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 on the same floor and may be roommates
  • TR = Tuesday, Thursday; MWF = Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • WA = Argumentative Writing, WC = Writing as Craft, WP = Writing as Practice

First-Year Course Offerings for Fall 2019

Department Instructor Course Name Writing Designation Residential
American Studies Duchess Harris AMST 194-01:  The Obama Presidency None R
Anthropology Scott Legge ANTH 194-01:  Frauds, Myths, Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Anthropology
WA anticipated R
Art & Art History Eric Carroll ART 233-01:  Digital Photography:  Picturing the Self WP R
Art & Art History Serdar Yalcin ART 194-01:  Iconoclasm in Art History:  From Ancient Egypt to the Present WA R
Asian Languages and Cultures Satoko Suzuki ASIA/JAPA/LING/WGSS 150-01:  Language and Gender in Japanese Society WA R
Biology Mary Montgomery BIOL 194-01:  Biotechnology and Society WA anticipated R
Biology Sarah Boyer BIOL 101-01:  Creatures and Curiosities WA R
Chemistry Thomas Varberg CHEM 115-01/L1:  Accelerated General Chemistry None
The Classical Mediterranean and Middle East Andrew Overman CLAS 294-01:  Cosmopoleis:  Building Global Diverse Cities WA
Economics Gary Krueger ECON 119-01:  Principles of Economics None
Economics Pete Ferderer ECON 119-02:  Principles of Economics None R
English Daylanne English ENGL 125-01:  Ecstasy & Apocalypse:  Literature of the Extreme WA
English Peter Bognanni ENGL 150-01:  Introduction to Creative Writing WC R
Environmental Studies Christie Manning ENVI /PSYC 194-01:  Psychology and/of Climate Change WA anticipated R
French and Francophone Studies Joelle Vitiello FREN 194-01:  Food in French and Francophone Culture:  the local and the global WA
French and Francophone Studies Julie Rogers FREN 194-02:  Parisian Women in the Arts, Politics, and Culture WA
Geography Eric Carter GEOG/ENVI 258-01:  Geography of Environmental Hazards WA R
Geography Holly Barcus GEOG 294-01:  Contemporary Mongolia: Livelihoods, Economies and Environments WA R
Geology Kelly MacGregor GEOL/ENVI/GEOG 120-01:  Environmental Geology WA R
Geology Alan Chapman GEOL/ENVI 160-01 and GEOL/ENVI 160-L3:  Dynamic Earth and Global Change WA R
German and Russian Studies Linda Schulte-Sasse GERM 255-01:  German Cinema Studies: Art/Horror WA R
Music Randall Bauer MUSI 194-01:  Music and the Meaning of Life WA anticipated
Philosophy Geoffrey Gorham PHIL 100-01:  Introduction to Philosophy with Film WA
Philosophy Diane Michelfelder PHIL 225-01/COMP 154-01:  Digital Ethics WA
Physics and Astronomy James Heyman PHYS 194-01:  Nanoscience WA R
Political Science Lesley Lavery POLI/AMST 203-01:  Politics and Inequality:  The American Welfare State WA
Political Science Lisa Mueller POLI 140-01:  Foundations of Comparative Politics WP
Psychology Brooke Lea PSYC 194-02:  How We Remember, Learn, and Decide: Applied Cognitive Science WA R
Religious Studies Susanna Drake RELI 194-02:  Virginity:  From Mary to Millenials WA
Russian Studies James von Geldern RUSS 256-01/HIST 294-03:  Mass Culture Under Communism WA
Sociology Khaldoun Samman SOCI 194-01:  Inequalities in the United States WA R
Spanish and Portuguese Antonio Dorca SPAN 194-01:  Masters of Hispanic and Latin American Fiction:  from Cervantes to Garcia Marquez WA R
Theatre and Dance Beth Cleary THDA 105-01:  Seeing Performance in the Twin Cities WA
Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Sonita Sarker WGSS 100-01:  Transnational Perspectives on Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality WA

Course Descriptions

AMST 194-01: The Obama Presidency  (R)
Duchess Harris, American Studies Department

This course will ask if the election of the nation’s first Black president changed the face of African-American leadership and activism since the height of the civil rights and Black power movements?

We will study African Americans in the political system from a historical context. The running themes of the course are crafted to consider the following questions: What are the historical dynamics that have shaped and continue to shape the relationship between African Americans and the American political system? Under what conditions have Blacks been able to exert influence in the political system? What exactly are Black political interests? Finally, we will analyze the strategies of electoral politics versus social activism.

