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First Year Seminars for Fall 2007

First-year seminars are open only to first-year students and are limited in size to 12.

Art and Art History:

Making Art History [ARTH 001C 01]
hren, Michael

Are works of art direct extensions, pure reflections, or unique expressions of an individual artist's genius, fragile by implication and susceptible to destruction from overanalysis? Or are works of art (as well as the definition just offered) cultural artifacts produced under specific material and social conditions, and fully meaningful only under extended analysis? Must we choose? And are these questions themselves, and the talk they generate or suppress, yet another manifestation of the Western European and American commodification of art, its production, and its consumption? Such questions will underlie this introduction to the goals, methods, and history of art history. Focusing on works drawn from a variety of cultures and epochs, as well as on the art historical and critical attention those works have attracted, students will learn to describe, analyze, and interpret both images and their interpretations and to convey their own assessments in lucid writing and speaking.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Interpreting Picasso [ARTH 001F 01]
Bader, Graham

How should we understand the art of one of the most significant artists of the 20th century? Although long embraced by the history of art, Picasso's art still remains a challenge to its interpreters. This course looks at the sets of questions developed within the discipline of art history to understand this protean artist. Strategies addressed include formal analysis, biography, iconography, semiotics, social history, feminist critique, ethnography, and the history of exhibition and display. Emphasis will be placed on developing critical skills in oral and written formats.

Writing course. 1 credit.

The Art of Japanese Tea Ceremony    [ARTH 001H 01] 
Sakomura, Tomoko

This first-year seminar explores the rich cultural practice of chanoyu, the "Japanese tea ceremony," which emerged around the preparation of powdered green tea. We will examine the ritual, aesthetic, and institutional history of this practice from the 12th century to the present and explore the various cultural forms-painting, calligraphy, ceramics, architecture, garden design, religious ritual, performance, food preparation, and flower arrangement-that were integrated into and developed through chanoyu. Discussions will also include the significance of chanoyu in Japanese aesthetic discourse, the relationship between tea connoisseurs and art collecting, and the continuing influences of chanoyu on contemporary productions of lacquerware and ceramics.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Making Art     [STUA 001B 01]
Exon, Randall

This studio art experience is designed for first-year artists in all media who have demonstrated through a portfolio presentation their knowledge of the elements of visual thinking, design, and composition. This course is similar in content to the foundation drawing class STUA 001. However, it will be more in depth, with more emphasis on individually designed studio and research projects. Portfolios of actual or photographed work must be submitted for evaluation during the freshman advising week prior to the start of the fall semester. Contact the department for details.

1 credit.

Chemistry and Biochemistry:

General Chemistry   [CHEM 010S 01 ]
Morgan, David

A study of the general concepts and basic principles of chemistry: atomic and molecular structure, bonding theory, molecular interactions, and the role of energy in chemical reactions. Applications will be drawn from current issues in fields such as environmental, transition metal, and biological chemistry. One laboratory period weekly.

Fall: Two sections will be offered in lecture format and are open to all students. One section will be offered in seminar format and is open to first-year students only. 1 credit.


Dante    [CLAS 015 01]
Munson, Rosaria

With Virgil, Beatrice and Dante-poet as guides, we shall follow the Pilgrim on a journey of despair, hope, and redemption. We shall read the Divine Comedy in its entirety, teasing out the poem's different levels of meaning and reconstructing Dante's world view in the context of Medieval culture: his thoughts on life, death, love, art, politics, history and God.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Educational Studies:

 Introduction to Education    [EDUC 014F 01]

This seminar will draw on materials from the disciplines of psychology, sociology, philosophy, history, and political science to address questions about American education. Topics are examined through readings, software, writing, discussion, and hands-on activity. Fieldwork is required. This course fulfills the prerequisite for further course work in education and provides an opportunity for students to explore their interests in teaching, student learning, and educational policy.

Writing course. 1 credit.

English Literature:

Nation and Migration     [ENGL 009D 01]
Mani, Bakirathi

Drawing on novels, short stories, film, and poetry produced by immigrant writers from South Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, this course explores the ways in which identity and community is shaped in the modern world. How does the migrant/diasporic writer rewrite the English language to reflect questions of race and power, nationhood and citizenship, and histories of the past and present? Authors include Gordimer, Kureishi, Mootoo, Ondaatje, Said, and Rushdie.

Writing course. 1 credit.

