FYSM-101-02. Religion, Politics, and Power—We live in a time when Tea Party candidates on the one hand can say that all immigrants should embrace Christian values to become citizens, and on the other hand, radical Islamic militants try to kill everyone who does not subscribe to their particular brand of Islam. What is the relationship between religion to politics? This seminar will explore this issue using two Reacting to the Past games. Students will play roles in these games which explore this issue. The first game, Constantine and the Council of Nicaea in 326 C.E., will explore the Emperor’s use of political power to shape the theology of Christianity and make it into the state religion. The results of this use of power were the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted over a millennium. The second game is The Trial of Anne Hutchinson: Liberty, Law, and Intolerance in Puritan New England. This game takes the connection of religion and government to its logical conclusion in which church membership is required to participate in politics. Thus, the two games represent two sides of the same issue at the intersection of politics and religion. Both games deal with intolerance in interesting ways. Students will play roles, including two students who will be Emperor of the Roman Empire and Governor of Massachusetts, will develop their characters, and attempt to win the games for their teams.-Henderson
FYSM-101-03. Athens and Rome—This seminar is an exploration of Athens and Rome through two “Reacting” games, each organized around crisis points in government. The first game is set near the end of the 5th century BCE, when some people question the wisdom of restoring the same form of participatory democracy that had plunged Athens into decades of an unwinnable war against Sparta. Yet few wish to live under a monarchy or an oligarchy. Which form of government is best, given that all are imperfect? The second game takes place during the aftermath of Julius Caesar’s assassination at the hands of men who thought they were liberating Rome from a dangerous tyrant, confident that Caesar’s death would quickly bring about a restoration of the Republic. This seminar puts a strong emphasis on collaborative research, the art of persuasion, clear and effective writing, and enthusiasm for understanding the intellectual and political issues at stake in Athenian Democracy and the Roman Republic.-Risser
FYSM-107. Dangerous Decisions or Cheerful Choices?—In the next few years, you will be asked to make many decisions. What courses will you take? What major will you declare? What clubs will you join? With whom will you live? Will you study abroad? Will you enroll in an internship? Will you go to graduate school? In fact, during your first semester at Trinity, you will also be living the consequence of an important decision you just made: where to go to college! And you are not alone. Every day, adults make decisions that have short and long-term consequences: what house to buy, what car to drive, what retirement plan to invest in, whether to get married or divorced, and whether to change jobs. In this seminar, we will explore how individuals go about making decisions both big and small, and in so doing examine how social, psychological, physical worlds constrain and enable the choices individuals make. Our readings will touch upon multiple disciplinary perspectives, including Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (sociology), and Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational: the Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions (economics). These books will provide us with a framework for collecting our own data (through in-depth interviews) about those around us and for writing about the data we collect. You will be asked to write “mini” papers every other week in which you either reflect upon your own decision-making process or in which you analyze the decision-making processes of others; one of these papers will become the basis of a larger project due at the end of the semester. Taking this class will provide you invaluable research, writing, and software skills for success in the social sciences. So why don’t you decide to take it?-Barlow
FYSM-113. Paris, je t’aime—What accounts for our love affair with Paris? The title of this seminar is taken from that of a film released in 2006 in which an international set of directors explored the theme of love and its related passions in “shorts” set in the distinct neighborhoods of Paris. This course, too, explores the neighborhoods of Paris - the Latin Quarter, the Marais, the Jardin des Plantes, the Bastille, and so on—through storylines in film, prose, and poetry which are framed by the historical personalities of these districts. We will view Paris, je t’aime and Paris vu par (a New Wave film in the mold of Paris, je t’aime) as well as look at bits of Casablanca and Children of Paradise. We will read excerpts of Père Goriot, Les Misérables, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. We will look at the mythic aura of revolutionary sites such as the Bastille, the Conciergerie (where Marie Antoinette and others were imprisoned), and the Place de la Concorde (the site of the guillotine), as well as for a later period, the Père Lachaise cemetery and the church of the Sacré Coeur. Our discussions will focus on the interplay between emotion and place which the city of Paris seems uniquely to generate as it draws us to its monuments, museums, markets, and cafés, as we wander its boulevards and streets steeped in history and saturated with the memories of other selves. Students taking this seminar will have priority in application for study abroad at the Trinity campus in Paris.-Kete.
