Achieving eXcellence in Liberal Education
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Writing Requirements | First-Year Writing Seminars
First-Year Writing Seminars for Fall 2013
For the most current information on the First-Year Writing Seminars being offered,
please see the Schedule in YES.
(In the "class search" application, type "115f" into the search box.)
American Studies 115F, SECTION 2
Food for Thought: American Foodways.
This course will cover a range of topics, including accounts of New World foods, the development of regional food customs, the industrialization of food production, and instances of excess and lack of food in American history. It will be organized chronologically and include topics in literature, folklore, film, popular culture, and women's studies. As a means to understanding American identity, students will learn how food marks social, racial, and gender differences.
FALL.  Kevra, Susan K. (US)
Anthropology 115F, SECTION 7
Disney in America.
Disney has been a major cultural force in America since the early twentieth century. After learning about anthropology as a discipline and exploring the idea of high versus low culture, we will use a combination of texts and films to explore how Disney both impacts and reflects Americans' worldview. Analysis of films such as The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Aladdin will allow us to see how Disney shapes our conceptions of gender, race, family, and class.
FALL.  Yant, Anna Catesby. (P)
Anthropology 115F, SECTION 8
Archaeology and Gender.
This course surveys many aspects of gender in the archaeological record and in archaeological practice. It utilizes feminist and gender theory to define the term gender. It explores principal archaeological themes relative to gender, such as the delineation of social roles, ideology, human evolution, and representations of men and women. It analyzes ways of knowing and understanding gender in the past, gendered technologies and production, gendered spaces and landscapes, and gender in the public domain.
FALL.  Fowler Jr., William R. (SBS)
Art Studio 115F, SECTION 3
Walking in Nashville: Art, Landscape, and Urbanism.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, art, architecture, and urban studies have investigated the production of texts and images that shape our experience of large cities. Nashville will be the focus for our aesthetic and personal observations, and walking will be our key form of exploration. We will employ the artistic strategies of the Situationists, urban interventionists, and land artists to expand upon and represent our experience of this unique city. Readings will include texts on the art, philosophy, and history of walking by architects, journalists, theorists, novelists, and artists.
FALL.  TBA. (HCA)
Biological Sciences 115F, SECTION 2
Genes and Society.
Our future has changed due to the availability of complete genomic DNA sequences ranging from microbes to humans. With these sequences we have entered a new era that holds the promise of a better world through personalized medicine, gene therapy, cloning, and genetically modified crops. Are we ignoring the dangers that these discoveries pose on our society and planet? We will learn to critique the scientific literature and to discern science from science fiction. However, most importantly, we will begin to understand the limitations of science and explore the possible impact of these scientific discoveries on the world.
FALL.  Benson, Amanda R. (P)
Chemistry 115F, SECTION 4
Chemistry, Climate Change, and Energy Policy.
This course considers the conflicts arising from our fossil fuel based energy system and growing concerns about climate change and ocean acidification. Where are we now? What might be the contributions of new technologies to energy production and energy efficiency? How might we promote a national dialogue concerning the connection of the environmental impacts of increased carbon emissions to energy policies?
FALL.  Lowe, James N. (MNS)
Classics 115F, SECTION 1
The Good Life: Ancient Origins of Western Humanism.
An examination of such questions as the meaning of heroism, the relationship of individuals to the state, the definition of justice, and fate vs. free will in Greek and Roman thought from Homer to Boethius, including comparison with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Students will write short papers and also will be encouraged to develop other kinds of projects consistent with the materials and aims of the course. This course also counts toward a major in classics.
FALL.  Johnson, Michael. (INT)
Classics 115F, SECTION 3
Women, War, and Human Rights in Antiquity.
Humanitarian principles are an important ideal but difficult to sustain in Western culture. Although many advocate human rights and deplore war crimes, abuses of civilians by armed forces recur. This course will offer a historically grounded perspective on this problem by exploring the practices of martial aggression against unarmed peoples in classical antiquity and the responses in Greco-Roman literature that challenge these practices. Students will study Greek and Roman martial methods for subjugating noncombatants and will explore how the dissenting literature constitutes an emergent resistance movement, the conflicting dynamics of which persist in modern society in updated forms.
