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General Education Program

» First-Year Foundation Courses

Fall 2018

+ - Close Reading

Kent Lehnhof, Ph.D. - Professor of English, Department of English, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-22 (TuTh 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

This course will consider a diverse group of texts, ranging from advertising images to television commercials to Renaissance stageplays to animated cartoons to feature films. Our objective in each instance will be the same: to attend to the subtle and specific details that make up a text. By observing and analyzing all the little details that often escape notice, we will practice a kind of critical analysis known as close reading.

+ - Creative and Cultural Industries

Patrick Fuery, Ph.D. - Professor of English, Dean, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-47 (MoWe 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

The culture and creative industries are one of the most radical and dynamic developments in the twenty-first century. They encompass a wide range of areas, including film, television, the digital, fashion, comics, gaming, advertising, tourism, and publishing. This course provides an introduction to the major areas of culture and creative industries, what they are and the role they play in our lives. The course will also give an overview of a variety of theories and practices and how they have transformed our sense of knowledge and ways of thinking. Topics may include: How does a culture remember itself? How does the image operate in the age of the digital? What are cultural desires and how do they shape our own? Why do abandoned buildings create a sense of terror? Can texts tell us how to survive the end of the world?

+ - Disagreement in Politics, Ethics, and Religion

G. Michael Pace, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, and Chair, Department of Philosophy, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-36 (MoWe 1 - 2:15 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

No matter what your views are about politics, ethics, and religion, you can be sure that many of your peers will disagree. Moreover, many of your peers who disagree with you are at least as intelligent and well-informed on the issues as you are. This course will address a number of philosophical questions that arise from these basic observations. What is the best explanation of the prevalence of disagreement in these areas? Given the extent of disagreement, is it reasonable to continue to hold views on these matters? Is vigorous disagreement in these areas a good thing, something that is likely to lead us closer to the truth? If so, how can disagreement be encouraged in society without becoming a destructive force.

+ - Distant Relations: Connections Between Classic and Modern Plays

Michael Nehring, M.A. - Professor of Theatre, Department of Theatre, College of Performing Arts
FFC 100-63 (TuTh 4:15 - 5:30 p.m.)

Through the examination of three pairs of plays, one classic and one “modern”, we will mine the interconnectivity of each pair of plays to discover how an understanding of one can illuminate themes, forms, and cultural connections of the other. The professor will provide a brief cultural overview to contextualize the creation of each play. Students will research production styles that reflect the period in which the play was created. We will attend at least one live theatrical production, and examine significant contemporary theatrical production concepts in search of possible connections to previous productions and plays of the past. Finally students will research a fourth pairing of plays and speculate on how their similarities and differences might promote a feasible production concept. The pairings will include: Oedipus (430 BCE) and Death of a Salesman (1949), A Doll’s House (1879) and A Raisin in the Sun (1959), The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) and The Bald Soprano (1950).

+ - Earth's Spheres and the Changing Climate

Hesham El-Askary, Ph.D. - Professor, Director, Hazards, Global and Environmental Change and Computational Science Programs
FFC 100-03 (TuTh 10 – 11:15 a.m.)

There is no point in denying climate change because we are living in a dynamic interactive system that is made up by a series of spheres: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, and the biosphere. Global warming, rising temperature and CO2 emissions have been the only focus of media, main stream people and politicians. What about the domino effect in our fragile Earth system? In this class we will discuss different aspects of these effects associated with the above-mentioned spheres of the Earth system, how they interact to shape the environment in which we live, and how they are affected by our changing climate.

+ - Education and Revolution: Activism and Social Movements for a Better World

Lilia Monzo, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Attallah College of Educational Studies
FFC 100-40 (MoWe 1-2:15 p.m.)
FFC 100-41 (MoWe 2:30-3:45 p.m.)