Class meets MWF 10:50 am – 11:50 am in Neill 304

Writing designation: None

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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ANTH 194-01: Frauds, Myths, Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Anthropology (R)
Scott Legge, Anthropology Department

What can a scientific hoax teach us about who we are? This course evaluates the scientific process and how we know what we know about our past. Evolutionary anthropology is marked by debated discoveries that go back more than 100 years, and this class will examine some of the most widespread and contentious of them, as well as some of the more obscure. We will look at both the scientific and cultural contexts in which these hoaxes are produced. Students will learn to critically evaluate evidence related to scientific claims and produce informed critiques about the validity and nature of new discoveries presented to the public that we are told, require “a rewriting of the textbooks!”

Class meets MWF 9:40 am – 10:40 am in Carnegie 06B

Writing designation: WA anticipated

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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ART 233-01:  Digital Photography: Picturing the Self   (R)
Eric Carroll, Art & Art History Department

What is the difference between a #selfie and a self-portrait? How can we use photography to accurately represent not just what we look like, but also how we feel? This course introduces the conceptual, technical, and historical aspects of photography within a fine-arts context with a focus on the aesthetics and politics of self-representation. The emphasis throughout is on photography as a tool for outward and inward exploration and will introduce strategies and methods related to this goal through creative assignments and class exercises. Students will learn the foundational aspects of digital photography from manual camera operation to the editing of images through Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Students will also be introduced to critical theory surrounding the use and consumption of photographs through a series of reflective writing assignments.

$75 materials fee charged for course. Note: A digital SLR camera is required for this course.

Class meets MWF 9:40 am – 11:40 am in Art 301

Writing designation: WP

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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ART 194-01:  Iconoclasm in Art History: From Ancienct Egypt to the Present (R)
Serdar Yalcin, Art & Art History Department

From ancient Egypt to the contemporary United States, people attacked, mutilated and smashed images with motivations influenced by religion, politics and other ideological agendas. The statues of the Egyptian queen Hatshepsut, Roman Emperor Nero or the southern general Robert E. Lee were the targets of official and/or public anger, and thus either removed or destroyed entirely. This course will explore the dynamics of such iconoclastic attacks on images by examining case studies from ancient to modern contexts in the Near East, the Mediterranean world, Europe and the Americas. How and why have images been perceived as a threat by monarchs, invading armies, religious zealots or political activists? What have been the intended outcomes of image destruction? By focusing on these main questions, this course will explore the function and power of images through the millennia.

Class meets MWF 10:50 am – 11:50 am in ArtCom 102

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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ASIA/JAPA /LING/WGSS 150-01: Language and Gender in Japanese Society  (R)
Satoko Suzuki, Asian Languages and Cultures Department

Japanese language has set expressions associated with femininity and masculinity. Male characters in Japanese animation often use “boku” or “ore” to refer to themselves, while female characters often use “watashi” or “atashi.” When translated into Japanese, Hermione Granger (a female character in the Harry Potter series) ends sentences with soft-sounding forms, while Harry Potter and his best friend Ron use more assertive forms. Do these fictional representations reflect reality? Do speakers of Japanese conform to the norm or rebel against it? How are those “genderlects’ perceived in the society and portrayed in the media? These are some of the questions we will discuss in this course. Students will have opportunities to learn about the history of gendered language and find out about current discourse on language and gender in Japan and other parts of the world. They will write short essays and produce a research paper.

No Japanese language ability is required.

Class meets TR 9:40 am – 11:10 am in Neill 110

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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BIOL 194-01: Biotechnology and Society  (R)
Mary Montgomery, Biology Department

This course will serve as an introduction to the development and application of biotechnologies, and the impact these technologies have on society. Discussions will include stem cell research, in vitro fertilization and related reproductive technologies, genetic testing in the clinical setting, personal (“recreational”) genomics, DNA fingerprinting and forensic applications, genetically modified organisms, and gene therapy. This course will introduce students to some basic concepts and methodologies used in the fields of genetics, and molecular, developmental and cell biology. We will also discuss sociocultural and ethical issues that emerge from the application of these technologies. Class time will be equally divided among lecture, problem-solving, and discussion of assigned readings.

Class meets MWF 1:10 pm – 2:10 pm in Theatr 101

Writing designation: WA anticipated

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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BIOL 101-01: Creatures and Curiosities  (R)
Sarah Boyer, Biology Department

This course deals with unfamiliar, mysterious, beautiful, grotesque, and overlooked animals all around us: the invertebrates. We will explore animal evolution and focus on the biology of creatures such as sponges, jellyfish, insects, starfish, spiders, and corals. In addition, we will discuss the cultural role of animals as curiosities – as specimens in cabinets and museums, or the subjects of phobias and urban legends. Drawing on topics in marine biology and entomology, students will learn about the ecology, life cycles, and anatomy of major groups of animals through lectures, observation of live animals, and dissections. Two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour lab per week. Students must complete two fieldtrips outside of scheduled class time.