FALL.  Gaca, Kathy L. (P)
Communication Studies 115F, SECTION 4
The Irish Troubles: Revolution, Reform, and Rhetoric.
The term "The Troubles" has been applied to political events in Irish history over time, particularly the Irish War of Independence from 1916-1922, and the time of the provisional IRA from 1968-1998. This course examines the intersection of persuasion, militancy, revolution, and reform throughout these events. Emphasis will be placed on the nature of persuasion through public discourse, parliamentary politics, film, and media.
FALL.  Kovalcheck Jr., Kassian A. (P)
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Earth and Environmental Sciences 115F, SECTION 1
Science and Democracy.
When political disputes become entangled with scientific controversies, how can the public decide whom to trust? How can ordinary citizens participate wisely in decision-making about technically complex issues? When should the public and scientific experts defer to each other? We will examine different ideas about what science is, how scientific truth is established, the ethics of scientific practice, and how scientific expertise is used by policymakers and the public. Case studies will include global warming, the stratospheric ozone hole, forensic science in the courts, the AIDS epidemic, and nuclear waste.
FALL.  Gilligan, Jonathan M. (P)
Earth and Environmental Sciences 115F, SECTION 3
Volcanoes: Earth and Human Impacts.
Volcanic eruptions are among the most spectacular of natural phenomena and are manifestations of processes that shape our planet. They have had major impacts on human history and continue to threaten and inspire. We will explore volcanism from the standpoints of both science and society. How do volcanoes work? How do we know? How have they influenced human history? How might they influence us in the future? Can we reliably predict their behavior? Case studies, volcano monitoring, popular and scientific literature, and historical interpretations will inform our investigations.
FALL.  Claiborne, Lily. (MNS)
Earth and Environmental Sciences 115F, SECTION 6
Climate Change and Human History.
Climate shapes where we live, what we eat, how we survive, and how these practices evolve. But for thousands of years human activities have influenced Earth's climate, causing subtle and not-so-subtle changes in land, oceans, and atmosphere. This course will examine the complex relationship between humans and climate over the last 10, 000 years. Students will investigate forcings, feedbacks, and cycles that govern modern climate and learn how scientists discern past changes and model future scenarios. Assignments will draw from scientific and popular literature, and students will learn how to discern the difference between the two.
FALL.  Oster, Jessica Leigh. (MNS)
Economics 115F, SECTION 5
Strategic Thinking and Interactions.
This seminar provides an introduction to game theory, which is a collection of models and methods of analysis of situations in which each agent's best choice among potential actions depends on how the other agents will respond to that choice. Strategic methods of decision-making instruct each agent to choose actions only after carefully looking through the eyes of those with whom they interact. Topics will include competition, commitments, bargaining, transactions when one party has hidden information, and voting procedures. Applications derive from economics, business, political science, and sports.
FALL.  Sweeney, George H. (SBS)
Economics 115F, SECTION 8
Comparative Health Care Systems.
Comparing the health care systems of other countries with the U.S. system provides insight into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, as well as globalization in health care. This seminar considers finance, risk pooling, costs, technology, and service delivery. We will also examine the important issues of equity and access to health care.
FALL.  Rennhoff, Christina Hubbard. (SBS)
English 115F, SECTION 7
Women Poets in America.
We will trace the development of American women's poetic voices, from Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) to Adrienne Rich (1933-2012). Other poets will include Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Muriel Rukeyser, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Contemporary poets will be studied in portfolio, paying particular attention to the plethora of multicultural expressions since 1980.
FALL.  Bachmann, Beth Barnyock. (HCA)
English 115F, SECTION 8
The Simple Art of Murder: Knowledge and Guilt in Detective Literature.
