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Writing Requirements | First-Year Writing Seminars

First-Year Writing Seminars for Spring 2014

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.)

Spring 2014

  • Philosophy 115F, Section 16, The Nature of the Political: Ancient and Modern.

Spring 2014

  • Philosophy 115F, Section 1, Ethics and the Professions.

Spring 2014


Anthropology 115F, SECTION 10
Pseudoarchaeology: Mysteries and Myths in Popular Culture.
Did Atlantis exist? Who built the Pyramids? Who were the first people in America? Numerous books, movies, and television programs attempt to explain these mysteries with the use of wild theories and speculations based on spurious archaeological evidence. Studying how archaeologists create evidence-based arguments, we will use that knowledge to critique information presented in popular media.
SPRING. [3] Sauer,Jacob James. (SBS)

Anthropology 115F, SECTION 11
The Things that Matter: Objects, Materiality, and Consumption.
This course examines anthropological approaches to material culture: the practices, relations, and rituals through which things, such as clothing, shell valuables, and money, become meaningful. People make those inanimate objects, but how do inanimate objects make the social relationships of people? The course will address the varying significance of objects in different social contexts, from gift exchange to cell phones. Should we understand material objects as fulfilling human needs, or as symbols that say something about their users? What light can they shed on social structure and inequality, class identity, values and morality, or historical change?
SPRING. [3] Vogt, Jennifer. (SBS)

Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences 115F, SECTION 4
Our Health, Our Planet, and Evolution.
What do biodiversity, antibiotic resistance, and coping with climate change have in common? They are all built on the unifying concept of evolution. This course will explore how evolution illuminates our understanding of our health and our planet by studying Charles Darwin's travels around the world on the HMS Beagle, reading the Origin of Species, and elucidating the impact of Darwin's theory on our knowledge of the Earth's precious biodiversity and the wonders of modern medicine. We will also examine how society has grappled with evolutionary biology over time. Topics will include eugenics, cancer, influenza, HIV, extinction, and global warming.
SPRING. [3] Benson,Amanda R. (MNS)


English 115F, SECTION 2
African American Literature and Its Image in Film and Video.
African American literature communicates the experience of marginalization in the United States through representations, mythologies, and tensions within communities while seeking to dismantle racial and sexual stereotypes. We will explore questions about the politics of production or publication and how the visual reproductions filter, exaggerate, and mutate the original texts. Identity in early African American novels and cinema, the literature of the Harlem Renaissance and the Protest Period, and filmmakers' interpretations of difference and assimilation will be explored.
SPRING. [3] Birdsong,Destiny O. (HCA)

English 115F, SECTION 3
Representations of Asian Americans.
This course will explore the history of representation of Asian Americans in U.S. literature and culture and the importance of Asian Americans to the construction and development of American national history. We will trace disparate Asian American ethnic groups and their varied histories of immigration and exclusion, settlement and discrimination, and assimilation and resistance within the United States. We will examine the literary, political, social, and psychological dimensions of Asian American cultural representations in a variety of texts, including novels, short stories, poems, plays, and film.
SPRING. [3] Shin, Haerin. (P)

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.
SPRING. [3] Hilles,Rick. (HCA)

English 115F, SECTION 30
What is America to Me?: Immigration and the (Re)Making of American Identity.
We will explore personal stories, films, literary works, music, and digital media about migration to the U.S. from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. Along the way we will learn about and from these immigrant communities’ cultures, histories, identities, and perspectives on the American Dream. What are the push and pull factors that lead these immigrants to the U.S? What are their experiences here? How have they been received? What impact have they had on American society? The course will include tailored training in innovative and standard research methods, including archival research, discourse analysis, and oral history.
SPRING. [3] Nwankwo,Ifeoma. (HCA)

English 115F, SECTION 39
Formations of American Identity.
Decades before the heralded "American Renaissance" in literature that included Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, and Poe, a coterie of American authors created works that shaped America's literary landscape, challenged conventional wisdom, and helped us to imagine alternative literary histories in the United States. This course will examine how early American authors challenged conceptions of national identity in the burgeoning Republic and engaged historical moments of crisis, such as the Indian Removal and slavery. The novels will cut across several literary genres, including American Gothic and Historical Romance, and feature writers such as Lydia Maria Child and Charles Brockden Brown. Repeat credit for students who have completed 115F section 44.
SPRING. [3] Briggs,Gabriel. (HCA)