In this course on specific social movements around the world and key figures in them, students will reflect on the world we live in and our roles as human beings in it. A primary goal is to have students become empowered to see themselves as active agents of their world, understanding that we are not merely passengers in life but the makers of history. Students will have an opportunity to engage questions of leadership, collective action, and organizing for social change, as well as placing movements within historical contexts and analyzing both gains and losses that have come to bear on these movements. An important aspect of the course is the role of education, both formal and informal, in developing social consciousness and the ideological shifts necessary to create the impetus to act toward revolutionary changes. Specific social movements discussed may include the Paris Commune, Civil Rights, The Zapatistas, The Cuban Revolution, and Black Lives Matter.

+ - Feasting on Film: Consuming and Digesting Food in Cinema

Veronique Olivier, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Language, Department of World Languages and Cultures, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-25 (TuTh 5:30 - 6:45 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

Feasting on Film: Consuming and Digesting Food in Cinema will take an introspective look at one of the most ordinary habits in our lives, the act of eating. This course will investigate a range of topics and concerns related to producing, eating (and not eating), cooking, sharing and wasting foods through the lens of national and international cinema. It will use an interdisciplinary approach by exploring the relationship between food and gender, food and race, food and social classes, food and politics. It will compare how food is treated in American cinema as opposed to international films.

+ - Feminism at the Movies

Clara Magliola, M.A. - Instructor, Department of Sociology, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-19 (Fr 1 - 3:50 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

In this course, students will be introduced to feminist theory as a mode of analysis for exploring and critiquing movies and popular culture. Such investigation will include the ideological and material impact of American cinema as a vehicle for disseminating and reinforcing patriarchal norms, especially that of rape culture. Moreover, students will learn to better examine the possibility of developing a critical and “oppositional gaze” in relation to both the creation/production and reception/spectatorship of film. This course brings feminism to the movies in two senses: first, students will become familiar with feminist visual theories in order to critically examine the “male gaze” of mainstream narrative film through examples from various genres; and second, students will analyze diverse examples of (explicitly or implicitly) “feminist” films — as points of comparison and as political attempts to enact cultural sea-change. Students will learn to identify well-worn misogynist archetypes of American cinema (such as the castrating mother, and other exemplars of the monstrous feminine-- as racialized, classed, and heterosexist embodiments), and learn to better understand the complex historical arc of “feminism at the movies” by tracing cultural “flashpoints” in American cinema.

+ - Free Speech and the University

Gordon Babst, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-42 (MoWe 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

This course prepares students to think critically through some vexing challenges facing the contemporary university involving free speech and inclusive public discourse. The course also presents court cases involving a variety of socially stigmatized or simply disliked forms of expression where decisions have turned on giving voice to marginalized persons, ideas, or artistic expression.

The proposed course is grounded in liberal-democratic theory, itself interdisciplinary (both Political Science and Philosophy), and uses copious examples from the Humanities to illustrate how the understanding of freedom of expression has evolved in the American context and its role in liberating free inquiry, but also in maintaining exclusion.

+ - From Bach to Rock: Music and Society

Robert Frelly, D.M.A. - Professor of Music, Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music, College of Performing Arts
FFC 100-65  (Tu/Th, 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.)

Does music affect society, or are various evolving musical styles simply a continual expression of the subcultures that created them? Changes in social structure and hence in social needs have brought about changes in the function of music; these are the moving forces underlying the growth and development of music as an art throughout history. This course explores the place of music in society and its relation to the life of its time.

+ - From Yellow Peril to Yellow Power: Asians in America-Media, Policy, and Identity

Stephanie Takaragawa, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, and Associate Dean, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-18 (TuTh 4 - 5:15 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

This course offers a history of Asians in America, examining different immigrant groups and their integration into the “American melting pot.” It is intended to teach critical thinking skills through analyses of the social construction of race, identity and various forms of power. It draws from an anthropological analysis of social groups and cultural formation. In addition to an anthropological framework, this course will introduce critical race theory, the yellow peril, and stereotypes of the model minority and where they come from.

This course is organized around an historical timeline emphasizing 1880 to the present, drawing on public policy and the law (the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Japanese American Internment, Immigration Act of 1924, Affirmative action and others). Discussions will also include the policy and legal decisions (Ozawa v. US 1922 and US v. Thind 1923), culminating in an examination of contemporary issues of racial identity and cultural politics, and understanding the shift from policy to public culture.

