First-Year Seminars 2013



These first-year seminars were offered to the Class of 2017 during the fall semester. 

Freshman Seminar 103B
Toxins and the Nervous System: Environmental Justice Issues
While advances in chemistry have improved our quality of life, marginalized populations are disproportionately affected by neurotoxin pollutants such as lead, mercury, PCBs, and pesticides. Issues of environmental justice will be debated within the context of globally responsible use of chemicals. J. Schroeder

Freshman Seminar 103C
Historical Amnesia: Books, Blogs, and Film
An examination of how contemporary historians, filmmakers, and journalists attempt to reach mainstream audiences by writing about the past. Students will also gain experience writing history for blogs, websites, and the mainstream public. J. Downs

Freshman Seminar 113A
Healthy Choice?
Is what we are eating today really food? How can we make healthy and thoughtful food choices? This seminar will consider the role of processed and genetically modified food and grains and their impact on diet, and will examine the American diet through popular literature and scientific readings. Discussions and activities will include critical review and analysis of data as presented by the public press.
This course satisfies General Education Area 1. S. Warren

Freshman Seminar 123A
Robotics and Problem Solving
An introduction to robotics and problem solving through robot construction and the programming of controllers. Students will discuss readings, make presentations, and work in teams to design andprogram LEGO Mindstorms robots to solve a series of problems that are of increasing complexity. No previous knowledge of computer programming is necessary. This course is not intended for computer science majors. Seminar is open to freshmen NSF Science Leaders only.
This course satisfies General Education Area 2. G. Parker

Freshman Seminar 133A
Economics, Politics, and the Constitution
As the recent decision in "Citizens United" demonstrates, Supreme Court decisions are highly contested in the U.S. We will examine the Court's most important decisions relating to whether workers have the right to organize, whether minimum wage laws are constitutional, and whether campaign finance laws are constitutional.
This course satisfies General Education Area 3. E. McKenna

Freshman Seminar 133B
International Politics through Film
An exploration of international politics through film. Students will read about and discuss the historical context within which the story of each movie occurs. Subjects and movies may include life under totalitarian regimes (The Lives of Others); the role of intelligence in open societies (The Good Shepherd); human rights violations under dictatorships (The Official Story); sexism and religiosity (The Stoning of Soraya M.); apartheid (A Dry White Season); moral implications of war (Gallipoli); the Middle East, multinational corporations, and government (Syriana).
This course satisfies General Education Area 3. A. Hybel

Freshman Seminar 133C
Cultural Meanings, Identity, and Human Development
An examination of how individuals make meaning about their identity within the context of a wide array of cultural and social practices. Specific social issues related to media, globalization, racial politics, and migration will be analyzed to explore and understand how we make sense of ourselves and others.
This course satisfies General Education Area 3. S. Bhatia

Freshman Seminar 133D
Sociology of the Body
An exploration of the social forces that shape the body and how the body is experienced, through the ages and cross-culturally. Instead of a biological approach to the study of the body, we will explore the social scientific approaches to the study of the body. As such, we will explore the body as a site of social control and discipline, and of inequality and power. Lastly, we will examine the intersection of the study of the body with the study of race, gender, nationality, and sexuality.
This course satisfies General Education Area 3. A. Jafar

Freshman Seminar 133E
Your Brain and You: A Partnership of One
The human brain dictates mental development and undergoes massive and surprising changes from birth to adulthood. Through a series of case studies and influential works, this course will explore the organization, development, and experiences of the adolescent brain.
This course satisfies General Education Area 3. N. Garrett

Freshman Seminar 133F
Women on the Loose: Exploring Paths to Political Consciousness and Action
This course centers on women’s myriad paths toward understanding and responding to injustice in their lives and communities. Studies of activism on topics including environmental racism, transgender rights, and hip-hop mix with autobiographical works by scholars, activists, and artists such as Cristy C. Road, Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Margaret Cho.
This course satisfies General Education Area 3. A. Rotramel

Freshman Seminar 143B
Stories from the Road: Discovery and Transformation in the German Narrative
An examination of the transformative effects of mobility on the individual through a broad survey of German texts that emphasize exploration, discovery, cultural transfer, and encounters with the foreign from a German perspective. Authors include Goethe, Humboldt, Ransmayr, Dörrie. Emphasis on travel and its relationship to revolution and disruption of normative thought.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. S. Knott

Freshman Seminar 143C
Crime and Detection in Popular Fiction
An exploration of three related figures: the police detective, the private detective, and the criminal who evolves from villain to victim. Writers include Dickens, Collins, Norris, Wright, Poe, Stevenson, Doyle, Christie, Hammett, Higgins, Rendell, and P.D. James.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. P. Ray

Freshman Seminar 143D
Them and Us: Revisiting the American Dream
This course examines the ways 20th century literature from the mainstream and margins of American life focuses on and explodes the myth of the melting pot through its presentation of issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity, and provides new perspectives on the meaning of the American dream.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. T. Ammirati