English 115F, SECTION 40
Environmental Ethics in Beast Fables.
What would dogs or cats say if they could speak? This course will examine fables featuring creatures who implore readers to examine their ethical and spiritual responsibility toward the environment, a fragile ecosystem that cannot endure society's unsustainable practices. This genre will be studied from a global ecocritical perspective and will use various media focusing on the philosophical, political, and aesthetic implications of the human-animal relationship.
SPRING. [3] Garcia,Humberto. (P)

English 115F, SECTION 41
Literary Representations of Sacrifice.
The word "sacrifice" summons images of ritual practices and ancient religions, but what is its contemporary significance? Through an analysis of twentieth-century literature and popular culture, we will trace the recent history and evolving meaning of sacrifice and sacrificial bodies. Some of the authors we will read include Toni Morrison, Muriel Spark, and J. M. Coetzee. This course considers the ethical and sociopolitical aspects of "sacrificed" bodies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in order to come to an understanding of the role that sacrifice plays in our cultural imagination.
SPRING. [3] Covington,Elizabeth R. (HCA)

English 115F, SECTION 42
New American Folklore.
This course will trace the tradition of American folklore and culture heroes from Johnny Appleseed to John Henry, and from Anansi the spider to Coyote the trickster. Through readings of tales, legends, myths, ballads, jokes, riddles, proverbs, rituals, festivals, and material folklore, we will explore how folklore shapes national, regional, and ethnic identities and the ways that folklore transcends static forms of identity and association. We will examine the history of folklore study in the United States and the contemporary theories of ethnography that contribute to further understanding. Students will be introduced to theory, research, and fieldwork.
SPRING. [3] Morrell,John J. (HCA)

English 115F, SECTION 43
Literary Confessions.
Is confession good for the soul? This course explores how confession operates as a cultural force to shape our understanding of concepts like identity, guilt, privacy, and power. We will interrogate the nature of these personal revelations through literary and filmic treatments of confession ranging from Augustine and Shakespeare to Hitchcock and Raymond Chandler. In examining confessions in religious and legal contexts, we will attempt find answers to questions such as: Who controls confessional speech? How can language shape or reflect truth? What is the relationship between secrecy and selfhood?
SPRING. [3] Wanninger,Jane Miller. (HCA)

English 115F, SECTION 44
Formations of American Identity.
Decades before the heralded "American Renaissance" in literature that included Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, and Poe, a coterie of American authors created works that shaped America's literary landscape, challenged conventional wisdom, and helped us to imagine alternative literary histories in the United States. This course will examine how early American authors challenged conceptions of national identity in the burgeoning Republic and engaged historical moments of crisis, such as the Indian Removal and slavery. The novels will cut across several literary genres, including American Gothic and Historical Romance, and feature writers such as Lydia Maria Child and Charles Brockden Brown. Repeat credit for students who have completed 115F section 39.
SPRING. [3] Briggs,Gabriel. (HCA)

Film Studies

Film Studies 115F, SECTION 2
Poetry in Motion (Pictures).
This course will explore the ways in which all forms of poetry influence the film genre, with particular attention to cinematographic adaptations of international poetry that address historical, social, and economic factors. As we gain more insight into the poetic and cinematic genres and film adaptation theory, our course will then examine film adaptations of poems by Homer and contemporary poets.
SPRING. [3] Diente,Pablo Martinez. (INT)


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.
SPRING. [3] Kevra,Susan K. (INT)


German 115F, SECTION 6
German Opera: Theater, Music, Text.
This seminar delves into a genre that is one of the first modern multimedia art forms. Operatic works by Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and others will be discussed against the backdrop of German and European intellectual culture and aesthetics. We will consider the emergence of bourgeois theater, German myth and music, tales of Romantic love, and the staging of ideologies. We will focus on strategies of audio-visual and textual media and their reception. Knowledge of German is not required.
SPRING. [3] Endres, Johannes. (INT)


History 115F, SECTION 22
Samurai Film.
This course examines samurai as historical figures and as imaginary icons in post-World War II popular culture, along with the historical forces that produced and transformed them. We will explore contemporary social issues through the portrayal of such figures in works like Akira Kurosawa's samurai films. Students are required to attend weekly film screenings outside of scheduled class time.
SPRING. [3] Igarashi,Yoshikuni. (INT)

