First-Year Seminars for 2016

A sound liberal arts education should enable students to participate as quickly as possible in thought-provoking academic discussion. First-Year Seminars are intended to facilitate this process by providing students a setting for intellectual and creative engagement. These seminars introduce and support our institutional value of academic achievement through close student-faculty relationships. Seminars are designed to foster a lively and respectful interaction, both among students and between students and faculty, around a topic of the faculty member′s choosing.

Open to first-year students only. Enrollment limited to 16 students per seminar. These seminars are designated Writing courses. 

Please note:  Some FYS below are now full, indicated by "Closed - Fully Enrolled," so please select another. 

FYS 106A 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  THIS SEMINAR is for SCIENCE LEADERS only.

FYS 106B THE REPRESENTATION OF SELF (Exploring the Ultimate Selfie) An exploration of the ultimate selfie and the historic boundaries of portraiture from emoticons to Rembrandt with non-traditional drawing tools and photo-digital imaging. Emphasis on non-verbal communication through use of symbol, visual metaphor, posture, pose and representation. The course considers the artistic practice, visual language and creative problem-solving will be emphasized. No prior art-making experience will be required or necessary. T. McDowell. 

FYS 106C THE IMPORTANCE OF IMAGINATION Exploring the interconnection between making things, making decisions, and making the perception of reality. A seminar incorporating hands-on studio projects, readings and discussions that will explore the importance of creativity and the imagination in regard to an individual’s perception and the construction of reality. Students will also consider how human beings can be influenced to think and do things that are not in their own best interest. G. Bailey.  "Closed - Fully Enrolled" 

FYS 106D EPIDEMICS An investigation of diseases caused by bacteria and viruses, use of vaccinations in disease prevention, the role of agencies in the estimation and control of epidemics, social and cultural barriers in disease control, and possible epidemics of the future. S. Suriyapperuma.  "Closed - Fully Enrolled" 

FYS 106E THINKING, FRENCH STYLE An examination of three central preoccupations of French civilization: beauty, intellectual life, and urban space (Paris). Consideration of artists from Delacroix to Rodin to Chanel to Jean Nouvel and thinkers from Descartes to Rousseau to Foucault and Derrida, with emphasis on their impact in contemporary France and on the United States. J. Austin

FYS 106F AFROFUTURISM BLACK FILM AND ART OF THE FUTURE An examination of Afrofuturism, the artistic representation of fantasies of black futures. The course surveys Afrofuturist philosophy, literature, music, film, and new media to explore this important movement in black art. This course satisfies General Education Area 4 and is a designated Writing course. E. Reich

FYS 106G TRAGEDY/FILM/DRAMA (IN SPANISH) Tragic heroines and heroes, tragic flaws, merciless gods, fate, suffering, death, destruction, and catharsis. Through the analysis of representative examples, including Bodas de Sangre (García Lorca, 1932) and Todo sobre mi madre (Almodóvar, 1999), the course explores the persistence of a “tragic mode” in contemporary Spanish culture and its social and political implications. L. Gonzalez

FYS 106H THE WORLD WE LIVE IN An exploration of diversity and difference, power and privilege, and systems of oppression. The course examines the following questions: How does race/ethnicity, gender, class and sexuality influence how people are treated in society? What are our own experiences in society and how are they influenced by gender, class and race/ethnicity? Why is it important to understand systems of oppression? A. Baldwin.  "Closed - Fully Enrolled" 

FYS 106I THE ART OF CHINESE POLITICS AND THE POLITICS OF CHINESE ART For over 2000 years, the State has been the central power in Chinese society, each person playing a precise hierarchical role. Art has been a major tool in conveying and reinforcing governing values. This course analyzes the interaction of ideas, institutions and individuals from the Qin Dynasty to the present, illustrated by Chinese art. D. James

FYS 106J 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. N. Garrett.  "Closed - Fully Enrolled" 

FYS 106K 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). A. Hybel.  

FYS 106L 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. S. Bhatia.  "Closed - Fully Enrolled" 

FYS 106M WORK IN AMERICA This course will ask the following questions about the American workforce in historical perspective: Who works and why? What are people paid and why? What happens to people who don't or can't work? The role of slavery, immigration, the household and unions will be considered for their impact on the shape of the American workforce. C. Howes.  