+ - Grand Challenges in Science and Technology

Please contact Gregory Goldsmith, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, and Director of the Grand Challenges Initiative with your inquiries.

Priority registration will be given to majors in Schmid College of Science and Technology. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

FFC 100-01 (TuTh 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.)
FFC 100-02 (TuTh 10 - 11:15 a.m.)
FFC 100-03 (TuTh 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-04 (TuTh 1 - 2:15 p.m.)
FFC 100-05 (TuTh 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-06 (TuTh 4 - 5:15 p.m.)
FFC 100-07 (MoWe 1 - 2:15 p.m.)
FFC 100-08 (TuTh 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-09 (MoWe 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-10 (MoWe 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-11 (MoWe 4 - 5:15 p.m.)

Can we predict critical medical conditions before they occur? How do we stem the loss of biodiversity? What is the role of artificial intelligence in creating a safer future? Solving these "grand challenges" will require breakthroughs that leverage innovative thinking across disciplines. In this course, small teams of students work together to understand a current challeng facing society, propose a potential solution, and effectively communicate what they have learned.

+ - Histories of Consciousness: Reading the Word, Reading the World, Re-Writing Our Histories

Miguel Zavala, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Attallah College of Educational Studies
FFC 100-30 (MoWe 1-2:15 p.m.)

We live in a complex reality, where technology, media, and education as major institutions have come to shape how we see the world and ourselves. We are, in many ways, alienated from each other and the world around us, as evidenced by the increasing violence in our society that is perpetuated by class, race, gender, and other systems of domination. Yet people also resist and strive for meaning and community as they socially dream a renewed world. This course is an exploration in consciousness, how it is mediated and shaped historically. But it’s also a course on how consciousness becomes generative and can lead to social transformation.  How do social and historical conditions shape our consciousness? How can our consciousness in turn shape the self and society? What role does education and learning play in the formation of a critical consciousness? In this course students will analyze how the question of consciousness and its formation has been approached by different scholarly traditions and will engage in authentic action-research experiences that enable them to experience first-hand the process of coming to critically know and transform the world.

+ - How Modern Art Shook the World

Wendy Salmond, Ph.D. - Professor of Art, Department of Art, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-17 (MoWe 4 - 5:15 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

Scandal, outrage, censorship, rejection – these are words that crop up repeatedly in discussions about modern art. From Edouard Manet’s “indecent” Olympia (1865) to Chris Ofili’s “blasphemous” The Holy Virgin Mary (1996), the art of our time has created unprecedented conflict and misunderstanding between artists and society. In this course we will investigate modern art’s reputation for being transgressive, destructive, and incomprehensible. Through a series of case studies we will explore questions such as: what expectations and beliefs are challenged when artists push the boundaries of “normal” art, reality, and identity? What is the line between experimentation and transgression? What are the connections between artistic rule-breaking and political revolution? Is it possible for artists to go “too far”? The work of the course will involve detailed examination of iconic works, comparing the artists’ intentions with the responses of the public and critics, and creating a geneology, or conceptual map, that traces the influence of key modernist works on the art of the past 150 years.

+ - Humanity and Inhumanity: Complicity, Moral Imperatives, and Genocide

Sam Totten, Ph.D. - Presidential Fellow
FFC 100-64 (We, 7 - 9:50 p.m.)

What constitutes genocide? Who has been complicit in genocide? What constitutes being a bystander to genocide? What is it, at least in part, that "allows" perpetrators to carry out a genocide? Indifference? A lack of political will? Or might it be something else? If so, what? And what does it really mean when scholars claim that efforts to save the potential victims are often “too little, too late”?

This course will examine those critical issues and questions, along with the good, the bad and the ugly of genocide prevention and intervention.  In doing so, we probe many fascinating and disturbing issues: Is there a moral imperative to help those who are facing potential genocide? Should realpolitik drive a state’s decision to attempt to prevent genocide in another part of the world or not? Do I, as an individual, have any responsibility when it comes to the issue of genocide; and if so, just what is it, and why?

