The First-Year Course

A seminar for first-year students

In your first semester, you must take a First-Year Course. There are many options for you to choose from, on a wide-variety of topics, representing diverse disciplinary perspectives. Some students choose this course based on the topic; others because they want to explore a department in which they might major or minor. Either approach is fine. Because this is only one course out of four, and it only lasts one semester, there are plenty of opportunities throughout the first year to explore majors or interest areas beyond the First-Year Course.

Some First-Year Courses are designated as residential courses. Students who enroll in one of these courses live near one another in the same residence hall, usually on the same floor. This facilitates discussion and group work outside of the classroom. Many courses also utilize student writing preceptors to provide additional writing support and peer mentoring.

Abbreviations Key

  • R = students in the class will live near each other and, in most cases, will have a roommate who is also in this class
  • TR = Tuesday, Thursday; MWF = Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • WA = Argumentative Writing, WC = Writing as Craft, WP = Writing as Practice

First-Year Course Offerings for Fall 2016

DepartmentInstructorCourse NameResidential
American Studies Karin Aguilar-San Juan AMST 103-01:  The Problem of Race in U.S. Social Thought and Policy R
Anthropology Olga Gonzalez ANTH 194-02/LATI 194-02:  Politics of Truth and Memory in Latin America R
Art & Art History Kari Shepherdson-Scott ART 149-01:  Introduction to Visual Culture R
Asian Languages and Cultures Xin Yang ASIA 194-01/CHIN 194-01:  Revolution and Romance in Chinese Fiction and Film
Biology Kristi Curry Rogers BIOL 194-01:  Human Functional Anatomy R
Chemistry Susan Green CHEM 111-03 and CHEM 111-L1:  General Chemistry I – Structure and Equilibrium R
Computer Science Libby Shoop COMP 194-01:  Discovering Computer Science by Tasting Raspberry Pi R
Economics Mario Solis-Garcia ECON 119-02:  Principles of Economics R
Economics Liang Ding ECON 119-01:  Principles of Economics
English Andrea Kaston Tange ENGL 125-01:  Studies in Literature:  Ghost of the Victorians
English Marlon James ENGL 150-04:  Introduction to Creative Writing
Environmental Studies Roopali Phadke ENVI 194-01:  Welcome to the Anthropocene:  The Politics of Nature in the Age of Humans R
French and Francophone Studies Joëlle Vitiello FREN 194-01:  Food in French and Francophone Cultures:  the Local and the Global
Geography Dan Trudeau GEOG 241-02:  Urban Geography R
Geography William Moseley GEOG 243-01:  Geography of Africa:  Local Resources and Livelihoods in a Global Context R
Geology Alan Chapman GEOL 160-02 and GEOL 160-L3/ENVI 160-02 and ENVI 160-L3:  Dynamic Earth and Global Change R
German and Russian Studies Linda Schulte-Sasse GERM 255-01:  German Cinema Studies:  The Nazi in Cinema R
Hispanic Studies J. Ernesto Ortiz-Diaz HISP 305-05:  Brothers From Another Mother:  Exploring Latin America’s Giants, Brazil & Mexico R
History Linda Sturtz HIST  256-01:  The Transatlantic Slave Trade in Historical Context
International Studies Ahmed Samatar INTL 110-01:  Introduction to International Studies:  Globalization-Homogeneity and Heterogenity
Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Dan Flath/Diane Michelfelder MATH 194-01/PHIL 194-01:  Thinking Like an Engineer R
Media and Cultural Studies John Kim MCST 194-02:  Screens R
Music Michael McGaghie MUSI 194-01:  Sounds of Suffering:  Passion-Music from Plainchant and Bach to Kristallnacht and Matthew Shepard
Philosophy Joy Laine PHIL 100-01:  Introduction to Philosophy:  Bodies, Minds and Selves
Philosophy Samuel Asarnow PHIL 121-01:  Introduction to Ethics
Physics James Doyle PHYS 194-01 and PHYS 194-L1:  Biomechanics and Lab R
Physics John Cannon PHYS 194-02:  Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology R
Political Science Lesley Lavery POLI 205-01:  U.S. Politics and Policymaking
Political Science Adrienne Christiansen POLI 270-01:  Rhetoric of Campaigns and Elections R
Psychology Darcy Burgund PSYC 194-01:  The Origin of Consciousness
Religious Studies Erik Davis RELI 111-01:  Introduction to Buddhism
Sociology Khaldoun Samman SOCI 110-01:  Introduction to Sociology R
Theatre and Dance Beth Cleary THDA 105-01:  Theatre Performance in the Twin Cities R

Course Descriptions

AMST 103-01:  The Problem of Race in US Social Thought and Policy   (R)
Karin Aguilar-San Juan, American Studies Department

In this discussion-based and residential course, we will explore the paradox of a society in which people are increasingly aware of patterns of racism and yet still unable to see or explain how those systems and patterns are connected to everyday life. As awareness increases, why are we not able to develop effective or meaningful responses?

Our interdisciplinary and integrative approach will employ multiple methods of inquiry and expression, including: self-reflective essays and maps; a scavenger hunt along University Avenue; library research; and deep, critical analysis of arguments about race/ethnicity/assimilation/multiculturalism.