An examination of classic works of detective fiction with a view toward exploring the ways in which knowledge and guilt interact in criminal activity and its investigation. Authors to be considered include Sophocles, Shakespeare, Poe, Doyle, Christie, Chandler, Highsmith, Himes, Bugliosi, and Harris. Again and again we will encounter the difficulty of separating the art of murder from the performance of murder; again and again we will see that the art of murder is never really simple.
FALL.  Juengel, Scott. (HCA)
English 115F, SECTION 25
From Frost to Dove: Storytelling in American Verse.
There is a great tradition of storytelling verse in American poetry. Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, and Robinson Jeffers early in the twentieth century and Robert Penn Warren, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Rita Dove later in the twentieth century all made use of narrative in their poetry in innovative ways. Their poems reflect the central events of modern American history, including the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, migrations west and north, and the civil rights movement.
FALL.  Jarman, Mark F. (HCA)
English 115F, SECTION 31
D. H. Lawrence suggests that fiction is a laboratory for philosophical problems. This course uses fiction to explore existentialism. Sometimes called a "psychology, " existentialism became a dominant post-World War II philosophy, because it directed its concerns to the world of human behavior, rather than a transcendental realm. We will consider the fictions of existentialists, such as Sartre, Beauvoir, and Camus, and the existential ideas of other contemporary authors, such as Murdoch, Atwood, Madonna, and Oe.
FALL.  Schoenfield, Mark L. (HCA)
English 115F, SECTION 34
In Search of Gandhi.
We will study key works in English from South Asia associated with the life and career of India's most famous twentieth-century figure. We will consider several short novels and films that interrogate elements of Gandhi's career as a pacifist and an agitator for Indian independence. What did India's traditional elites think of Gandhi and his non-violent movement for reform? To what extent did Indian writers associate him with contemporary developments such as the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan, which resulted in the deaths of millions of people on both sides of the new border?
FALL.  Marcus, Leah S. (INT)
English 115F, SECTION 36
Foundational Stories of the Western Tradition.
This course examines a variety of narratives that have formed the basis of Western literature and culture. Readings include the Old Testament, Acts of the Apostles, Greek tragedy, Aesop, Ovid, Medieval Arthurian romances, The Arabian Nights, and Grimm's fairy tales. No credit for students who have completed HONS 181 section 53.
FALL.  Gottfried, Roy K. (HCA)
English 115F, SECTION 38
Representations of War.
Novels, memoirs, films, poems, and historical writings will provide examples of representations of war beginning with World War I and ending with the war in Afghanistan. Historical events and their representations always contain conflicting truths. The process of identifying and reconciling these truths will be the main focus of this course. Faculty from other disciplines will serve as guest speakers, but students will rely mainly upon their own viewpoints in sifting through complex historical issues.
FALL.  Bell, Vereen M. (HCA)
French 115F, SECTION 1
French Experience in the Americas.
The French once colonized a huge expanse of the Americas from Canada to Brazil. Accounts from explorers and missionaries describe a land of exquisite beauty but fraught with great dangers, including brutal winters that wiped out colonies and hostile natives threatened by European encroachment. We will study a variety of documents, including letters from missionaries, travelogues, and maps, as well as folktales, film, and fiction to understand the scope of the French experience in the Americas and its enduring presence in places like Louisiana, Haiti, New England, and Quebec.
FALL.  Kevra, Susan K. (INT)
German 115F, SECTION 3
Pioneers of Literary Modernism: Brecht, Kafka, Rilke.
Various literary movements arose in German-speaking countries in the early twentieth century, including Symbolism, Expressionism, and Surrealism. While Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann preferred to write in the traditional style of the nineteenth century, others favored literary experiments that have become influential for later writers: Franz Kafka with his enigmatic tales of modern man's battles against incomprehensible forces, Berthold Brecht with his epic plays addressing their audiences' political consciousness, and Rainer Maria Rilke with his symbolist poems reflecting the complexity of existence. Knowledge of German is not required.
FALL.  McFarland, Philip James. (HCA)
History of Art
History of Art 115F, SECTION 11
House, Temple, City: Sacred Geographies of China.
