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 2016
FYSE 1003 Science Fiction
Out-of-control scientific discovery, time travel, aliens, androids, corporate and political domination, reimaginings of race, gender, and sexuality--these and other themes have dominated science fiction over the last 250 years. We will try to understand the ways in which selected writers have seen the world we inhabit and have imagined alternatives to it. Texts and movies include: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; H. G. Wells, The Time Machine; Isaac Asimov, I, Robot; Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness; and Ridley Scott, Bladerunner.(M. Newbury)

FYSE 1144 Jane Austen and Film
Why did a writer born over 200 years ago become a hot property in Hollywood? The explosion of film adaptations of Austen's novels has sent readers scurrying to Austen's six major works: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. We will study these novels and their film and video adaptations, while examining the differences between the language of film and the language of fiction, and while considering Austen's appeal to 21st century men and women.
(M. Bertolini)

FYSE 1247 Everyday Life in South Africa, 1948-Present
In this seminar we will explore some of the social worlds of South Africans amid the country's recent decades of turbulent and dramatic change. We will look at how different groups within the nation's diverse population have understood and experienced the rise of the apartheid system, its demise, and its legacies in their "everyday" lives and interactions. We will draw from various sources - non-fiction, fiction, film, music, and other forms of popular culture - to interpret these social dynamics and their ongoing significance in a post-apartheid society.
(J. Tropp)

FYSE 1312 Bocaccio's Decameron
The Decameron by the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio is a collection of stories ranging from the tragic to the comic, from the holy to the profane. In this seminar we will read Boccaccio’s short stories (novelle), discuss critical studies, analyze in depth the relationship of each novella to the whole work, and study the Decameron using a variety of theoretical approaches. We will also compare the
Decameron with other famous collections such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the Thousand and One Nights.
(S. Mula)

FYSE 1344 Time Around A Table: A Culinary History of Italy
Food is a window into the culture and values of any society. In this seminar we will explore the history of Italian culture by investigating the ever-changing issues relating to food, through books, articles, films, recipes, and cooking. How did production and consumption change over time? What did the Ancient Romans eat? What was Italian cuisine like before pasta and tomatoes? What triggered the Italian appetite to change? Such questions allow us to examine what culinary choices reveal about today’s Italy.
(I. Brancoli Busdraghi)

FYSE 1382 The Wars Within: Causes and Consequences of Modern Civil Conflict
Why does civil war break out? How does a state return to a ‘civil peace’? What role does the international community play, if any? In this seminar we will explore the cycle of civil war and civil peace through the lens of social science. We will consider the utility (or futility) of state-building efforts and debate the proper role of the international community following an extensive assessment of the effects outsiders have had on civil wars. Prominent cases include such conflicts as Somalia, Syria and the break up of Yugoslavia.
(A. Yuen)

FYSE 1461 Film Form, Film Meaning: Fellini and the Art of Cinema
In this seminar we will discover the hidden art of cinematic form. How do movies construct meaning? Why are they often so emotionally engaging? How is cinema related to the other arts (literature, painting, photography, music)? In the first half of the seminar we will analyze six films by Federico Fellini—one of Europe’s most famous auteur directors (La strada, La dolce vita, 8 1/2, among others). In the second half of the seminar, students will analyze films of their choosing (any film by any European director). Armed with the critical skills gained through analyzing Fellini, groups of students will then screen their films to the entire class, complete a major classroom presentation, and engage in original research.
(T. Van Order)

FYSE 1483 The Magic of Numbers
Number theory—the study of patterns, symmetries, properties, and the power of numbers—has caught the popular imagination. Youngsters and adults have toyed with numbers, looked for patterns, and played games with numbers throughout millennia. A characteristic of number theory is that many of its problems are very easy to state. In fact, many of these problems can be understood by high school mathematics students. The beauty of these problems is that modern mathematics flows from their study. Students will experiment with numbers to discover patterns, make conjectures and prove (or disprove) these conjectures.
(D. Dorman)



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