First-Year Seminars

Professors Andrucki, Corrie, Dillon, Ray, Rice-DeFosse, and Tracy; Associate Professors Browne, Côté, Dilley, Eames, Maurizio, Miura, and Taylor; Visiting Associate Professors Bessire and Plastas; Assistant Professors Ashwell, Aslan, Cavallero, Lundblad, Peréz-Armendáriz, Robert, and Williams; Visiting Assistant Professor Laird; Lecturers Anthony, Beck, Bigelow, Clough, Faries, Langdon, Seeley, Sewall, Smith, Valvo, and Vedal



All first-year students are strongly encouraged to enroll in a first-year seminar. Each first-year seminar offers an opportunity for entering students to develop skills in writing, reasoning, and research that will be of critical importance throughout their academic career. Enrollment is limited to fifteen students to ensure the active participation of all class members and to permit students and instructor to concentrate on developing the skills necessary for successful college writing. Seminars typically focus on a current problem or a topic of particular interest to the instructor. First-year seminars are not open to upperclass students. They carry full course credit.

Courses
FYS 084. Anatomy of a Few Small Machines.One can treat the products of technology as "black boxes"—plain in purpose but mysterious in function. A more flexible and exciting life is available to those who look on all such devices as mere extensions of their hands and minds—who believe they could design, build, modify, and repair anything they put their hands on. This course helps students do this primarily through practice. Only common sense is required, but participants must be willing to attack any aspect of science and technology. Field trips are required. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] G. Clough.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 127. Experimental Music.Whether in classical, jazz, popular, or category-defying music styles, experimentalists challenge inherited definitions and social conventions of music by favoring expanded sound sources, unconventional formal structures, and radical performance practices. This seminar examines the roots, history, and musical documents of American experimental music from Benjamin Franklin to Frank Zappa. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] H. Miura.
FYS 135. Women in Art.Beginning in the 1970s in response to the feminist movement, the investigation of women's roles in the production of visual culture has expanded the traditional parameters of art history. Now a leading method of analysis, this approach provides exciting insights into fields ranging from Egyptian sculpture to contemporary photography. This seminar discusses women as subjects, makers, and patrons. Topics include Egyptian royal imagery, women as Renaissance subjects and painters, Venus in Renaissance marriage paintings, women as Impressionist painters and subject matter, artists and models in the twentieth century, and women in the New York art world since World War II. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] R. Corrie.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

FYS 150. Hamlet.This course undertakes an intensive study of Shakespeare's play, with particular emphasis on the various ways it has been interpreted through performance. Students read the play closely, view several filmed versions, and investigate historical productions in order to arrive at a sense of Hamlet's changing identity and enduring importance. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] M. Andrucki.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 274. Physics in the Twentieth Century/Lab.An introduction to great twentieth-century discoveries in physics, including the wave-particle duality of light and matter, quantum effects, special relativity, nuclear physics, and elementary particles. Laboratory experiments such as the photoelectric effect and electron diffraction are incorporated into the seminar. This seminar can substitute for PHYS 108 and is designed for students who had a strong background in high school physics. Not open to students who have received credit for PHYS 108. Enrollment limited to 15. [S] [L] [Q] [W1] N. Lundblad.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 309. Matters of Life and Death.When is it morally justifiable to engage in an action that results in death? This seminar considers some of the most difficult moral questions currently being debated in our society. Issues discussed include the death penalty, abortion, war, terrorism, and torture. Particular case studies are explored, and careful attention is given to the ethical arguments that can be made for contending positions on these questions. Enrollment limited to 15. (Purposeful Work.) [W1] T. Tracy.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 318. Through the Eyes of Children.Is the experience of childhood universal or culturally specific? What do children from diverse French-speaking countries have in common? Children are often the least "acculturated" members of any particular society. What can we learn about culture from a child's perspective? These questions are probed by exploring childhood in a number of French-speaking countries and communities. Students examine (in English) a selection of narratives and films from the French-speaking world that feature the points of view of children. The course not only considers the ways in which narrative and film present childhood experiences in specific cultures, but also explores perspectives on issues such as family structure, sexual and gender orientation, child abuse, and colonialism. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] M. Rice-DeFosse.