FYSM-115. Not Just for Kids: the World of Fairytales—For centuries fairytaleshave served as powerful cultural currency, transmitting ideas about morality, gender, identity, nationalism, and childhood. Running the risk that it will ruin fairytales for you, this course will approach the genre of fairytales from a critical perspective, taking into account historical context, psychological and philosophical interpretations, and how certain fairytales have changed over time and cultural context. Over the course of the semester we will develop critical interpretative skills by interrogating what fears, dreams, and prescriptive codes of conduct fairytales reveal about their cultural “moment,” eventually taking on the task of creating our own, modern fairytale. We will focus on a selection of popular fairytales (Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast), tracing out how these canonical stories appear in various guises throughout the Eastern (Chinese), Arabic, and European contexts.-Assaiante.
FYSM-118. Literature for the 99%—During the past year, the Occupy movement by talking about the “99 percent” and the “one percent” has brought into new prominence questions of class disparities in American society and culture. In this course we will read stories, poems, and non-fictional prose that, in a variety of ways, examines the question of class and its expression in writing. Some of the readings will be by writers and singers who might be familiar, like Herman Melville, Jack London, Junot Diaz, Bruce Springsteen, Gish Jen, Gwendolyn Brooks, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Some will be by brilliant writers students are not likely to have encountered before. Writing requirements will include informal response papers, as well as close readings of the texts we are studying. Students will be expected to revise papers extensively and to work with each other to develop the skills of peer review.-Lauter.
FYSM-120. Experiencing Religious Art in Asia—In this seminar, we will explore the relation between art and human experience, and focus on the difference between the artistic experience (of beauty) and the religious experience (of truth), in the Asian context. There will be three areas: the Tibetan Buddhist mandala, Hindu painting, sculpture, and dance, and the shamanic experience of healing and funeral rituals. We are fortunate that a Tibetan sand mandala will be made on campus in the early fall by nuns from Nepal, and that shamanic experts are available to us locally to see their work in person. Seminar participants will write two five page papers in each of the three areas mentioned above, six papers overall; a final joint project will be worked on over the semester in collaboration with other students in the class.-Findly.
FYSM-122. The Information Age and the Digital Divide—We live in a time popularly referred to as the “Information Age.” To some, this so-called Information Age is characterized by information explosion, overload, glut, and fatigue. To others, information is beautiful, emergent, and even liberating. In this course, we will look critically at some historical, social, and conceptual foundations for the study of information. First, we will look at how the human brain processes information, with particular attention to the controversies surrounding the influence of digital information on the brain. We will then focus on two historical topics: 1) the development of books and their mass-production, and 2) the evolution of digital content and its transmission. The amazing collections of the Watkinson Library will support our work on books (http://library.trincoll.edu/research/watk/). Our work on understanding the evolution of digital transmission will also be hands-on as we delve into the workings of computers, networks, and the Internet. Finally, we will explore some of the social issues related to how people access and disseminate information, knowledge and meaning. First, unequal access to digital technologies globally has created what information workers call the digital divide, “the gap between those individuals and communities that have, and do not have, access to the information technologies that are transforming our lives” (www.edutopia.com). To explore issues related to the digital divide, we will work with the Trinfo Café at Trinity College, which is a place where community residents can access and learn about computer technology (http://www.trinfocafe.org/). Second, we will investigate the important questions about intellectual property and cultural ownership brought up by the digital production of information. Readings will come from a variety of critical and literary sources. Course work includes class discussions, imaginative and critical writing and projects, library research, and oral presentations. Field trips and other special events will be required for the course.-Valentino.