The built environment of traditional China is an intersection of the sacred and the secular. Residences and ritual spaces were supposedly constructed to accord with the forces of nature and the cosmos. Or were they? This seminar will examine ideas of the sacred as expressed in the forms of traditional houses, temples, monasteries, and cities in traditional China. Topics will include charms and building magic, the influence of natural land forms on the placement of temples and tombs, the garden as terrestrial residence for divinity, and the idea of the Chinese imperial city as the sacred earthly center.
FALL.  Miller, Tracy G. (INT)
History of Art 115F, SECTION 13
American Icons and Monuments.
This course will provide an indepth analysis of icons and monuments in American visual art and culture in an attempt to answer the following questions: Why are certain images of people, historical events, or national symbols revered in the U.S. and renowned throughout the world? What do they say about national identity, historical memory, or political ideologies? How do they convey a common set of ideals and values that creates an overarching sense of unity and identity in American society? Conversely, how and why do different social groups contest certain monuments?
FALL.  Fryd, Vivien Green. (US)
Italian 115F, SECTION 1
Italian History and Culture Through Cinema.
This course will introduce students to Italian culture, history, and society through Italian cinema. We will explore classic and modern films by some of the best-known Italian directors to provide a vivid glimpse into modern and contemporary Italy and its connections with the past. Our focus will be on Italian cities, regions, and traditions. Other topics will include Italy and the European Union, Italian food, the fashion industry, and the Italian-American experience. Films will have English subtitles. Knowledge of Italian is not required.
FALL.  Mirabile, Andrea. (INT)
Jewish Studies 115F, SECTION 1
In a Pluralistic Age: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Spain.
Between 711 and 1492, Jews, Christians, and Muslims created one of the richest and most fertile of medieval civilizations. In this seminar, we shall evaluate the settings and conditions for this culture's extraordinary pooling of talent and attachment to tolerance, but also evaluate the reasons for its eventual end.
FALL.  Ackerman-Lieberman, Phillip I. (HCA)
Jewish Studies 115F, SECTION 4
Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs: Black-Jewish Relations in the 1950s and 1960s.
Blacks and Jews have shared a long and varied history, particularly in the American context, due to strong forces pulling the two groups simultaneously together and apart. Through an examination of historical and literary texts and visual images, this course will explore that shared history, focusing on the period of its greatest intensity. Examples of Black-Jewish relations ranging from the heights of utopian cooperation to the depths of dystopian conflict will be explored.
FALL.  Meyer, Adam S. (HCA)
Mathematics 115F, SECTION 2
The Mathematics of Games.
We love to play games due to the anticipation of the unknown outcome and the hope of winning, even against all odds. The three characteristics of games providing this uncertainty are chance, varying information among players, and the large number of combinations of moves. Mathematics is used to minimize these unknowns in order to maximize a player's chances of winning. This course will employ probability theory to analyze games involving chance and game theory to analyze games with varying information. Basic mathematical concepts will be used to analyze games with many moves.
FALL.  Rafter, Lori Henslee. (MNS)
Medicine, Health, and Society
Medicine, Health, and Society 115F, SECTION 1
Medicine, Health, and the Body.
The course explores the way medicine shapes our understanding of health and the body in modern American society. Focusing on medicine as both science and social phenomenon, we will investigate several interrelated questions: How does medicine classify the body as sick or healthy? How do individual and collective experiences of health and disease influence medical theory and practice? How does medicine affect the way we interact with both sick and healthy bodies (including our own)? And how do contemporary social and cultural factors influence medicine's potential impact on health and the body? Readings and class discussion will form the basis of our inquiry.
FALL.  TBA. (P)
Music Literature and History
Music Literature and History 115F, SECTION 3
Music and Modernism: The Plunge into the Abyss.
An investigation into the dramatic changes in Western musical style at the beginning of the twentieth century (including Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and Bartok). Listening assignments and discussions of music; readings and discussions on cross-currents among music, literature, and the plastic arts. Major focus will be on the relationships between Modernism and tradition, and on the connections between historical events and artistic production. This seminar will satisfy 3 hours of the Humanities requirement.