Concentrations
FYS 324. The Celtic World: Archaeology and Ethnohistory.Today, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany are often considered "Celtic" lands. This label evokes a series of related languages, music, and other artistic traditions with shared histories, but the origins of Celtic cultures are more complex. Over two thousand years ago Celtic peoples were the first iron-using populations to inhabit a broad area from Spain to Romania. They were farmers, herders, mariners, and craftspeople who cooperated, competed, and founded many settlements, raised many fortresses, and developed diverse and lively arts. Roman armies and migrating Germanic tribes fought hard to subdue the Celts, and they succeeded in many places. This seminar discusses the archaeological, documentary, and ethnological evidence of Celtic societies from their early origins to their recent histories. Enrollment limited to 15. (European.) [W1] G. Bigelow.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 326. Choices and Constraints.Are humans free to chart the course of their own lives, or are their fates predestined by their social locations? This seminar explores the tension between personal agency and social forces that structure human lives. The history of the intellectual debate over the roles of agency and structure frame classroom discussion of ways in which personal experiences are shaped by both social structures and systems of inequality based on race/ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Acknowledging the role of individuals as agents of social change, students grapple with their responsibilities in perpetuating and transforming social institutions such as family, religion, health care, and the workplace. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] H. Taylor.
FYS 336. Nanotechnology Project: Manipulating Atoms/Lab.A hands-on introduction to the interdisciplinary field of nanotechnology—technology based on nanometer-scale structures. Students break into groups and become "specialists" to complete a class-wide collaborative nanotechnology project. Possible projects include designing and building a simplified scanned probe microscope, and fabricating and characterizing nanostructures. Students learn to identify and organize the tasks required of a long-term project. Clear and effective communication is emphasized as students work within and among groups, give brief talks, and write more formal papers. No previous experience is assumed, but the collaborative nature of the seminar requires the full and active participation of all participants. Enrollment limited to 15. [S] [L] [W1] M. Côté.
FYS 345. Classical Myths and Contemporary Art.Movies, comic books, sculpture, painting, poems, and graffiti are some of the ways that modern societies share stories to discuss important cultural values. Not surprisingly, modern artists often invoke ancient myths, which once served a similar function. In this course, students explore the ways in which myths give members of a society, whether ancient or modern, meaningful tools to describe and explore issues, values, and conflicts. Students study ancient myths about figures such as Medea, Pygmalion, Hermaphroditus, Actaeon, and Persephone. They then collect and consider their modern versions in different media. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] L. Maurizio.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 376. Inequality, Community, and Social Change.Many high schools include some kind of community service among their graduation requirements, suggesting a series of assumptions about the role of schools (and colleges and universities) in their communities. This seminar addresses the relationship between community engagement and higher education, as well as broader questions about community action and social change. Along with an introduction to how social scientists think about social inequality, the seminar offers students an opportunity to spend two hours per week participating in service-learning projects with organizations oriented toward social change and social justice in the Lewiston community. Seminar discussions and assignments focus on exploring the local community, and connecting students' community experiences with readings about community engagement, social responsibility, and social change. Enrollment limited to 15. (Community-Engaged Learning.) [W1] E. Kane.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 381. Visualizing Identities.This course examines definitions of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and culture in diverse visual materials. Students think critically about the ways that we articulate and interpret self and other. Each week students analyze examples of visual culture as a means to evaluate constructions, experiences, and interpretations of identities. Themes explored include gender, feminisms, masculinities, race and ethnicity, globalism, and cultural identity. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] A. Bessire.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 385. Power and Authority in Latin America through Film.From Pre-Columbian times to the present, Latin America's leaders have ruled in diverse ways. Monarchs, caudillos, sultans, totalitarian leaders, the military, a hegemonic party, and even drug lords have governed the region. How is it possible for an individual or small group of leaders to dominate an entire country without democratic consent? What mechanisms of political control do authoritarian leaders employ? How do they gain legitimacy? Students explore these questions through film, readings, writing assignments, and discussion. A final project explores the ways in which a political actor in students' local environment exercises power and authority over them. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] C. Pérez-Armendáriz.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