Class meets MWF 1:10 pm – 2:10 pm in Olin-Rice 270

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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CHEM 115-01/CHEM 115-L1: Accelerated General Chemistry
Thomas Varberg, Chemistry Department

Molecular scientists study the fascinating properties of molecules, seeking to understand how they behave both individually as isolated species and cooperatively as substances. We will begin by thinking about the forces that hold atoms together, with an exploration of molecular energy levels using contemporary quantum theory. We will consider how and where energy flows in the course of a chemical reaction, relating this flow to the structures of the molecules and determining the endpoint of the reaction. We will also explore how fast reactions occur and what can be done to change these rates. Finally, we will investigate nuclear transformations, including some medical applications. Demonstrations will be used throughout the course,  so that the chemistry is both seen and heard! The laboratory component will explore the practical aspects of these topics, emphasizing modern methods of data analysis and the use of instrumentation.

This one-semester course fulfills the two-semester introductory chemistry prerequisite for further courses in chemistry or biology. Students who enroll should have performed well in their high school chemistry studies, and some knowledge of calculus is expected. A lab fee of $12 is required.

Class meets MWF 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm in Olin-Rice 301.  Lab meets R 1:20 pm – 4:30 pm in Olin-Rice 347

Writing designation: None

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CLAS 294-01: Cosmopoleis: Building Global Diverse Cities
Andrew Overman, The Classical Mediterranean and Middle East Department

This course will study some of the great cosmopolitan cities of the late antique world: Alexandria, Rome, Palmyra, Baghdad, Venice.  These cities were the intellectual and cultural centers of the world in their time.  They had enormous reach and impact.  These global, cosmopolitan centers drew the world to them.  How did these centers fashion such diverse, vibrant, and culturally innovative environments?

In examining this question we will be looking at elements like physical space, urban planning, and architecture, the city’s engagement with the natural surroundings. And we will read what the leading minds of the day had to say about the city, what makes it strong, enduring, how does it obtain and keep its place in the global cultural economy? Did these Poleis have a deliberate religious and political identity and philosophy which contributed to their impact and enduring influence?  What can the modern city learn from these extraordinary cities of an earlier era?

We will study these great ancient Cosmopoleis and also explore on foot the cities which surround Macalester.  What can an earlier wisdom from these global and staggeringly diverse civic centers teach us about modern cities?

Class meets TR 9:40 am – 11:10 am in Old Main 009

Writing designation: WA

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ECON 119-01: Principles of Economics
Gary Krueger, Economics Department

A one-semester introduction to the basic tools of micro- and macroeconomic analysis. Microeconomics deals with consumers, firms, markets and income distribution. Macroeconomics deals with national income, employment, inflation and money. This course counts as a Group E elective for the Economics major and minor.

Class meets MWF 1:10 pm – 2:10 pm in Carnegie 304

Writing designation: none

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ECON 119-02: Principles of Economics  (R)
Pete Ferderer, Economics Department

A one-semester introduction to the basic tools of micro- and macroeconomic analysis. Microeconomics deals with consumers, firms, markets and income distribution. Macroeconomics deals with national income, employment, inflation and money. This course counts as a Group E elective for the Economics major and minor.

Class meets MWF 1:10 pm – 2:10 pm in Carnegie 305

Writing designation:  None

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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ENGL 125-01: Ecstasy & Apocalypse:  Literature of the Extreme
Daylanne English, English Department

In this discussion-based first-year course, we will study how literature represents extreme human experiences. As we read a wide range of texts, we will ask ourselves aesthetic, political, and ethical questions: Must literary form stretch itself to represent joy or misery? How can an author help us to understand the end of a world or of a people? Must writers invent new forms when faced with unprecedented traumas? Can apparently opposed extremes, such as joy and misery, have common sources? How might utopia become dystopia? How can we imagine environmental apocalypse so as to avoid causing it? How might the current political climate in the U.S. contribute to our concern with the extreme and its representation? We will read primarily fiction, but also poetry and nonfiction to investigate whether other genres and literary modes work differently at, and with, the extreme. We will also view films and listen to music to discover whether other media may offer alternative, and possibly better, ways to represent ecstasy and apocalypse, joy and misery. Texts, among others, that we will study: The Road, A Handmaid’s Tale, Herland, Life on Mars, and Silent Spring.