We will practice engaging in open-ended conversations so that we might discover the questions that truly matter to each of us. To fulfill the WA general education writing requirement, this course will invite you to produce at least 20 pages of college-level writing through various assignments. Each writing assignment will strengthen your use of evidence and argumentation, and will involve drafts, feedback, in person conference, and revision.

  Class meets MWF, 9:40 am - 10:40 am in Neill Hall 409

  Writing designation:  WA

  Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ANTH 194-02/LATI 194-02:  The Politics of Truth and Memory in Latin America   (R)
Olga Gonzalez, Anthropology Department

This course examines and critically analyzes various approaches to the study of how different individuals and communities in particular historical and cultural scenarios in contemporary Latin America create meanings about their past experience with political violence. The course addresses questions related to the tension between remembering and forgetting, the presence of conflicting memories and truths and how these are negotiated or not through distinct forms of representation. The cultural analysis of different means of representation: human rights and truth commissions’ reports, testimonials, film, art and memorials will be the basis for class discussions on different notions of truth and different forms of truth-telling. A close examination of these forms of representation will reveal the extent to which they can conflict with each other while at the same time feed on each other, creating “effects of truth” and leaving room for secrecy as a mode of truth-telling. Finally, the course will also compel students to think about what consequences the politics of memory have for the future.

This course will combine lectures and class discussions. It will have a strong writing component with a series of short papers and one longer final research paper. There will be one final exam. Grades will be based on written assignments in addition to oral presentations and participation in class discussions.

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Carnegie 05

Writing designation:     

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ART 149-01:  Introduction to Visual Culture   (R)
Kari Shepherdson-Scott, Art and Art History Department

This course considers the production and reception of multiple visual culture forms, from standards of fine art practice such as painting and sculpture to mass media including TV, film, advertising, and the Internet. Students will learn different theoretical paradigms and techniques for visual analysis in order to understand how visual media inscribes power, difference, and desire as it mediates numerous social, economic, cultural and political relationships. We will investigate diverse types of visual culture through lectures, exhibitions, guest speakers, film, historical art and media and, of course, those proliferating images that define our daily experiences.  Course meets the Fine Arts general distribution requirement.

Class meets MWF, 9:40 am - 10:40 am in Art Commons 102

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, single gender floor.

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ASIA 194-01/CHIN 194-01:  Revolution and Romance in Chinese Fiction and Film
Xin Yan, Asian Languages and Cultures Department

From a “sick man of Asia” to a “peaceful rising” nation, from red guards to the online hackers, modern and contemporary China sees tremendous social change and cultural creativity. Revolution and romance are two recurring themes people often visit and revisit, reflecting an intense contemplation on the self and the public, the individual and the collective, the personal and the political. This course seeks to critically understand China by reading modern and contemporary Chinese fiction and film, which not only tell us about China, but also universal human experiences across geographical or cultural boundaries. No prior knowledge of China or Chinese is required. The course fulfills General Education Requirement of Internationalism and Argumentative Writing (WA).

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Neill Hall 110

Writing designation:  WA

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BIOL 194-01:  Human Functional Anatomy   (R)
Kristi Curry Rogers, Biology Department  

In this residential first year course students will explore the anatomical structures and functions of the human body.  We'll cover the essentials of human anatomy in evolutionary, functional, and clinical context through lectures, an integrated yoga practice that will give us some 'hands-on' tools for studying anatomy in our own bodies, and periodic visits to local gross anatomy laboratories. This class is open to all students with a curiosity about the workings of our human bodies.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Olin Rice 270

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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CHEM 111-03 and CHEM 111-L1:  General Chemistry I - Structure and Equilibrium   (R)
Susan Green, Chemistry Department

Chemistry 111 offers a rigorous, foundational treatment of atoms and molecules.  We study the nature of chemical bonding and how bonding gives rise to the three-dimensional structure of matter.  We explore how the macroscopic properties of substances can be interpreted in terms of atomic and molecular structure.  We also learn mathematical and conceptual tools for quantifying chemical equilibrium, with an emphasis on acids and bases.  Laboratory work reinforces concepts in lecture, and also provides a review of fundamental topics, such as stoichiometry, gas laws, and solution-phase reactions, that are essential for future coursework in chemistry.  This FYC version of Chemistry 111 will attend to writing issues as well and carries the WA writing designation.   Laboratory work also allows students to learn the writing of reports and keeping of a lab notebook.

This course is especially appropriate for students interested in majoring in chemistry, biology or neuroscience or interested in fulfilling pre-medical requirements.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Olin Rice 205

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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COMP 194-01:  Discovering Computer Science by Tasting Raspberry Pi   (R)
Libby Shoop, Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Department

Computing devices are ubiquitous today: small computers run most functions of modern cars, are built into garage door openers so that we can remotely open and close them, read our ID cards and allow us to access rooms or to pay for meals, control robots on factory floors -- the examples go on and on. This ubiquity of computing devices, many of which are embedded inside common appliances, has given rise to the phrase the “Internet of Things”, or IoT. This computer science course, which will count for the major and take the place of COMP 123, will emphasize exploration and discovery of the breadth of computer science through the use of a microcomputer called the Raspberry Pi (RPi for short). The processor in a Raspberry Pi is found in many types of devices, such that learning how to program using it will give students an appreciation for how to design applications for devices on embedded computers. At the same time, the RPi is a fully functioning computer, and programming with it is the same as programming for any laptop. Students will have full-time, 24/7 use of the computer and its peripherals, which can be stowed in a small toolbox, for the entire semester. We will begin by learning to use the linux operating system, continue with basic introductory programming, gradually learn to operate external devices such as LED lights and sensors, and culminate with a project that uses the RPi to control your choice of several external devices.

