Fall 2014 courses

The following courses satisfying the First-Year Seminar requirement will be offered in the fall semester of 2014. Here you will find descriptions of the courses.


FSEM 100A3: Writing about Ecology: Literature & Environment in the US and Latin America

Prof. Larochelle, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

This seminar on environmental issues in U.S. and Latin American literature is reserved for students living in the Green House LLC. The themes of the literary texts to be discussed range from a celebration of the wilderness experience to environmental justice issues that adversely affect the health of residents in the inner city. Excursions will provide opportunities to connect with nature and evaluate first-hand some of the ideas we will be discussing in class.

Note: This FSEM is part of the Green House Living Learning Community (LLC).


FSEM 100A4: Autism in Contemporary Literature & Film

Prof. Foss, Department of English, Linguistics and Communication

This seminar explores representations of autism and autism-spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome in contemporary literature and film. Class discussion and writing assignments allow students to engage in an intensive study of such representations of autism and/or to apply insight drawn from our more narrow focus either toward a comparable consideration of other specific disabilities or a broader understanding of disability in general.


FSEM 100C4: Mozart and “Amadeus”

Prof. Fickett, Department of Music

Mozart was surely one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. Through a familiarity with the play by Peter Shaffer and the academy award winning film based on it, the public at large has developed a fascination with the man to match a love for his music. As with many works of this sort, there is fiction blended with fact. The class will undertake a close examination of what is fact and what is fiction.


FSEM 100C6: Toys as History

Prof. Fernsebner, Department of History and American Studies

The playthings of a late 20th century childhood abound today in garage sales and e-bay offerings as the flotsam and jetsam of another generation’s toy box. And yet these same objects hold a historical relevance in the perspectives they provide on the meaning and formulations of childhood and identity for the generation(s) who enjoyed them. This First-Year Seminar is a workshop in the exploration of the historical relevance of toys as well as that of related items of consumption including childhood fashion, television, and games for the latter decades of the twentieth century (1960s-1990s).


FSEM 100D3: The Art of Mathematics

Prof. Hydorn, Department of Mathematics

Through examining works of art by M.C. Escher and other artists, students will explore the mathematics of symmetry and tessellations, non-Euclidean geometry and perspective in art. Students will use the mathematics they have learned to analyze works of art as well as to produce their own mathematical artworks.


FSEM 100E1: Ted.com-Ideas Worth Sharing

Prof. O’Donnell, Department of English, Linguistics and Communication

This seminar is concerned with ideas and their potential to change the world. Centered around learning about the world, past, present and future as well as change in all its varieties, this interdisciplinary exploration project utilizes the TED.com site as both a springboard for the journey as well as a model for learning and knowledge generation.


FSEM 100E4: Cryptology

Prof. Helmstutler, Department of Mathematics

We explore the mathematical foundations of cryptology, the study of how to transmit secrets. Different types of ciphers will be applied to text, sounds, and images, in an attempt to understand the challenges that emerge in this most important area of modern research.


FSEM 100F: French New Wave: Cinema & Society

Prof. Koos, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

This seminar will examine the major films and directors of the French New Wave. As we analyze the innovative techniques, themes, and narrative structures found in this body of films, we will also consider important concepts like film genre, auteurism, changing gender roles, feminism, and 1960s radical politics. The latter portion of the semester will be devoted to the evolution of the New Wave approach to filmmaking in France after the 1960s and in other filmmaking traditions (Czechosolvakia and Hong Hong).


FSEM 100F4: Virtual Vernacular: Record Community Music

Prof. Stanton, Department of Historic Preservation

This course explores the diverse forms of public music performed in the United States and how the technology of music recordings molded the culture of music and musicians. New marketing and performing strategies sprang up even as vernacular music, whether polka, blues, bluegrass, gospel, hillbilly, country, Cajun, or Calypso—yes even rock and roll, achieved a place in our collective musical consciousness through the medium of recorded sound.


FSEM 100G4: Race and Revolution

Prof. Cox,  Vasey, Rigelhaupt, Kim, Conley, Cooperman and Sumner, various departments

This course studies the problem of race and the US Civil Rights Movement in the example of James Farmer, founder of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), and UMW Distinguished Professor of History and American Studies. Students will explore historical background and consider the contemporary relevance of the struggle for civil rights.

Note: One section of this FSEM is part of the Justice for All Living Learning Community (LLC).


FSEM 100H2: The Idea of Cool

Prof. Rafferty, Department of English, Linguistics and Communication

What is “Cool”? Who decides? This first-year seminar studies the elusive but ever-so-attractive idea of Cool by looking at both historical and contemporary ideas of that quality. Through studying various texts, print and otherwise, students will develop their understanding of cultural production as well as their abilities to speak and write in an academic setting.


FSEM 100H3: Representations of the Holocaust in German & US Culture

Prof. Hansen-Glucklich, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

The course explores the differences and commonalities of representations of the Holocaust in German and U.S. culture (literature, essay, film, museum, memorial …). What do these cultural “texts” reflect/emphasize and what do they play down/leave out and why?