FYS 395. The Sporting Life.Sporting events such as the Super Bowl, World Cup, Olympic Games, and March Madness suggest the magnitude of importance of sports in many people's lives. The fact that so many people so passionately engage in sports as participants and spectators also indicates its significance. The import of sport can be considered from a myriad of perspectives, from the social and natural sciences to the humanities. In this interdisciplinary course, students consider a variety of sources including academic articles, personal memoir, fiction, film, and observation. Enrollment limited to 15. (Purposeful Work.) [W1] S. Langdon.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 400. The United States in the Middle East.Since the late eighteenth century American diplomats, sailors, merchants, and missionaries have been involved in the Middle East and North Africa. This course examines the history of the complex relations between the United States and the Middle East over the last two centuries. How have American perceptions of the Middle East changed over time? How has U.S. involvement influenced state formation, regime consolidation, and people's daily lives in the region? What were the major successes and failures of American foreign policy in the region? Students explore these questions through a variety of sources, including memoirs, documentaries, and U.S. diplomatic documents as well as scholarly books and articles. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] S. Aslan.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 401. Reading the Wild in Film and Literature.We imagine the wild as both a place (wilderness) and a concept indicating something beyond restraint or limit, something purely free or even impermissible. Why are we so attracted to wild places, and why do we value the presence of the wild in our culture? This course examines depictions of the wild in films, poems, essays, and stories, and it grapples with how the wild relates to gender, identity, modern conflict, exploitation, and spiritual and aesthetic values. Students write both informal reflections and analytic essays, and they present research on representations of the wild in literature and film. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] M. Beck.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 416. Borders, Boundaries, and Belonging.This course explores the ways in which we create a sense of belonging and identity by drawing distinctions between ourselves and others. How and why do we construct and enforce these differences? What would it mean to conceive of our own identities without excluding others? The course examines the implications of these questions for us as individuals, as members of communities, and members of nations, through readings in literature, cultural studies, geography, and political philosophy, among others. Class discussion also examines the borders that define academic writing and belonging within a scholarly community. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] L. Vedal.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 419. Tobacco in History and Culture.This interdisciplinary seminar examines the role tobacco has played in shaping global political economies, cultures, and health. Students pay particular attention to how gender, race, class, and nationalism influence and have been influenced by tobacco. From the use of slave labor in seventeenth-century Chesapeake Bay colony, to wooden Indians flanking the entrance of tobacco shops, to feminist slogans invoked to sell cigarettes, tobacco has functioned as a signifier and shaper of social norms and divides. Topics include labor and tobacco production, ethics of corporate power, the visual culture of tobacco, health and human rights, smoking and stigma, the global epidemiology of tobacco related illness, and tobacco regulation. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] M. Plastas.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 424. The Biology of Cancer.Despite new discoveries in the biology of cancer and advances in cancer treatment, cancer accounts for nearly one in four deaths in the United States today. What is cancer, and what makes it so difficult to diagnose early and treat effectively? Students examine the biological basis of cancer, and look at how environmental agents and certain microbes can lead to cancerous growth. They also explore the genetics of cancer and address the question, "If I have a relative with cancer, will I get it too?" Finally, they consider the effect of cancer on the individual and on society. Not open to students who have received credit for BIO 108 or s23. Enrollment limited to 15. [S] [W1] S. Richards.