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Olin Rice 245

Writing designation:  None

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ECON 119-01:  Principles of Economics
Liang Ding, Economics Department

This class provides a foundation in economic theory and addresses many major topics in economics. We will discuss and apply economic theory to behavioral and policy questions and develop tools needed to critically evaluate international events and policies.

The first part of the course covers microeconomics. Here we focus on the economic decisions of individual households, workers and firms and how these decisions interact in markets. The second part of the course covers macroeconomics. Here, we focus on the study of economic aggregates (e.g., GDP, inflation, and unemployment) and the forces that cause them to change over time.

The first objective of this class is to introduce students to a wide range of economic theory and to help students understand how markets work to allocate goods, resources and income in society. The second objective is to provide students proper scientific methods and tools to discuss economic issues, solve economic problems and make good policy decisions. This course also aims to provide economic majors the appropriate background and foundation for future coursework in the economics major.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Carnegie 208

Writing designation:  WA

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ECON 119-02:  Principles of Economics   (R)
Mario Solis-Garcia, Economics Department

Principles of Economics is an introduction to the concepts, tools, and ideas that shape modern economic theory. We'll divide the course into two broad sections, each focusing on a main area of economics: micro and macroeconomics.

In microeconomics, we'll get to understand the process that helps individual consumers and firms make their (economic) decisions and define some notions of efficiency. Some relevant questions that can be answered here are the following: how do consumers choose to allocate their resources between two different goods? What role do prices and income play in these decisions? How do firms choose their production scale and their inputs to production? Why should we worry about monopolies? Are their choices "efficient"? If they are not, can the government do something?

In macroeconomics, the focus shifts towards the behavior of consumers and firms as an aggregate. Some relevant questions that can be answered here are the following: what causes unemployment? Why are standards of living a lot better today than 50 years ago? (Or, for that matter, 200 years ago?) Why do some countries grow over time, but others don't? Why are there (economic) recessions and booms? What role does money play into this? What can the government do to "improve" the economy?

Class meets MWF, 1:10 pm - 2:10 pm in Carnegie 305

Writing designation:  WP

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ENGL 125-01:  Studies in Literature:  Ghost of the Victorians
Andrea Kaston Tange, English Department

This first-year course opens with ghost stories from the heyday of the genre: specters and haunts from the pens of nineteenth-century masters, including the likes of Amy Levy, Charles Dickens, Grant Allen, Oscar Wilde, and Emily Bronte. Examining short stories and one novel, we will consider both what terrifies and how. What are the formal qualities of a good ghost story? What are the requirements it places on readers? To what degree are ghosts historically or culturally specific? With these readings for a strong base, the second half of the course considers the legacies of these Victorians. How do the shadows of the past haunt the present, in terms of unhealthy fascinations, or whispers of doubt, or standards of greatness to which a writer must rise? Are modern ghost stories forever in the debt of long-dead writers? How do the Victorians themselves haunt our present moment? Is steampunk or Victorian nostalgia a ghostly presence of the nineteenth century in the twenty-first? This course will ultimately consider both old and new ghost stories, stories that are tied to the nineteenth-century and those that attempt to break free of it, to investigate what it is that narratives of the things that haunt us can reveal about ourselves or our cultural moments.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Old Main 002

Writing designation:  WA

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ENGL 150-04:  Introduction to Creative Writing
Marlon James, English Department

Prose. Poetry. Fiction. Nonfiction. Narrative. Linear. Categories. Boundaries. Limitations. What if you want to write a prose poem? A short story that rhymes? A memoir with footnotes? An event in reverse? A thought that stretches time, or a point of view that switches bodies in the same story? Paragraph? Line? Maybe you wish to write something that you have never seen before and are not sure exists? Maybe you want to confront a memory from childhood in the voice of YA, or maybe your fan fiction suddenly came to life. What does it mean to write without boundaries?

At the end of this course you will know what it means to write like a storyteller and read like a writer. As such, Intro to Creative Writing will be as much about active reading as it will be about actual writing. To become a better rule breaker first you have to know the rules. You must learn how to objectively analyze and critique a wide range of texts in your genre. How did the author make that text work?

Intro to Creative Writing will be for many an introduction to the writer inside you, a person that you might be meeting for the first time. It’s about the joys and challenges of expression and learning about your abilities and yourself. It’s an introduction to the art of writing in all shapes and forms, and the craft of critiquing your work and the work of your peers. Inside out, upside down, at the end of this course you will write like you were meant to.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Theatre 204

Writing designation:  WC anticipated

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ENVI 194-01:  Welcome to the Anthropocene:  The Politics of Nature in the Age of Humans  (R)
Roopali Phadke, Environmental Studies Department

Geologists are telling us that we are have entered a new epoch called the Anthropocene, when humans have fundamentally reshaped the planet in ways that put the future of life at risk. Theorizing the Anthropocene has catalyzed major shifts in a variety of disciplines—including history, political science, engineering, biology, and the arts. In this discussion-based class, we will use an interdisciplinary framework to consider what this new epoch means to our political economy and society. A timely look at the concept of “The Anthropocene” provides us with special challenges and opportunities for self-reflection, debate and expression. Our fiction and non-fiction readings will help us answer if there could be such a thing as a “good” Anthropocene rather than simply an apocalyptic one. We will develop our writing and research skills working on collaborative projects with the Twin Cities as our backdrop. As a culminating assignment, we will stage our own climate museum with students contributing artifacts that signify our entry into the Anthropocene.