FYSM-126. Game Changers: Computer Games for Social Change in Our Cities—Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario Bros., The Sims... Computer games are part of the everyday life of many college students and adults alike, but can computer games be educational? What do computer games have to do with learning? Starting with these questions, this seminar will focus on a sub-genre within the gaming culture—games for social change—to identify how computer games, can be designed and used to address urban social problems. As part of this discovery process, we will read various excerpts on learning theories, current literature on computer games, as well as articles on immigrant communities in the United States and the urgent issues facing American cities today. Working in groups, you will develop a research-based game prototype to help players gain a deeper understanding of a given urban problem of your choosing and come up with potential solutions. We will focus on Hartford as a test case with the goal of raising awareness and developing new solutions to issues such as urban housing, poverty, ethnic relations, and development, to name a few. The final projects will be tested with community members at the Trinfo Café on Broad Street.-Lage-Otero.
FYSM-131. Witchcraft in Colonial America—The Salem Witchcraft trials in colonial America continue to haunt American society as illustrated by Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible that serves as a metaphor for the McCarthy era of the 1950s. This seminar will focus on witchcraft in colonial America and will take into account the history of European, continental, and English witchcraft experiences as an intellectual background for the colonial American trials. We will investigate the witch trials in mid-17th century Connecticut including the origin, and consequences of the “Hartford Witch Panic.” We will explore how and why the Salem trials came about and how to account for the size and scope of the persecutions and their eventual end. We will also compare and contrast the 1692 witch hunt in Stamford, Connecticut to determine why it never reached the level of the “hysteria” of the Salem trials.-Ross.
FYSM-142. Italian Cities—For thousands of years cities have been the defining feature of the Italian peninsula. They have also borne the imprint of many unique topographies—the meander of rivers, the rise of hills, and the fluxing sea yielding to stone, line, and the built shape. This course explores the urban experience in Italy from the rise of city-states and communes in the eleventh century to the development of cities in the modern period. Through an urban lens, it is possible to discern the diversity of Italian civilization and its deeper common strands. Historical sources, literature, art, photography, film, and virtual tools like Google Earth will be a fundamental part of the class. You will be asked to read, observe, examine, and think critically about all the material. This will include historical accounts of the fractious civic life of city-states, outsiders’ views of Italy, theoretical and historical writings on the city, as well as works of fiction and of the imagination. I aim to move beyond the familiar image of Italy, beginning with the extraordinarily varied history of individual cities. We will begin by understanding how ancient forms became the inheritance of contemporary cities. By semester’s close we will be in the present day, looking at how the twenty-first century overlaps the worn fabric of the past. As a major part of your grade, you will write a set of essays to be revised in two phases and compiled as an anthology of your writings.-Cocco.
FYSM-145. The Universal Machine: Past, Present, and Future—Over the last several decades, computers have fundamentally revolutionized our lives. Computers have recently become so powerful that some people believe they will one day exceed human intelligence. This year, 2012, marks the centenary of the birth of Alan Mathison Turing, widely recognized as the founding father of computer science for his simple, yet universal, computing device now called the Turing Machine. Surprisingly, the underlying structure of computers at their core has remained essentially the same since Turing’s time, and this elegant design is unlikely to change anytime soon. In this seminar, we will first read a romantic novel that introduces this fundamental concept and the vast world of computer science. We will examine the startling impact of Turing’s universal machine over the last several decades and look ahead into the future. This seminar will focus on the simple but beautiful nature of computation and computers, without nonessential technical details.- Miyazaki.
FYSM-151. Plays and Musicals: Writings About Writing—Many 20th/21st–century dramatists have used the act of literary and journalistic creation as a topic for plays and musicals. In this seminar we will read/listen to five plays and five musicals – some of them shows from the last few years, some of them “classics”—that examine how writers have wielded the word in works as diverse as The Front Page, Seminar, Nine, The Columnist, and Rent. As befits a seminar with such a topic, the papers that each student writes will be looked at with an eye to both grammatical precision and journalistic flair. We hope, during the semester, to be able to attend one or more actual productions of the works we’ve studied. We will also attempt to perform a scene or two of some from the plays we will have studied to augment our visual and aural experience of the writing.-Moshell.