FALL.  Rose, Michael A. (HCA)
Philosophy 115F, SECTION 5
Although cities are usually viewed as environmentally problematic due to pollution, overcrowding, and the widespread use of concrete and asphalt, they can help solve regional and global environmental concerns. Some contemporary cities are environmentally sustainable in significant respects, while many other cities can and should take similar initiatives and explore creative paths of their own. Moreover, making cities sustainable is more than just preserving green space or establishing recycling programs, it concerns urban planning and design, environmental justice, and the reduction of a city's ecological footprint. Key topics will include nature, sustainability, urban design, and social equity.
FALL.  Bremer, Jonathan E. (P)
Philosophy 115F, SECTION 19
Race and Democracy in the U.S.A.
Achieving and sustaining democracy in the United States has been compromised by agendas for social, political, economic, and cultural advantages for one racial group--"white people"--while curtailed or denied for persons of other racial and ethnic groups. Through a historically informed reading of Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, we will explore an enduring and vexing challenge of how to achieve a just, "democratic" nation-state with a demographically complex population of similar and different racial and ethnic groups.
FALL.  Outlaw Jr., Lucius Turner. (US)
Philosophy 115F, SECTION 29
Challenges to Authority.
This course examines common themes in anti-authoritarian and non-hierarchical discourse about a variety of social and political practices. Do radical challenges to authority explain and justify themselves in terms of new and different values, or do they appeal to interests and models of justificatory argument similar to those that underlie the practices they reject? We will focus on challenges in the law, political organization, education, religion, and personal relationships.
FALL.  Davis, Kevin R. (SBS)
Philosophy 115F, SECTION 31
Theories of Justice.
What is justice? How is it achieved? How does it relate to our personhood and interrelations, or to animals, plants, nature and the environment? How does justice relate to equality, law and liberty, constitutions and constitutionalism? What matters in choosing leaders and setting priorities that affect ourselves and others? Readings include Plato's Republic, Rawls' A Theory of Justice, and Goodman's On Justice.
FALL.  Jaeger, Gary A. (HCA)
Political Science 115F, SECTION 6
American Constitutional Law: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
The Constitution's preamble indicates that it was crafted to secure the "Blessings of Liberty" to American citizens. What are these blessings and how are they maintained? What parameters constrain freedoms of speech, press, and religion; rights to protest and assembly; due process and equal protection of law? We will explore these questions by examining Constitutional amendments through the lens of legal scholarship and social commentary. The final project consists of a written legal brief and moot court presentation.
FALL.  Russell, Carrie. (SBS)
Political Science 115F, SECTION 8
We will examine human trafficking in its historical, legal, economic, political and social contexts and identify the scope of the global problem, different forms of human trafficking, regional trends and practices, and the different actors involved at all levels. We will explore the complexity of human trafficking in order to understand its root causes in a globalized world, as well as the relationship between supply and demand in diverse forms of trafficking. In addressing the problem, the roles of government, the international community, civil society, and individual actors will also be explored.
FALL.  Mo, Cecilia Hyunjung. (SBS)
Political Science 115F, SECTION 9
A Film Portrayal of African Development.
We will explore topics in African political and socioeconomic development through key films in African cinema. Film provides insights into such developments through the eyes and experiences of Africans themselves and constitutes a very different, but very rich, medium for substantive learning. We will focus on the following core questions: What prevents African development, and what propels it? What role have colonial powers played in the past, and what role should foreign intervention play in the future? How may politics help or hinder development?
FALL.  TBA. (INT)
Portuguese 115F, SECTION 3
Modern Brazil: The Shaping of a Nation.
We will examine the evolution of Brazil as a global power from its military dictatorships in the 1960s and 1970s through its instability in the 1980s and early 1990s to its emergence as an economic, political, and diplomatic powerhouse in the twenty-first century. Knowledge of Portuguese is not necessary.
FALL.  Bahia, Marcio. (INT)
Psychology 115F, SECTION 12
The Psychology of Eating Disorders.
