First Year Seminar course highlights
These are the proposed FYS 121 courses for Fall 2020:
What is America?
The course What is America? has a two-fold agenda; the first and most obvious goal is to review a whole host of American ideas and challenge the student to develop an informed answer to that enormous question. Doing so will require deep thought, reflection, and will likely lead to a new set of lenses by which the student may come to observe their country. The second goal of the course is to help each student embrace their intelligence. School, unfortunately, has a nasty tendency to make some of us feel stupid—mostly when it’s narrow and focused on only a small spectrum of boring cognitive tasks. This class and how I teach it will challenge each student, without question. Still, it will also open the door for students to re-imagine themselves as emerging deep thinkers and qualified members of the university community.
Exploring Latino Culture
This course will bring FYS program goals to life by exploring a deceptively simple question: “What is Latino culture?” In answering this question (and many others) we will explore cultural and creative expressions, and decipher what they tell us about the values and experiences of Latino peoples throughout the Americas? In this course we will:
- Explore and examine diverse cultural expressions such as music, dance, literature, paintings, food, and celebrations, within the context of history, politics and geography in Latin America.
- Identify and examine the connection between context and creative expression in Latin America by region from the Southern Cone to the Andean Region, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and the southwestern United States.
- Develop informed perspectives on Latino products, practices and perspectives as we cultivate cultural competence.
What is Sport?
The goal of this seminar is to engage in critical inquiry surrounding the central question, “What is sport?” Our focus will be on multiple forms of artistic expression including, but not limited to, creative nonfiction, film (and other visual arts), and fiction. The majority of our texts will be North American in scope and our critical conversations will explore ideas about the role sports play in our lives through the lens of the arts. Throughout our study, we will examine course concepts from multiple perspectives and disciplinary approaches in our search for a deeper and multi-dimensional understanding of the question, “What is sport?”
What is a Story?
Storytelling is an ancient, simple, and uniquely human practice. This course will investigate a surprisingly wide variety of creative expression, from theater to the culinary arts, to dissect and understand what makes a story, how our stories divide and unite us, and what role they play in human culture. “What is a story?” is a rich and complex inquiry into the universal and timeless practice of storytelling.
What is Funny?
This course will investigate the deceptively complex question: “What is funny?” Together we will make inquiries into whether comedic works (literary, film, and other artistic expression) can be used to effectively challenge power, to explore what happens when artists and their works violate social norms, and ultimately to consider the intense intersection of the objective and subjective dimensions of the question: “What is funny?” This course is not just about humor, it is about investigating culture, context, ourselves, and the human condition.
What is a Border?
This course will seek to make inquiries into a simple but profound question: “What is a border?” Migration and the U.S. southern border are important issues in our contemporary society. This course is an opportunity to go beyond the political realm and connect with the human experience in this unique space. In this course we will examine the reality of borders from various perspectives. Through the process of inquiry and critical thinking, we will co-construct understandings of the notion of a national, linguistic, cultural and even personal border. What happens when different cultures interact ? How does this inform new ways of thinking and being? We will analyze artistic expression from poetry to prose, ballads to film, sculpture and music to try and understand their relationship with the border region between the United States and Mexico.
What is American Literature?
The goal of this seminar is to engage in critical inquiry surrounding the central question, “What is American literature?” Our focus will be on multiple forms of literary expression including, but not limited to, poetry, short stories, novels, and hip-hop. The majority of our texts will be American in scope and our critical conversations will explore ideas such as the American literary identity, how literature may reflect and shape culture, what we consider to be American literary “classics” and why, and whether or not hip-hop should be considered American literature. Throughout our study, we will examine course concepts from multiple perspectives and disciplinary lenses in our search for a deeper and multi-dimensional understanding of the question, “What is American literature?”
What is Heartbreak?
This seminar will examine the multifaceted question “What is Heartbreak?” Our investigation will center around both the individual’s heartbreak and that of larger communities. Using differentiated expressions of heartbreak in art and text as our point of entry, we will delve into each artistic expression, exploring creative choices, outcomes, impacts and each artist’s eventual attempt at healing. This bird’s eye view provides not just a deeper, more complex examination of the question, What is Heartbreak, but also an examination of ourselves.