The First-Year Seminars start with an idea that generates controversy or debate and explore the the breadth of the liberal arts in small classes that encourage critical, interdisciplinary thinking. The topics alone provoke interest. Here’s a quick look at 10 (of 24) First-Year Seminars that will make you wish you were a member of Wheaton’s Class of 2019.
1. L’Amérique! The United States through French Eyes
French views of the United States reveal a great deal about both countries, and students in Professor of French Studies Kirk Anderson’s course will dive into the subject by studying French prose, poetry, cinema, popular music, and advertising that represent the U.S.A.
2. A More Sour Pang: The Psychology of Illness
Students in Associate Professor of Psychology Michael Berg’s seminar read both fictional and real life accounts of individuals living with disease and discuss how psychological research can help us understand and improve the lives of the chronically ill.
3. The Rituals of Dinner
Students will draw upon anthropology, religious studies, and psychology to “decipher” the language of meals and their rituals in Professor of Religion Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus’s seminar.
4. Truth, Reconciliation and Forgiveness
Students taking Associate Professor of History Dolita Cathcart’s course will examine the history of repression, the function of memory, and the desire for reconciliation across the globe.
5. Into the Wild: Escape or Transcendence
Through novels and film, Professor of English Sam Coale and students investigate the tension between the self and society, reading and watching Into the Wild and Brokeback Mountain and such novels as The Kite Runner, The Book of Jonah, In the Lake of the Woods and others.
6. Love, Birth and Death in English Renaissance Literature
What does it mean to live at a time when death is highly visible? English folk of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries could see a public hanging once a week and were mindful of death’s nearness through eruptions of the plague that closed the theatres sporadically throughout these decades. Associate Professor of English Katherine Conway and her students will examine that question by reading and discussing some of the greatest poetry and plays written in English.
7. Watching War Movies in Baghdad
Professor of Political Science Gerard Huiskamp and students examine the use of popular film by the U.S. military in war planning and in tactical operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
8. Bodies and Wonders: Art, Truth, History
The human body has been a site of knowledge for centuries. Associate Professor of Art History Touba Ghadessi and students will study how its representations through the ages have shaped our cultural, historical, social, and artistic understandings.
9. Storytelling through Google Maps
Delving into digital story-telling, Professor of Computer Science Mark LeBlanc and students will study the intersection of creative storytelling with professional software and Google maps to make eBooks.
10. How Sweet It Is
With Americans consuming more sugar than ever, students in Associate Professor of Chemistry Laura Muller will conduct a case study of the science and politics surrounding sugar and whether or to what extent it is harmful to humans.
11. Social Empowerment through the Performing Arts
Instructor of Music Julie Searles and her students will examine how people around the world use music, dance, theatre and visual art traditions to inspire significant social change at local, national and international levels. The First Year Seminar (FYS) is designed for and required of new students at the beginning of their college studies. It offers students the opportunity to learn in small classes through reading and regular discussion, writing and critical engagement with controversial ideas. Sections are taught by faculty representing every part of the college’s liberal arts curriculum.