History 115F, SECTION 23
Nationalism and Nation Building in Africa.
This course focuses on the many expressions of anti-colonial and proactive nationalism on the African continent from the late nineteenth century colonization to the 1990s when all African countries had gained independence. This course will highlight the contradictions, successes, and failures of these diverse nationalist expressions and agitations. Major topics include African nationalist resistance to European conquest and rule, Pan-Africanism, white nationalism and apartheid, the challenges of independence, and the politics of African unity.
SPRING. [3] Ochonu,Moses E. (INT)

History 115F, SECTION 26
Writing the Pan-African City.
This course will examine the political, economic, and cultural context of the urban experience in Africa and cities of the African diaspora. It will explore the history of racial formation and spatial practice, segregation and urban planning, and the political economy of slum clearance, gentrification, and urban renewal. It will also examine the making of the ghetto, the street as a site of Black self-fashioning and resistance, and surveillance and policing of Black urban subjects.
SPRING. [3] Hudson,Peter. (INT)

History 115F, SECTION 27
The Gun in History.
This course examines the invention and diffusion of gunpowder and guns throughout the world, as well as the social, symbolic, and political meanings of the gun. The latter part of the course explores the construction of American myths about the role of guns in American history, as well as current ideas about guns in America.
SPRING. [3] Lorge,Peter. (P)

History of Art

History of Art 115F, SECTION 12
Pompeii: Life and Death of a Roman City.
Destroyed in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE, the city of Pompeii is a unique time-capsule, preserving physical evidence of all aspects of public and private life, social structures, and religion. This seminar will study Pompeii's evolution from its origins through its final days. We will consider urban forms and monuments and analyze art, inscriptions, gardens, and waterworks. We will explore city amenities, from theaters and amphitheaters to baths and brothels and reconstruct domestic and public ritual practices. We will witness Pompeii's destruction in contemporary literature and track its afterlife since its rediscovery in the eighteenth century.
SPRING. [3] Robinson,Betsey Ann. (HCA)

Jewish Studies

Jewish Studies 115F, SECTION 9
Jews and Muslims: A Modern History.
What is the history of Muslim-Jewish relations beyond the images of violence in the Middle East flashing across our television screens? Can we think of that relationship without conjuring visions of raised guns and bombs exploding? This course answers such questions by focusing on Jewish communities indigenous to North Africa and the Middle East where Jews and Muslims have lived as neighbors in cooperation as well as in conflict. We will examine the coexistence of these two groups through periods of major upheaval to understand the effects of processes such as colonialism, imperialism, nationalism and decolonization on modern Muslim-Jewish relations.
SPRING. [3] Cohen,Julia. (INT)


Philosophy 115F, SECTION 16
The Nature of the Political: Ancient and Modern.
In this course we will examine the historical transformations in our understanding of the public realm in relation to its distinction from both the private and social realms. Through the works of Plato, Aristotle, Alfarabi, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Marx we will investigate the consequences of distinct theories of the political realm for human action and freedom.
SPRING. [3] Hodges, Michael P. (HCA)


Physics 115F, SECTION 1
Bogus Science.
This course will explore how science can be manipulated in various ways for various reasons. We will consider examples of pathological science, which occurs when beliefs persist after evidence shows them to be wrong, and corrupted science, which connotes the deliberate manipulation of scientific data and methods for commercial or political ends. In reviewing these examples, we will examine how science is supposed to operate to avoid these lapses and why bogus science often succeeds.
SPRING. [3] Gore,John C. (P)


Psychology 115F, SECTION 18
Ethics of Human Experimentation.
Volunteers are the backbone of much scientific investigation, but what are the risks? We will discuss historical violations of medical ethics and atrocities that have occurred in experimentation on human participants, as well as current codes of conduct and the value and practical limitations of informed consent, compensation, and debriefing. We will explore the influence of political agendas on scientific endeavors and research. Finally, this course will emphasize unique issues pertaining to psychological research, such as the use of deception, Internet research, and the neuroethics of mind reading.
SPRING. [3] Seiffert,Adriane E. (SBS)

Psychology 115F, SECTION 19
Environment, Behavior, and Health.
How do the environment, poverty, crime, culture, and social networks influence eating and exercise? We will study how causal factors interact to influence behavior and health, including the epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Contributions from geography, public health, social science, and epidemiology will be used to understand potential solutions such as environmental design, public policy, social marketing, and individual behavior change.
SPRING. [3] Schlundt,David G. (SBS)