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 427. Ecopsychology: The Human-Nature Relationship.Ecopsychology is concerned with the psychological dimensions of our relationship to the environment. As a developing and interdisciplinary field of inquiry, ecopsychology provides the opportunity to explore conceptions of self and nature, the perceived schism between humans and nature, and the psychological sources and repercussions of environmental degradation. In the context of these themes, students explore the cultural evolution of the Western mind, the psychology of climate change, and the role of perception, attention, and community in healing the human-nature relationship. Throughout, the fundamental question is: How can humans become more adapted and responsive to current ecological conditions? This course includes one required overnight field trip. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] L. Sewall.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 428. The Natural in Eighteenth-Century Literature.Where does nature come from? How do we identify and classify what is natural and distinguish it from what is not? This course takes up these questions using writing from the British eighteenth century. This was a period when nature and the natural received new cultural attention, so much so that historians sometimes suggest that nature was "invented" as a concept at this time. Readings, discussions, and written work examine the cultural, political, and even psychological consequences of this shift toward the natural, from poetic descriptions of agricultural labor to accounts of human feeling grounded in controversial theories about "sensibility," a supposedly natural human capacity for feeling. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] N. Valvo.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 429. Thinking and Feeling.Doing philosophy involves putting your beliefs up to rational scrutiny and examining your reasons for holding them. But our mental lives involve not just thinking and reasoning, but also feelings. These feelings can influence how we think, sometimes without us realizing that they do. In this course students ask what good reasoning is, examine when and how feelings impact our reasoning, and what we ought to think about this influence. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] L. Ashwell.
FYS 430. U.S. Literature and Culture in the 1940s.World War II brought out the heroic best in Americans, but it also exposed deep wounds in the social fabric. On the homefront women showed that they could work every kind of job formerly done by men, while African American men went off to fight a war for freedom, even though their own country treated them like second-class citizens. With an emphasis on race, gender, and sexuality, this course studies poets and novelists such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Chester Himes, and Carson McCullers, in addition to mass media artifacts such as movies, radio shows, magazines, and popular music. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] S. Dillon.
FYS 431. What's for Dinner?.This course considers dinner as a lens through which students explore our food system. Topics include the co-evolution of food and the home, local food movements, organic vs. industrial farming practices, food politics, rise of the "foodies," and food and health. An emphasis is placed on food challenges and resources in the Lewiston-Auburn area. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] L. Williams.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 432. Disney Demystified: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Magic Kingdom.Students learn to discern America's contested beliefs and values by unearthing the cultural politics embedded in Disney productions, including the studio's mainstay, feature-length animated motion pictures. Such demystification entails delving beyond apparent surface messages to reveal underlying tensions, recurring contradictions, and even counter-hegemonic themes. With respect to the particular intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability and nation, what distinguishes millennial popular culture from productions of the early twentieth century? What American cultural continuities do we detect? Given the corporation's covert messages on love and sex, individualism and freedom, pleasure and entertainment, violence and conquest, what are the implications of Disney's increasingly global touch? Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] E. Eames.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 433. Reimagining Europe in Contemporary Film.Rack focus is a technique in which a filmmaker shifts focus in a single frame from a foreground object to one in the background or vice versa. The shift occurs simultaneously: the blurry object coming into focus as the clear object goes out of focus. Contemporary Europe is undergoing a social, political, economic, and cultural "rack focus" of its own. In this seminar students examine the twenty-first-century rearticulation of foreground and background in European society and culture through the medium of feature-length films. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] D. Browne.
