First-Year Seminars

Professors Emeritus Shulman and Sweet; Professors Baker, Corrie, Costlow, Dilley, Federico, Kane, Koven, O'Higgins, Rand, Retelle, and Rice-DeFosse; Associate Professors Baughman, Chapman, Eames, Hill, Kelley-Romano, Koviach-Côté, and Stark; Visiting Associate Professor Plastas; Assisant Professors Cernahoschi and Huggett; Senior Lecturer Vecsey; Lecturers Anthony, Beck, Bigelow, Brogan, Perkins, Petrella, Saha, Sale, Seeley, Sewall, Smith, Stadler, and Wallace



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 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 177. Sex and Sexualities.

This course studies the representation of sex and sexualities, both "queer" and "straight," in a variety of cultural products ranging from advertising and novels to music videos and movies. Topics may include connections between sex and gender queerness suggested by the increasingly common acronym LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer); the advantages and inadequacies of using such labels; definitions and debates concerning pornography, sex education, public sex, and stigmatized sexual practices such as BDSM; the interrelations between constructions of sexuality and those of race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, and class; and the necessities and complexities of ensuring consent. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] E. Rand.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

FYS 190. The Changing Climate of Planet Earth.

The climate of Earth is constantly changing over vast spatial and temporal scales, from short-term and local to long-term and global. The geological records for the mid-latitudes of North America, for instance, illustrate periods alternately dominated by tropical reefs, lush coal forests, glaciers, and expansive arid deserts. This seminar investigates the evidence, possible causes, and impacts of climate change through studies of climate records ranging from glacial stratigraphy, tree rings, written historical accounts, and recent instrumental data. A special focus is directed toward understanding the possible effects of a human-induced global warming and its potential environmental, societal, and political impacts. Enrollment limited to 15. [S] [W1] M. Retelle.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 191. Love and Friendship in the Classical World.

The ancient meanings of friendship and the ways in which friendship was distinguished from love are the subject of this course. Students read and analyze ancient theorists on friendship and love, such as Plato and Cicero, and also texts illustrating the ways in which Greek and Roman men and women formed and tested relationships within and across gender lines. The topics under discussion include: friendship as a political institution; notions of personal loyalty, obligation, and treachery; the perceived antithesis between friendship and erotic love; the policing of sexuality; friendship, love, and enmity in the definition of the self. All discussions use the contemporary Western world as a reference point for comparison and contrast. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] D. O'Higgins.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 288. Luck and the Moral Life.

Our lives are deeply subject to luck. Many human needs are subject to fate yet are necessary not only to a good life, but to a morally virtuous life as well. This course explores the relationship between luck and morality, beginning with the metaphysical problem of free will. Then, turning to Aristotle's virtue ethics, students examine the role friendship plays in the moral life and the way it protects us from bad luck. Finally, they look at Kant's attempt to make morality "safe" from luck alongside Euripides' Hecuba, which dramatically highlights the issue of whether virtue can ever be immune from misfortune. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] S. Stark.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 297. The Idea of Europe.

What is Europe? Is it the cradle of all that is civilized and cultured, or the blood-soaked ground of empires, genocidal despots, and revolutions? The twenty-first century is witnessing the most peaceful attempt ever at creating a unified economic, political, legal, and social entity that is European. But is a European cultural identity necessary for the success of a unified Europe, and can one be created? Or is an imagined European community as illusory as Tito's ill-fated attempt to create a multiethnic, multi-religious, multi-linguistic Yugoslav community? In the seminar, students examine, critique, and propose alternatives to many of the received ideas about what it means to be European. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] R. Cernahoschi.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 300. Exploring Education through Narratives.

In this seminar, stories, once the primary way knowledge passed from one generation to another, are the basis for examining educational topics and issues. Students read fictional, biographical, autobiographical, and other narratives to learn more about some aspect of education and/or schooling. Topics include teachers and teaching; teacher/student roles; gender identity; students' experiences in school; and how race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, or other differences may cause some to feel like outsiders. Students conduct fieldwork and independent research. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] B. Sale.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

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 369. Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists.

The sub-prime mortgage crisis, the Enron scandal: What hath capitalism wrought? Our everyday economic interactions are within the framework of capitalism. Undergraduate study in economics typically takes this social system as given while rarely shining critical light on it. Apologists tout capitalism's attendant political freedom and wealth accumulation; detractors complain about its resulting materialism and injustice in the distribution of wealth. Economists, social philosophers, and theologians have critically examined capitalism. Students in this course read and discuss works by some of these authors and prepare their own papers arising from their study of capitalism. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] G. Perkins.

FYS 376. Community Engagement, Social Justice, and Social Change.