Psychology 115F, SECTION 20
Psychology of Music.
This course explores the psychological and neuroscientific principles and processes involved in perceiving and producing music. Through directed reading of the psychological literature, class presentations, and written papers, students will develop an understanding of music from the perspective of psychology, and an understanding of psychology from the perspective of music. Skill at music is not required.
SPRING. [3] Logan,Gordon D. (SBS)

Psychology 115F, SECTION 21
Challenges of Memory.
The people, places, and experiences that we remember each and every day help to define who we are and the decisions we make. Despite this, we know that memory is an imperfect process. This course explores the fallibilities of human memory and discusses how these weaknesses lead to challenges within our lives and society. We will engage in scientific and professional writing projects that call on applying our own experiences in understanding this cognitive phenomenon. Assignments will be drawn from psychological journals, articles from the popular press, and media portrayal of memory challenges.
SPRING. [3] Sexton,Melonie Williams. (SBS)


Russian 115F, SECTION 3
Russia Between East and West.
For over two centuries, Russian writers have explored Russia's relationship with the East attempting to determine its significance in shaping the country's national identity. This course examines literary texts to explore how historical and social phenomena have contributed to the formation of Russia's ambivalent identity. Students will read major nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian authors (Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Platonov, Pelevin) and acquire a general appreciation for how national narratives are created and propagated through literature. Knowledge of Russian is not required.
SPRING. [3] Filimonova, Tatiana. (INT)


Sociology 115F, SECTION 18
Artistic Dreams, Communities, and Pathways.
Freelance arts professionals, in our enterprising age, assume multiple roles. They strive to become artists, entrepreneurs, and advocates and "network" feverishly to pursue their careers. Yet, as freelancers in risky labor markets, they have volatile incomes and often lack health insurance. This seminar addresses sociologically how arts professionals' dreams inspire and how their artistic communities enable them to seize opportunities and confront risk. We will focus on scholarly works and on transcripts of original interviews with 72 Nashville music artists, entrepreneurs, and advocates that the instructor and his research team conducted for the Nashville Music Careers research project.
SPRING. [3] Cornfield,Daniel B. (SBS)

Sociology 115F, SECTION 20
Genius and Madness.
This course will examine the belief that there is a connection between profound creativity and psychopathology. The dominant explanation views this connection as a pervasive phenomenon with biological roots, independent of time, place, or cultural difference. This course will encourage students to examine critically this explanation from a sociological perspective in conjunction with a historical framework and concepts from medicine, psychiatry, and anthropology. This approach will enable students to evaluate the merits of the prevailing creativity-illness explanation, and, if found wanting, permit them to amend, modify, or reject this explanation by articulating a competing interpretation or hypothesis.
SPRING. [3] Becker,George. (SBS)

Sociology 115F, SECTION 21
War and American Capitalism after WWII.
Since World War II, the United States has been involved in 76 military interventions on foreign soil, including 12 actions taking place since September 11, 2001. Although the causes of war are complex, one of the central forces that influences why, whom, and how we fight is the relationship between military force and corporate interests. With focus on the post-WWII United States, this course takes a sociological approach to understanding this connection between capitalism and war.
SPRING. [3] Murray, Joshua. (SBS)


Spanish 115F, SECTION 4
Language and the Law.
This course examines the role of language in legal settings. We will examine the language of police officers, judges, lawyers, and testifying witnesses and defendants. Particular attention will be paid to linguistic minorities' and women's contact with the court system, especially in cases of rape, murder, kidnapping, and child molestation. Historically, some of these cases have resulted in justice being denied to Spanish speakers in the United States and to speakers of indigenous languages in Latin America. Knowledge of Spanish is not required.
SPRING. [3] Berk- Seligson,Susan. (SBS)

Spanish 115F, SECTION 8
Ecocritical Perspectives in Latin American Literature.
This course will trace the development of ecocritical perspectives in literature from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, and Peru from pre-Columbian times to the twentieth century. How do matters of environmental health and justice emerge in literature? We will explore literary representations of the natural world, cultural constructions of the environment, and views of Spanish American writers regarding the dynamic interplay between humankind and nature. We will begin with indigenous texts and end with a novel that calls the reader to environmental activism. Knowledge of Spanish is not required.
SPRING. [3] Helmuth,Chalene. (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.
SPRING. [3] Meadows,Elizabeth. (HCA)

Women's and Gender Studies 115F, SECTION 7
Gendered Lives.
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.
SPRING. [3] Roche,Nancy. (HCA)