Class meets MWF 10:50 am – 11:50 am in Theatr 213

Writing designation: WA

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ENGL 150-01: Introduction to Creative Writing  (R)
Peter Bognanni, English Department

In this course we will dive right into the study of creative writing by reading and writing poetry, flash fiction, short stories, and personal essays. We will study how published authors craft their pieces, how they convey sensation and emotion, and how they artfully tell a story. Along the way, you’ll try your hand at each literary form we study. This is the basic template you can expect on a day-to-day basis. But, beyond this relatively simple pattern, what I hope will happen this semester is that you’ll lose yourself entirely to the daring act of creating literature. I hope you’ll disappear into what John Gardener calls the “vivid and continuous dream.” I hope you’ll use your growing knowledge of writing technique and literary history to say something fearless and artful about the world around you. And I hope you will see that what you write matters. Great creative writing aspires to more than just a pleasant diversion from life. At its best, it directly engages with life and even tries to change it. We look to stories, poems, and essays to give us an experience in language that we’ve never had before, to deepen our knowledge of the world, to allow us into the hearts and minds of others. I hope this semester will be a window into that experience for you.

Class meets MWF 10:50 am – 11:50 am in Main 011

Writing designation: WC

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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ENVI 194-01/PSCY 194-01: Psychology and/of Climate Change  (R)
Christie Manning, Environmental Studies Department

Climate change is no longer a distant, hypothetical threat. Its impacts are increasingly obvious around the world. Yet, despite growing acknowledgement of the climate crisis, few Americans are taking significant personal action, and only a small minority are involved in civic efforts to address the issue.

This course examines the behavioral causes of, and solutions to, climate damage. We will discuss the many ways our changing climate affects people around the world, and how it may affect human society in the long term. We will take a broad psychological perspective on the question, “Why are we not doing enough to address the global climate crisis?”, drawing upon research from many psychological sub-fields (evolutionary, biological, cognitive, social, industrial/organizational). Throughout the course we will engage with the community, hearing from climate activists, local politicians (both Republican and Democrat), scientists, city planners, business owners and health care workers to understand their experience and perspective on the issue.

Class meets TR 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm in ArtCom 202

Writing designation: WA anticipated

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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FREN 194-01:  Food in French and Francophone Culture:  The Local and the Global
Joelle 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? From medieval recipes to the first public restaurants, from the introduction of the first tomato dish to the new trends in branding water, chocolate, tea or coffee, we will explore different topics related to food in France and the Francophone world, such as the impact of travel and colonial development on French food and on food in French colonies. What of rituals and traditions associated with food? These questions will be addressed through a variety of films, media and texts.

The course will provide a frame to engage with creative ways to think about sustainability in Western and non-Western francophone cultures and communities through the study of representations, production, circulation and consumption of food. From cheese stories to existentialist cafés in Paris, from Haitian sugar to North African couscous and Bourbon Island vanilla, 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) and Internationalism requirements. It counts toward the African Studies and the Food Studies Concentrations.

The course is taught in English.

Class meets TR 9:40 am – 11:10 am in Neill 402

Writing designation: WA

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FREN 194-02:  Parisian Women in the Arts, Politics, and Culture
Julie Rogers, French and Francophone Studies Department

In this course we will examine the lives of “Parisiennes” – the women who have lived in or come from the city of Paris, from the Revolution of 1789 to the present day. We will begin with the powerful salonnières of the aristocratic 18th century, the peasant women’s march on Versailles during the French Revolution of 1789 and the publication of the Declaration of the Rights of Women from 1791. For the 19th century, we will examine women’s roles during the industrial revolution and the modernization of Paris, and the political activists of the first wave of French feminism, including Louise Michel, Jeanne Déroin, and Hubertine Auclert. In the first half of the 20th-century, we will study independent women artists and writers in Paris, including some Americans who lived in Paris during that time, such as Josephine Baker and Gertrude Stein. For the second half of the 20th century, we will look at changing roles for Parisian women, including the second wave of French feminism, women in politics, and the changing attitudes toward women in French law and society during the 1970s and later. Readings for the 20th century will include a novel by the author Colette and excerpts from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. We will conclude with a look at Parisian women today and their contributions to contemporary activism, such as the Me Too movement.  All readings will be available in English translation, and the course will be primarily discussion based.

Class meets MWF 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm in Neill 409

Writing designation: WA

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GEOG/ENVI 258-01  Geography of Environmental Hazards  (R)
Eric Carter, Geography Department

The study of environmental hazards stands at a key point of intersection between the natural and social sciences. Geography, with its focus on human-environment interactions, provides key analytical tools for understanding the complex causes and uneven impacts of hazards around the world. We will explore the geophysical nature and social dimensions of disasters caused by floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires. For each of these hazard types, we apply theoretical concepts from major hazards research paradigms, including quantifying the human and economic impacts of disaster; assessing, managing, and mitigating risk; and reducing the impacts of disaster, not only through engineering works but also by reducing social vulnerability and enhancing adaptive capacity. Looking into the future, we will discuss how global-scale processes, such as climate change and globalization, might affect the frequency, intensity, and geographical distribution of environmental hazards in the decades to come. Since this is a first-year course, we will also emphasize developing your skills in written and oral communication, scholarly research, and information literacy.