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Olin Rice 301

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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FREN 194-01:  Food in French and Francophone Cultures:  The Local and the Global
Joëlle Vitiello, French and Francophone Studies Department

France is famous for its food and cuisine. What makes it unique? How does French food translate French culture? What changes occurred throughout history? What was the impact of travel and colonial development on French food and on food in French colonies? And how do France and Francophone cultures engage with contemporary issues of sustainability? Those are some of the questions the course will explore through a variety of fiction and non fiction films, media and texts. The course will explore different cultural aspects of food, from rituals and traditions to specific foods that changed France and the Francophone world. Linking Western and non Western cultures and looking at how different communities engage with the representation, production, circulation and consumption of food will provide a frame to explore creative ways to think about sustainability. From cheese stories to existentialist cafés in Paris, from Haitian sugar to North African couscous, the course will explore our connection to food, locally and globally. The course has a double objective: to familiarize students with French and Francophone cultures and to introduce students to different and innovative ways of considering sustainability issues from different cultural perspectives. The format of the course is a seminar, based in student discussions, research, and presentations. It satisfies the WA (Writing Argumentative) requirement. It counts toward the African Studies Concentration.

The course is taught in English by Professor Vitiello, French and Francophone Studies.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Neill Hall 402

Writing designation:  WA

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GEOG 241-02:  Urban Geography   (R)
Dan Trudeau, Geography Department

This course introduces you to urban geography, a discipline focused on understanding urbanization and its influence on society. We will also draw on perspectives from history, political science, and sociology to examine how the built environment of cities are shaped by human activity and how, in turn, urban life is shaped by the built environment. This course will have a special emphasis on exploring the history, geography, economics and politics of St. Paul & Minneapolis. We will take advantage of our urban location by engaging the urban environment of the Twin Cities through local case studies, field study exercises, and visits to cultural institutions in the community. We will draw on our engagement with the local urban environment to demonstrate broad themes in the academic study of urban geography (e.g., the effect of transportation systems on urban development; city government, metropolitan fragmentation and regionalism; the search for community in urban settings; urban growth and neighborhood change; and, the effect of the global market economy on individual cities) at a more personal level. Directed field study exercises will help you learn analytical skills. Writing assignments will help you synthesize knowledge from exercises, lectures, and assigned readings. An independent project will help you hone your argumentative writing and ability to conduct college-level research. This course satisfies the college’s W(A) – writing as argument – general education requirement.

Other details: This course provides you with a great opportunity to leave campus and engage people and places in Minneapolis-St. Paul. This will require from you a willingness to explore the city by bus, bike, foot, and train. It will also require a solid work ethic to complete the field study exercises in a timely fashion. You will be rewarded with foundational knowledge of St. Paul and the greater Twin Cities region that you will draw upon throughout your career at Macalester. I am excited to have a residential first year course, and I look forward to working with a curious and dynamic group this fall.

Class meets TR, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm in Carnegie 105

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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GEOG 243-01:  Geography of Africa:  Local Resources and Livelihoods in a Global Context  (R)
William Moseley, Geography Department

This class goes beyond the superficial media interpretations of the vast African continent to complicate our understanding of this fascinating region.  As geographers, we will place contemporary African developments in their historical and global context. The course provides a basic background in African history and physical geography, leading to discussion of advanced topics in contemporary African studies.  The course covers a broad range contemporary topics, including: human-environment interactions (forest and drylands management); population dynamics (population growth, distribution and mobility); medical geography (disease, health care and policy); agricultural development (traditional farming systems, cash crops, policy); urban economies (evolution of the urban structure, industry, housing); political geography (democratization, conflict); culture and change; development; and social geography. This course fulfills the argumentive writing (WA) requirement.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Carnegie 105

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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GEOL 160-02 and GEOL 160-L3/ENVI 160-02 and ENVI 160-L3:  Dynamic Earth and Global Change   (R)
Alan Chapman, Geology Department

Students are introduced to Earth materials, the processes that have shaped the Earth through geologic time, geological hazards that affect our lives, and our impact on the environment. Surficial geological processes that alter rocks and transform the Earth landscape including weathering and mass wasting, and transformation agents such as water and wind action, and groundwater circulation are discussed. The structure of the earth's interior and internal geologic processes such as volcanism, earthquakes, crustal deformation, and plate tectonics are examined. Required for geology majors. Local field trips. Three hours lecture and two hours lab per week.