+ - Humanomics: Exchange and the Human Condition

Michael Valdez Moses, Ph.D. - Visiting Professor of Literature and Humanities, the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics
FFC 100-13 (MoWe 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-14 (MoWe 4 – 5:15 p.m.)

Prerequisites: Disposition to inquire and be challenged. What makes a rich nation rich? What makes a good person good? And what do these questions have to do with one another? While exploring these and other questions about markets and ethics, students will challenge the perception of economics as distinct from the humanities. This course combines an economic inquiry into the human propensity to exchange with the cultural interpretation of the human condition in the HBO television show Deadwood. The instructional methods include Socratic roundtable discussions of the texts, laboratory experiments, journaling, focused free writes, and expository papers.

+ - Humanomics: The Ism Schism

Jan Osborn, Ph.D. -Associate Professor of English, Department of English, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Kyle Hampton, Ph.D. - Clinical Associate Professor of Economics, The George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics
FFC 100-62 (Mo 1 - 3:45 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

Human societies are complex, encompassing a plurality of ideas and ideals, of cultures and languages, of beliefs and points of view. This course explores moral monism in a world of pluralities, questioning political, religious, and ideological polarization, asking “Why are good people divided by politics, by religion, by ideological extremism; why is there an ism schism”? This course asks students to think critically about challenges facing the global community.

+ - If Buddha Walked Mindfully on Stage: Viewing Character through a Zen Lens

Julie Artman, M.F.A. - Lecturer and Chair, Collections Management Division for the Leatherby Libraries
FFC 100-21 (TuTh 4-5:15 p.m.)

Buddha-nature and mindfulness have become the de rigueur everywhere you look: in the workplace, in relationships, and in education. What does the story of the Buddha have to tell us about the interactions and behaviors of characters from dramatic literature? In this course students will explore Buddha-nature and mindfulness to see how its teachings and practices can be used to examine, discuss, and analyze character struggles and triumphs from dramatic literature. Reviewing theatrical performances will provide students with direct observational opportunities, and students will engage in both analytic and creative projects, including mindfulness practices, individually and collaboratively.

+ - Intelligence, Race, Music and Sports

Keith Howard, Ph.D. - Associate Professor and Director, Donna Ford Attallah Academy for Teaching and Learning
FFC 100-33 (Tu 4-6:45 p.m.)

Perceptions and perspectives on race and intelligence are reflected in, and influenced by, various forms of media. This course will examine common themes in popular song lyrics and sports commentary, contrasting them with common beliefs about race and intelligence. Students will examine their own musical and societal influences and think critically about how those influences might shape their own views on the academic prowess, general aptitude, and professional success of different groups. By examining lyrics and transcripts of their favorite songs and sporting events, students will critically discuss and dissect the possible impacts of commonly used terms, phrases, and idioms in popular media.

+ - Lies You Learned in School

James Brown, Ph.D. - Professor of Teaching, Attallah College of Educational Studies
FFC 100-38 (TuTh 1 – 2:15 p.m.)
FFC 100-39 (TuTh 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.)

What histories did you learn in school? Should history only be the story of the dominant culture, or should it include narratives that contradict the "American Celebrationist" perspective? This course provides a critical analysis of important social themes (e.g., identity, conformity, and bystander vs. upstander) linked to key histories (e.g., the Holocaust and other genocides, America in Vietnam). The course is based on the assumption that if citizens in a democracy are to value their rights and take responsibility for their actions, they must know not only the triumphs of history but also the failures and tragedies. As students study the historical development and the lessons of "difficult" histories, they learn to make the essential connections between history and the moral choices they confront in their own lives.