FYS 434. Remaking Movies: Art, History, and Politics.In this seminar, students investigate a number of films and their remakes to discern how the historical and political moment of a film's production and release helps to frame its narrative material. In addition to considering these historical and political constraints, students analyze the ways in which various modes of production and industry standards contribute to a film's content. Students examine such films as 12 Angry Men, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Memento (and its Bollywood remake, Ghajini), and The Manchurian Candidate. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] J. Cavallero.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 435. The Soft Power of Pop Culture: An Introduction to Japanese Visual Cultures.Average first-year college students grew up under the wing of Japan’s pop culture industries, whether they knew it or not. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, "Cool Japan"—a strategic nickname adopted by the government itself—has secured a position as a cultural superpower that capitalizes on the marketed production of a "Gross National Cool" both at home and abroad. In this seminar students engage with Japanese pop culture via visual and critical analysis of film, manga, anime, music videos, and television dramas in order to explore relevant underlying themes and contemporary social issues. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] C. Laird.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 436. Seven Deadly Sins.The tradition of the seven deadly sins or capital vices has left a profound mark on Western culture and continues to inspire diverse cultural expressions. As a framework for understanding the root causes of human suffering, the tradition has broad application and appeal, even to the nonreligious. This course traces the tradition from the fourth century C.E. to the present, including attention to religion, philosophy, literature, art, and popular culture. Students explore the usefulness of the tradition for interpreting diverse individual and social phenomena, incorporating insights from a range of texts and images as well as fieldwork in the local community. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] D. Ray.
FYS 437. What is Performance?.In this course students think critically about theater and dance performance from the point of view of makers, performers, audiences, and society. Students see and discuss live performance throughout the semester and explore historical and current ideas in performance from inside and out. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] C. Dilley.
FYS 438. Animats, Minds, and Mobots.This course considers the way robotics research has influenced philosophical discussions of the nature of mind and intelligence in cognitive science. There is a traditional belief among philosophers that our minds are somehow distinct from our brains and bodies. However, recent research in "embodied cognition" challenges this idea, arguing that bodies and minds have evolved together as efficient means to perceive and understand the world in which we live. This growing field integrates research from philosophy, psychology, ethology, neuroscience, and robotics. Students use exercises designed for Lego Mindstorms robots along with readings from philosophy and cognitive science to evaluate the debate between traditional and embodied accounts of mind and intelligence. The course also introduces basic principles in computer programming, though no prior programming experience is required. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] W. Seeley.
FYS 439. Defining Difference: How China and the United States Think about Racial Diversity."China's national minorities excel at singing and dancing." Such a broad generalization about ethnic groups could get someone fired in the United States. In China, this type of statement is touted as simple fact. In this seminar students compare U.S. and Chinese experiences with racial diversity and consider the uses the two countries make of ethnic categories. Are Americans being hypocritical in criticizing China on these issues? Does China's relative lack of diversity excuse attitudes that outsiders consider "racist"? Students read historical and contemporary sources and watch a popular Chinese TV show in translation, as they wrestle with and write about these provocative issues. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] N. Faries.
FYS 440. Roots of Nonviolence.How does an ancient text urging a distraught warrior into battle spark a nonviolent resistance movement spanning continents and centuries? This text, The Bhagavad-Gita, inspired Thoreau at Walden Pond and Gandhi as a practical guide for daily living. Thoreau’s essay on "Civil Disobedience" influenced Gandhi’s satyagraha movement and both men's lives and writings fueled Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent struggle for civil rights. This seminar explores the legacy of these potent texts and powerful leaders and implications for moral life, democratic politics, and transformative social change. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] S. Smith.
FYS 441. Volcanic Science.Volcanic eruptions come in all sizes, from the single lava flow blocking a road in Hawaii to the event that could cause destruction on a global scale. Some volcanoes erupt continuously while others stay dormant for millennia. Beyond disastrous eruptions, volcanoes impact humans in a number of positive ways: volcanic soils are fertile, volcanic heat may be used as a source of energy, and volcanoes produce mineral deposits of economic value. This course explores the science behind volcanoes and volcanic eruptions through popular culture, lab activities, short field trips, and scientific literature. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] G. Robert.
FYS 442. Shaking It Out: Writing and Critiquing Personal Narratives.To "essay" means "to attempt; to try." This course offers students rigorous study and practice of the art of the creative non-fiction essay, looking specifically at the ways we writers use our creative impulses to write better textual critiques, and vice versa. Readings include classics from writers such as White, Angelou, Baldwin, Thompson, Dubus, Didion, and Wallace, and several contemporary American essays by emerging writers like Hilton Als, Leslie Jamison, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, and John Jeremiah Sullivan. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] J. Anthony.