Class meets MWF, 9:40 am - 10:40 am in Olin Rice 187.  Lab meets R, 9:00 am - 11:00 am in Olin Rice 187

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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GERM 255-01:  German Cinema Studies:  The Nazi in Cinema   (R)
Linda Schulte-Sasse, German and Russian Studies Department

The movies love to hate the Nazi, but what exactly is a “Nazi”?  Whether glamorized by Third Reich propaganda, vilified by allied propaganda, dramatized by historical thrillers, or caricatured by Hollywood fantasies, the cinematic Nazi is always a construct.  This is not to say there may not be some historical, psychological, or sociological truth in the depiction of Nazis, but their filmic portrayal, like that of any historical group, necessarily involves construction or representation.  And representations tend to tell us more about the era in which they were concocted than about the “real” thing.  Consciously or unconsciously, they serve a purpose: to educate, to entertain, to complicate or (over)simplify our understanding of history, to thrill, disturb, or affirm us as viewers.   The course will examine the questions of representation using the example of the cinematic Nazi—one case among hundreds, but an important one, as the Nazi has become the symbol of evil over the past half-century.

The first part of the course will focus on films from the historical period of the Third Reich.  We will examine how the Nazis represent themselves in documentaries like Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will or Fritz Hippler’s The Eternal Jew, as well as feature films like Hitler Youth Quex.  We will then turn to U.S. counter-propaganda in dramas like Tomorrow the World, in comedies like Chaplin’s Great Dictator or Lubitsch’s To Be Or Not To Be and in Disney cartoons.  Later we will explore postwar representations; likely examples will include Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair, Mel Brooks’s The Producers, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

Student obligations: a series of short papers and one longer research paper; at least one oral presentation. Two exams and in-class free-writing.   Hopefully the Twin Cities will offer some cultural events relevant to our theme that we can visit as a class.

N.B.: The course is taught in English and films are subtitled; no German language skills required. However, the course has much to offer students with an interest and background in German.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 - 11:50 am, in Neill Hall 401 (plus film screenings, usually Tuesday evenings)

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

HISP 305-05:  Oral and Written Expression:  Brothers From Another Mother - Exploring Latin America’s Giants, Mexico and Brazil   (R)
J. Ernesto Ortiz-Diaz, Hispanic and Latin American Studies  Department

Brazil and Mexico are Latin American giants rivaling each other for regional hegemony, but they are also more similar than most people think. Located on opposite geographical, cultural, and linguistic sides of the Americas, Brazil and Mexico share common history, politics, and economy, which has traditionally been overlooked or ignored. Both countries have surpassed their former colonizers –Portugal and Spain– economically and demographically, and they have cemented vibrant individual cultural identities that are recognized across the world.

This class will introduce students to the rich cultural universes of Brazil and Mexico from the 1500s to the present. In and outside the classroom, students will follow the historical paths of both countries through the lenses of their geography, literature, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, dance, and cinema. While we explore these artistic and cultural manifestations, we will reflect on how concepts like nation, identity, race, ethnicity, and class have transformed the face of these countries—and the fate of Latin America.

This will be a residential First Year Course.
This course is designated as a WA writing requirement.
This course is designated to satisfy the Internationalism GER.

This course is taught in Spanish and requires that students have attained proficiency at the Spanish 305 or fifth semester level through high school coursework, or that the student has tested into that level via the WebCape placement test that Macalester administers.

Class meets MWF, 1:10 pm - 2:10 pm in Theatre 204

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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HIST 256-01:  The Transatlantic Slave Trade in Historical Context
Linda Sturtz, History Department

In order to convey the history of the transatlantic slave trade, Bob Marley sang about the process of enslavement:  “Old pirates, yes, they rob I; Sold I to the merchant ships.”  By 1820, almost 80% of the people who had crossed the Atlantic were Africans, far outnumbering the number of Europeans who migrated to the Americas during this period.  This forced migration shaped the cultures that emerged in North and South America and have an ongoing impact on modern political, social, and economic life.

In this class we will analyze the trans-Atlantic slave trade in historical context.  What were the conditions in the Atlantic world that led to the rise of this long-distance trade in humans?  How does the transatlantic slave trade compare to other forms of enslavement in history and the present?  How did children experience enslavement?  What role did gender play in the lives of enslaved people? What agency did the enslaved seize and how did people create community in the midst of oppression? Why and how did the transatlantic trade in slaves end?

We will consider the problems of locating and analyzing relevant primary sources as well as interrogating various methods and theories scholars have employed in seeking to understand the trade and its effects.   Students will learn how to use digital mapping tools to assist them in their analyses. We will conclude by investigating the ways that enslavement is remembered in modern historical memory and by examining ongoing debates over Reparations.   Meets the global and/or comparative history requirement.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Old Main 011

Writing designation:  WA

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INTL 110-01:  Introduction to International Studies:  Globalization-Homogeneity and Heterogeneity
Ahmed Samatar, International Studies Department

Globalization is upon us, resulting in unprecedented cultural interpenetrations and civilizational encounters.  Most of what animates this condition is old.  However, the conemporary velocity, reach, and mutations of these forces suggest a new “world time,” full of contradictions, perils, and promises.  This course introduces students to globalization by posing the following questions:  What is globalization, and how does one study it?  What are the paramount ecological, cultural, economic, and political factors that shaped and propel it?  What are the consequences, and how do we respond?

Class meets TR, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm in Carnegie 404

Writing designation:  WA

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MATH 194-01/PHIL 194-01:  Thinking Like an Engineer   (R)
Dan Flath, Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Department
Diane Michelfelder, Philosophy Department

From driverless cars to wearable computers, from microwave ovens to mobile phones and tabletop robots, we all live and think in an environment saturated by the products of engineering thinking. But, what does it mean to think?  And what does it mean to think like an engineer?  In this course, team-taught between a mathematician with a background in engineering and a philosopher of technology, you will have an opportunity to explore questions such as these. The course will be grounded in an emerging understanding of engineering as an interdisciplinary field, where design problems are not solely technical, but are inseparable from ethical, social, political, economic, and historical dimensions.

