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First-Year Seminar Program

The ability to communicate well on a college level is crucial to success at Hood. With that in mind, the First-Year Seminar program offers students an opportunity to sharpen academic reading and writing skills in small classroom settings. Limited to 15 students, all first-year seminars are intensive and help students refine their abilities in these areas as well as in critical thinking, information literacy and class discussion. The seminar topics have broad appeal while reflecting the varied interests and expertise of the faculty who teach them. All incoming first-year students are required to take a First-Year Seminar course during their first fall semester at Hood as a core requirement.

The following are our First-Year Seminar course listings for the fall 2016 semester.

FYS 101-01: The Sixties in Context

Martha Bari, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history and director of First-Year Programs

The 1960s marks one of the most turbulent decades in U.S. history, and one that profoundly changed the direction of America. Drastic shifts in sixties political, social, and cultural arenas affect how we live our lives today and the problems we face. How did these forces so radically transform American values, culture, and life style? Through a variety of readings and samplings of period music, TV clips, and films, we’ll try to arrive at a deeper understanding of the period. By the end of the semester, you’ll have a strong enough background to be able to, among other things, recognize the backdrop of the Cold War when watching a James Bond movie, pick out veiled cultural references in a Rolling Stones song, recognize the far-reaching consequences of the Vietnam War for the 21st century, and be more self-aware of your own beliefs and convictions than before taking this course.

FYS 101-02: Developing Your Leadership Potential

Kathleen C. Bands, Ph.D., professor of education and director of Center for Teaching and Learning

Have you often found that you have a passion for change and action? Would you like to explore what it means to be a successful leader? Leadership exists in many forms, and whether you consider yourself a leader already or want to develop your potential as a leader, this course will help teach you to work well with others and will enhance your leadership abilities. In this course, you will recognize your unique leadership potential and develop successful habits. Enjoy learning from interactive class activities, projects, discussions and opportunities to meet leaders from all walks of life! You will learn skills to help you succeed in college and as a leader. Explore different types of leadership by finding out what type of leader you are through Myers Briggs and True Colors, and share your leadership style with the world by developing your own leadership philosophy!

FYS 101-03: The Joy of Computing

Elizabeth Change, Ph.D., professor of computer science

Computing has changed our world in profound ways. This course will examine some of the history, big ideas, and fundamental concepts of computing. The overarching theme is to expose students to the beauty and joy of computing. Topics include: key figures in computing, fun programing using a friendly graphical language; big ideas in computing; applications that have changed our world; social implications of the digital revolution; risks and errors of computing systems; and the limits and the future of computing.

FYS 101-04: “May It Please the Court”: Exploring the Legal Profession

Teresa Bean, J.D., assistant professor of law and criminal justice

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to various aspects of the law and the rewards and challenges of a legal career. We will explore diverse legal careers, interact with legal professionals, and review the law school application process. Students will gain technical legal knowledge and necessary legal skills such as: logical reasoning, case analysis, how to analyze legal issues, how to formulate legal arguments, and drafting legal documents.

FYS 101-06: Mass Media and the 2016 Presidential Race

Alan Goldenbach, assistant professor of journalism

We spend a lot of time consuming information – whether it is from traditional web sites, social media platforms, music, movies, broadcast or streamed video content, or even printed media – and all those who produce and distribute that information to the masses share a goal for that content: Pay attention to me!

This course will use information distribution and consumption on a particularly relevant topic – the 2016 Presidential Election (in addition to other information in the mass-media cycle) – to help students develop their critical-thinking skills with a particular emphasis on skepticism. What does it mean to be skeptical? How does it benefit you? Why do many people producing mass media (not simply news media) hope you aren’t too skeptical? And the truth may lie in a place we seldom look – comedy. We will use late-night comedy and other off-the-cuff mass media coverage of news and facts from the Presidential campaign to develop that skepticism, and develop a higher standard for truthful, reliable information.

FYS 101-07: McHistory: McDonalds and the Past, Present, and Future of Globalization

Corey Campion, Ph.D., adjunct instructor of history

We are experiencing and shaping a unique moment in the human story. Products, such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and iPads, have gone global. Global challenges, such as climate change, Ebola, and the Great Recession, continue to unite the world’s communities in unprecedented ways. This seminar asks: what exactly are the consequences of this expanding globalization of contemporary society? To discover the answer, students first will scrutinize the past in order to find out when and how globalization began. Then they will turn their attention to the present and future in order to realize how globalization impacts the world.

FYS 101-08: Horror in Literature and Popular Culture

Amy Gottfried, Ph.D., professor of English and acting associate provost

Through novels, poems, and short stories, this first-year course explores the ways in which horror has gripped the human imagination in the stories we tell each other. But it also explores the ways in which these stories have changed over time, focusing primarily on 19th, 20th, and 21st century literature and film/television adaptations of same. By asking just why we delight in scaring ourselves silly, first-year students will find an accessible route to more challenging critical approaches to literary and cultural study, including psychoanalytic and feminist studies, multicultural perspectives, and Marxist and ethical arguments. Familiar works like those written by Edgar Allen Poe (“The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and of course “The Raven”) and W.W. Jacobs (“The Monkey’s Paw”) lend themselves beautifully to critical theory. Thus, as the class examines how and why the classic ghost story (or poem) terrifies its audience, students will grow more familiar with scholarly analysis, and also with the craft of writing itself.