+ - Literature and Film

Walter Tschacher, Ph.D. - Professor of Languages, Department of World Languages and Cultures, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-23 (MoWe 1 - 2:15 p.m.)
FFC 100-34 (MoWe 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

In this course students will critically examine films in relation to their source material (both English and in translation) and the social, historical, and cultural contexts of both. Possible texts/films include Death in Venice (Thomas Mann/Visconti) and Room with a View (E. M. Forster/J. Ivory). We will consider not only the adaptation of literary works but also the inverse process, called novelization (i.e., the film serves as the basis for literature; for instance, some James Bond and Star War films underwent novelization). The course will take up such questions as: How does the change in medium produce a new text/meaning? When comparing and contrasting literature and film, what are their relative strengths and weaknesses? How is literary and visual art affected by commerce, and vice-versa—how, for example, is "popular" art coded as more or less authentic than "high" art?

+ - Los Angeles in Film and Fiction

Atalia Lopez, M.A. - Lecturer, Department of English, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-48 (TuTh 5:30 – 6:45 p.m.)

When Joyce Carol Oates asks, “If the City is a text, how shall we read it?” she presents a question that connects a dynamic and physical space to something more abstract. If a city is a text, as she proposes, how will we engage with it as “readers” and come to some level of greater understanding? In this course students will explore representations of the city of Los Angeles, with particular emphasis on its portrayal in films and literary texts. Throughout the semester we will read and view texts that prominently feature the urban space of Los Angeles. Through study, discussion, and research we will examine how the city functions within these imagined worlds and tackle some central questions and many others: how is Los Angeles different from other major American cities? What is the function of Los Angeles as an urban environment? What are some central themes that we can see developing across the texts we read/view? Does its representation differ at all between the mediums of film and literature? Texts may include films such as Sunset Blvd., Chinatown, Blade Runner, L.A. Confidential, Drive, and novels such as Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust, Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays, Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Charles Bukowski's Post Office, and T.C. Boyle's The Tortilla Curtain.

+ - Memories of WWII in French Films

Allan MacVicar, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Language, Department of World Languages and Cultures, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-24 (TuTh 10 - 11:15 a.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

How does France remember the Second World War and how do filmmakers represent these memories in film? In this course, we will examine the debates and changing attitudes towards the war through the prism of film. As France came to terms with its participation in the war, and particularly with Germany’s occupation of France, different versions of the past gradually emerged. The myth that the majority of French citizens resisted the occupying force confronted the realities that many had been active collaborators or simply stood by, indifferent to the plight of their fellow citizens. We will explore how certain films produced in the last sixty years overemphasized some events of the war while obscuring others, and we will consider the ways in which these representations helped shape the image the French had of themselves. We will focus especially on the way in which these filmic memories shift and call into question earlier presuppositions. Films to be screened include works by Clément, Melville, Renais, and Malle. Supplementary readings will provide context for the various periods discussed.

+ - Musicals and Cultural Messages

Jessica Sternfeld Shockley, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Music History, Conservatory of Music, College of Performing Arts
FFC 100-61 (MoWeFr 9 - 9:50 a.m.)

Musicals, both on stage and on screen, have always been perceived as lighthearted fun. But they also tackle social and political issues – like war or prejudice – in ways that both reflect and shape their cultural context. What sorts of lessons do musicals contain? Can a musical shape culture, make people change their minds about an issue? How do musicals teach their lessons – through music, lyrics, plot, casting, advertising? In this course we’ll study recent musicals on stage and on film, focusing on works that have social or political issues as central themes, likely including Hamilton, Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, Into the Woods, and more we’ll choose together. We’ll watch the musicals, read criticism and scholarship about them, write about them, and engage in discussions in class and online. Students will also have the opportunity to study a musical of their own choosing, sharing their insights in class or in writing.

+ - Neuroscience and Literature: A Cognitive Approach to Reading Fiction

Richard Ruppel, Ph.D. - Professor of English, Department of English and Peace Studies, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
FFC 100-26 (TuTh - 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

This course explores identity, narrative, memory and other concepts from both a literary and a neuroscientific perspective. Literature has always been centrally concerned with character—Odysseus: clever, loyal, very stubborn; Don Quixote: chivalrous, honorable, slightly crazy; Hamlet: noble, bitter, deeply conflicted; Satan: proud, rebellious, grandly wicked; Elizabeth Bennet: bright, witty, affectionate; Mrs. Dalloway: so changeable, so psychologically rich, she can barely be contained within the novel. As readers, we know the characters in stories and novels better than we know our friends and family, better, sometimes, than we know ourselves. A cognitive approach to literature attempts to account for this and other miracles of reading.