We will begin the course with a reading about engineering by the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset, and end by looking at debates over engineering for human enhancement. In between, you’ll have the opportunity to read and discuss works by both philosophers and engineers. You’ll learn how values can be unintentionally embedded into engineered objects that reinforce gender and other stereotypes, but can also be consciously embedded for the aims of social justice and sustainability. You will be making arguments and also be making things, including a team-developed engineering project. Your path in this course will be illuminated by discussions about electrical power, solar energy, and lightbulb design. All students are welcome, both those who are interested in pursuing their academic interests in design, engineering, ethics, and/or philosophy,  or those who want to better understand the engineered world as a consumer, citizen, or simply as a reflective human being.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Olin RIce 205

Writing designation:  WA anticipated

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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MCST 194-01:  Screens   (R)
John Kim, Media and Cultural Studies Department

We spend our lives staring at the screens of computers, phones, movies and televisions.  And the amount of time we spend before them is anything but insignificant.  According to the most recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week)!  Because they spend so much of that time "media multitasking" (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7½ hours per day.

The screen is one of the most important technological innovations of recent memory, for it has such a wide range of influences on our experience of the everyday. From social media and networking, online video to Hollywood movies, from email to texting, our knowledge of the world is largely mediated by screens. Screens substitute real world experience for a world created in a display of colored lights and accompanying sounds. Given this dependence, what influence do they have on our perception of the world, of others, of ourselves, of news, of reality? Do screens, in fact, contribute to what Anne Friedberg has called a "dematerializing of reality"? Should we be worried about their pervasiveness?

In this First Year Course, we will ask these and related questions. We will begin to develop our own answers to them by reading and writing about, analyzing and critiquing various aspects of the media. This course is designed for students who have a strong interest in critical and philosophical type analysis of society and will introduce you to the field of Media Studies in order to help you come to an understanding of the importance of screens in mediating our experience of and interactions with the world.

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Olin Rice 250

Writing designation:  WA anticipated

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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MUSI 194-01:  Sounds of Suffering:  Passion Music from Plainchant and Bach to Kristallnacht and Matthew Shepard
Michael McGaghie, Music Department

This course will explore music of the Passion tradition (the story of Jesus’s arrest, trial, and death). The genre includes some of the most ambitious, innovative, and seminal works of the past five hundred years.

We will begin the term by looking at the Passion form’s growth into the paradigmatic settings of Johann Sebastian Bach. Our study will then consider several modern expansions upon this legacy. We will examine the evolving narrative/dramatic sense of these works, their roles in liturgical and/or concert performance, the inclusion of non-canonical (and non-Christological) texts, their myriad sociopolitical implications, and of course, the novelties of their musical language. This course meets the College’s Writing requirement and will help students learn to write critically about music.

A familiarity with basic musical notation is necessary and will be assumed. Past experience in music ensembles (choir, orchestra, band) will certainly be helpful but is not required.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Music 228

Writing designation:  WA

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PHIL 100-01:  Introduction to Philosophy:  Minds, Bodies and Selves
Joy Laine, Philosophy Department

This introductory philosophy course focuses on the nature and scope of our personal boundaries, specifically the intersections between mind, body, and self. Questions about the nature of these three and the relationship between them have a long pedigree in the history of philosophy. We will therefore ground our explorations in the work of classical thinkers such as Descartes, Locke and Hume. These philosophers were especially interested in how minds and bodies are related, and how this mind-body relationship gives us a sense of being a self that endures through time. Yet we live in a time where our personal boundaries are being transformed and challenged in interesting ways, specifically by the technologies that are becoming an integral part of our daily lives. These technologies have opened up new possibilities and new ways of thinking about the nature of mind, body, and self. Artificial minds in artificial bodies now seem a real possibility, as do artificial enhancements of biological minds and minds that extend beyond the skull to incorporate aspects of the environment (smartphones and facebook pages, for example). Such developments begin to blur the boundaries between biology and technology, and hence the boundaries between mind and world, between self and not-self. We will explore these topics through a variety of print and film media and, in doing so, work to develop the critical and analytical skills of each participant in the course.

Class meets M, 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm in Old Main 011

Writing designation:  WA

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PHIL 121-01:  Introduction to Ethics
Samuel Asarnow, Philosophy Department

What matters in life?  Is pleasure the only thing that matters?  If so, whose pleasure should I seek—just my own, my family’s, or everyone’s? Does suffering matter, too? What about the suffering of non-human animals? Is it okay for me to make animals suffer in order for me to enjoy the pleasure of eating their flesh? Or how about the suffering of people who are really far away from me—say, on another continent? Is it okay for me to spend money on cool stuff for myself when instead I could donate it to help people who are suffering very badly far away?  If things in life other than pleasure matter too, what are they? People who oppose torture think that it’s wrong to hurt one person really badly even in order to prevent a large number of people from being hurt.  Are they right?  Is it always wrong to treat someone as merely a means to an end? Is it in general wrong to do things to people without their consent?  Why?  When do people deserve to be praised or blamed for their actions? What kind of person should I be?  Should I try to be happy? Or should I try to be virtuous? Is virtue its own reward? Or are we all inevitably faced with a choice between being virtuous and being happy?  If we are faced with that choice, which one should we pick?  In Ethics, we will talk about these questions, and more.