FSEM 100H4: Feminism from the Second Wave to Present: We’ve come a long way baby…or have we?

Prof. Erchull, Department of Psychology and the Women’s and Gender Studies program

This course will explore feminist thought from the second wave to the present day from an interdisciplinary perspective. Topics will include 1) feminism work and family 2) feminism and the body and 3) feminism and marginalized groups. Perspectives will include those of lesbians, transsexuals, women of color, and women in poverty.

Note: This FSEM is part of the EmpowerU Living Learning Community (LLC).


FSEM 100H5: The Bad Seed? Exploring the Roots of Evil

Prof. Mackintosh, Department of Psychology

What makes human beings do bad things? Are some people born immoral, or does a negative environment turn innocence into wickedness? This course will explore the roots of evil, from religious, genetic, societal, and psychological perspectives.


FSEM 100H6: Mashups & Markerbots: Designing and Building in Virtual and Physical Worlds

Prof. Meadows, Department of Curriculum and Instruction (College of Education)

The course focuses on providing students the tools and practice they will use as they develop and create a variety of virtual and physical objects using innovative software and hardware. Students will blog this process of design, development, and making over the course of the semester.


FSEM 100J2: Creating Arts and Ideas

Prof. Urbanski, Department of Art and Art History

Art doesn’t simply “come from the soul”; coming up with a good idea can be challenging. This course explores various methods of generating ideas for art making through research and discussion of contemporary artists and practices.


FSEM 100J4: The Art of Life’s War

Prof. Phillips, College of Business

This course examines the efficacy of business principles and strategies to the accomplishment of life goals. Topics such as personal branding and strategic management will be utilized to develop a roadmap to goal achievement.


FSEM 100J6: Alfred Hitchcock: The Master of Suspense

Prof. Dabb, Department of Art and Art History

This course examines the career of director Alfred Hitchcock and a selection of his films spanning the silent era to the 1970s. Students will also explore the legacy of Hitchcock and his impact on contemporary film and art from the perspectives of film history, art history, and cultural history.

Note:  The Hitchcock seminar has the Honors (HN) designation for fall 2014.


FSEM 100J7: Octavia Butler: Science Fiction

Prof. Tweedy, Department of English, Linguistics and Communication

The course examines a selection of novels by Octavia Butler in tandem with speculative fiction short stories across the African diaspora, investigating the construction of race, gender, and class.


FSEM 100J9: History of Genocide

Prof. Al-Tikriti, Department of History and American Studies

This course examines the modern history of genocide, along with concurrent issues such as the rise of human rights, humanitarianism, war crimes legislation, and external intervention. Class members survey and discuss major instances of genocide, visit the US Holocaust Museum, and complete both a group and an individual project describing various conflicts, using primary sources. This class is offered in concurrence with additional events sponsored by the Living/Learning program, and will also be offered with the support of the Writing Center, Speaking Center, DTLT, and the Simpson Library.

Note: This FSEM is part of the Genocide, War Crimes, and Humanitarianism Living Learning Community (LLC).


FSEM 100JJ: Daily Life in Ancient Rome

Prof. Houghtalin, Department of Classics, Philosophy and Religion

This course will examine what it meant to be a Roman of the second century of our era.  Each student will assume a Roman identity and, while exploring the physical and literary remains of the period, will react and interact with other students doing the same within their own Roman identities.


FSEM 100K3: Digital Don Quijote

Prof. Lewis, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

Don Quijote is one of the most iconic figures of Spanish literature, and the novel bearing his name, written by Miguel de Cervantes over 400 years ago, has been called the first truly modern novel. In this course we will go beyond windmills and  Broadway’s “To Dream the Impossible Dream” to see Don Quijote as a Spanish cultural icon and literary masterpiece that continues to be vibrant and relevant in our digital age.  A Google search of the English spelling  Don Quixote yields more than 7 million results, while the Spanish spelling Quijote more than 4 million.  In Digital Don Quixote we will both use the digital to aid us in the study of selections of Cervantes’ novel translated into English, and we will use the novel as a springboard into many of the major topics of digital studies and digital humanities.


FSEM 100K5: Documentary Filmmaking: Its Rhetoric and Production

Prof. Rao, Department of English, Linguistics and Communication

This FSEM will be part of a Living and Learning Community called “Documenting Life at UMW”. Students in this FSEM will work with Rao’s COMM 353: Visual Rhetoric class to produce a multimedia documentary about life at UMW. The class will also discuss the use of documentaries to reflect, shape, and alter public argument and discussion. Interested students should contact Anand via email (arao@umw.edu) for entry into the class.

Note: This FSEM is part of the Documenting Life at UMW Living Learning Community (LLC).


FSEM 100K6: Is College Worth It?