The Philadelphia Story    [ENGL 009K]
Johnson, Kendall

This seminar considers representations of Philadelphia in literature and film. The reading will span three centuries, from William Penn's First Proprietors, to the bicentennial celebration in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. As we discuss novels, poems, movies, and legal documents, we will reach to understand the broader national history of revolution and reconstitution that mark the city in our day. Authors may include Benjamin Franklin, Edgar Allan Poe, Fanny Kemble, William Still, Harriet Jacobs, Theodore Dreiser, David Goodis, Daniel Hoffman, and John Edgar Wideman.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Battling Against Voldemort   [ENGL 009J 01]
Finberg, Melinda

Let's just admit it: we are the Harry Potter generation and no other generation of readers will experience his serial saga as we have. Now Harry is part of literary history. Will he survive there? In this seminar we will explore the archetypal mythic hero's journey that J. K. Rowling tapped into and how it has been expressed in literature through the centuries. We will examine writers on myth and the psyche, such as Sir James Frazer, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell, and explore both classical and contemporary tales of heroes and heroines, their battles against evil and their quests for transcendence and wisdom. Texts will include selections from Homer's The OdysseyParadise LostThe Lord of the RingsHis Dark MaterialsAbhorsenPan's LabyrinthHarry Potter

Writing course. 1 credit.

Jane Austen, Cultural Critic    [ENGL 009M 01]
Bolton, Elizabeth

Mingling stylistic precision with an uncanny eye for social foibles, Austen's novels offer a useful entry point into the study of literature and the ways literature reflects and refracts social conditions. We'll read Austen's five major novels along with the 18th-century fiction, politics, and philosophy to which she was responding; we'll also consider recent critical views on Austen and the ways films of the 1990s engaged Austen's style and social critique. At the same time, students will engage the genre of the academic essay by writing and revising several kinds of literary essays: a close reading of an assigned passage; an essay on genre or novelistic conventions; analysis of a novel's use of source material or a film's use of an Austen novel; and a research paper addressing one or more of the novels in a broader historical or stylistic context.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Women and Popular Culture: Fiction, Film, & Television    [ENGL 009P 01]
White, Patricia

This course looks at Hollywood's "chick flicks" and "women's films" and television soap operas, their sources in 19th- and 20th-century popular fiction and melodrama, and the cultural practices surrounding their promotion and reception. How do race, class, and sexual orientation intersect with gendered genre conventions, discourses of authorship and critical evaluation, and the paradoxes of popular cultural pleasures? Uncle Tom's Cabin, Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, The Joy Luck Club, Bridget Jones's Diary. Weekly screenings.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Subverting Verses    [ENGL 009Q 01]
Anderson, Nathalie

Once history, biography, fiction, philosophy, and even science could be written in verse without seeming peculiar or affected, but today the line between poetry and prose is sharply drawn. Or is it? This course will examine unconventional forms and uses of poetry-from Seneca's Oedipus to Rita Dove's Darker Face of the Earth, from Geoffrey Chaucer's Tales to Vikram Seth's Golden Gate, from Bob Perelman's verse essays to Carolyn Forché's prose poems-to explore our assumptions about the nature of genre.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Black Liberty /Literature    [ENGL 009S 01]
Foy, Anthony

Arising from the tomb of slavery, African American literature has, from its origins, concerned itself with the unfinished project of freedom. Drawing upon prose, poetry and personal narrative, this course will examine freedom as a problem of form, content, and context that has structured the emergence of a black literary tradition from the 19th century to the present.

Writing course. 1 credit.


The Barbarian North    [HIST 001A 01]
Bensch, Stephen

The seminar will explore how Germanic and Celtic societies emerged and solidified their identities as they came into contact with Roman institutions and Latin Christendom. This course may count toward a major or minor in medieval studies.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Remembering History    [HIST 001R 01]
Dorsey, Bruce

Explores the relationship between the creation of personal and collective memory and the production of history. The seminar will examine the tensions between memory and history in U.S. history, using some of the most acclaimed recent history books. Students will think critically about memoirs and autobiographies, oral histories and personal reminiscences, festivities and holidays of commemoration, historical memory in popular culture, and family lore and stories. What receives the privilege of being remembered and what gets deliberately forgotten constitutes the essence of what we know as history.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Witches, Witchcraft, and Witch Hunts    [HIST 001V 01]
DuPlessis, Robert

Why has belief in witches and witchcraft been found so widely throughout history? What were central doctrines about witchcraft and how did beliefs vary over time and space? Why were witches usually imagined as female? How was witchcraft linked to religion, magic, and demonic possession? What were the relations between elite and popular witch beliefs? Why did belief in witchcraft die out in some places and survive in others? How do earlier witch crazes help explain modern "witch-hunts"? These and other questions will be studied through original documents, visual and literary representations, films, and historical studies.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Mathematics and Statistics:

Single Variable Calculus Seminar    [MATH 025S 01]
Bergstrand, Deborah

MATH 025S covers the same material as the lecture-based MATH 025 but uses a seminar format (maximum 12 students) with additional meetings and lots of hands-on activities (e.g., writing, oral presentations, group work, and computer work). Intended for students who think they could benefit from the collaborative seminar format and who wish to be challenged to excel in calculus so that they gain more confidence to continue with mathematics and science.

Prerequisite: Placement by examination (see "Advanced Placement and Credit Policy" earlier).

First-year seminar. 1 credit.