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Neill Hall 409

Writing designation:  WA

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PHYS 194-01 and PHYS 194-L1:  Biomechanics and Lab   (R)
James Doyle, Physics and Astronomy Department

This course will cover topics in classical mechanics with an emphasis on applications in animal anatomy, physiology, and behavior.  Topics include description of motion (kinematics), Newton's Laws of Motion, potential and kinetic energy, oscillations, torque and rotational motion, and stress and strain of materials, with applications to structural aspects of organism design, mechanical properties of biological tissue, animal locomotion including paleo-fauna such as dinosaurs, and human exercise physiology.  The course has a corequisite of Math 135 (Applied Calculus) or equivalent previous experience in calculus. The course is equivalent to Physics 226 Principles of Physics I, and upon successful completion of the course students may take Physics 227 Principles of Physics II.  The course counts towards the WA writing requirement.

Class meets MWF, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm in Olin Rice 404.  Lab meets T, 9:10 am - 11:10 am in Olin RIce 154

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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PHYS 194-02:  Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology   (R)
John Cannon, Physics and Astronomy Department

This first year course will discuss the exploding field of astrobiology. Specific discussion will be given to the properties of astrophysical bodies that are conducive to harboring life, using the Earth as a Rosetta Stone.  We will discuss the prevalence of highly evolved molecular species in the interstellar medium, the properties of the quickly growing extrasolar planet population, and the observational techniques that are used and envisioned to infer the life-bearing signatures of such environments.  This course is ideal for all students interested in one of the most rapidly-growing fields of science today; students with interests in physics and astronomy are particularly well-suited for this course.  

Previous or concurrent enrollment in calculus is strongly preferred.  This course satisfies the Q1 distribution requirement.  This is a residential course.  The course will be designed to meet the WA writing requirement.

Class meets MWF, 9:40 am - 10:40 am in Olin Rice 404

Writing designation:  WA anticipated

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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POLI 205-01:  U.S. Politics and Policymaking
Lesley Lavery, Political Science Department

This course examines the American public policy process through a case study approach.  We will examine policy formation and implementation and focus on the role and interaction of national and state institutions.  The United States government is a large, complex system of multiple institutions that share power and authority and govern across multiple issue dimensions. To understand the policy process in this context, the course casts a wide net. We will begin with an examination of foundational theories of the policy process. We will then immerse ourselves in several case studies designed to engage these theories and explore their practical application.   In addition to the cases studied together each student will become an “expert” on a particular policy area.

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Neill Hall 215

Writing designation:  WA

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POLI 270-01:  Rhetoric of Campaigns and Elections   (R)
Adrienne Christiansen, Political Science Department

Students could hardly find a better time than Fall 2016 to study the role of campaign rhetoric (persuasion) in American politics. This presidential election has centered significantly on issues of race, class and gender and has seemingly unleashed Americans’ racism, misogyny and xenophobia. As citizens, how ought we respond to campaign discourse that demeans, denigrates, and dissembles?

The study of campaign rhetoric prompts us to ask important questions about this extraordinary election cycle:

  • What should we make of Donald Trump, who countenances violence in his campaign speeches?
  • How can communication theory explain Bernie Sanders’ phenomenal fundraising and electoral successes?
  • Why have so many Republican candidates tried to mock and emasculate one another during their debate performances?
  • Should the sound of Hillary Clinton’s voice or her sometimes serious demeanor disqualify her from becoming the first US female president?
  • Why does the language of incivility run so rampant in this election?

We will also take up other questions that extend beyond 2016:

  • How big a role do social media play in American elections?
  • How important are campaign advertisements? Are they worth their massive cost?
  • Why has the Supreme Court ruled that campaign contributions constitute political speech?

This course operates at two levels: 1) in class with your peers, you will analyze the wide variety of persuasive language, symbols, and communication strategies undertaken by presidential candidates; and 2) on your own, you will produce different types of campaign rhetoric for your assignments.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that “the United States will become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. While the non-Hispanic white population will remain the largest single group, no group will make up a majority.”[1] Each of you will act as if you have been hired as the campaign or communication manager for a “down ballot” candidate who is currently running for office. Bearing the Census Bureau’s demographic data in mind, I will encourage (but not require) you to produce your hypothetical campaign rhetoric assignments on behalf of a candidate who belongs to a new emigrant group or to an historically marginalized group. In this way, you will more fully understand the racial, gendered, and class dimensions of American politics and what it takes to elect public servants who better reflect America’s heterogeneous population.

Your assignments include producing press releases, a 30-second radio ad, a candidate stump speech, a prospectus for institutional donors, online fundraising appeals, campaign literature, and scripts for fundraising phone banks.

We will hear from a number of guest lecturers. These include candidates who are currently running for the US Congress, the Minnesota House of Representatives, and the Minnesota Senate, as well as a number of Macalester alumni who work on professional campaigns.