FYSM-152. In Search of A Good Life—Many philosophical and religious traditions, from the ancient stoics to modern day Buddhists, have attempted to answer the question of what makes for a good life. Modern disciplines as diverse as behavioral economics, positive psychology, and brain science have also sought to understand issues related to this question. In this seminar, we will examine what all these disciplines, both ancient and modern, have to say about what it means to have a good or happy life, examining the roles of freedom and choice, economic conditions, engagement in one’s work, the pursuit of virtue and public service, and resilience in the face of adversity. Along the way, we will examine the contributions of modern brain science and positive psychology to this discussion.-Sandoval.
FYSM-155. Contemporary Issues in Urban School Reform—This course is designed to enhance students’ knowledge of urban school reform. We begin the course with a brief history of public education in the United States. Current issues surrounding federal involvement in education will also be addressed. From this basic foundation, we explore the divide between urban and suburban education and a number of contemporary reform efforts including: governance reform, charter schools, magnet schools, vouchers, the teacher tenure debate, and the value-added score controversy. Throughout the course, special attention will be paid to the role of race and class in public education. To add to the educational experience, this course includes a community learning component. Students will spend approximately 10 hours per week at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA), a local magnet school, working with high school teachers and students. This opportunity will allow students to understand how school reform works in the city in which they reside. Students will read a number of books and articles related to school reform efforts in urban America. Several 5-7 page papers and a community learning journal connecting course material to fieldwork will be required.-Chambers.
FYSM-163. From Godliness to Gothic: Exploring the Medieval Mind—In the thousand years that span the time commonly referred to as “medieval,” extremes of human behavior appear in the literature. For example, both cruelty and saintliness seem to live side by side. The bloody head hacked from King Holofernes is as equally prized as the holiness of his killer; mounted knights skewer Christian and “pagan” alike in the name of righteousness, and “godliness” can be found on the side of both winners and losers. We will ask what these extremes tell us about the times and cultures they depict, and, indeed, compare these behaviors to our own times. Another important theme will be the transition that occurs throughout the middle ages from a culture based on oral literature to one focused on the written word. We will also look closely at the religious and academic ideal of “the Gothic,” a pivot point in that oral to written transition, and we will spend some hands-on time exploring Trinity’s renowned Collegiate Gothic Revival Chapel. Finally, we will follow the literary evolution from warrior culture to “the court of romance” by analyzing a selection of the recurring and ever-expanding legends of King Arthur. We will begin the seminar by reading some of the “top hits” of medieval literature (in English) beginning with Anglo-Saxon poems such as “Judith” (who beheaded Holofernes), Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf ; the bloody, Old French “battle” Song of Roland; Simon Armitage’s translations of the knightly exploits of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Death of King Arthur, and selections from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Students will be asked to write literary analyses, critiques of ideas and texts discussed in class, and their own historical narrative.-Lindsey.
FYSM-165. The Voyage Out—It is not only the stories we read that call for interpretation. We move through life constantly searching for meaning. The world and our experiences present us with innumerable riddles, and in our attempt to solve them we venture forth towards unknown territory, more often than not with the belief that a definitive solution awaits us somewhere. This belief will be at the center of this seminar, and it will be approached through a series of texts and films portraying journeys towards goals that turn out to be elusive and in some cases unattainable. What do these works say about our yearning for dimensions of meaning capable of redeeming the confusion, uncertainty, and senselessness that often mark our experience of the world? Our approach to this question will be experimental. We will proceed by pairing works not normally considered together. The texts and films to be discussed will be read alongside other works dealing with human activities in which a quest is at stake: textual interpretation, philosophical speculation, hunting, and dream interpretation. Writing assignments will be devoted to reflecting on the unconventional and surprising results of these encounters. Our aim, at the end, will be to elaborate a theory of the human appetite for making sense. Selections from the following texts will form the core of our readings: Plato’s Symposium, Saint Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine, Saint Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle, Columbus’ Voyages, Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, Kafka’s The Castle, Ortega y Gasset’s Meditations on Hunting, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, David Lynch’s Lost Highway, and Dario Argento’s Suspiria.-van Ginhoven Rey