+ - Politics and Film

Fred Smoller, Ph.D. - Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-44 (TuTh 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.)

This course promotes citizen engagement by exposing students to vital political issues and American political institutions. Students will critically analyze some old and more recent classic films that have shaped political discourse in the United States. We will also explore and critically analyze Hollywood's complex relationship with government and the political process.

+ - Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Sports

Matthew Parlow, J.D. - Professor of Law, Dean, Fowler School of Law, Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law
FFC 100-58 (Fr 1 - 3:45 p.m.)

This course explores the ways in which sports and culture shape and construct our ideas, perceptions, and assumptions about race, gender, and sexual orientation and how race, gender, and sexual orientation influence sports and culture.  This course will draw upon cases, film, and legal, historical, and sociological scholarship to consider these relationships and connections.

+ - Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: The Power of Myth

Eileen Jankowski, Ph.D. - Lecturer, Department of English, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-27 (TuTh 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

Thomas Cahill, in his book Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter, argues for the seminal role Greek ideas, literature, and art played in shaping western culture. This course will explore one of the ways the Greeks “matter”—namely, through their development of a fascinating array of myths that continue to inform Westerners’ views of themselves and others. Through a study of the representation of Greek mythic figures, events, and ideas via literature and film, students will interpret these myths’ social, historical, and psychological role in shaping cultural formations as well as individual identity. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the conscious and unconscious roots of culture, both to celebrate and to critique the transformative power of myth. In addition to our main text, course readings include The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer’s The Odyssey, Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, and selections from Joseph Campbel.

+ - Self and Society: The Social Construction of Reality

Bernard McGrane, Ph.D. - Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-20 (TuTh 4 - 5:45 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

The aim of this course will be to introduce the student to the sociological perspective regarding the social construction of reality. This perspective isn’t particularly designed to enable us to discover new unknown things but rather to discover a new way of seeing old, familiar things; it is a perspective that is both dangerous and liberating. “We see the world the way we do not because that is the way it is, but because we have these ways of seeing,” (Wittgenstein) and sociology is a way of seeing.

+ - Skepticism 101, or How to Think Like a Scientist Without Being a Geek

Michael Shermer, Ph.D. - Ph.D. – Presidential Fellows in General Education
FFC 100-46 (Th 4 - 6:50 p.m.)

The founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and the “Skeptic” monthly columnist for Scientific American will introduce you to the world of skepticism and science through some of the most controversial ideas of our time: science and pseudoscience, superstition and the paranormal, evolution and intelligent design creationism, climate denial and “political” science, anti-vaccination and alternative medicine, pseudo-history and Holocaust denial, UFOs and alien abductions, the afterlife and reincarnation, God and religion, and religious-based morality vs. science-based morality. You will learn how to think critically and skeptically without becoming a science geek, and learn to be open-minded enough to accept new ideas without being so open-minded that your brains fall out. The course includes numerous in-class demonstrations, videos, magic, illusions, and examples from pop culture along with rigorous scientific research. Be prepared to have your worldviews challenged.

+ - Stories We Live By, Language, and Ecology

Geraldine McNenny, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Projects on Writing, Attallah College of Educational Studies
FFC 100-31 (Tu 4 - 6:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-32 (Th 4 - 6:45 p.m.)

The stories we live by are often unexamined, but their impact on our planet’s future is significant. In this course we’ll examine the ways in which the stories we live by and that we absorb in our daily lives shape our relationship to the environment, from the food we eat and the news and advertising we consume, to our awareness of our agency in caring for the earth. The good news is that we can change those stories to create a more sustainable life on earth through our awareness of the language we use. This class will focus on that positive possibility.

