First Year Seminar Course Listings for Fall 2017
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First Year Seminar Course Listings for Fall 2017

Beauty, Body Image, and Feminism

TR 2:05-3:20PM
A 318
M. Matacin
In this course, we will study a variety of topics as they relate to uses of beauty and body image keeping in mind the historical and social context in which women have been viewed.  A feminist framework will provide the lens with which we will examine a variety of topics including beauty, eating/eating disorders, sexuality, weight, media portrayals of females, patriarchy, and how women are taught to view their own bodies.
CRN: 65811
Credits: 3.00


MW 1:30-2:45
D 421
Y. Li
Birth defects, health problem present at birth, affect about 8 million infants (6% of worldwide births) every year.  Down syndrome alone affects 1 in every 800 newborn babies.  What causes birth defects?  What can Genetic Testing tell us?  Can they be prevented?  In this seminar, we will gain an overall understanding of various birth defects as well as what we can learn from the Human Genome.
CRN: 65806
Credits: 3.00


MWF 10:30-11:20
A 322
M. Blackwell
Why are we fascinated by tales of shipwrecked sailors, island castaways, plane-crash survivors?  What purposes are served by stories that ask us to imagine being separated from family and friends, fending for ourselves in a hostile environment, renegotiating social rules, and shifting our attention from the niceties of modern life to the demands of physical survival? This course will provide an occasion for thinking about these and related questions through a selective survey of the literature of survival produced over the last four hundred years or so. Our reference point will be the granddaddy of such tales, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), but we will also read one or two responses to Defoe’s novel (Muriel Spark’s Robinson, J. M. Coetzee’s Foe, or Elizabeth Bishop’s “Crusoe in England”), consider some direct and indirect cinematic reimaginings of Defoe’s story (Sutherland’s Mr. Robinson Crusoe, Zemeckis’s Cast Away, or Scott’s The Martian), and explore some real survivor stories (Marquez, The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor, or Singer, “The Castaways”).
CRN: 65801
Credits: 3.00


TR 3:30-4:45
UT 309
L. Gould
“The Earth's surface temperature is increasing dangerously! Rising sea levels could flood cities! The severity of storms is intensifying! Glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate! Polar bears are threatened! And human beings are to blame because of their activities which emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases.” Such alarming claims are similar to the ones being propagated by various scientists, politicians, and educators as well as by the major news media and in movies. But how can one find out if the scenarios are true? In considering this problem we will explore the following through the use of videos, handouts, readings, the internet, and class discussions: What is meant by the popular term “anthropogenic global warming/climate change” (AGW, for short)? What are correct and incorrect methods of arguing for the existence of AGW? How can science determine if AGW exists, and (if it does) whether it is dangerous? What are possible ethical, political, and economic issues involved in promoting claims of AGW? This seminar course examines some of the AGW rhetoric and science through an investigation of its proponents’ methods of argumentation as well as of their scientific claims. Given the dominant and widespread promulgation of dangerous AGW claims through both the media and educational institutions, the aim of this seminar is to better prepare students to rationally investigate matters for themselves.
CRN: 65942
Credits: 3.00


MW 1:30-2:45
D 309
K. McGeever
This course will examine 1) the major types of crimes committed on college campuses and experienced by college students; 2) legal and administrative responses to crimes at places of higher education; and 3) theoretical explanations of crimes in college. Students will explore crimes typical to college campuses, such as underage drinking, as well as those that garner national attention, such as the Virginia Tech shooting and Baylor sexual assaults.  Emphasis will be placed on the development of higher education responses to crime, including the Clery Act, Title IX, and the debate over concealed carry laws on campuses. The course relies on sociological and criminological explanations for differing crime rates at universities and colleges, with particular attention to demographic and institutional factors. Students will be expected to work collaboratively and communicate ideas effectively in both verbal and written form.
CRN: 65805
Credits: 3.00

energy, oil and development

MW 2:55-4:10
H 140
M. Cupolo
Through interactive classes, team research, and case studies this seminar introduces the relations between energy and oil central to the current debate on sustainable development, and explains how and why oil supply and demand have been crucial in the recent history of Mexico, United States, and Venezuela. (In the last decades, Mexico and Venezuela have been among the main suppliers of the US oil market.)
CRN: 65812
Credits: 3.00

Google Play in Pop Culture

TR 4:50-6:05
A 318
B. Kovacic
This class will examine the significance of Google in two ways.  First, we will discuss new practices and behaviors relevant to pop culture that we can engage in due to Google’s portfolio of products and services.  Second, we will examine media coverage and other media representations of Google.  Then we will connect the two threads of our discussion.
CRN: 66222
Credits: 3.00


MWF 10:30-11:20
CC 115
L. Pence
Race, immigration, women’s issues, gun violence, politics… the hit Broadway musical Hamilton has all these plus hip hop, natural disasters, revenge, and a sex scandal!  We’ll look at these issues both in the history of our young nation and in our current society.  Come and be in the Room Where it Happens!
CRN: 66407
Credits: 3.00

Human history through food

TR 9:25-10:40
H 138
S. Rosenthal
From the discovery of agriculture giving rise to civilization 12,000 years ago to the “Green Revolution” of our own time which has nearly doubled the world’s population, food has played a pivotal role in shaping world history. But what we eat and how we eat it is also a product of historical developments such as the discovery of the new world and the industrial revolution. We shall examine the evolution of food and its relation to culture from cave man starches to golden arches. In the process we shall illuminate the history of such gastronomic icons as pizza, chocolate, beer and ice cream. Very often samples will be provided.
CRN: 65808
Credits: 3.00