FYSM-170. Phage Hunt—Students carry out individual, authentic research to discover and describe a previously unknown phage (virus that grows on bacteria). Students learn the concepts and techniques needed to isolate their own phage from environmental samples and characterize the unique viral growth patterns on host bacteria. Students prepare their phage for viewing with the electron microscope so that viral physical structure can be described. Each student isolates the genomic DNA of their phage and analyzes the characteristic DNA fragment patterns. Data collected by each student becomes part of the national database on mycobacteriophage, contributing to the body of scientific knowledge. Critical thinking, analysis, and intensive writing practice are integral to the course, and are skills that are applicable to all fields of study. This program focuses on the “life sciences” broadly defined and provides students with the earliest possible exposure to real research in the field. Note: FYSM 170. Phage Hunt must be taken concurrently with BIOL 182, and is only open to students in the Genomics Research Program. Academically motivated students with a strong interest in biology are invited to apply to this program. See http://www.trincoll.edu/Academics/SpecialPrograms/genomics/ for more information and an application form. Submit applications to Prof. Lisa Foster by June 25th.-Archer/Foster
FYSM-171. Rich and Poor, White and Colored: Race and Class in America and at Trinity College—“Why are we here? Because we don’t mean squat. We are second-rate citizens. What about all the other people whose kids don’t have to fight the war? Let’s face it, boys, we’re the hicks, the spics, and the niggers. That’s why we’re here.” —Pvt. Danny Purcell, Tour of Duty, CBS, 1987. What is the reality of race and class in the United States today? Did the election of a black president mean we are now in a post-racial America? What does it mean to be “post-racial”? Or are we still stratified by race and class in a way that exemplifies George Orwell’s dictum, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”? Do race and class matter at an elite liberal arts college like Trinity? Should they? This seminar will be devoted to a careful analysis of these and other questions on race and class in America and at Trinity College. Any discussion of race and class must be grounded in history, but we will also consider a number of contemporary issues. The heart of the class will be the close reading of a variety of texts, including music and film, in-class discussions, and a series of papers. Because of the film component, there will be an extra class period in order to view and discuss the films. This seminar will, obviously, cover a number of emotionally charged issues and we will not shy away from controversy and open dispute. Many of the questions we will discuss do not have right and wrong answers, but students should not expect that all answers are of equal worth. In particular, students should be prepared to have their views critically scrutinized: BRITANNUS (shocked): Caesar, this is not proper. THEODOTUS: (outraged). How! CAESAR (recovering his self-possession): Pardon him, Theodotus, he is a barbarian and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature. —George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra, Act II-Cruz-Uribe.
FYSM-175. Obamacare, Superpacs, and Religious Freedom: The 2012 Presidential Election—The 2012 presidential campaign will take place in the context of intense partisanship and a deeply divided electorate. Candidates will debate a variety of contentious issues ranging from mandatory health insurance for contraceptive coverage, to the requirement that all eligible voters obtain special identification cards, to immigration policy, to plans to reduce the national debt. In our seminar we will study these issues as well as the role of “superpacs,” the political action committees (made famous by Stephen Colbert) that can spend unlimited funds on political campaigns and are expected to make the 2012 election the most expensive in American history. We will explore the role of the Religious Right and the Tea Party in shaping the agenda of the Republican Party in this election cycle, and we will examine President Obama’s policy initiatives for a second term. Our discussions will be informed by readings and movies on these issues and news from the campaign trail, and once the election takes place on November 6, we will examine exit polls, reporters’ analysis, and political commentary in the aftermath of the campaign.-Fulco.
FYSM-184. International Relations on Film—This seminar uses film to explore international relations, especially the problems of war and peace, revolution, human rights, immigration, ethnic conflict, urban dilemmas, and globalization. We view a series of classic and contemporary films, learning to read, interpret, and critique them as texts, while considering parallel commentaries by a range of social and political analysts. Students will watch at least one feature-length film each week, write a series of short analytical commentaries and response papers, and meet in intensive seminar format to discuss both the substantive issues and the films themselves. Films to be considered include those by Lean, Kubrick, Pontecorvo, Kassovitz, Weir, Lee, Spielberg, Greengrass, Meirelles, and Iñárritu. Students must reserve Tuesday evenings from 7:00 - 9:30 p.m. for screenings with the class.-Flibbert.