+ - Story

Priority registration will be given to majors in Creative Producing, Film Production, and Screenwriting in the Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

David Myers - Lecturer, Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
FFC 100-50 (MoWe 10 - 11:15 a.m.)
FFC 100-51 (MoWe 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.)

Samantha Peale - Lecturer, Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
FFC 100-52 (Mo 7 - 9:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-53 (MoWe 5:30 - 6:45 p.m.)

Staff
FFC 100-54 (Mo 7 - 9:45 p.m.)

Amy Stephens - Lecturer, Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
FFC 100-55 (Mo 1 - 3:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-56 (Fr 1 - 3:45 p.m.)

Staff
FFC 100-57 (Th 4 - 6:45 p.m.)

This First-year Foundations course aims to engage students in university-level critical inquiry and reflection. The focus is on critical engagement, exploration and communication related to analyzing story in its myriad of forms. The class will give students a strong foundation in one of the key goals of entertainment, media and cinema: to communicate a story for the multi-faceted purposes of informing, persuading, entertaining and transforming individuals, society, culture, and humanity. All of the arts will be used as inspiration for understanding the contemporary tools required for creating media and movies in today’s society. The study of “form” in other arts, such as poetry and music, will be applied to movie structure; the study of classic heroes and heroines from opera and literature will be applied to character development in modern media. Additionally, innovative storytelling models, such as non-linear storytelling, will also be explored. (3 credits) 

+ - The Classical Influence on America

William Cumiford, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of History, Department of History, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-12 (MoWeFr 12 - 12:50 p.m.)

Priority registration will be given to majors in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Some seats will be available to all other majors.

This course emphasizes classical western influences; i.e., Greek and Roman, on the formative years of the United States. Early American history will be viewed through the prism of classical ideals and values, in particular in examining how the Greeks and Romans envisioned citizenship, civic participation and institutional function. Specific areas of examination include classical influences on American government, art and architecture, obligations of civic duty, republicanism vs. democracy, ideas regarding special mission and providential design (“manifest destiny”), education and literature. The course will consist of brief lectures, class discussion, student presentations, group-think activities, a field excursion, selected videos and guest lecturers.

+ - The Emerging Christian Way: Diversity, Compassion and Justice

Nancy Brink, M.Div. – Director of Church Relations, Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-45 (TuTh 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.)

This is an age of radical rethinking of institutions and this is no less true for Christianity. In the last few decades there is an emerging consensus among the progressive wing of Christianity about what it means to follow Jesus of Nazareth that:

  • Takes the Bible seriously and not literally;
  • Honors scientific understanding and insight;
  • Is less concerned about doctrine and more concerned about justice for and solidarity with the poor and marginalized in society, including LGBTQIA persons;
  • Is less concerned about afterlife and more concerned about living with integrity and intentionality in the here and now;
  • Finds more grace in the questions than in dogmatic assurance;
  • Is open to the insights and integrity of other religious expressions.

There are many theologians, artists, clergy and spiritual teachers who are part of this emerging Christian movement. It cuts across denomination lines to include people and congregations from mainstream Protestant, Roman Catholic and Evangelical branches of Christianity.

In this course we will use critical thinking skills to:

  • Get a broad overview of Christianity and how every 500 years there are great upheavals in society, including religion—and we are in one of these periods;
  • Understand the emerging concepts and affirmations of progressive Christianity;
  • Explore how progressive Christians use and interpret scripture;
  • Contrast this emerging understanding with traditional conceptions of Christianity;
  • Explore social justice issues of concern to progressive Christians.

Students will be expected to be able to articulate the concepts and themes of progressive Christianity by the end of the semester. This course is not intended to change a student’s core belief structure and if a student is concerned that this might happen, another FFC should be chosen. A very basic working knowledge of Christianity is helpful, but not necessary.

+ - The Tragedy in Morality: Greek Drama and the Birth of Law and Ethics

John Thrasher IV, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Brennan McDavid, Ph.D. - Visiting Faculty - Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-37 (MoWe 4 - 5:15 p.m.)