Prof. O’Donnell, Department of English, Linguistics and Communication

A focus on the roots, evolution, and prospects for three intrinsically connected idea(l)s: the liberal arts, citizenship, and the university. Through an exploration of a variety of thinkers—from Plato to Steve Jobs–participants will consider the proposition for a 21st century liberal arts education and create practical plans for realizing it in their own lives.


FSEM 100K7: Inventions that Rocked the World

Prof. Davies, Department of Computer Science

Through a study of profoundly world-changing historical inventions, as well as some science fiction compositions that have envisioned other speculative technologies, we will explore both the beneficial and disruptive effects of human innovation.


FSEM 100K8: Who am I this time?  Presenting the Self

Prof. Davis, College of Education

Throughout time, people have crafted public selves that differ from their private and internal selves. This first-year seminar will draw on the fields of social psychology, English literature, art and art history, film studies, digital humanities, and education to investigate the ways that people construct varied selves in everyday life.


FSEM 100KK: Banned and Dangerous Art

Prof. Mikhalevsky, Department of Classics, Philosophy and Religion

Can a work of art really be dangerous? Why do we ban some art? What is a work of art? This course will consider these and other questions about art, particularly art that has been judged dangerous or has been censored or banned. The works of art we examine range across periods, genres, and cultures, and include examples of works and artists being banned today. We will examine the ideas and arguments behind banning and censoring art and we will also look at our current government, industry, and other public policy documents that seek to define and regulate works of art.


FSEM 100L: Cold Case: Theatre Mysteries

Prof. Housley, Department of Theatre and Dance

This course is designed to examine mysteries in Theatre History as they are dealt with in scholarship and popular culture. Prior to the 1700s, vague and incomplete historical records have left modern scholars with significant questions regarding theatrical origins, key players, and methods of performance. As a result, black holes exist in our knowledge of major theatrical events. Over the last 50 years, as scholars have attempted to fill these holes, popular culture has adopted many of them as subjects to be explored in fiction, drama, and film.


FSEM 100M: The Good Society: Exploring Utopia

Prof. Rochelle, Department of English, Linguistics and Communication

What, then, is a good society? How can we best live well? Can we ever come close to the utopian myth of the Golden Age, when humans supposedly inhabited a perfect world as a gift from the gods? This course will consider these questions and others as we examine utopian and dystopian fiction and film and their rhetoric—what the author is arguing for or against. Our primary focus will be on contemporary works, but we will ground our discussion in such classical utopian narratives as Genesis, Plato’s Republic and More’s Utopia. Students will visit a nearby intentional community and design their own better society.


FSEM 100Z: International Short Fiction by Women

Prof. Smith, Department of English, Linguistics and Communication

This course will read and explore international short fiction by women, including women writers from at least Haiti, Chile, Pakistan, India and the African continent. The class will also include stories read and shared by individual students in the course. The class is very student-centered, with scheduled presentations and leading class discussions.


HIST 201: First Year Seminar in European History: Statesmen, Soldiers and Leadership in Wartime

Prof. Blakemore, Department of History and American Studies

Using four case studies, this course assesses political and military decision making from the American Civil War to the present in order for us to gain a better perspective on this issue. The Civil War, the Great War of 1914-1918, the Second World War and the war in Iraq clearly illustrate the difficulties that both political and military leaders can experience when pursuing political goals with military force. This course is especially recommended for prospective history majors because it fills both the FSEM requirement and a major requirement for upper-level electives

Note:  The HIST 201 seminar has the Honors (HN) designation for fall 2014.


History 202: First Year Seminar in American History: Good, Bad, and Ugly American Tourists

Prof. Mackintosh, Department of History and American Studies

The American tourist is a stock figure that we all know, for better or for worse. In this course, we will examine the history and experience of American tourism from its earliest roots in the nineteenth century to the present day in order to investigate what tourism is and how it has contributed to American identities.  This course is especially recommended for prospective history majors because it fills both the FSEM requirement and a major requirement for upper-level electives.

Note:  The HIST 202 seminar has the Honors (HN) designation for fall 2014.


HONR 100D: Science Controversies in the Media

Prof. Whipkey, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

This course provides an overview of various principles of science that apply to contemporary social concerns. Using newspapers, magazines, television news, and the Internet as sources, students will critically examine media reports of controversial scientific issues while becoming active, scientifically literate citizens.


HONR 100E: Participatory Play: games without walls

Prof. Kayler, Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence

Games create engagement – the foundation of any positive learning experience. Participatory play in games is a pervasive cultural trend in society, business, advertising, and education. Student engagement in a multi-player course design will support the critical exploration of participatory play and learning drawing upon current research and game-based theory.


HONR 100M: Inequality & the American Dream

Profs. Greenlaw & Rycroft, Department of Economics

Is inequality increasing in America?  If so, what does this imply for the American Dream?  Should the “One percent” be applauded for their successes or vilified. This seminar will explore the state of economic inequality today, by examining the distributions of income and wealth in the United States, by debating differing visions of what constitutes economic justice, and by analyzing policy proposals to change the distributions.