FYS 106N 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. Y. Huang

FYS 106O WITCHES, WEIRDNESS, AND WONDER An introduction to the imagination of symbolic order and chaos in German literature and popular culture. We will trace stories of witches and wonders in Grimm′s fairy tales, works by Kafka, Hesse, and others, and in contemporary film and media productions. G. Atherton.  "Closed - Fully Enrolled" 

FYS 106P 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. R. Proctor.  

FYS106Q TRAGEDY, COMEDY, AND PHILOSOPHY Life can be tragic, but also comic. We shall explore how philosophy arose in ancient Greece against the background of tragedy and comedy, and how Plato and Aristotle put the tragic and comic aspects of life into a holistic perspective. Our readings will focus on the classical Greek context: the tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, the comedian Aristophanes, and the philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. L. Vogel.  

FYS 106R SEX, CLASS, AND THE BODY IN WESTERN ART This course examines the sexual body in art from the Renaissance to Abstract Expressionism. Topics include the rise of a Renaissance bodily aesthetic, ideas on sexuality, deified and demonized female bodies (angels, goddesses, witches, hysterics, and femme fatales), the male nude, and class and the body (beauty, ugliness, grotesque). R. Baldwin

FYS 106S INVENTING WORLD RELIGIONS Who invented the world′s major religions? When? Where? This course will answer these questions by exploring the world′s major religions, examining how ideas within and about them have been produced, and placing them in historical contexts such as colonialism, nationalism, and secularism. D. Accardi

FYS 106T MUSIC AND SOCIAL ACTIVISM A comparison of the use of music by social activists in several different times and places, along with an exploration of whether the corporate control of the music industry today still allows for music and politics to be linked. B. Knapp

FYS 106U VOTING: THEORY AND PRACTICE A study of the mathematical science of voting theory, emphasizing Arrow’s Theorem and the Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem. The course will focus on the 2016 elections, referring often to fivethirtyeight.com and other primary sources. Students will examine some of the strange things that have happened in past elections, e.g., the presidential elections of 2000 and 1948. Students will also discuss some of the issues involved in polling. The course may include some basic statistics, to be developed as needed. W. Johnson.  

FYS 106V JEWISH WRITERS IN EAST EUROPE Beyond the Pale: Jewish Writers in Eastern Europe An examination and celebration of the literary achievements of Jewish writers whose work reflects the cultural variety and social tensions of Eastern and Central Europe. Readings in English by novelists and poets writing in Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, Czech, and Polish, including such authors as Aleichem, Kafka, Singer, Mandelstam, Schulz, Canetti, and Brodsky. L. Little

FYS 106W WAR AND PEACE An examination of communication and conflict through Leo Tolstoy’s monumental novel, War and Peace, with attention to various nationalities, social classes, and generations. Students will choose an interdisciplinary lens through which to study the novel (e.g., literary studies, history, philosophy, psychology, physics, and film studies) to develop projects such as storyboards, comics, and visual or verbal essays. C. Colbath.  "Closed - Fully Enrolled" 

FYS 106X MUSICAL SELFIES What can music reveal about its creator? The course explores how composers in the Romantic era encoded personal narratives and traces of cultural, racial, national, or gender identity in their music. Concert trips and studies of works by Berlioz, Schubert, Schumann, Hensel, and Mussorgsky. Prior musical experience is helpful but not required. M. Seto

FYS 106Y VIRTUAL REALITIES IN JAPAN An examination of the historical discourses of the self within Japanese culture which have operated from the 1970s to the present day. The course investigates the ways in which Japanese media represent and discuss the body and the self, considering concrete manifestations of these themes in literature, film, television, anime, manga, and video games. M. Chan

FYS 106Z BUILD COMMUNITY, CREATE CHANGE An examination of traditional and contemporary frameworks of community engagement, with the aim of developing effective strategies for becoming civically minded agents of social change. Coursework on campus and in the larger community includes critical analysis of societal structures and texts, individual and collective reflection, and work with New London community partners. P. Lynch, K. Sanchez.  

FYS 116A PERFORMING CITIZENSHIP An exploration of how we all “perform” our lives and how moving our bodies serves as a powerful mode of expression. Topics range from protest to daily acts of wellness and from vocation to avocation, with students engaging in movement in every class. No prior movement experience is required. D. Dorfman

FYS 116B RACE & POWER IN AMERICAN SPORTS An examination of the history of race, racism, and power in American sports. The course introduces students to the study of race and its role in current athletic entities such as the NCAA, NBA, WNBA, and NFL. A. Jefferson.  "Closed - Fully Enrolled" 

FYS 116C  FROM 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. E. Kane.