FYSM-185. Inquiring Minds: Hard-Boiled Detectives—For our exploration of American hard-boiled detective fiction, we will study novels such as, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, Chester Himes’ A Rage in Harlem, Sara Paretsky’s Bitter Medicine, Carl Hiaasen’s Stormy Weather, and Sue Grafton’s A Is for Alibi. We will consider how these texts reflect and interrogate the social values and cultural conflicts of their times, especially the complexities of race, class, and gender. We will also look at two or three film adaptations to see how a different medium transforms these texts. Along the way, we will try to determine why this genre has remained so popular. Writing requirements include: informal reflection papers for each reading, three or four short papers (3/4 pages), and a longer researched argument paper. Writers will practice peer review and revising through multiple drafts. Students will also present the research for their final paper to the seminar.-Butos.
FYSM-192. Capan, Honduras and Angkor, Cambodia: History, Archaeology, and the Cultural Politics of Two Ancient Cities—The civilizations of the Maya and the ancient Khmer people were built around cities. The city was an administrative center, but also a sacred space that expressed the cosmic view of the elite groups that organized the life of these societies. During the classic period of Mayan rule, between the 6th and early 10th centuries, enormous urban centers came into existence in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. The temples, stelae, and monuments of that era are historical treasures that provide an essential element of the patrimony of the states within whose borders they are found. The Mayas continued to play a leading role in this region until the coming of the Spanish conquerors who sealed the doom of this powerful state in the 15th century. Khmer civilization, centered around cities that took form just north of the great freshwater lake of a Mekong tributary, was, likewise, a far-flung empire that covered the Mekong Delta, parts of Laos, Thailand, and Burma, and modern Cambodia. From the 9th century to the 14th, this society flourished and then disappeared. When the capital city of Angkor Thom was sacked by the Siamese in 1431, the jungle expanded to cover the ruins of temples and palaces as Khmer political life found other locii. This course will look at the rise and fall of these civilizations through what is known about two ancient cities—Copan in Honduras and Angkor Thom in Cambodia. We will also consider how contemporary nations marvel at their achievements in the context of strategies to conserve Copan and Angkor Thom as UNESCO “world heritage sites” and destinations for international tourism. Themes to be examined will include parallel themes in the everyday life of these ancient cities; the role of the sacred in Mayan Copan and Angkor Thom; internal social and political conflicts and challenges that created vulnerabilities exploited, respectively, by the Spaniards and Siamese; the enduring power of these cities as a touchstone for the organization of modern national life, and tourism as a base for economic development.- Euraque/Lestz.
FYSM-193. The “Creative Class” and the City—Richard Florida, a writer and theorist of urban studies, describes the “creative class” as the key to economic, political, and social vitality in the modern world. Members of this “class” could include poets and novelists, painters, musicians, actors, designers, and architects as well as scientists, engineers, and college professors. Florida argues that the “creative class” congregates in cities and the greater their concentration and the products they produce – poetry, plays, buildings, restaurants, genetic tests, life-saving drugs - the more desirable a city becomes as a place to live and work. You will be reading and viewing selected artistic interactions with the great cities of the world (Poe, Baudelaire, O’Hara among others) as well as sociological critics of the city, including Florida. In order to find out how the “creative classes” operate in a city like Hartford or on a college campus like Trinity you will interview local members of the “creative class” and engage with the new forms they create - (art, music, literature, technology, and buildings, for example). The creative students who take this course should think of themselves as in training to join this “class” and be interested in exploring the city of Hartford. Field trips, internships, walking tours, visiting lecturers - all possible engagements.-Fraden.
FYSM-200. Engineering our Digital World—This seminar provides a basic understanding of how information in the digital era is collected, stored, processed, and moved around the globe. Students are exposed to digital encoding schemes that can symbolize different types of information (images, music, etc.) by decomposing it into basic pieces and converting each piece into binary units (bits) which can be efficiently stored, transmitted, and processed by computers. The course will also discuss issues encompassing all aspects of digital technology, such as storage, secrecy, and how we can apply digital technologies to benefit our community in tangible, practical ways. Students will apply math and science concepts to hands-on projects such as edge detection in digital images taken by their cameras. This course also includes a series of short (3-5 page) writing assignments and a comprehensive final research paper. The required background includes proficiency in complex numbers, trigonometry, and logarithm from high school algebra and geometry.-Cheng.
