and study any of the political and economic challenges facing the current Egyptian state and the Egyptian people as they come shape Egypt's post-revolutionary future.
FSEM 157 Madness in History, Culture, and Science Mad geniuses, crazy athletes, weird artists, political and religious fanatics, horror films, ghost stories, the confessions of loners, losers, and outcasts-all have to do with the distinction between that which is strange and that which is familiar, those who are similar to us and those who are different, those who are normal and those who are abnormal-in short, those who are "crazy" and those who are "sane." In this seminar, our aim will be to come to terms with what this curious and mercurial thing called "madness" is, as well as what it means-ethically and politically--to decide that someone is mad and someone else is not. Among other things, we will look at 1) how the definitions of madness and sanity have changed radically over the course of recorded history; 2) how these definitions often overlap with broader social and cultural definitions of normalcy, morality, health, fitness, and criminality, 3) how the discourse of madness often intersects with social and cultural attitudes towards gender, race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. By reading texts from numerous disciplines (psychology, philosophy, medicine, science, history, fiction, drama, anthropology, sociology) as well as viewing a number of films and conducting our own preliminary research, we will explore varying definitions of "madness" from a broad cultural and historical perspective, paying particular attention not only to the ways in which madness has been defined, but how different cultures and societies at different historical moments have celebrated, pathologized, or sought to "cure" the insane.
FSEM 162 Narratives of Disability This course uses personal accounts and other narratives to introduce students to the lives of individuals with disabilities. The course has a geographic orientation beginning with narratives grounded in our local HWS and Finger Lakes communities before moving to other parts of the United States and abroad. Issues to be examined include educational opportunity and inclusion, social participation and challenges, and family perspectives and issues.
FSEM 164 Encountering Difference Encounters happen every day. We encounter people of different civilizations, nations, races, religions, classes, sexes, and genders at schools, workplaces, supermarkets, public squares, and other venues. What do we expect when we meet other people? How do we respond when we encounter difference? What constitutes difference? Why do we fear difference? Why do people stereotype? Could the fear of the other necessitate one to control the narrative, the people, or their resources? Or, could encounter with the other become a life-changing experience? What needs to be done for us to have a meaningful encounter with the other? After discussing the philosophical foundation for encountering different realms of reality through reading a passage on the allegory of the cave in Plato's republic, this course will explore on three fields in which we encounter difference. The three cases encountering difference will include: Christian Spaniards' encounters with Native Americans, racial-ethnic encounters among Americans, and interfaith encounters in the post-911 world.
FSEM 166 Miracle Drugs In today's society, chemistry is often seen as a negative- "evil chemicals" and "toxic waste" are phrases that come to mind. In fact, chemistry has contributed many good things to society including drugs that alleviate pain, treat diseases, and save lives. Throughout history, drugs have shaped society and have had a profound impact on our daily lives. From the invention of aspirin-treatment for headaches and heart attacks, to penicillin -conqueror of bacterial infections, to AZT -treatment of HIV giving a fighting chance to those afflicted with AIDS. Drugs have been there and have greatly impacted the world. This course aims to teach students with an interest in science and/or medicine about the structure of drugs, the history of their discovery, and their impact on society. The course will include a short chemistry primer so students can understand the basics behind the structure of drugs and how they work. Discussions topics will include the pros and cons of the pharmaceutical industry, the ethics of drug development, the impact drugs have had on the economy and media, and their effect on the human population. I hope to instill a greater appreciation for science and how it benefits the world.
FSEM 175 Climate Change: Science and Politics Recent scientific research shows clear evidence that the Earth is warming faster than at any point on record. Most scientists agree that much of the recent warming of the Earth is due, at least in part, to human-related activities. However, this near consensus disappears within the political world as the topic of climate change has become one of the most divisive in recent memory. This seminar will explore the ways in which climate change translates into the political realm, first by discussing the fundamental science. Armed with this knowledge, students will explore the policy implications of climate change and dissect a variety of political opinions on the subject in an attempt to separate political fact from fiction. Additionally, students will probe the underlying reasons behind the various political opinions on climate change, ranging from campaign contribution records to political district economics. An underlying goal of the seminar will be to identify a pathway for realistic political consensus on climate change that might approach the scientific consensus and allow for future policy progress on the climate change issue.
FSEM 180 The Blue Planet Water controls life on planet Earth. Water is a universal solvent, wherever it goes, it takes along valuable chemicals, minerals, and nutrients. Water is the only substance that exists naturally on Earth in all three physical states of matter-gas (water vapor), liquid (water), and solid (ice and snow). The heat capacity of water controls our weather and climate. Water, economics, politics and wealth can be intimately tied together. When water flows, its power can be harvested. Where rains occur on a predictable basis, sustenance through farming can be achieved. Civilizations depend upon accessible drinking water. Does water control civilizations and politics? When water doesn't flow or droughts persist, civilizations can collapse. What is our relationship with water? How does global climate change alter these relationships? Students will characterize our local and global relationship with water and climate using scholarly articles, maps, biographies, movies, music and novels. Through discussions, presentations, debates, guided journals and short essays, we will explore the bounds that water places on humanity. This course is taught as a learning community.
FSEM 184 Gentlemen Prefer Bombs and Drone This is the era of "fake news." It is the "post-truth era." The inevitable question raised by the current state of news, information, and political messages is, "How do we know what we know?" This question is central to the study of how the media (in all its forms) influences how we make sense of ourselves, our society, and our public policies. The focus for the course will be America's use of drones in the war against terrorism. You don't know much about it? Welcome to the club. Although the use of drones to wage war from the air has been extensive, the coverage of it has been muted. Yet the use has long-term consequences for the United States, not only because we are engaged with Russia in an air war in Syria, but because the destruction and carnage caused by our use of drones turns civilians against us in those populations whose hearts we would most like to win. The use of drones is justified as part of the "war on terrorism," a vague mission which dehumanizes those on the receiving end of a war with no specific goal. Obviously, a healthy democracy cannot be built on "fake news": nor can it be built on ignorance. This course, through the study of how the drone war is represented, will teach you to analyze how images and language--in entertainment, the news, and political speech--can induce ignorance rather than knowledge, fear rather than understanding, and disinterest rather than engagement.
