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First Year Seminar Course Listings

for Fall 2015 Semester


Banned Books

TR      2:05-3:20PM
KON 109
T. Stores
What do The Catcher in the Rye, Harry Potter, A Light in the Attic, Native Son, the Koran, The Lorax, and The Grapes of Wrath have in common?  Each has been banned, burned or challenged within the last ten or so years.  In this course we will examine the books, the people, the situations, and the laws, learning, in the process, how to defend challenged literature and our right to intellectual freedom.
CRN: 48041
Credits: 3.00

Beauty, Body Image, & Feminism

MW      1:30-2:45PM
A 318
M. Matacin
In this course, we will study a variety of topics as they relate to uses of beauty and body image, keeping in mind the historical and social context in which women have been viewed. A feminist framework will provide the lens with which we will examine a variety of topics including beauty, eating/eating disorders, sexuality, weight, media portrayals of females, patriarchy, and how women are taught to view their own bodies.
CRN: 47937
Credits: 3.00

Boccaccio’s "Decameron"

TR    9:25-10:40AM
UT 316
M. Frank

Cleverness, wit, thinking on your feet, sex, cruelty, violence and play: this and more is what you will find in the one hundred short novellas that make up the Decameron (written in the 1350s). We will discuss the stories of the Decameron in the broader context of its author’s life and times. Attention will be given to Boccaccio’s prose (in a comparative study of different English renditions), and to the historical background of the stories as well as to gender issues that are prominent in the Decameron.

CRN: 48028
Credits: 3.00

Celebrity Culture in the Arts

MW   1:30-2:45PM
KON 109
C. Ross

We will study how celebrity images and stories inform our notions of self and community, our fears, aspirations and dreams.  We will discuss the roles of celebrity in a variety of genres and media, such as plays, films, fictions, songs, and works of art.  The interplay of famous performers and their performances will be a central concern of class research.

CRN: 48015
Credits: 3.00

Energy: Now & In the Future

MWF   11:30-12:20PM
A 318
A. Craft

What type of home heating does your family have?  Why was that choice of heating made?  Why do we use gasoline to power our cars?  For that matter, what exactly is gasoline?  What’s so frightening about going nuclear?  For that matter, how is nuclear power produced?  What is this Keystone Pipeline that’s always in the news?  What the heck is fracking?  There are plenty of questions when it comes to the sources of energy we depend upon.  This course will delve into the sciences, politics, and social aspects of our current sources of energy.  We will also take a look into the future and see the energy landscape may change.

CRN: 47885
Credits: 3.00

Energy, Oil and Development

MW       2:55-4:10PM
H 130
M. Cupolo

Through interactive classes, team research, and case studies this seminar introduces the relations between energy and oil central to the current debate on sustainable development, and explains how and why oil supply and demand have been crucial in the recent history of Mexico, United States, and Venezuela.  (In the last decades, Mexico and Venezuela have been among the main suppliers of the US oil market.)

CRN: 47950
Credits: 3.00

Food in History

TR       2:05-3:20PM
A 318
S. Rosenthal

Why are rich Americans thin while many poor Americans are fat?  Did beer cause the Agricultural Revolution?  Who was the real Johnnie Appleseed?  How did the discovery of America change diet and society throughout the world?  Where and why did gourmet cooking originate?  Are genetically modified foods bad for you?  To answer these questions and a host of others we will examine the relationship between food, history, and culture from earliest times to the present.  We will also trace the history of some of our favorite foods including pizza, chocolate and ice cream.  On many occasions I will provide samples so that we can eat our words.

CRN: 47807
Credits: 3.00

The Genius Seminar

MWF       11:30-12:20PM
H 217
R. Freund

What do Alexander the Great, Leonardo Da Vinci, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Madame Curie, and Martin Luther King Jr. all have in common?  Each has been called a genius by his/her contemporaries.  In this seminar we will examine what constitutes the concept of genius in many different fields and time periods.  We will trace genius as it appears around the world from the earliest period of human history to the present and perhaps figure out if it is possible to teach someone to be a genius!

CRN: 46117
Credits: 3.00

Google Play in Pop Culture

TR       8:00-9:15AM  
A 318
B. Kovacic

This class will examine the significance of Google in two ways.  First, we will discuss new practices and behaviors relevant to pop culture that we can engage in due to Google’s portfolio of products and services.  Second, we will examine media coverage and other media representations of Google.  Then we will connect the two threads of our discussion.

CRN: 47820
Credits: 3.00

Invasive Species

TR      6:10-7:25PM
D 205
B. Zhu

Biological invasions have become a global environmental issue because our mobile society is redistributing the species on the earth at an unprecedented pace.  The invading species change our vulnerable ecosystems, threaten human health, and cause great economic loss.  This course will use a variety of examples of biological invasions to discuss the characteristics of invasive species, their introduction pathways, ecological consequences, and management.

CRN: 47859
Credits: 3.00

Jobs, Happiness, and You

TR      3:30-4:45PM
A 425
O. Clark

An average person can be expected to spend about 100,000 hours at work over his or her lifetime. For many of us, a job is not just a source of income but also an important part of our self-identity. It can be a source of satisfaction and pride as well as a cause of stress. In this seminar we will explore the world of work by reading book chapters and watching several films about the workplace.