FYSM-207. 1862: America Undeceived—Lying on his deathbed in May of 1862, Henry David Thoreau reportedly said, “Now comes good sailing.” As the author of Walden departed this life, the rest of the country saw, on the contrary, decidedly rough seas ahead. The Civil War had been going on for a year, and after the shockingly bloody Battle of Shiloh, in April, Americans realized they were in for a longer and more terrible conflict than they had ever imagined. They also began to think differently about the war. While African American slaves fled southern plantations and sought to join the Union army, white northerners debated whether the war should be fought to end slavery. In September, President Lincoln announced he would issue an Emancipation Proclamation. What had seemed unimaginable, only a few years before, was becoming reality. Against this backdrop of historic transformations, American writers produced a gripping array of literary works. Nathaniel Hawthorne traveled south and described his visits to Virginia battlefields. Walt Whitman and Louisa May Alcott volunteered in army hospitals and wrote about what they saw. An up-and-coming writer named Rebecca Harding Davis published her first novel. Emily Dickinson composed more than 200 poems. In this seminar, we will study literature of the U.S. Civil War by following the calendar of the tumultuous year of 1862, exactly 150 years ago. At every turn, we will ask ourselves (from a historical perspective) how that year’s events challenged Americans’ views of themselves and their nation and (from a literary perspective) how they used the written word to reckon with those challenges. We will read literary works published or written during 1862: letters, diaries, and memoirs recounting individual experiences of that year, as well as the newspapers and magazines from which the American public learned about the war. Students will pursue an independent project, focused on a single day or week in 1862, by doing research in primary sources including newspapers, government documents, military records, and private letters and diaries.-Hager.
FYSM-212. Introduction to Hip-Hop studies: The Golden Era, 1985-1994—Hip Hop is a global phenomenon and multi-billion dollar industry that continues to inspire and polarize. This course focuses our attention on a particular period that was crucial to the art form’s growth and development. Nostalgically referred to as the Golden Era, the years between 1985 and 1994 witnessed a creative explosion in artistic production and political consciousness raising. Our journey through this important historical moment will take us to cities such as New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Havana (Cuba); Dar es Salaam (Tanzania); and Hartford, CT. In firmly situating hip hop in the context of economic neoliberalism, we will explore themes of race, class, gender, and youth identity formation. Questions we will seek to answer include: What are the key elements that define hip hop? How did it go global? What kinds of contributions did artists make to its evolution as a medium of localized cultural expression? For what reasons did the hip hop artist become the primary voice of marginalized urban youth of the post-civil rights era? Using an interdisciplinary approach grounded in the historical method, this course encourages students to interrogate hip hop’s relationship to issues of poverty, nationalism, capitalist consumption, and aesthetics.-Markle.
FYSM-214. The Godfather and Game Theory: the Art of Hard Choices by Mafiosi—This first-year seminar will be a non-technical introduction to game theory (strategic decision–making) and to the Sicilian Mafia (Cosa Nostra). We will view these topics through the lens of outstanding films, such as, The Godfather (I&II), Donnie Brasco, Goodfellas, and I cento passi. The course will include an interlude in which we analyze vice markets and debate the prohibitions that foster organized crime. The approach to game theory is interdisciplinary. We will integrate concepts from psychology, economics, history, and political science. Principal authors to be read are Jon Elster, Diego Gambetta, Peter Reuter, and Thomas C. Schelling. Course assessments are designed to hone useful skills in expository writing and public speaking.-Alcorn.
FYSM-217. Language and Power in the Public Sphere—How do we talk and write to each other in the public sphere? Which ideas have prominence, and which get ignored? How does language affect our experience of the world? What makes a video go viral? How can individual citizens participate in the life of our culture? In answering such questions, we will look at the issue of public language as it is depicted both in literature and in the various media of “the news.” Our readings will include two novels, and various nonfiction texts about language and power. We will also follow some of the public issues that arise in the fall of 2012, especially the U.S. presidential election, with an eye to how they are covered, looking at online media as well as mainstream news. In addition to writing three traditional academic essays and various short papers, students will keep their own blogs in order to reflect on, and cultivate, their own public engagement.-Papoulis.