Linear Algebra Honors Seminar    [MATH 028S 01]
Rusin, David

MATH 028S covers the same material as the lecture-based MATH 028 but uses a seminar format (maximum 12 students) with additional meetings. Hands-on student participation takes the place of most lectures. Students may take only one of MATH 027, MATH 028, and MATH 028S for credit. Prerequisite: placement by examination. 1 credit.

MATH 028S covers the same material as the lecture-based MATH 028 but uses a seminar format (maximum 12 students) with additional meetings. Hands-on student participation takes the place of most lectures.

Prerequisite: Placement by examination (see "Advanced Placement and Credit Policy" earlier). 1 credit.

Modern Languages and Literatures:

East European Prose in Translation     [RUSS 015 01 / LITR 015R 01]
Forrester, Sibelan

Novels and stories by the most prominent 20th-century writers of this multifaceted and turbulent region. Analysis of individual works and writers with the purpose of appreciating the religious, linguistic, and historical diversity of Eastern Europe in an era of war, revolution, political dissent, and outstanding cultural and intellectual achievement. Readings, lectures, writing, and discussion in English; qualified students may do some readings in the original language(s). Writing-intensive course limited to 15 students.

Writing Course. 1 credit.


Music and Mathematics    [MUSI 009A 01]
Kochavi, Jonathan

This course will explore the basic elements of musical language from a scientific and mathematical perspective. We will work collaboratively to uncover relationships and features that are fundamental to the way that music is constructed. While intended for science, mathematics, engineering, and other mathematically-minded students, the course will introduce all necessary mathematics; no specific background is required. Some knowledge of musical notation is helpful but not required. Serves as a prerequisite for Music 011. 1 credit.


Contemporary, Moral, Political Issues    [PHIL 009 01]
Oberdiek, Hans

Our understanding of (or confusions about) freedom, justice, equality, rights, and the objects of moral concern deeply affect how we think about concrete issues that pervade contemporary public life. We will examine how various philosophical positions inform our understanding of these issues - and how they, in turn, lead us to accept, reject, or modify general philosophical positions. Among the issues we'll discuss in the context of broader philosophical positions are the legal enforcement of morality, the limits of free expression, what justice and equality require, as well as issues in bioethics and the environment.

Writing course. 1 credit.

Questions of Inquiry    [PHIL 010 01]
Raff, Charles

This course is an introduction to philosophy with two primary aims: first, to develop the specific resources necessary for continued access to classical and contemporary philosophical literature; second, to foster skills of lucid and economical expository writing that will benefit students' written work in all areas. Three primary texts of classical and contemporary philosophy raise questions about inquiry within philosophy and about inquiring in other areas. 1 credit.

Physics and Astronomy:

Chaos, Fractals, Complexity, Self-Organization and Emergence   [PHYS 002A 01]
Boccio, John

A study of chaos, fractals, scaling and self-similarity, percolation, cellular automata, iterated function systems, pattern formation, self-organized networks, complex adaptive systems, self-organized criticality and emergence with applications in the natural sciences, the social sciences and in the humanities. 1 credit.

Political Science:

Climate Change & American Politics    [POLS 010E 01]
Valelly, Richard

Global warming and the challenges and opportunities that it poses for society and economy are certain to stay on the American national agenda for decades to come. This seminar considers why the issue's emergence has taken the form it has and has occurred now rather than earlier, or, for that matter, later. The regulatory responses to date are surveyed and the seminar considers what analogous cases of regulatory challenge can teach us about the future of this issue. 1 credit.

Sociology and Anthropology:

International Human Rights/Local Culture   [SOAN 003D 01]
Hultin, Niklus

The global spread of human rights has raised a complex set of issues concerning how human rights interact with local cultures, including: what are rights and are they culture-specific? What happens when cultural and religious norms contradict notions of universal human rights? Are some rights more important than other rights-can, for example, political rights be ignored if it would help socio-economic development? This course is an introduction to international human rights from the vantage point of anthropology and sociology. We will examine these and other questions through specific human rights issues (civil right's, torture, women's rights, the right to development, and others) in different parts of the world. Readings are primarily drawn from sociology and anthropology, but the course will also introduce you to the relevant legal literature, conventions, and jurisprudence to see how human rights lawyers themselves grapple with cultural differences. 1 credit

Introduction to Contemporary Social Thought    [SOAN 004B 01]
Munoz, Braulio

A general introduction to major theoretical developments in the study of social life since the 19th century. Selected readings will be drawn from the work of such modern social theorists as Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Freud, and Simmel. Readings from contemporary authors such as Geertz, Goffman, Adorno, and Arendt will also be included. These developments will be studied against the background of the sociophilosophical climate of the 19th century. 1 credit.

The Forest of Symbols    [SOAN 006C 01]
Sheller, Mimi

This course takes its title from the anthropological work of Victor Turner, The Forest of Symbols. Turner and other interpreters of social life have stressed the importance of symbols in constructing our understanding of both the social and the natural world and in assisting their transformations. As such, the focus will be on readings that highlight symbols of forests, water, islands, gardens, political territories, and environmental spaces. This course may be counted toward a minor in environmental studies. 1 credit.