This course fulfills Macalester’s Argumentative Writing (WA) requirement and will benefit students who wish to improve their oral communication skills.
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[1] “U.S. Census Bureau Projections Show a Slower Growing, Older, More Diverse Nation a Half Century from Now.” See https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-243.html

Class meets TR, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm in Carnegie 208

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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PSYC 194-01:  The Origin of Consciousness
Darcy Burgund, Psychology Department

In the book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind psychologist Julian Jaynes argues that humans became self-conscious only about 3000 years ago, and before that operated as virtual automatons obeying hallucinated voices that they attributed to gods. Described as either “consummate genius” or “complete rubbish”, the book provides a vehicle for exploring the psychology of language, religion, decision-making, creativity, mental illness, and of course, consciousness. This course will discuss these topics while reading Jaynes’ book as well as supplemental texts from psychology and neuroscience. In addition, the course is writing intensive, and students will gain explicit instruction, feedback, and practice in thesis-driven argumentative writing.

Class meets MWF, 1:10 pm - 2:10 pm in Olin Rice 370

Writing designation:  WA

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RELI 111-01:  Introduction to Buddhism:  Modernism, Morals, and Meditation
Erik Davis, Religious Studies Department

This class intends to introduce students with little to no prior exposure to Buddhism to the basic concepts, philosophy, and meditative practices within Buddhism, primarily as found within the Theravadan tradition of South and Southeast Asia. It will tend to focus on historical, social, or anthropological approaches to Buddhist Studies, and will particularly examine Buddhist Modernism, and the current fashions of ‘mindfulness’ meditative practices.

The primary goals of this class are two: First, to introduce Buddhism via its fundamental principles and theories; Second, to examine how Buddhism appears in the personal and communal worlds of traditional Buddhist Southeast Asia. Note that there is a regular meditation lab as a component of the class.

Class meets MWF, 2:20 pm - 3:20 pm in Old Main 111

Writing designation:  WP

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SOCI 110-01:  Introduction to Sociology   (R)
Khaldoun Samman, Sociology Department

This course provides students with a critical perspective in interpreting social inequalities in the US. Mainly the course will have students debate two perspectives on the social origins of inequality and the political and ethical consequences such perspectives embody. The first is what we will call the internalist/culture of poverty thesis which explains inequalities in terms of characteristics belonging to particular groups (e.g., cultural or religious beliefs, socialization and childrearing practices, educational and vocabulary attainment, modernizationist discourse of developed and underdeveloped societies…). The second perspective we will explore is the relational/structural theory of social and global inequality. Sociologists of this sort prefer to focus on asymmetrical power relations between groups (e.g., symbolic markers of distinctions; cultural capital; the social construction of gender, class, and race; core-periphery capitalist relations between poor and rich countries…).

The objective of the course is to provide students with sophisticated sociological studies on both sides of the debate dealing with inequalities. The course attempts to demonstrate that even though many of the authors we cover apply social scientific methods, the fact that they come at the same empirical evidence from different theoretical perspectives ultimately determines their interpretation and understanding of the causes of social inequalities. Here students may discover that the lens through which they look may turn out to be a political, moral, and ethical choice.  For the second objective, students discover that these two perspectives, when combined, may provide an alternative perspective than either has to offer in isolation. For instance, instead of seeing socialization practices of the poor as tied to lack of objective skills required to become upwardly mobile, the student can learn to combine this perspective with the structural perspective so as to see those skills not simply as objective characteristics but as socially constructed – in other words as symbolic markers of distinctions (i.e., as class, race, gender performances) used unconsciously by the elite of the world to reproduce their class, gender, and racial dominance. This way, as Julie Bettie has argued in her Women Without Class, instead of seeing certain “cultural traits” as dysfunctional or pathological and blaming a specific group, the focus is on changing social and global cultural constructs of rich and poor that produces poverty and inequality in the first place. It is the highly racialized, genderized, and classed constructs of social inequalities that have to be first deconstructed before we can hope to alleviate those inequalities. Hence, “culture” is a big part of the story, maybe just not in the way many of us think it is.

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Carnegie 204

Writing designation:  WP

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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THDA 105-01:  Theatre Performance in the Twin Cities   (R)
Beth Cleary, Theatre & Dance Department

Incoming First-Years, you are attending college in one of the most vibrant urban centers for performance in the U.S. The Guthrie Theatre is well-known, and with a new artistic director there is local and national buzz;  but there are scores of professional and semi-professional companies here making performance that hybridizes theatre and dance, interprets "the classics," tells stories through objects and puppets, and interrogates race, history, class, hetero/sexism, capitalism in revelatory ways.  Our classroom is on campus and our laboratories are a bus ride away!

In this course, we will learn and practice the skill of "complex seeing" as audiences of live performance. We will work against our pre-assigned roles as mere consumers of visual culture, and instead become aware of our capacities as meaning-makers in the performance environment.  Starting as readers of written texts (plays), we'll advance to readings of the live, and fleeting, event of performance itself.  We'll consider crucial questions.  Why read plays?  How do we "read" dance?  What is the use of critiquing a performance that is "over"?   What does "over" mean, if we still derive pleasure in memory?  What are the theoretical frameworks we need to advocate for performance's role in broad cultural work and social change?  What is the work of performance in our highly, hyper-, mediated and virtual experience of "the real"?  Does Hamilton suggest widespread hunger, enthusiasm, for staging history? 

We will read, attend, discuss, meet theatre artists, practice thinking and writing about performance. Welcome to college in the Twin Performance Cities!

Class meets MWF, 2:20 pm - 3:20 pm in Theatre 204

Writing designation:  WC

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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