Class meets MWF 10:50 am – 11:50 am in Carnegie 105

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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GEOG 294-01: Contemporary Mongolia:  Livelihoods, Economies and Environments  (R)
Holly Barcus, Geography Department

The “land without fences” has long existed in the travelers mind as a place of extensive landscapes and nomadic cultures. After emerging from more than 60 years of communism, Mongolia transitioned to a democratic form of governance and capitalist economy in 1989 and by 2013 Mongolia’s economy was noted as one of the fastest growing in Asia, although this growth has since dwindled.  Along with these monumental changes in governance structure and economy, Mongolia’s peoples witnessed profound changes in their livelihoods and experienced a rapid transition to new and emerging economies. This course takes a thematic, geographic perspective on the contemporary issues facing Mongolia and its citizens, bringing together such themes as development, gender, environment, migration, ethnicity and culture in this rapidly changing region of the world. Our task for the semester will be to consider the multiplicity of changes occurring across Mongolia and contextualize these within broader debates within the discipline of geography.

Class meets MWF 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm in Carnegie 06A

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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GEOL /ENVI/GEOG 120-01: Environmental Geology  (R)
Kelly MacGregor, Geology Department

The physical environment shows signs of our earth’s expanding population and the increasing need for natural resources. Geologic materials such as soil, water, and minerals, and geologic processes such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, and running water often pose constraints on land use. This course is designed to introduce students to the relationship between humans and their geologic environment: the earth. We will focus on understanding the processes that shape the surface of the earth, and how these processes affect human activity (rivers and glaciers and landslides, oh my!). We will use current scientific methods to collect and analyze data. Topics include surface-water dynamics and flooding, groundwater and groundwater contamination, pollution and waste management, landslides, volcanic and earthquake hazards, and global climate change. I am excited tell you about my research on glaciers and in rivers as well! Format: the course will include local field excursions (including an overnight field trip!), lectures, discussions, and hands-on exercises; evaluation will be based on homework/classroom activities, writing assignments, and exams.

Broadly, the goals of the course are three-fold: first, to introduce the processes that shape the Earth; second, to examine global environmental changes in the context of natural processes; and third, to inspire you to develop a lifelong interest in the planet on which you reside.  Throughout the course, I will strive to link the academic study of our planet to ‘real-life’ situations and events, and demonstrate the importance of understanding earth processes to being an educated global citizen. Finally, through explicit writing instruction and several fun assignments, you will improve upon your argumentative writing skills in the scientific context.  The course has no prerequisites, and I expect most of you may not have had a physical or environmental sciences course since middle school.  Note:  This is a Q2 course, which means we will be thinking about our planet quantitatively!

Class meets MWF 9:40 am – 10:40 am in Olin-Rice 175

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, single gender floor

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GEOL /ENVI 160-01 and GEOL/ENVI 160-L3  Dynamic Earth and Global Change  (R)
Alan Chapman, Geology Department

Students are introduced to Earth materials, the processes that have sculpted the planet through geologic time, geological hazards that affect our lives, and our impact on the environment. Geological processes that alter rocks and transform the surface landscape including weathering and mass wasting, and transformation agents such as water and wind action, and groundwater circulation are discussed. The structure of the planet’s interior and internal processes such as volcanism, earthquakes, crustal deformation, and plate tectonics are examined. As the outdoors often provide the best setting for exploring our dynamic planet, several local field trips and one optional canoe-based overnight trip to northern Minnesota are planned.

Class meets MWF 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm in Olin-Rice 187.  Lab meets R 8:00 am – 11:10 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: Art/Horror  (R)
Linda Schulte-Sasse, German Studies Department

One often hears horror movies referred to as trash. Does horror necessarily deserve this condemnation (or plug)? Why does an occasional horror film like Get Out or The Silence of the Lambs win respectability or even a best-picture Oscar? What are the criteria by which we decide whether any film or work of art is good, bad, or perhaps not art at all? The course will examine horror films from various eras and places, some of which were repudiated at their release only to be recuperated later as art-house classics. But all challenge cultural assumptions about art and horror as mutually exclusive categories, and all employ shock, horror, or the uncanny as compelling means of representing social anxieties and historical traumas. Our objective will be to reflect on questions of aesthetic value, and to explore the themes, narrative strategies, and audience effects of horror. We will draw on a variety of theoretical approaches like Freud’s description of the uncanny or Todorov’s concept of the fantastic. In some sense horror cinema was “born” in Weimar Germany, so we will begin with silent German films, but our investigations will extend to Universal Studio’s depression-era horror (which owed a debt to German expressionist cinema) and to modern horror (Argento, Romero, Cronenberg, Haneke, Peele).