FYSM-218. Alexandria in Egypt—Founded by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE on the site of a little Egyptian village on the western part of the Nile Delta, Alexandria quickly grew to become one of the most populous cities of the Greco- Roman world. It served as a hub of politics, administration, education, trade and commerce, and culture for 1,000 years. But after its capture by Muslim forces in September 641 CE, the new government chose to situate its capital at the site where Cairo would later be; Alexandria, cut off from the rest of the country, fell into obscurity. The city enjoyed an extraordinary rebirth after 1819 when it became for a century and a half a bustling center of commerce, multi–ethnicity, and a locale for intrigue and fiction. We will be looking closely at these two Alexandrias, the capital of Kleopatra and the “city of memory” of Lawrence Durrell and C. P. Cavafy. Over the course of the semester, students will work by stages on a research paper. In addition, there will be shorter writing assignments, and everyone is expected to participate actively in discussion during class.-Reger.
FYSM-223. Life Stories—What does it mean to narrate one’s own life? What does it mean to listen to, record and narrate someone else’s life story? In this seminar we will read and reflect on different genres of life story - autobiography, biography, memoir, oral history, and ethnographic life story, looking at examples both from Hartford and around the world. As part of the course, we will learn interviewing, recording, transcribing and narrating techniques. Course projects will include conducting and digitally recording life stories.-Notar.
FYSM-237. Understanding and Reversing Prejudice and Discrimination—What are the causes of prejudice and discrimination? Are prejudice and discrimination inevitable? Does prejudice always lead to discrimination? Is discrimination always a result of prejudice? Is the nature of prejudice universal, whether we consider group differences based on social class, race, religion, gender, politics, obesity, age, or any other status characteristic? Do strategies for reducing prejudice and discrimination follow the same principles, whether we are trying to reduce hate crimes or implement affirmative action programs in American institutions of higher education? Questions like these will be addressed in this seminar through use of literature, film, and social science readings, as well as regular in-class debates, discussions, and role-playing exercises.-Reuman.
FYSM-250. Fallacies for Fun and Profit—“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.” Artemus Ward (1834-1867). A fallacy may be defined as an error in reasoning with potentially strong psychological appeal. It may occur accidentally or as a deliberate choice. The subject of this seminar is informal logic, in both verbal and quantitative settings. What is an argument? Where would I find one? How is a deductive argument different from an inductive one? What characteristics do I look for in a good argument? How can I identify a fallacy? Besides an informal logic text, students will read selections from popular books like How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallacy of Human Reasoning in Everyday Life and Selling It: The Incredible Shrinking Package and Other Marvels of Modern Marketing. Each student will also read a daily newspaper and occasional magazines of his/her choice in order to find examples of arguments and fallacies. Besides class discussions, reading, and written reports, students will prepare a final cumulative project, which will be an annotated scrapbook summary of the course.-Gregory.
FYSM-295. Introduction to Italian Language and Culture—To understand and appreciate Italy, its people and culture, one must have a good grasp of the language. This course, therefore, integrates an intensive study of basic Italian with an overview of contemporary Italian culture. The seminar will meet for the equivalent of five class hours per week. For four of those hours, students will study grammar and vocabulary and use a language-based approach toward the study of Italian culture. One hour a week, however, will be devoted to discussion in English of selected readings, film, and music that deal with important cultural topics. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to apply their basic knowledge of Italian and to consider the ways the language is a window on Italian culture. Whereas film screenings are all in Italian with English subtitles, literary and critical readings are in English (except in the case of shorter and more immediately accessible texts which students will read in Italian). By the end of the semester, students will have acquired general knowledge about Italy and its culture and will also be able to speak, understand, read, and write in Italian at the basic level as described in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Language defines “being” and as the study of foreign language is a means to learning more about who we are, students will be invited to reflect on their own cultural and linguistic identity.-Palma.