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First Year Seminar Course Listings

for Fall 2014 Semester



Beauty, Body Image, & Feminism

MW      1:30-2:45PM
H 403
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: 44296
Credits: 3.00

Boccaccio’s "Decameron"

TR    4:50-6:05PM
A 318
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: 44465
Credits: 3.00

Born this Way?

MWF    9:30-10:20AM
A 318
T. Tucker
“Nasty, brutish, and short”: It was with these words that Thomas Hobbes described human existence before government. Is he right? Are people so naturally self-interested that a government is needed to prevent chaos? Or are people naturally kind and government a mere convenience? Or is government actually the problem because humanity's innate goodness has been corrupted by it? Are people determined by biology or are they essentially free? These and other questions will be explored through readings from Golding, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Midgley, Dawkins, and others.
CRN: 44205
Credits: 3.00

Cell Phones & Facebook

MW   1:30-2:45PM
H 251   
L. Kelly

This seminar will explore how the many communication technologies available today have become integrated into our every day communication with our families, friends, romantic partners and strangers and will address questions about the impact on us and our relationships. We will also take a macro-level look at their influence on society such as the creation of virtual communities and changes in social coordination.

CRN: 44283
Credits: 3.00

Climate Alarm

TR       2:05-3:20PM
A 318
L. Gould

What is meant by the popular term “anthropogenic global warming/climate change” (AGW, for short)? What are correct and incorrect methods of arguing for the existence of AGW? What are some ethical, political, and economic issues involved in AGW? In this seminar course we will undertake a critical-thinking examination of claims, methodology, and consequences.

CRN: 44426
Credits: 3.00

Controversial Biology

MWF       10:30-11:20AM
A 318
A. Levesque

Advances in biological research and medicine have generated tremendous hope for the improvement of human life.  Many of these advances, however, are accompanied by serious ethical concerns.  In this seminar, we will delve into several controversial issues in biology and medicine, including pre-natal genetic screening, stem cell research, genetically modified foods, and physician assisted suicide.  Through the use of newspaper, magazine, and research articles as well as case studies and debates, students will learn the science behind these controversies and will discuss ethical, medical, and sociological implications.

CRN: 44218
Credits: 3.00

Digital Literature:  Merging the Old with the New

TR       6:10-7:25PM
A 318
N. Ealy

In this seminar we will study both traditional and digital approaches to the analysis and production of literature (including traditional written texts, television shows and video games). Students will explore, interpret, and create digital literary projects (no knowledge of special programming skills required).

CRN: 44478
Credits: 3.00

Four on the Floor: EDM

MWF       12:30-1:20PM  
A 318
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: 44257
Credits: 3.00

India and China:  Clash of the Titans

MW       1:30-2:45PM  
H 401
B. Esposito

China and India are by far the largest countries in the world, with populations of more than one billion (together nearly 40% of the world total) and rapidly growing economies. Since the 1950’s India and China have been seen as competitors, with each pursuing political and economic reforms, educational advances, social structural realignment and economic development. And both are considered threats to the US’s position as the dominant economic and political power in the world. Which country will be first in the coming century, and how will the growing importance of both countries impact your life? Some of the issues we will look at will include the treatment of women, the popularity and use of electronic devices, educational opportunities, religious orientations, and standards of living.

CRN: 47052
Credits: 3.00

Inventing the Past

TR      8:00-9:15AM
A 323
A. Walling

How did we get from ancient legends of a British warrior chieftain to Spamalot? In this course, we will look at how and why the story of King Arthur has been reinvented for different times and places, ranging from medieval stories to modern films such as Excalibur and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We will pay special attention to Hartford’s own Mark Twain, whose Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court uses Arthur to define American identity. We will use literature, art, film, and popular culture to understand what has made the legend of Arthur so powerful for so many centuries.

CRN: 44335
Credits: 3.00

Inventing the Past

TR      3:30-4:45PM
A 421
A. Walling

How did we get from ancient legends of a British warrior chieftain to Spamalot? In this course, we will look at how and why the story of King Arthur has been reinvented for different times and places, ranging from medieval stories to modern films such as Excalibur and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We will pay special attention to Hartford’s own Mark Twain, whose Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court uses Arthur to define American identity. We will use literature, art, film, and popular culture to understand what has made the legend of Arthur so powerful for so many centuries.