Course prerequisite: guts. First, films like Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932) or Franju’s Les Yeux sans Visage (1960) will disabuse you of any notion that Quentin Tarantino invented grossness. Second, you may find that by seriously engaging film studies, introducing theoretical concepts, and “over”-reading, the course will “ruin the fun.” My hope is that the opposite will be the case (and that fun and work are no more mutually exclusive than art and horror).

Student obligations: a series of short papers, oral presentations, and one longer research paper. Two exams and an informal log responding to class readings. Hopefully the Twin Cities will offer some cultural events relevant to our theme that we can visit as a class.

Class meets MWF 10:50 am – 11:50 am in Neill 401

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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MUSI 194-01: Music and the Meaning of Life
Randall Bauer, Music Department

What gives life meaning?  What is our purpose?  What is our path to fulfillment?  These questions have been pondered for a long time, and while clear answers are not always quick to obtain (if ever), you may find yourself, as a beginning college student, embarking on a new life journey where you may ask of yourself questions like these.  This course will give us the opportunity to consider how musicians and composers have wrangled with meaning and existence, by examining how various “modes of being” apply to their work.  Our study will investigate such domains as individuality and creativity, monumentality, love and reverence beyond the self, homage and remembrance, sublimity and the quest for beauty, revolution, and overcoming adversity.  Much of the content in this course is rooted in the historical past, so we will examine works by some of the classic composers like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; we will also consider more modern repertoire like blues and jazz and much in between.  We will read essays and books from across history, view films, and of course, listen to music widely.  Students also will gain practice in research and writing skills.  It is intended that, in addition to wrestling with lofty existential questions, you will engage in a crash course in music history that fully suffuses itself with the liberal arts tradition of broad, interdisciplinary study.  An ability to read music is expected since we occasionally will look at music scores.  Any past experience in music performance may be helpful but not required.

Class meets TR 9:40 am – 11:10 am in Music 219

Writing designation: WA anticipated

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PHIL 100-01: Introduction to Philosophy with Film
Geoffrey Gorham, Philosophy Department

In this class we will explore and discuss what the greatest philosophers in the (mostly) Western traditions have said about the fundamental puzzles of human existence – such as the nature of reality, knowledge, freedom, personal identity, morality and death – tracing paths of intellectual development from the beginnings of philosophy in the ancient world to the ‘postmodern condition’ of contemporary thought. To supplement our study of major philosophical texts of Plato, Descartes, Hume, Kant and so on, we will view and discuss a number of films. Film is a recent human invention but seems to be a very useful medium for philosophy. We will consider how films illustrate the philosophical problems that we are studying and also examine puzzles about the nature of film itself: Why do films engage us? Why do we enjoy sad and terrifying films? What is the nature of time and space in film? Can we ‘do’ philosophy with film? We will also consider philosophical issues related to other ‘moving image’ media such as video games and virtual reality. Assignments will be mostly short papers.

Class meets TR 9:40 am – 11:10 am in Old Main 010

Writing designation: WA

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PHIL 225-01/COMP 154-01: Digital Ethics
Diane Michelfelder, Philosophy Department

Digital devices and the activities that they afford permeate many aspects of our everyday lives and social institutions. In this course, we will consider a wide array of ethical issues connected to these devices and activities, including algorithmic bias, robotic rights, dataveillance, and the ethical responsibilities of social media companies. The questions we will ask will be both small and big—including ones about the ethical impacts of “digital life” on our relations with others, the quality of our lives, and the very meaning of being human itself.

In general, this course aspires to do three things. One is to provide you with an opportunity to build a critical awareness of key concerns and debates involved in the rapidly growing field of digital ethics. Another is to introduce you to the general dimensions of philosophy as an activity—what it is to “do” philosophy—beginning with forming a philosophical question and leading up to the structured presentation of philosophical ideas. The third is to give you an opportunity to do philosophy itself through bettering your skills at close reading, imaginative and critical thinking, and argumentative writing. You will have the chance to write both informally and formally, and to engage in different kinds of philosophical writing, including a “public” philosophy essay and a joint research paper.

Class meets MWF 9:40 am – 10:40 am in Old Main 111

Writing designation: WA

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PHYS 194-01: Nanoscience  (R)
James Heyman, Physics and Astronomy Department

Nanoscience is the science of matter on the atomic and molecular scale.  This interdisciplinary field sits at the convergence of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Materials Science and Electrical Engineering.  Our course will introduce science at the nanometer length scale, the fabrication of nano-scale systems and some of their technological applications.  This quantitative course will use mathematics at the introductory calculus level, and high-school physics and calculus are recommended.  Assignments will include readings, problem sets, short papers and a research paper.

