First-Year Seminars

Professor Emeritus Sweet; Professors Corrie, Duina, Eusden, Fra-Molinero, Matthews, Okrent, and Reich; Associate Professors Baker, Browne, Eames, Ewing, Federico, Hill, Imber, Lundblad, Maurizio, Salerno, and Sargent; Visiting Associate Professors Perkins and Plastas; Senior Lecturers George and Vecsey; Lecturers Alcorn, Anthony, Bigelow, Faries, Gibbs-Riley, Langdon, Palin, Rattigan, Sale, Schofield, and Smith



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 249. Global Economy and Nation-State.

What is the global economy? What are nation-states? And what is the relationship between the global economy and the nation-state? This course first examines the historical formation of nation-states and then reflects on their performance and integrity since the end of the cold war, with the rise of neoliberalism, globalization, and regional trade blocs such as the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Special attention is given to issues of sovereignty and democracy, the role of international financial institutions, and the way nation-states are likely to evolve in the coming decades. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] F. Duina.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 262. Stealth Infections.

Specific microorganisms, including some bacteria, viruses, and prions, have recently been associated with specific chronic, long-term diseases. Some of these diseases, termed "stealth infections," include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, ulcers, cervical cancer, obsessive compulsive disorder, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and Crohn's disease. In this seminar, students explore the links between microorganisms and these particular diseases and consider several questions: What is the scientific evidence linking microorganisms with these stealth infections? Have the organisms co-evolved with their human hosts? How are the organisms transmitted? Can we control them? What might be the public health impact of such stealth infections? Not open to students enrolled in BIO 127. Enrollment limited to 15. [S] [W1] K. Palin.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 266. Fakers, Forgers, Looters, Thieves.

Beyond the public face of museums lies the complex world of collecting: the art market, art law, and their sinister underside, art crime. In the last decade, as victims of the Holocaust have sought to recover collections looted by the Nazis, these issues have become more visible, but in fact they are myriad and confront every curator, dealer, collector, and art historian. This course explores a wide range of topics in their legal and ethical contexts from the work of famous forgers such as Joni and Van Meegeren to the looting of Asia and Africa by colonial powers, the clandestine excavation and illegal trading of antiquities around the world, and the pillaging of museums by Russian, German, and American soldiers during World War II. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] R. Corrie.
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 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 308. Searching for the Good Life.

What are the things that bring people happiness? Does marriage, for example, bring more happiness or unhappiness to those who choose it? Does wealth make people happy? If so, how much wealth is enough to ensure happiness? Is a productive career likely to bring happiness? How well do most individuals do at selecting the things that will bring them sustained happiness? Is happiness even the right yardstick to use in measuring the goodness of life? And at the end of life, what constitutes a good death? In this seminar, students grapple with these and related topics in regular discussions, projects, and papers. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] M. Sargent.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 327. Katahdin to Acadia: Exploring Maine Geology/Lab.

This course introduces students to field geology by exploring many geologic landscapes in Maine. This hands-on, field-oriented course on the 500-million-year-old geologic history of Maine includes one required daylong fieldtrip (Mount Washington or Vinalhaven Island), and one required overnight weekend trip (Acadia National Park or Baxter State Park). Local half-day trips to Streaked Mountain, the Poland Spring, Sunday River, Morse Mountain, Seawall Beach, Pemaquid Point, and Rangeley round out the field excursions. Field trips involve strenuous hiking and/or sea kayaking in a range of weather conditions. Learning to read maps and recording observations in field notes and sketches form a major focus of the course. Not open to students who have received credit for GEO 107. Enrollment limited to 15. [S] [L] [Q] [W1] J. Eusden.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 342. Revolution and Constitution.

This course considers three moments in history when citizens rejected the political system under which they lived and created new constitutions to govern the exercise of power in their homelands. The cases considered vary from year to year but include ancient Athens, Ming Dynasty China, the French Revolution, colonial New York, and the British partition of India. After introductory sessions, students play the role of historical actors, allied in factions, during the revolutions and constitutional congresses they study, in an attempt to reenact (and react to) the historical moment. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] M. Imber.

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 352. The Identity of Persons.

It is common enough to hear that being Irish, or being a woman, or being African American, or being a professor, is central to some person's identity. But what is a person? What is a person's identity? And how can something like ethnicity, or gender, or race, or profession be central—or fail to be central—to a person's identity? This seminar encourages consideration of these questions by introducing students to the long philosophical tradition of reflection on the concept of a person, the notion of identity, and the role that self-description plays in constituting persons and their identity. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] M. Okrent.
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 383. Imaginative Writing.

In this seminar, students explore imaginative writing both as noun—literature to be examined—and as verb—a skill to practice. By reading and discussing a wide range of poetry and prose from Emily Dickinson to Dave Eggers, students develop analytical and aesthetic awareness. Through research and critical writing on literary subjects of their choice, they practice their scholarly skills. By writing and discussing in workshop their own work as well as critically describing its relationship to the work of professional writers and poets, students enter the conversation in the field, as critics and as writers and poets. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] R. Strong.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

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. (Community-Engaged Learning.) [W1] S. Langdon.
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 402. Sound and Image.