Freshman Seminar 143E
Family Stories, Cultural Histories
How do stories of families record histories of cultures? We will read contemporary transnational and transcultural fiction about the family, tracing paths of cultural migration and transformation. Writers may include Marilynne Robinson, Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kazuo Ishiguro, Alison Bechdel, and Lorrie Moore.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. J. Rivkin

Freshman Seminar 143F
The Artist and the Scientist: From Michelangelo to Galileo
A study of the interplay of art, religion, and science in Medicean Florence and Papal Rome. Special attention will be given to Michelangelo′s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and to Galileo′s discovery of the moons of Jupiter. Students may not receive credit for both this course and Italian 409. The course is taught in English.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. R. Proctor

Freshman Seminar 143G
Embodied Resistance
A critical investigation of dance as resistance and social protest. Students will examine educational, dance, and social science theories and methods through Afro-diasporic dance. Considerations of text, film, and performance will address the ways in which narratives of social protest are embodied and resistance to social injustice is enacted. Students will dance at least once a week. No previous dance background is required.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. R. Roberts

Freshman Seminar 143H
Forgotten Futures: China and Global Modernity
This seminar examines China’s revolutionary and socialist legacy and its global influence during the Cold War period. It also explores China’s new position in today’s world in relation to global modernity. We will achieve both objectives through reading and discussing works by theorists, writers, poets, artists, and activists across and beyond the national and cultural boundaries of China.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. Y. Huang

Freshman Seminar 143I
"Shot in America": U.S. Latino Identity in Film 
An exploration through film of the following questions: How have Latinos been portrayed via film in the United States? How have these portrayals affected the popular understanding of Latinos? To what extent do films contribute to nuanced understandings of Latinos that go beyond stereotypes and simplistic representations? What is the responsibility of Hollywood and the Latino community to represent Latinos in a balanced way? This course may include an optional section that will meet for an additional hour each week to discuss supplemental readings in Spanish. Students participating in the foreign language section will receive one additional credit hour, pass/not passed marking.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. J. Rudolph

Freshman Seminar 14If
"Shot in America": U.S. Latino Identity in Film (in Spanish)
This optional section will meet for an additional hour each week to discuss supplemental readings in Spanish. Students participating in the foreign language section will receive one additional credit hour, pass/not passed marking. Students electing Course 14If must concurrently register for Freshman Seminar 143I. J. Rudolph

Freshman Seminar 143J
The Glory of Baroque Music: Bach and Handel
An exploration of the vocal and instrumental music of Bach and Handel with an emphasis on its roots in German, Italian, and French culture of the 17th and 18th centuries, and how this music became so greatly appreciated in the 20th century. Critical listening to recordings and presentation of live performances both in and out of class will help to develop listening skills and an understanding of this repertory.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. J. Anthony

Freshman Seminar 143K
The AIDS Epidemic in Theater and Film
Together we explore, examine, and create theater and film emerging from the AIDS epidemic in the United States. Emphasis on performance and interdisciplinary analysis, drawing on politics, economics, and medical discourse to interrogate the performing arts as historical evidence chronicling the history and scope of AIDS in America.
This course satisfies General Education Area 4. V. Anderson

Freshman Seminar 153A
Obscura, Lucida, Mirror, and Lens: The Science of Rendering
An examination of the historical methods of artistic expression, particularly those associated with defining the world around us, through the use of optical devices and geometry. Emphasis on basic drawing skills, the picture plane, and seeing. Students will need a camera-equipped phone, iPhone, or iPad.
This course satisfies General Education Area 5. T. McDowell

Freshman Seminar 163A
The Idea of God
An examination of the writings of famous philosophical believers, disbelievers, and agnostics. The course considers the varied and evolving ideas of God developed by thinkers from the ancient Greek philosopher Plato to the contemporary biologist Richard Dawkins. Emphasis on the complexities and subtleties associated with either belief or disbelief.
This course satisfies General Education Area 6. A. Pessin

Freshman Seminar 163B
The Meaning of Life
A philosophical consideration of what makes life worth living. Topics include God, wisdom, pleasure, and the absurd. Readings from classical and contemporary sources.
This course satisfies General Education Area 6. S. Feldman

Freshman Seminar 163C
Women and Religion in India
Focusing on Hinduism, this course investigates women′s observance of religion in India. Engaging the premise that gender cannot be understood without knowledge of the particularization effected by caste and class, it exposes students to ideas about social status legitimized by myth/ritual and challenged by various subaltern voices, including low-caste and no-caste men and women.
This course satisfies General Education Area 6. L. Harlan

Freshman Seminar 163D
Memory, Identity, and Religion
From Obama’s memoir to Augustine’s Confessions to Where the Wild Things Are, we examine the work of memory through the genres of memoirs, novels, plays, and film. Emphasis on religion, home, diaspora, exile, race/ethnicity, sexuality, gender, nationalism, trauma, and nostalgia as symbolic resources for political, psychological, cultural, and spiritual identity.
This course satisfies General Education Area 6. D. K. Kim