FSEM 186 Eat Like a Slav Food: if we are lucky, we consume it three times a day. But is it just something that keeps us going--or is there more to it? In this course, we will investigate the role that food plays in Russian culture from its earliest documented forms to the present day. We will consider a variety of interdisciplinary contexts in which food takes a central role, including literature, economics, history, nutrition, and folklore, as well as the ways Russian food has been presented to the world at large. We will examine the peasant diet, which for hundreds of years supported a massive political empire, as well as the luxurious habits of the upper classes, where Western European influences first took hold. Our work will find its practical application in a weekly kitchen laboratory session where we will construct these dishes as we discuss the nature of food in Russian culture of the last several hundred years.
FSEM 190 Borders and Boundaries Our lives are shaped by borders and boundaries, the material and conceptual obstacles that keep some of us in and others out. Passports, immigration checkpoints and neighborhood boundaries shape our everyday experiences. What happens when we cross these boundaries? How do borders and boundaries inform the way we see ourselves and others? This course examines the borders that shape our experiences here in Geneva, N.Y., as well as in the world more broadly. Drawing on social theory, ethnography, and fiction, we will examine both geopolitical borders and conceptual borders, including boundaries of race, class, gender, and sexuality that impact our daily experiences in profound ways.
FSEM 191 Whales, Dolphins and the Deep Blue Sea This seminar will focus on whales as actors in human history, as well as their own and that of the wider natural world. We will be exploring ways to think about whales in history, and what it means to think about animals as having history and culture, Our readings will look at the importance of whales as symbols of indigenous cultures around the world, as captivating figures in the public imagination, as a critical part of the story of modern economic history through the whaling industry, and as animals at the forefront of the human study of nonhuman culture and intelligence. What are the implications of acknowledging whales as having language and culture, and what does that help us understand about our own?
FSEM 193 Ghosts and Haunting in Americas Why is the figure of the ghost prevalent in stories across Americas? What are these ghosts trying to tell us, and what would happen if we took seriously their demands? This course investigates the ghostly, the haunted, and the possessed within North, Central, and South American theater, literature, and film. Following Avery Gordon, this course begins with the suggestion that "Haunting describes how that which appears to not be there is actually a seething presence, the ghost or apparition is one form by which something lost, or barely visible, or seemingly not there to our supposedly well-trained eyes makes itself known or apparent to us." Our primary goal is thus to learn to read with an eye and ear for the ghostly: what is presumed missing, repressed, and/or underneath the surface. We will explore folktales of ghosts, examine the uncanny, and investigate narrative and performative forms talking to, with, and about ghosts. Throughout, we will consider relationship of history and memory, both individual and collective. Students will focus on the craft of writing as a medium through which to develop their ideas and strengthen their skills in persuasive, analytical writing.
FSEM 195 Cabinets of Curiosities: Natural History Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums This seminar will focus on the history of human efforts to collect, contain, and display nature, with an emphasis on modem history. We will look at the rise of natural history as a way of thinking about the world and about the place of human beings in that world, the uses of natural history as a way of classifying and constructing difference, in both human and nonhuman contexts. We will examine the rise of natural history as a public experience, as a spectacle, and the history of living specimen's arid environments. We will end by asking what role fossilized, stuffed, and living exhibits have in the age of the Anthropocene. Are they windows to a vanishing wild, or do they point to, or even hide, some terrible truths about the human relationship to the rest of life?
FSEM 198 Leadership in the Ancient World Is leadership something innate? Can it be learned? How do we measure leadership and how do we learn to become good leaders? Leadership theory can be found in many forms from online management services to university leadership centers, bookstands to military journals and yes, even ancient texts. But what can the ancient texts reveal about the nature of leadership, and can they offer us long lost exempla to challenge prevalent theories? Can we learn about leadership and leadership training through an investigation of the past? In this course we will examine, among other writings, the political debates found in the ancient epics and histories as well as the moralizing wisdom from speeches and biographies, and discern for ourselves how the ancient world measured leadership. By interrogating the examples of the past, we can discuss their ideologies and consider the ways in which these ancient texts communicated and presented leadership. Finally, this course will ask that students study various modern leadership theories and examples and compare the world of antiquity to the present.
FSEM 199 Build your own Westeros How would you like to produce Westeros, Hogwarts, Middles Earth, Narnia - these realms inspire and captivate. However, these worlds are more than adventure, intrigue, and chainmail; they have histories, mythologies, social norms and rituals, in short, they are cultures. Fictional cultures, but cultures nonetheless. While we will NOT explore the famous fictional cultures listed above, they are examples of what we will produce on a more modest scale: We will build fictional cultures to gain insight into key questions: What is culture? Is it what people wear? Or how they worship, celebrate, and mourn? Or how they govern themselves or what they eat? And what happens when cultures collide? In short, we will build cultures in order to understand how they function and interact. In preparation for our adventures in "world building," we will learn to think of culture not as a collection of objects, but as a system, a network of filters through which we make sense of the world and create our place in it. After establishing a theoretical basis, and analyzing one of the most famous and important fictional worlds in the Western tradition, Dante's "Inferno," you will build your own fictional world and visit the fictional worlds of your classmates to explore cultural differences and how those differences are overcome.
FSEM 245 1/2 Credit Teaching Colleague
FSEM 250 Full Credit Teaching Colleague