The course begins with an introduction to the history of technologies that have linked sound and image. Students watch representative films from each decade since 1920 and learns about musical soundtracks, Foley sound effects, dialogue, and song as performed on screen. They explore the history of music videos as they have been and are used in popular culture. The course ends with a brief exploration of experimental sound/video installations, and individual production of creative video and soundtrack. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] W. Matthews.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

FYS 404. On the Road to Spain.

Paella, bullfights, flamenco, castles, the Inquisition, gypsies, and tapas. For over two centuries such images of Spanish culture have filled the American imagination and have inspired a variety of travelers, from Romantic poets to civil rights activists, foodies to film directors, to hit the road to Spain. Through the study of food, music, literature, journalism, film, and television, this course looks at the ways in which Spain, as a real and an imagined destination, has figured in shaping individual and collective identities on this side of the Atlantic. Issues related to travel and tourism, the activities of recording travel experiences, and the ways in which notions of race, gender, and nation determine the traveler's experience of Spain frame discussions of course materials and provide a foundation for written and oral assignments. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] D. George.

FYS 408. Identity: Self and Community.

Who am I? How is identity formed? Are we interconnected and, if so, in what ways? How does living within a community shape individual identity? In this course, students consider these questions from a variety of perspectives, and explore concepts such as "self," "other," and "interconnectedness" through readings, class discussion, writing, and regular community-engaged learning activities in Lewiston. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] E. Alcorn.

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 418. Drawing as Thinking.

How can we put Disney and Michelangelo in the same sentence? Although their results are vastly different, they were both searching for the most alive two-dimensional images possible. They achieved this through drawing as thinking. Until fairly recently, drawing has been seen as thinking made visible, as ideas literally appear and new ideas are generated. This course explores the methods used by Renaissance artists and later by animators and considers the techniques and thought processes of artists. Exploration through writing as well as drawing from the nude figure is used to gather information for figure invention. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] G. Rattigan.
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 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 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 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 "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 443. Christopher Columbus: From Hero to Villain.

Christopher Columbus' momentous voyage in 1492 ushered in the modern world in Europe, the Americas, and Africa. As a historical figure, Columbus has been the object of much myth making, both positive and negative. This seminar approaches the figure of Christopher Columbus from his own writings, from the opinions and testimonies of his contemporaries, and from the point of view of the ideological constructions of Columbus that have seen him as a hero and also as a negative figure in history. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] B. Fra-Molinero.

FYS 444. Landscapes of Maine.

The landscapes of Maine—from mountains and forests to human settlements and the coast—have changed dramatically through time. This course explores those landscapes and their changes over time scales ranging from millennia to just days. Students are introduced to the observational skills of naturalists and the analytical tools and materials used by scholars to understand both landscapes and how they change over time. Several field trips to local sites are required. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] H. Ewing.

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 446. The Communication Equation: A Mathematical Media Tour.

Mathematics is everywhere in the news these days, from basic statistics to more sophisticated uses to describe economics, science, and mathematical breakthroughs. Too often we accept numbers and data as the truth, without giving them a second thought. It is therefore important to develop critical reading skills. As creators of information, it also is important to learn to use mathematics and data to support arguments and undertake true scientific reporting. In this course students read breaking news articles and longer features to learn effective uses of mathematics in journalism. They put these best practices to use by writing articles, blogs, and radio pieces. Additional topics may include mathematics in other media such as fiction writing, television, movies, and art. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] A. Salerno.

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.

FYS 448. Why College?.

A question facing our students, their families, and us all today is: Why college? In the process of finding answers much controversy, passion, and many reasons are proposed. With particular attention to residential, undergraduate, liberal arts colleges, this course examines the role, culture, components, and outcomes of U.S. higher education. Students consider such questions as: Why attend college? Is a college education a public or a private good? How and why is the college environment designed as it is? How do students best utilize their time in college to reach their desired goals? Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] J. Reich.

FYS 449. Well-being and the Good Life.

What does it mean for a life to be a good one? Does it mean just that it is good for the person who lives it? Does it mean that it makes the world a better place? Or is a good life one that is made good for the person who lives it precisely because it is a life that makes the world a better place? From ancient times to the present, philosophers have tried to answer these fundamental questions of ethics. This course engages with these questions and with the arguments that philosophers have offered in trying to answer them. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] P. Schofield.
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. [W1] L. Hill.

FYS 451. Modernism and Design: Europe, Soviet Russia, and the United States, 1918-1965.

This seminar covers developments in visual communication and industrial design in Soviet Russia, Europe, and the United States from 1918 until 1965. Through critical examination of graphic design and industrial products, students identify the cultural, sociopolitical, economic, technological, and artistic influences that have shaped design practice and production during the first half of the twentieth century. Particular attention is paid to philosophies of design, wartime design, and consumer culture within the context of national identity, international agenda, and propaganda. Through the study of state-sponsored events such as world expositions, fairs, Olympiads, and museum exhibitions, students investigate how governments have historically embraced and exploited design as representation of global power and positioning. Enrollment limited to 15. [W1] B. Gibbs-Riley.