Class meets MWF 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm in Olin-Rice 101

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, single sex floor

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POLI/AMST 203-01: Politics and Inequality: The American Welfare State
Lesley Lavery, Political Science Department

“Democracies, and the citizenries that stand at their center, are not natural phenomena; they are made and sustained through politics and government policies can play a crucial role in this process – shaping the things publics believe and want, the ways citizens view themselves and others, and how they understand and act toward the political system.” Suzanne Mettler and Joe Soss, 2004.

How do social programs contribute to the lived experiences of American citizens?  The readings and assignments in this course are designed to force exploration of this question from a policy perspective. We will examine various theoretical justifications for the policies that constitute the American approach to social welfare.  We will then confront and dissect major strands of the American social safety net to better understand how political institutions and policy mechanisms contribute to diversity, and often, inequality, in Americans’ lived experiences (based in race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, region, political jurisdiction, etc.).  Students will then explore and offer new approaches to meeting the needs of a diverse American citizenry.

By the end of the course, students will be able to

  • Identify key components of the American welfare state and the populations they serve
  • Explain how political institutions and policy mechanisms shape Americans’ lived experiences
  • Demonstrate understanding of the relationship between institutions, policies, and inequality of lived experience by designing a policy proposal or community action plan to ameliorate a negative consequence of the welfare state

Class meets MWF 1:10 pm – 2:10 pm in Library 250

Writing designation: WA

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POLI 140-01: Foundations of Comparative Politics
Lisa Mueller, Political Science Department

In Comparative Politics we use comparison to analyze political outcomes within and across countries, such as: Why does Rwanda have such a high proportion of female legislators whereas the U.S. has such a low proportion? Why do Mexican presidents exercise strong centralized authority while Brazilian presidents must contend with powerful governors? Why do Muslims and Hindus fight in some Indian states but not in others? Through discussions and writing, students will learn to describe diverse political institutions and behaviors, propose explanations for divergent outcomes, and evaluate scholarly and popular arguments about politics. This course provides a foundation for more advanced courses in Political Science.

Class meets MWF 10:50 am – 11:50 am in Carnegie 204

Writing designation: WP

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PSYC 194-02: How We Remember, Learn, and Decide: Applied Cognitive Science   (R)
Brooke Lea, Psychology Department

How do people remember, learn, and make decisions?  Philosophers have considered these questions for millennia, but in the last century the questions have been taken up in the relatively newer fields of psychology and cognitive science. Recently, significant progress has been made in applying our understanding of human cognition to larger societal goals and challenges.  In this FYC, we will take a psychological approach to the study of human mental processes such as memory, attention, problem solving, and learning. Equipped with evidence-based theories of the mind’s sophisticated yet quirky workings, we will examine how recent advances can be used to dispel popular myths about human cognition, and point the way to societal improvements in the areas of criminal justice, education, and bias-reduction. Our readings will include both primary sources and popular writing from scholars and public intellectuals.

Class meets MWF 10:50 am – 11:50 am in Olin-Rice 301

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements:  single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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RELI 194-02:  Virginity:  From Mary to Millenials
Susanna Drake, Religious Studies Department

In this course we will explore the diverse understandings of Christian sexual renunciation from the first century, C.E. to today. From the veneration of the Virgin Mary in early and medieval Christianity to the more recent celebration of virgins and born-again virgins in U.S. pop culture, many Christians have understood the practice of virginity as a mark of spiritual progress or perfection. Students in this course will examine the rise of Christian sexual renunciation in the first through fourth centuries, C.E., the veneration of virgin saints in the Middle Ages, the shifting attitudes toward virginity in the Reformation era, the recent development of Christian chastity movements in the U.S. (True Love Waits, Silver Ring Thing), and the proliferation of Christian chastity advice literature. In written assignments and class discussions, we will explore how Christian practices of renunciation draw upon and contribute to cultural understandings of gender, sexuality, and the body.