CRN: 48378
Credits: 3.00

Jobs, Happiness, and You: Work and Self-Identity

MW      2:55-4:10PM
A 318
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: 44309
Credits: 3.00

Love and Literature

TR       8:00-9:15AM
A 318
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: 44348
Credits: 3.00

Mathematics and Imagination

MW       2:55-4:10PM
UT 104
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: 44322
Credits: 3.00

Media and Politics

TR       9:25-10:40AM
A 426
D. Ellis

This course offers a lively introduction to issues in media and politics including press, news, and political campaigns. Typical topics include the nature of the news, the role of media in a democracy, persuasive effects, political polarization, citizen information, and political speech, as well as others.

CRN: 44361
Credits: 3.00

Media Influences on Children

TR       9:25-10:40AM
A 318
L. Dale

This course will evaluate the content of children’s movies, books, and television programming.  The focus will be on whether the content in these media is appropriate for children given our understanding of child development and the potentially negative influence of factors such as violence and negative modeling.

CRN: 44374
Credits: 3.00

Millennial Memories: 9/11 Then and Now

TR    10:50-12:05PM
A 318
S. Senk

9/11 has been repeatedly described as one of the most defining events for incoming “millennial” college students, many of whom grew up in a post-9/11 world shaped by the national mandate to “Never Forget.” But what does it mean to “remember” an event when you may have little to no personal memory of it? This course will examine how memory is constructed and influenced by commemorative practices including monument-building, storytelling, and media reporting. Through a close look at the artistic and cultural contexts of these forms of commemoration, we will explore the relationship between the unchanging structures built to memorialize the past and the changing nature of memory itself.

CRN: 44387
Credits: 3.00

Sex on Television

TR       3:30-4:45PM
A 427
J. Banks

The depiction of sex on television has always reflected a tension between human sexual desires and the repression of those desires by social institutions like government, business and religion.  We will examine how this tension has shifted over time, what the portrayal of sexuality on television tells us about the values of our society and how these representations may influence individual and social attitudes about gender, sexual orientation, relationships and freedom of expression. Students will critically examine sexual content in a broad range of television shows and commercials, and will create their own video documentary about this topic.

CRN: 44426
Credits: 3.00

Televising Trauma

MWF       12:30-1:20PM
A 323
A. Patt

The twentieth century has seen humans rise to the heights of technological innovation (for example, the development of motion pictures as a form of communication and entertainment) and descend to the depths of ultimate evil (genocide). In the aftermath of mass extermination in Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, and most destructively, the Holocaust of European Jewry, television and film have attempted to educate and entertain us about the extreme trauma endured by victims of these catastrophes. However, filmmakers and viewers have confronted a dilemma, feeling an obligation to bear witness to genocide while at the same time confronting the impossibility – even obscenity – of documenting such horror on film. This seminar will examine that tension through the study of a series of films on the Holocaust and other genocides that have tried to walk the fine line between commemorating catastrophe, and creating entertainment on the back of human suffering.

CRN: 44270
Credits: 3.00

Utopian and Dystopian Visions

MWF    11:30-12:20PM
H 217
C Borck

From Plato's Republic to The Matrix and Brave New World, this course looks at works of film, literature, politics, and philosophy to understand the distinctive place of utopian and dystopian thinking in shaping politics. What do images of these political extremes tell us about our own politics, about our ideals of justice and freedom, and about the choices that confront us as citizens now? Themes include the state of nature, environmentalism, technology, the relationship between art and politics, the place of revolutions in modern political thought, gender, and justice.

CRN: 44244
Credits: 3.00

What Happened to the American Dream?

TR    2:05-3:20PM
H 312
S. Markson

The American Dream, despite being a central theme of our culture, is also a puzzling dichotomy. Is it a promise or a tease, a journey or a destination, a myth or reality? Perhaps it is all these things. In class, we will explore these questions about how the American Dream affects us with both its bright side and its dark side, as well as Bruce Springsteen’s question: “Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse?”

CRN: 44413
Credits: 3.00

FYS grid

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


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