Debates about inequalities linked to race, class, gender, sexuality and global locations surround us in politics, news, and social media. In this seminar, students explore these social inequalities with a particular focus on community-engaged efforts to advance social change and the role of colleges and universities in those efforts. Students partner with local organizations oriented toward social justice and social change in Lewiston, addressing issues such as educational equity, public health, immigrant and refugee inclusion, housing justice, and family opportunity. Discussions and assignments introduce students to the history and daily life of the local community, and connect what they learn with their partner organizations to readings about social inequality, social change, and the potential contributions of colleges and their students in promoting the public good. Enrollment limited to 15. (Community-Engaged Learning.) [W1] E. Kane.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 393. DiY and Mash-up Culture.

How did consumption become creative? How did musicians associated with punk, hip hop, electronica, and dub reggae create new art from the discarded refuse of late twentieth-century life? This course takes up the do-it-yourself ethic as a defining impulse in contemporary musical culture, informing the democratic amateurism of punk, the "found sound" innovations of the experimental avant-garde, and the collage aesthetic of the digital "mash-up." Students explore Lawrence Lessig's Creative Commons, with its challenges to copyright law, and engage with the work of John Cage, Bikini Kill, Brian Eno, the Raincoats, M.I.A., and Girl Talk, among others. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] D. Chapman.
Interdisciplinary Programs

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

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 414. The End of the World.

A persistent apprehension of the end of the world has haunted the human imagination for millennia, and it is growing at the moment. This course proposes a historical and analytical investigation of four scenarios of the end of the world: Christian Apocalypse, environmental devastation, nuclear holocaust, and the posthuman. Students examine a wide range of cultural artifacts from novels to popular science publications, religious writings to philosophical texts, with a special emphasis on contemporary film. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] D. Sweet.

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.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

FYS 420. Reading Lord of the Rings.

This course students read J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings with particular attention to its language, style, and context. Students examine how Tolkien, himself a student of medieval languages, used modern English (and Elvish) to construct an enduring world of fantasy. Close reading of the text is emphasized, with supplemental discussion of Tolkien's academic and cultural contexts, including his life at Oxford, his collaborative relationships with the Inklings, and the visual translation of his book in Peter Jackson's film trilogy. Not open to students who have received credit for CM/EN 111. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] S. Federico.
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 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 437. What is Performance?.

In this course students think critically about performance in the arts from the point of view of makers, performers, audiences, and society. They attend and discuss live performance throughout the semester and explore historical and current ideas in performance from inside and out. By exploring a wide range of styles and genres, students learn who they are as audiences and as artists. Not open to students who have received credit for DN/TH 104. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] C. Dilley.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

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.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

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 "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.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

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 nonfiction essay, looking specifically at the ways writers use 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.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 445. The Nature of Spirituality.

What do people mean when they claim to be "spiritual but not religious"? Why do rivers and sunsets, trees and mountaintops so often come to be associated with spiritual power and connection to a greater reality? This course invites students to explore such questions and phenomena through shared reading of a variety of scriptures, naturalist writers, and mystics; through producing their own formal essays, reviews, and creative reflections; and through experiential learning in a more-than-human world. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] C. Baker.

FYS 447. Holocaust on Stage.

This seminar studies the award-winning Polish play Our Class, by Tadeusz Słobodzianek, which is based on the 2001 book Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland by Jan T. Gross. This controversial book explores the July 1941 massacre of Polish Jews by their non-Jewish neighbors in the small town of Jedwabne during the Nazi occupation. The play raises a question of national collective memory in the aftermath of World War II. Students study the historical events on which the play is based, and examine the dramatic structure of the text in the aspects of staging. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] K. Vecsey.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 450. Race, Justice, and American Policy in the Twenty-First Century.

Is America "post-racial"? Recent media focus on police shootings, wealth gaps, and ongoing debates about immigration suggest that race and inequality continue to shape life experiences of Americans in the twenty-first century. This seminar examines current policy issues, asking how public and private discourses and institutional practices—historical and modern—shape understandings of race and justice. Students consider how perceptions of race, ethnicity, and "colorblindness" are embedded in patterns of disparity and investigate alternatives that ordinary people—in small groups, work places, and social movements—and some political elites are posing for more judicious policy to foster equality and racial justice. Enrollment limited to 15. (Identities and Interests.) (Political Economy.) [W1] L. Hill.

FYS 452. Football, Fútbol, Soccer: The Local Politics of a Global Game.

Football, Cite>fútbol, Fuβball, calcio—soccer in the United States—is a global game, with more nations participating in the World Cup than belong to the United Nations. The sport attracts the wealthiest as club owners and is played by even the poorest with nothing more than a round ball and a flat space. It has been blamed for precipitating ugly violence and credited for ethnic reconciliation. This course explores the politics of soccer, with an emphasis on how multiple identities—nationality, ethnicity, religion, class, gender—are expressed through soccer in the United States and around the world. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] J. Baughman.

FYS 453. The Science of Fiction.

Is it possible to dissolve a human body in a bathtub full of hydrofluoric acid? Or to grow enough potatoes on Mars to feed a person? Science is an important aspect of many modern television shows and movies, but it is not always clear whether the science is viable or not. This seminar focuses on the scientific theories and methods underlying science presented in fiction. Ultimately, students determine whether it is important for science to be viable in order for the fiction to be effective. Enrollment limited to 15. [S] [W1] J. Koviach-Côté.