Examination of how biology, psychology, culture, and environment combine to cause anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorders. Major theories and approaches to assessment, treatment, and prevention. Related phenomenon such as compulsive exercise, body-building, and steroid abuse. Readings include popular accounts of what it is like to have and overcome an eating disorder as well as scholarly writings from a wide range of scientists. Writing assignments emphasize critical thinking through assessing relevant literature, evaluating evidence, and applying these skills to topics relevant to eating disorders.
FALL.  Schlundt, David G. (SBS)
Psychology 115F, SECTION 15
This course takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding autism from both historical and contemporary perspectives. We will examine the beginning of autism awareness in Western culture, learn about evolving scientific explanations, and explore autism within current social, medical, and educational contexts. We will make a special effort to integrate the art and the science surrounding the study of autism, while at the same time challenging the myths. Readings are drawn from fiction, history, anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience.
FALL.  Sandberg, Elisabeth Hollister. (SBS)
Russian 115F, SECTION 1
Classic Russian Short Novels.
In the nineteenth century, Russia witnessed an unprecedented explosion of literary and intellectual activity, a renaissance yielding some of the masterpieces of world literature. Concentrating on short classic novels, we will examine works by the most prominent authors of this period, putting special emphasis on Russia’s unique handling of the sudden influx of European philosophy and culture. Knowledge of Russian is not required.
FALL.  Spektor, Alex. (HCA)
Sociology 115F, SECTION 2
The Artist and the City.
This seminar takes a sociological approach to understanding the relationship between urban living and artistic expression. We will examine how creativity may be conceived as not only a property of individuals, but also something that is nurtured in particular ways by concrete social circumstances.
FALL.  Lloyd, Richard Douglas. (SBS)
Sociology 115F, SECTION 4
Women and Work in the United States.
We will apply sociological methods to understanding patterns in women's paid and unpaid work in the United States, from the 1700s to the present. Special attention will be given to the comparative experiences of white women and women of color. The course will focus on women's increased involvement in paid work following World War II, and the resulting tensions between employment and women's traditional family roles. We will also analyze current and proposed policies affecting women's home and paid work, including those intended to reduce gender inequality in employment and wages.
FALL.  Campbell, Karen E. (SBS)
Sociology 115F, SECTION 7
Controversies in the Practice of Medicine.
This course will examine controversies surrounding issues in the field of medicine, including abortion, physician-assisted suicide, organ sales, the ideal physician-patient relationship, health insurance, and medical advertising in the media. We will analyze particularly the role of the pharmaceutical industry and the media in such controversies to gain a unique perspective on the relationship between modern society and contemporary medicine.
FALL.  TBA. (SBS)
Theatre 115F, SECTION 1
Treasure or Trash: Examining Theatrical Credibility.
What constitutes a worthwhile theatrical experience? This course will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the collaborative processes essential to theatrical production. Students will explore aspects of theatrical practice such as design, directing, and acting. They will also explore the nature of theatre and its place in the realm of human experience through readings and attendance at several live performances. Successful students will gain a unique understanding of the individual components of theatrical art from page to stage and from spectator to critic.
FALL.  Hallquist, Terryl W. (HCA)
Women's and Gender Studies
Women's and Gender Studies 115F, SECTION 5
Love and Marriage in Literature and Culture.
The ideals of love and marriage dominate narratives from Aristophanes' plays to Judd Apatow's comedies. This course examines how different societies construct these ideals in their arts and popular culture, and the effect of those constructions on social behavior. We will analyze the intersection of art and social change in relation to gender, power, and sexuality. Texts will include plays (Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Ibsen), novels (Austen, Smiley), short stories (Faulkner, Oates, Updike), poetry (Yeats, Rich, Dove), and essays by psychologists, memoirists, and humorists.
FALL.  Kinard, Amanda M. (HCA)
Women's and Gender Studies 115F, SECTION 7
This course examines how literary texts represent gendered lives. Using contemporary critical techniques and historical approaches, the course will explore how gender is determined by environment, personal choice, and social expectations. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Virginia Woolf.
FALL.  Pierce-Baker, Charlotte. (HCA)