• Dr. Anna Leahy-English Class
Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences FFC

» Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Majors - Engaging the World: Local and Global Challenges

Engaging the World: Local and Global Challenges is an opportunity for first-year students in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to develop relevant, informed, and culturally nuanced responses to the challenges we face in the 21st century. Wilkinson College examines the complex relationships we have to one another and to the world around us, asking the essential questions, “Who are we?” and “How can we best live together?”

Critical inquiry is at the core of the Engaging the World first-year foundation courses. Addressing themes, such as global intersections, justice and equality, and representation and interpretation, students will learn to critically analyze and communicate complex issues and ideas.

Wilkinson College majors select their FFC course from the selection listed below:

Fall 2019 FFC selections

+ - Close Reading

Kent Lehnhof, Ph.D. - Professor of English, Department of English, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

FFC 100-35 (TuTh, 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.)

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.

+ - Feminism at the Movies

Clara Magliola, M.A. - Instructor, Department of Sociology, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

FFC 100-15 (Fr, 1 - 3:50 p.m.)

In this course, students will be introduced to intersectional 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.

+ - 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 100-26 (MoWe, 1 - 2:15 p.m.)

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 genealogy, or conceptual map, that traces the influence of key modernist works on the art of the past 150 years.

+ - Humanomics: Health, Wealth, and Inequality

Keith Hankins, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Philosophy and R.C. Hoiles Endowed Scholar in Business Ethics and Free Enterprise, Department of Philosophy, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Andrea Matranga, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Economics, Argyros School of Business and Economics

FFC 100-31 (MoWe, 1-2:15 p.m.)

Why are some countries rich and others poor? Does being wealthier make us happier? How would we know? Should we care that some people are healthier and wealthier? If so, is there anything we can do to improve the lives of the poor and sick? And what can literature teach us about the answers to these questions? Taught by a philosopher and an economist this course explores these and other questions using the tools of the humanities and social science.

+ - Humanomics: Intersections of Human Identity

Jan Osborn, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of English, Department of English, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

David Rojo Arjona, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Economics, Argyros School of Business and Economics

FFC 100-39 (MoWe, 1-2:15 p.m.)

Co-taught by professors from Economics and English, this course combines philosophical, literary, and economic texts and tools to explore phenomena at the heart of today’s world, including immigration, segregation, identity politics, and violence. Students in this course will question how identities and a mass culture intersect in the 21st century, will ask if liberal democracies and exchange economies can help humans achieve just, noble lives.


+ - Memories of WW II 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 100-27 (Mo, 7 - 9:50 p.m.)

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.

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

Richard Ruppel, Ph.D. - Professor of English, Department of English, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

FFC 100-36 (TuTh, 1 - 2:15 p.m.)

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.

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

Eileen Jankowski, Ph.D. - Lecturer, Department of English, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

FFC 100-37 (TuTh, 10 - 11:15 a.m.)

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' view 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 Campbell.

+ - 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 100-16 (TuTh, 10 - 11:15 a.m.)

The aim of this course will be to introduce the student to the sociological perspective regarding reality, i.e., 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. Our course koan/mantra will be, “Where does society end and my self begin?”

+ - The Border: Myth, Realities and Complexities

Lisa Leitz, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Delp-Wilkinson Endowed Chair in Peace Studies, Department of Sociology, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

FFC 100-63 (TuTh, 4 - 5:15 p.m.)
FFC 100-68 (MoWe, 5:30 - 6:45 p.m.)

Borders divide people, laws, and environments. Across them flow people, legal and illegal goods, money, and more. They are situated at the intersection of division and connection—between peoples and nations. Thus, they are often sites of intense cultural conflict, which has been the case for the U.S Mexico border since the mid-19th century. Navigating these spaces mean that citizens must decide whether to build bridges or walls. By examining various academic work and popular representations of the border, students are encouraged to gain critical thinking skills and understand the social construction of nationality, race, and various forms of power. Examining memoirs and media, listening to speakers, and visiting art exhibits and a performance, students will examine the myth-making and emotional anxieties about ethnicity/race, nationality, crime, and gender situated at the border. Students will become familiar with the history of the US-Mexico border, beginning with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, through NAFTA, and into political discourse over “the wall.” Drawing from anthropology, sociology, political science, and peace studies, students will be introduced to data about historical and contemporary patterns of migration, and are encouraged to examine how these compare with political and media representations. Together we will consider how the border has become such a potent site for contemporary mythmaking, a flashpoint for anxieties about race, labor, gender, and sexuality. By engaging students in multi-disciplinary examination of this topic, the hope is that students will come away better informed and prepared to be engaged global citizens.


+ - 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 100-14 (MoWeFr, 12-12:50 p.m.)

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, arts 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 lectures.

+ - Utopia and Dystopia in Film and Fiction

John Thrasher IV, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Michael Valdez Moses, Ph.D. - Visiting Professor of Literature and Humanities, Argyros School of Business and Economics

FFC 100-59 (MoWe, 2:30-3:45 p.m.)
FFC 100-60 (MoWe, 4-5:15 p.m.)

The 20th century was an era of bold utopian experimentation. Numerous extraordinary attempts were made to realize in practice radical and competing conceptions of freedom and equality, progress and order, personal happiness and social harmony. Even as many of these utopias became nightmares for those who lived under them, thinkers and artists remained fascinated with the role that technology could play in making possible different ways of living and forms of social control that went beyond what was deemed possible at the time. Focusing on major works of literature, film, and philosophic prose, we will look at some of the most prominent and thought-provoking visions of utopia/dystopia in the 20th and 21st centuries and reflect on what these (mostly) fictional portrayals of society can teach us about the limits (if any) of political thinking in reshaping our conceptions of morality, human nature, and social life. In this course, we will explore the tensions between individual freedom and communal solidarity, between economic prosperity and social equality, between natural limits and human aspirations for an ideal social order, between technological progress and human flourishing.