FYS 454. The Natural History of Maine’s Neighborhoods and Woods.

This course introduces students to the natural history of Maine by exploring the native mammals, fish, plants, and insects, with consideration on how humans have shaped Maine’s natural environments. One overnight trip to the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area and one daylong trip to the Maine Wildlife Park are required. Relying upon natural history literature, poetry, and field guides related to Maine as a foundation, students utilize techniques in field studies to observe and document native wildlife and plants. A critical comparison of popular and scientific literature allows an evaluation of current and future health of Maine's natural habitats. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] B. Huggett.

FYS 455. Neuroscience Fiction.

What possibilities come with 100 billion interconnected neurons? What happens if we extend, hybridize, or even discard the wet and messy reality of our brains for synthetic alternatives? In this course, students use science fiction to probe the links between brain and behavior, ponder new psychosocial potentials, and challenge current notions of subjectivity and representation. Students explore concepts such as linguistic relativity, collective consciousness, noogenesis, cybernetic threat, the exocortex, psi powers, and digital immortality through literature and media. They are introduced to discourses of transhumanism, Afrofuturism, feminist utopia, and cyberpunk and its derivatives, and engage in their own speculative writing, design, and construction. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] N. Koven.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 456. This American Life, This American Death: A Cultural History of U.S. Execution.

From the spectacle of the public scaffold to the secrecy of the execution chamber, this course explores the changing theater and technologies of U.S. execution from the founding of the republic to the present. The course examines and assesses historical and contemporary social, political, and cultural norms through the changing ritual, performance, and lens of U.S. execution. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] C. Petrella.

FYS 457. Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov: Reading and Contexts.

Dostoevsky’s final work is a novel about abandoned children and the quest for love, community, and justice. It is the novelist’s greatest articulation of the nature of evil and the possibility of embodied love. Students read the novel slowly, paying close attention to Dostoevsky’s brilliant structuring of this intense, polemical novel, and how he enters into dialogue with a range of sources, from Biblical texts and saints’ lives to icons, Romantic poetry, and political philosophy. Writing assignments build from close analysis of particular passages to a longer essay about one of the key questions posed by this great existential novel. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] J. Costlow.

FYS 458. Games, Mathematics, and Life.

Many situations in life can be framed in terms of different games. In this course students examine life lessons – negotiating with family, a landlord, or a business partner; making decisions about careers or investments; choosing a major or a graduate school; making trade-offs between different objectives like social justice and making money – which games such as Backgammon, Set, Blackjack, Settlers of Catan, Oh Hell, and Sim City teach us. By studying the mathematics that frame and simplify these games, we can play winning strategies that help us, like Indiana Jones, "choose wisely" in life. Students should be comfortable with high school algebra. Enrollment limited to 15. [Q] [W1] B. Shulman, J. Stadler.

FYS 459. Presidential Campaign Rhetoric.

This course is designed to introduce students to the rhetoric of presidential campaigns. Students explore the wide array of discourse surrounding presidential campaigns. Attention is paid to political speeches, ad campaigns, debates, news reporting (traditional and alternative), and the use of social media in campaigning. Special attention is paid to the evaluation of evidence and sources in the construction of political arguments and presidential image and the way these are complicated by various categories including race, class, gender, religion, and sexuality. Extensive knowledge of politics or prior campaigns is not required. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] S. Kelley-Romano.

FYS 460. Environmentalism, Social Justice, and Education.

It is widely believed that the environmental movement and the social justice movement are closely connected. Many of the same forces that lead to environmental degradation are also the root causes of social injustice. This course encourages students to debate emphatically and write persuasively about these connections as they are revealed locally in the Lewiston-Auburn area (including field research in the local community); nationally in cities like Flint, Michigan, and the fracking fields of eastern Ohio; and globally by considering the eco-militants of the oil-rich Niger River Delta in Africa. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] W. Wallace.

FYS 461. Gut Microbiome: The Next Frontier.

The "gut microbiome" is a burgeoning frontier in medical research. Vastly out-numbering human cells, the diverse world of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses that inhabits our gut is being identified as a key player in moderating health. This seminar looks at how human behaviors, diets, and medications influence how microbes mediate mood, energy, resistance to infection and overall health. Can we shape our own gut microbiome in a way that keeps us healthy? Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] L. Brogran.

FYS 462. The Living Planet.

Earth is home to an amazing variety of living systems intricately connected to each other and to the environment. Over four billion years, organisms and their environments have co-evolved, at times undergoing drastic and abrupt changes. Many geologists term the current geological age as the Anthropocene because of the significant changes affected in large part by human systems, which, too, are rapidly changing. This course explores these major Earth systems, how they influence on another, and what their future holds. Students consider both the science behind changes in Earth's systems and existential questions about the ethics of human participation in and modification of these systems. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] R. Saha.