Freshman Seminar 173A
Gender and Art from the Late Middle Ages to the Enlightenment
Issues of gender in early modern European art, literature, and society within the three groups patronizing high culture: aristocrats, burghers, and church officials. Topics include feudalism and humanism, the gendered state, courtly love, beauty, music, nature, mythological rape, female patronage and self-representation, family, prostitution, witches, powerful women, letter writing, female chastity and penitence, mystical marriage, and the gender of art.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. R. Baldwin

Freshman Seminar 173B
The Art and Ethics of Garbage
Garbage has become a familiar material in contemporary art, from Andy Warhol’s tin cans to Nancy Rubin’s elaborate airplane-wing sculptures. How do these artworks participate in dialogues about environmentalism, global environmental justice, aesthetics, and ethical responsibility? The course explores how artists since 1945 have used garbage to communicate serious social, political, and economic critiques.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. K. Gonzalez Rice

Freshman Seminar 173C
Politics and Modern Architecture
What is the relationship between politics and modern architecture? Through a series of case studies of seminal works of twentieth-century architecture, this course will examine the relationship between architects and their buildings to political ideologies, politicians, and governmental institutions.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. E. Morash

Freshman Seminar 173D
Walking in Their Shoes: Early American Inhabitants of New London, Connecticut
Native conflict and displacement, religious radicalism, revolutionary fervor, slavery, abolitionism, and whaling are all part of the heritage of New London and the history of the United States. Using the example of New London and the methodology of microhistory, this course will illuminate the colonial and antebellum history of the United States.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. L. Wilson

Freshman Seminar 173E
Hollywood’s History: How Film Portrays the American Past
An examination of the changing interpretations of the American past as represented through popular film. Analyzes both the accuracy of each film's depiction of a historical event and the intersection between the event depicted and the politics and culture of the era in which the film was produced.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. C. Stock

Freshman Seminar 173F
Real Sports: Race, Racism, and Sexism in American Sport History
This first year seminar examines the history and contributions of black athletes to American professional and collegiate sports. The course investigates the anthropological discussion on race and athletics, the ″superior black athlete″ myth and its impact on American society. Students will explore the relationship between race, ethnicity, class, and athletic opportunity.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. D. Canton

Freshman Seminar 173G
From the Holy Land to Disneyland: Pilgrimage in the Modern World
Like other forms of human mobility, pilgrimage became a mass phenomenon starting in the nineteenth century, thanks to the development of modern transportation (trains, steamships, automobiles, and airplanes). In this course we will look at various pilgrimages, both religious and secular, in connection with modern world-historical processes such as imperialism, nationalism, mass consumerism, mass tourism, and globalization. We will focus as much on pilgrimage destinations (including Mecca, Disneyland, Jerusalem) as on the process of getting there.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. E. Kane

Freshman Seminar 173H
Gandhi and His Critics
Can a single individual truly change the world? Gandhi transformed himself, his bodily practices, and his mental ethos as tactics against the inequities of imperialism, inspiring revolutionaries around the world to do the same. This course will pursue Gandhian non-violence, self-sufficiency, and disobedient radicalism in the early 20th century. The course also scrutinizes Gandhi from the point of view of his critics, i.e., Marxists, capitalists, secularists, and feminists who spoke from across the political spectrum in the heyday of the British Raj.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. S. Chhabria

Freshman Seminar 173I
Castro, Che Guevara, and Fifty Years of the Cuban Revolution 
Fidel and Raúl Castro, Guevara, and Vilma Espín shaped a movement that seized power in Cuba and inspired generations of revolutionaries. Guerilla warfare proved only the first step in changing attitudes about class, gender, and race. An examination of the Revolution from 1959 to the present using period writings, biographies, and film. This course may include an optional section that will meet for an additional hour each week to discuss supplemental readings in Spanish. Students participating in the foreign language section will receive one additional credit hour, pass/not passed marking.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. L. Garofalo

Freshman Seminar 17If
Castro, Che Guevara, and Fifty Years of the Cuban Revolution (in Spanish)
This optional section will meet for an additional hour each week to discuss supplemental texts in Spanish. Students participating in the foreign language section will receive one additional credit hour, pass/not passed marking. Students electing Course 17If must concurrently register for Freshman Seminar 173I. L. Garofalo

Freshman Seminar 173J
Nationalism
What is a nation? Do nations exist primordially, or are they manufactured products of relatively recent human history? What makes possible the imagined "kinship" between millions of anonymous members (living, dead, and unborn) of a given nation? What social forces turn complete strangers into relatives, and how is this community of intimate strangers maintained? These and other questions will be addressed in this survey of the conflicting theories and experiences of nationhood. Case studies reflecting students' specific interests will be engaged in addition to classic works on nationalism and nationhood studies.
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. P. Ivanov

Freshman Seminar 173K
Northern Heroic Medieval Literature: Sagas, Skalds, and Scops
An introduction to the heroic literature of medieval Scandinavia and Anglo-Saxon England, both prose and poetry. Were medieval Christians preservationists, bowdlerizers, or careful commentators when recording tales of their pagan ancestors? Were post-conversion portrayals of heathen forbears consistent or constantly fluctuating? What were the historical and cultural forces which influenced medieval people as they recorded and re-imagined their own past(s)?
This course satisfies General Education Area 7. M. Mullane