First-Year Seminars

All entering Middlebury students take a First-Year Seminar during their first semester on campus. These seminars are writing intensive courses, limited to 15 students each, and they are taught by regular, full-time faculty members who also serve as students' academic advisers for their first three semesters at Middlebury.

First-Year Seminars Affiliated with Atwater:
Fall 2017
FYSE 1120 Earth Resources
Origin, Use, and Environmental Impacts: The global economy, world politics, and many aspects of our daily livesare dependent on the extraction and use of materials taken from the Earth. Unfortunately, within our lifetimes, we will be faced with significant shortages of many of these resources. In this course we will focus on how resources such as oil, coal, aluminum, and even gem minerals are generated by geological processes, how they are extracted and processed, and how these activities impact the environment. Several field trips will allow us to view first-handthe impacts of resource extraction and use in the local area. (D. West)

FYSE 1259 Science and Science Fiction
More than just robots and rocket ships, science fiction frees us from the bounds of Earth’s present condition and allows us to explore alternate possibilities and futures, both positive and negative, for humankind. Often byconfronting things decidedly non-human, we discover more about what it means to be human. We will read bothscience fact (i.e., non-fiction) and science fictionliterature to try to understand more about our humanity, our presentworld, and what might become of each in the future. Topics will include space travel, energy and the environment,the nature of the universe, and the meaning of life. We will write bothfact-based essays and science fiction short stories. (R. Bunt)

FYSE 1389 Five Novellas
An in-between genre, the novella wanders like a novel but narrows in like a short story. In this class, we will explore the form and meaning of five novellas by exceptional writers of modern and contemporary fiction. Texts include Toni Morrison’s Sula, Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, Tao Lin’s Shoplifting from American Apparel, Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy. Students will respond to the literature through informalwriting, formal literary analysis, and the art of narrative criticism. We will discuss constructions of race, gender, dis/ability, class, and sexuality as well as investigate notions of home, family, and faith. (C. Wright)

FYSE 1442 Fifty Shades of Italy
Italy is the land of a seductive culture that for centuries has inspired undeniable romanticism and continues to capture the imagination of many. But there is more to Italy than beautiful landscapes and world famous cuisine. From the darkness of fascism and terrorism to the sophisticated colors of Italian fashion and design to the dramatic tones of illegal immigration, we will explore, discover, or critically revisit the many shades that together compose the complexity of the Italian mosaic. Our interdisciplinary approach will include short stories, essays, newspaper articles, films, music, and images. (S. Carletti)

FYSE 1458 Pyramid Schemes, Bubbles, and Crashes
In this seminar we will study the anthropology of exchange, then use it to analyze ethnographies of financial speculators, labor migrants, microcredit borrowers, and other agents and victims of global capitalism. We will focus on conflicting obligations to kin and to creditors, on how people in different cultures and social classes juggle these obligations, and how the growth of financial debt can turn social relationships into commodities. Studying debt and how it is leveraged in different societies and historical eras will show why capitalism is so vulnerable to speculative booms, swindles, and collapses. (D. Stoll)

FYSE 1499 Witnessing Collapse: The Soviet Union and the End of the Twentieth Century
A half century ago, in the midst of the Cold War, few envisaged that the Soviet Union would soon be no more. How did those living under Soviet rule experience the surprising collapse of their seemingly unchangeable world? How did their lives change for the worse, how for the better, between 1970 and 2000? How do people today, in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, remember the upheaval? In this course we will explore, from the bottom up, the demise of the Soviet Union, focusing on lives, dreams, and beliefs of ordinary individuals living through times of extraordinary economic, political, and cultural change. (W. Pyle)

FYSE 1510 What Can I Say? Free Speech v. Racist Speech in the United States and Europe
In this course we will delve into the politics and law surrounding issues of racist speech in the United States and Europe. We will look at the development of speech doctrines in the post-World War II era, drawing on well-knowncase studies from American constitutionalhistory, as well as European examples such as the Danish Cartoon Controversy and Holocaust denial cases. Through comparison across time and countries, we will debate the appropriate limits on racist speech in different contexts. (E. Bleich)

FYSE 1513 Reading and Writing Contemporary Art
How do we understand art produced in the present day? How does this art help us understand the world? In this course we will consider multiple objects designated by the term “contemporary art; ” a global industry, an art-historical discourse, a set of cultural practices evolving in dialogue with technology, a symbolic arena for the consideration of political values. We will familiarize ourselves with notable works in contemporary art’s unfinished canon, and pursue the challenge of writing about the visual. Goals include: writing and revising college-level essays, learning effective research techniques, and analyzing the culture of the contemporary art world. (R. White)


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