The Greek tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, as well as the comedies of Aristophanes explore the moral complexity of human life. The Orestes series of plays by Aeschylus (the Oresteia) shows how the search for justice, without the structure of law leads to violence and disorder. Oedipus Rex is the exemplar of how bad luck can make a moral mess—Oedipus (spoiler alert) unluckily and unwittingly ends up married to his own mother. Iphigenia at Aulis considers the conflicts that arise under the threat of war when moral emotions, superstitions, and old promises all clash in a perfect storm. And Antigone—perhaps the most famous of these plays in our contemporary times—examines the destruction that can result from a clash between human law and natural morality. In this class, we will explore several of the themes that the Greek tragedians wanted us to consider, and we will do so through engagement with the dramas themselves together with complementary philosophical writing on these same topics. The aim is to understand how the Greeks thought about complex moral issues and to reflect on what lessons we can take from their presentation of those problems in the tragedies.

+ - The Writer's Life: The Craft and Practical Procedures of Celebrated Authors

Douglas Cooney - Lecturer, Department of English, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-28 (TuTh 10 - 11:15 a.m.)

How do writers do it? How did Toni Morrison or Ernest Hemingway find the words and deliver on deadline? Students will read a sampling of great authors and examine how these authors acquired their craft, what artistic principles drove their work, and what daily disciplines guided their progress. We will consider the wellspring of creativity in these writers' lives and investigate the practical procedures that shaped their imagination into published work. Students will analyze texts and engage individually and collectively in journals and writing assignments, modeled after exercises recommended by the same authors we study.

+ - Tryanny and Resistance from the Ancients to 1989

Katharine Gillespie Moses, Ph.D. - Lecturer, The George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics
FFC 100-15 (TuTh 1 - 2:15 p.m.)
FFC 100-16 (TuTh 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.)

What is power; how is it gained; how is it exercised over others; how is it lost? Is it something that rulers possess and their subjects lack? Or is it something that is created and recreated within an “economy of power relations” comprised of both acts of dominance and strategic acts of opposition? Do we need structures of power to live peacefully? If so, when might those structures become problematically violent in and of themselves and hence subject to questioning? What comprises a legitimate versus an illegitimate form of resistance? While exploring these and other questions through a broad survey of works spanning from ancient Greece to the pivotal year of 1989, this course combines a social, cultural, economic, and political inquiry into tyranny and resistance with a consideration of how various “economies of power” give rise to various forms of both dominance and opposition.

+ - Winston Churchill, George Orwell and Modern Political Argument: People Who Changed the World and the Words They Used to Do It

Kevin O'Leary, Ph.D. - Lecturer, University Honors Program and Department of Political Science, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
FFC 100-60 (We 7 - 9 p.m.)

This course gives students an introduction to the fundamentals of modern political argument via a study of history, politics and rhetoric. We will focus on the speeches and writing of Winston Churchill and George Orwell and the critical role they played in defending freedom and democracy against the challenge posed by fascism and Soviet totalitarianism. As a FFC course, we focus more on critical engagement, exploration and communication related to complex issues than on mastering a body of material.

+ - Women Playwrights and Representation in the Professional Theatre

Nina LeNoir, Ph.D. - Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and Professor of Theatre, College of Performing Arts
FFC 100-43 (TuTh 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.)

Women playwrights have been notoriously underrepresented on the stages of American theatres throughout the history of the American theatre. We will examine this situation historically to the present day, when more plays by and about women were written and produced than in the past. What have been the apparent and real barriers to theatre production of plays by women? What are the real numbers, and how have they changed over time? And, most importantly, why is it important that the work of women playwrights be seen on our stages today? By examining specific plays by playwrights such as Lillian Hellman, Marsha Norman, Wendy Wasserstein, and Lynn Nottage, we can examine women’s stories and how they were received when they were first produced. By reading critical commentary on the plays and productions and on feminist theatre theory and practice, we will explore issues of gender, identity and the power of representation in the theatre. And finally, we will explore how these issues transfer to other forms of cultural construction in fields such as television, film, music, dance, art and beyond. As part of the class, we will also attend a theater production at a professional theatre.