CRN: 47963
Credits: 3.00

Live, Laugh, Love

TR       10:50-12:05PM
KON 109
J. Nicklin

This course will explore the world of work through a positive psychology lens.  Using timely readings and popular movies and television shows, we will discuss how to become a better leader and enjoy more success in your careers by embracing concepts from positive psychology, such as mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude.  You will learn about your strengths and weaknesses, and develop your teamwork, writing, and public speaking skills.

CRN: 48054
Credits: 3.00

Love in Literature

TR       8:00-9:15AM
A 323
R. Logan

Down through the centuries, writers of poetry, fiction, and drama have portrayed love from every imaginable perspective. This seminar will examine the various stages of ideal love, beginning with sexual attraction and ending with consummate love and, more realistically, the obstacles to finding ideal love. It will consider literary examples of love as ennobling and empowering; as cruel, painful, and destructive; and as both ecstatic and psychotic states. Literary selections will be drawn from classical to contemporary writers - for example, Ovid, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Keats, D.H. Lawrence, Annie Proulx, and Toni Morrison.

CRN: 47989
Credits: 3.00

Making the Self

TR       10:50-12:05PM
A 318
N. Ealy

How do you know who you are?  Is your self something stable and fully formed, something still being constructed or possibly even something that is fictional?  In this class we will explore these questions through a study of myth, literature, film, and television, all the while considering various definitions of the self that influence our identities in the digital age.

CRN: 47833
Credits: 3.00

Mathematics and Imagination

MW       4:50-6:05PM
H 125
D. Benardete

We are all familiar with the use of imagination in art, music, poetry, fiction, and movies, and also in everyday activities such as daydreaming. In the fifteenth century, mathematicians began to refer to certain kinds of numbers as imaginary. An example is the square root of -1. The book Imagining Numbers by Barry Mazur argues that there are surprising similarities between the use of imagination in the arts and everyday life and the use of imagination in mathematics. This seminar will explore such similarities and differences by a careful reading of Mazur’s book together with related mathematical and literary material – including the lyrics of Bob Dylan.

CRN: 47976
Credits: 3.00

Media Influences on Children

TR       9:25-10:40AM
A 318
L. Dale

This course focuses on media (i.e., music, video games, movies, television, commercials, magazines, and the internet) and its potential influence on children and adolescents.  The course provides a basic understanding of child development, which guides discussions about the content of media nd its potential positive and negative impact on children.  In addition, we will discuss current regulatory restrictions on media and recommendations for parents regarding the amount and content of media their children consume.

CRN: 47872
Credits: 3.00

Plays Writing about 9/11

TR    3:30-4:45PM
A 318
P. Siegel

There have been dozens of critically acclaimed plays in which the events of 9/11 are featured prominently.  We will be reading a sample of such works.  They are not all political plays:  one is about an adulterous pair planning to use the tragedy as a way to run away together with new identities, another is about a Minneapolis couple who choose not to cancel their blind date the evening of the morning attacks.  You need not be a budding thespian to enjoy this FYS, but neither should you be too shy about reading from the plays in class, since that is much of what we will be doing together.

CRN: 47924
Credits: 3.00

Pop Culture and Bollywood

MW       6:10-7:25PM
A 322
S. Muppidi

In this seminar, we will thematically examine popular culture in the Indian entertainment media industry through a case study of the Hindi film/television industry.  Some of the specific themes to be explored include terrorism, religion, and gender, among others.

CRN: 47846
Credits: 3.00

The Roots and Routes of EDM

MWF       12:30-1:20PM  
A 321
N. Highberg

EDM (electronic dance music) may seem like a relatively new genre with the popularity of superstar DJs such as David Guetta, Kaskade, and Deadmau5 and sold-out festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, TomorrowLand, and Shambhala. In actuality, there is not too much new about EDM. In this seminar, we’ll explore the roots, or history, of EDM by examining the genres – disco, house/techno, hip-hop, trance, others – upon which it has been built. We’ll also study the routes, or places, where today’s EDM has been formed and transformed – Chicago, Detroit, Ibiza, London, Mumbai, and Seoul among others. Take this class because it has a good beat and you can dance to it. Meowingtons will be pleased.

CRN: 47911
Credits: 3.00

Utopian and Dystopian Visions

MWF    9:30-10:20AM
A 318
C Borck

From Plato's Republic to The Hunger Games, we are fascinated by the possibilities and dangers of imagined social orders.  This course looks at works of film, literature, politics, and philosophy to understand the distinctive place of utopian and dystopian visions in our political imagination.  What do images of these political and social extremes tell us about our ideals of justice and freedom, about the political problems confronting us now, and about what it means to be human? We will also explore concepts such as the state of nature, scientific progress, environmentalism, love, and religion, and art.

CRN: 47898
Credits: 3.00

Writing about Food and Travel

MW    2:55-4:10PM
HJG E228
R. Desmond

Students will research topics in food and restaurants, travel, and the industries offering leisure opportunities.  This research will culminate in writing newspaper and magazine articles, reviews and features about opportunities and problems in the world of recreation and entertainment.

CRN: 48002
Credits: 3.00

FYS grid

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Here is a schedule grid with the FYS courses listed with their respective times.  Grid