TR 3:30-4:45PM
A 318
O. Sharp
An average person can be expected to spend about 100,000 hours at work over his or her lifetime.  For many of us, a job is not just a source of income but also an important part of our self-identity.  It can be a source of satisfaction and pride as well as a cause of stress.  In this seminar we will explore the world of work by reading book chapters and watching several films about the workplace.
CRN: 65813
Credits: 3.00


MW 4:50-6:05PM
H 312
A. Walling
How did we get from ancient legends of a British warrior chieftain to Spamalot?  In this course, we will look at  how and why the story of King Arthur has been reinvented for different times and places, ranging from medieval stories to modern films such as Excalibur and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We will pay special attention to Hartford’s own Mark Twain, whose Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court uses Arthur to define American identity. We will use literature, art, film, and popular culture to understand what has made the legend of Arthur so powerful for so many centuries. 
CRN: 65814
Credits: 3.00

Making the Self

TR       4:50-6:05PM
A 318
N. Ealy
How do you know who you are? Is your "self" something stable and fully-formed, something still being constructed, or possibly even something that is multiple or fictional? In this course we will explore various ideas about the self - how you know who you are - though a study of myth, literature, film and television.
CRN: 66406
Credits: 3.00

math and the imagination

MW 2:55-4:10
CC 117
D. Benardete
We are all familiar with the use of imagination in art, music, poetry, fiction, and movies, and also in everyday activities such as daydreaming. In the Fifteenth Century, mathematicians began to refer to certain kinds of numbers as imaginary. An example is the square root of -1. The book Imagining Numbers by Barry Mazur argues that there are surprising similarities between the use of imagination in the arts and everyday life and the use of imagination in mathematics. This seminar will explore such similarities and differences by a careful reading of Mazur’s book together with related mathematical and literary material---including the lyrics of Bob Dylan.
CRN: 65804
Credits: 3.00

modern love

MW 6:10-7:25
A 320
R. Lang
Through a study of graphic novels, web television series and film, we will explore a wide range of social bonds in our late-modern age, with a particular focus on the ethics, aesthetics and politics of friendship, sex, and love.
CRN: 65733
Credits: 3.00


TR 8:00-9:15
CC 117
P. Siegel
This class is aimed at folks who are not afraid of the fact that simply READING plays in class looks very much like “acting,” so they can’t be too shy. We will be reading about a half dozen or so plays (and one TV script) that all use 9/11 as an anchor, but that are all about something else or more. For example, one play focuses on a “blind date” scheduled for the evening of that fateful day, another looks at a couple involved in an adulterous office romance, as they contemplate using the tragedy to fake a death and escape together, and a third involves a couple who are not sure whether they want to have a baby, or abort their pregnancy.
CRN: 65810
Credits: 3.00

race, class, gender reality tv

TR 10:50-12:05
D 419
A. Freeman
This course will examine how the popular genre of reality television creates, reflects, reproduces and challenges cultural roles and expectations about gender, race, class and sexuality. Reading and discussion will uncover the ways in which these “real lives” are manufactured and manipulated to fit pre-existing cultural narratives. Students will be asked to consider the sociological impact of reality television shows. We will also explore how the shows are made and the ways audiences consume them.
CRN: 65815
Credits: 3.00

reality tv in popular culture

MW 2:55-4:10
H 251
J. Banks
Reality TV has become one of the most popular and successful genres of television shows. This course examines the commercial production of reality TV, ideas conveyed in the shows about such topics as beauty, sexuality, relationships, celebrity, competition, work, consumerism and success; the representation of gender, race, economic class and sexual orientation; and how individuals and society may be influenced by reality TV.
CRN: 65807
Credits: 3.00

seeing is believing

TR 9:25-10:40
E 105
J. Anastas
Sensation and perception are the most basic thing we do as thinkers – and so they provide useful insight into how our minds work. In this course, students will learn how each of the senses work, physically and mentally. Students will also spend time learning about some of the foundational challenges for the science of the mind, using perception as our framework. Topics will include the physiological basis for sensation, the mental experience of perception (e.g., illusions), and discussions about the philosophy of mind.
CRN: 65802
Credits: 3.00

The matter of black lives

TR 4:50-6:05
H 303
B. Sinche
Over the past decade, we have been reminded again and again about the importance of black lives to our politics and to our national story. Indeed, we have learned that economics, justice, law enforcement, and art look very different when seen from a black perspective. In this course, we will try to take seriously that different perspective as we learn about black lives throughout American history. We will read autobiographies, watch documentaries and films, examine legal documents, and use these various texts to think about the matter (and significance) of black lives in the United States.
CRN: 65803
Credits: 3.00

The Roots and Routes of EDM

TR 2:05-3:20
D 205
N. Highberg
EDM (electronic dance music) may seem like a relatively new genre with the popularity of superstar DJs such as David Guetta, Daft Punk, and Avicii and sold-out festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, TomorrowLand, and Shambhala. Actually, there is not too much new about EDM. In this seminar, we'll explore the roots, or history, of EDM by examining the genres--disco, house/techno, hip-hop, and others--upon which it has been built. We'll also examine the routes, or places, where today's EDM has been formed and transformed--Chicago, Detroit, Ibiza, Mumbai, and Seoul among others. Take this class because it has a good beat and you can dance to it. Meowingtons will be pleased. .
CRN: 65809
Credits: 3.00