FYS 101-09: The History and Culture of World Writing Systems

Jennifer Ross, Ph.D., professor of archaeology

This course will introduce students to both ancient and modern writing systems, and examine them in terms of their origins, evolution, and suitability to meeting the needs of their users. We will start the course with the earliest writing, in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC, and end with questions of modern systems of encryption and Twitter. Along the way, we will consider issues of numeracy and literacy, the relationship of language and writing, the political goals of writers and readers, and the problems of as-yet undeciphered writing systems

FYS 101-10: American Culture in 10 Albums

Noel Verzosa, Ph.D., associate professor of music

Rarely do we go a day without music. Whether it’s coming from our headphones, the speakers at the café, or right in front of us at a concert, music has provided the soundtrack to our lives almost from the day we were born. But music isn’t only a personal experience. At various points throughout history, music has served as a mirror for an entire historical or cultural moment. In this class we will survey ten albums released between 1950 and the present. We will see how music was a reflection—and in some cases a catalyst—for some of the most important moments in American culture of the last seventy years. We will place these albums alongside historical episodes such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, feminism, and modernism.

The albums to be covered include Nina Simone in Concert (1964), Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew (1970), Laurie Anderson’s Big Science (1982), Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988), Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991), Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville (1993), Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012), and others.

The ability to read music is not required for this course. The albums were chosen not for their technical or stylistic features but for their usefulness as entry points into issues reaching far beyond music. Discussions of each album will be accompanied by reading material taken from a variety of sources: literature and poetry, journalism and socio-political commentary, scholarly articles, and the like. By studying these albums critically—not just as music lovers but also as researchers of history and culture—we will see (and hear) how music has encapsulated the beliefs, hopes, controversies, and contradictions of twentieth and twenty-first century America.

FYS 101-12: Amazing Archaeological Discoveries

Tammy Krieger, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of archaeology

The construction of the Great Pyramids at Giza; the remains of the ancient citizens unearthed in Pompeii; the tomb of Tutankhamun; the mysterious stone giants of Easter Island; the monoliths of Stonehenge—these are just some of a host of archaeological discoveries that this seminar examines. The course begins with a general introduction to archaeology before we turn our attention to a rich and varied selection of ancient archaeological sites. We will then consider how archaeology has captured the popular imagination as depicted in the media (Indiana Jones, best-selling fiction and pseudo-documentaries) and measured by the effects of archaeological tourism. In the end you will easily be able to critique and distinguish these popular versions of archaeology and archaeologists from the actual scientific discipline that enables us to understand the incredible and diverse cultural heritage of humankind.

FYS 101-13: Exploring Gender

Lisa Marcus, Ph.D., professor of French

“What is gender? When and how is gender assigned to each of us? Are there only two options? In this course, students will examine gender as a social construct through a study of gender identity, including transgender and gender-fluid identities. After first gaining a basic understanding of the relationship between sex and gender, we will look at cultural norms of masculinity and femininity and contrast them with alternative models from our own culture and others. Our exploration of gender will be based on popular culture, media, recent scientific research, autobiographies and fiction, as well as conversations with gender-fluid and transgender individuals from the local community. In their writing, students will examine gender identity, its definitions and its boundaries, to arrive at a critical analysis of the social construction of the masculine, the feminine, and everything in between.”

FYS 101-15: Music and Movies: You Mean Music Matters?

Lynne Staininger, Ph.D., instructor of music and director of choral activities and choral conducting

Did you ever wonder why some moments at the movies completely melted your heart or made you pull up your feet and grab your nearest neighbor in terror? It is not just the action on the screen that amplifies our responses; it is also that often-unidentified element, the music. Since the invention of films, music has shaped our responses to the stories told on the big and little screen. Love it or hate it, the music is just as important as the plot itself, and it often outlives the images on the screen. This seminar is designed around the activity of analyzing film music, with an emphasis on guided discussion, writing assignments and public presentations. The seminar centers on understanding the elements that comprise a film score, how this music relates to the story line and how each person interprets the various themes within.

FYS 101-16: The Cyborg in Literature, in Film, and in the Mirror

Aaron Angello, Ph.D., Sophia M. Libman NEH professor of the humanities

Are human beings becoming cybernetic organisms? The term “cyborg” was coined more than a half-century ago, and it continues to evoke images of the marauding, half-human, half-robot soldiers so popular in science fiction. Yet digital technology is becoming so inextricably integrated into our lives, so much a part of who we are, that we might consider the possibility that the humans are becoming cyborgs. In this course, we will look at representations of the cyborg in literature, film, and other media. We will also look at real-world examples of new technologies being coupled with human bodies, in medicine, art, sports, and the military. Finally, we will consider the impact of the technology we use every day on our lives and our bodies, and we will ask ourselves if we have, in fact, become cybernetic organisms.

FYS 101H: Exploring Evil

Honors students only

Trevor Dodman, Ph.D., professor of English; Karen Hoffman, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and co-director of the Honors Program; and April Morris, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history

This team-taught course takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding various perspectives on the nature of evil as well as human responsibilities for and responses to evil in the modern world. The course raises questions about historical and contemporary evils, including genocide and dehumanization. It also explores our understanding of monsters and the monstrous. In addition to large group sessions and days spent on field trips, students will move through three rotations, spending several weeks in small groups with each of the three instructors.