Class meets MWF 9:40 am – 10:40 am in Old Main 009

Writing designation: WA

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RUSS 256-01/HIST 294-03: Mass Culture Under Communism
James von Geldern, Russian Studies Department

From October 1917, when the Bolsheviks stormed the Petrograd Post Office (not the Winter Palace, as movies would claim) until the recent era, when protestors post YouTube videos of their demonstrations, Russian revolutionaries have been conscious of the power of mass communications. Driven not just to change the government, but the souls of its subjects, they looked to mass culture to create new men and women. The Communist Party was the first to use mass culture as an explicit political tool; yet the harder the state tried, the more consumers subverted the intended messages. Never the brainwashed automatons of Orwell’s nightmares, yet never the thinking citizen of Thomas Jefferson’s dreams, Soviet subjects perceived their world through the lens of mass culture, and helped shape it with their responses. That the audience continued to confound its self-elected shapers suggests how interesting the topic is. Starting from the detective tales and tearjerker movies of pre-revolutionary Russia, progressing through the marching songs and boy-meets-tractor movies of the Stalinist 1930s, and finishing with the dizzying variety of cultural expression of the glasnost era, from conservative patriotism to pornography, we will view Russian society through its cultural products. Included will be films, popular literature, posters, newspapers, popular songs, architecture, mass-mobilization organizations, etc. The materials should help us understand how Russian society has been seen by those who sponsor, make, and consume mass culture, and to examine the complex relations between these groups.

Class meets TR 9:40 am – 11:10 am in Theatr 204

Writing designation: WA

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SOCI 194-01: Inequalities in the United States   (R)
Khaldoun Samman, Sociology Department

This course provides students with a critical perspective in interpreting social inequalities in the United States. The objective of the course is to provide students with sophisticated sociological studies dealing with social inequalities. The course attempts to demonstrate that even though our meritocratic ideals can be empowering tools to live by, there are social forces at work that impact the opportunities available to individuals located at different levels of the social hierarchy. We will dive deeply into the sociological imagination to explore structural aspects of inequalities.

This class requires frequent writing assignments connected to the readings. Also, this class will largely be discussion based with some sprinkling of lectures.

Class meets TR 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm in Theatr 203

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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SPAN 194-01: Four Masters of Spanish and Latin American Fiction: Cervantes, Machado de Assis, Rodoreda, and García Márquez.  (R)
  Antonio Dorca, Spanish and Portuguese Department

This course pays homage to four masterpieces from Spain and Latin America: Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1605 and 1615), which gives birth to the modern novel; Joachim Maria Machado de Assis’ Dom Casmurro (1899), an original take on adultery by Brazil’s greatest writer; Mercè Rodoreda’s Time of the Doves (1962), a supreme expression of female resistance published in Catalan by an exile of the Spanish Civil War; and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), arguably the most influential novel ever written in Latin America.

The course aims both at refining the analysis of literary works from a variety of perspectives (historical, political, social, ethical, aesthetic, and so on) and providing a comprehensive view of the evolution of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian fiction. It is especially targeted at those students who enjoy literature and believe in the pleasure of the text.

The course will require short written essays and a longer, more formal, end-of-term paper that must make use of appropriate bibliographical sources. All sessions and course materials will be in English. Both the professor and the students will determine topics of discussion according to their own interests.

Class meets MWF 2:20 pm – 3:20 pm in Neill 400

Writing designation: WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor

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THDA 105-01: Seeing Performance in the Twin Cities
Beth Cleary, Theater and Dance Department

In this course, first-year students critically attend live dance and theatre performances in the exciting arts scene of the Twin Cities, and articulate their individual reactions by writing reviews, responses, and essays. In this process of studied spectatorship, students acquire the vocabularies of the field. Readings include seminal texts in dance and theatre criticism, as well as manifestos and scholarly articles. We will attend dance and theatre performances at professional venues such as the Walker Arts Center, the Guthrie, Penumbra Theatre, Mixed Blood, Northrop Auditorium, and Cowles Center.

Class meets MWF 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm in Theatr 203

Writing designation: WA

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WGSS 100-01: Transnational Perspectives on Gender, Race, Class and Sexuality
Sonita Sarker, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department

Could it be possible that your own gender, race, class, and sexuality as well as your questions about them, are intimately related to global politics and culture?  How does your life connect to a corporate executive’s in Thailand, a migrant laborer’s in Italy, a sweatshop worker’s in Colombia, and immigrant professionals’ in Silicon Valley?  And how do different histories of women’s and gender studies intersect to expand this matrix of identities?

Through feminist analyses of actual events and phenomena such as globalization and transnationalism, this course offers surprising and exciting discoveries surrounding these questions that reveal how our past and present are linked.  It is a discussion-based course in which we will explore historical documents, film, fiction, ethnographies, and autobiographies to discover how we accept, negotiate, resist, and recreate where we belong in the world and how we interact with others.  This interactive experience will use texts such as Women’s Lives: Multicultural Perspectives and Gender Through the Prism of Difference. Some writers included are bell hooks, Adrienne Rich, R.W. Connell, Alice Walker, Nawal el Saadawi, Richard Falk, Barbara Smith, and Gloria Anzaldua.

Class meets MWF 10:50 am – 11:50 am in Main 001

Writing designation: WA

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