COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester
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:

FYSE 1212 – Mathematics for All
What kinds of mathematical knowledge are necessary for full participation in contemporary democratic society? How well, and how fairly, do our schools educate students in quantitative skills and reasoning? By what measures might we judge success? We will learn about different approaches to mathematics education in light of these questions. Readings will include selections from Mathematics for DemocracyThe Case for Quantitative Literacy (L.A. Steen, Editor), as well as recent articles by education researchers. To connect theory and actual practice, students in this class will conduct a service-learning project in a local school.  All are welcome, regardless of mathematical background. (Priscilla Bremser)


FYSE 1306 – Mountain of the Northeast
The mountains of the northeastern U.S. are an integral part of the cultural and natural history of this region. In this seminar we will consider topics germane to northeastern mountains including the geologic origin of the northern Appalachians, characteristics of mountain environments, changing perceptions of northeastern mountains over time, mountains as resources for modern society, and challenges facing these environments today and in the future. Readings and discussion will be combined with field excursions to enhance our understanding of mountains from a variety of perspectives. (Jeffrey Monroe)


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 informal writing, 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. (Catharine Wright)


FYSE 1464 – Intro Postcolonial Literatures
The Empire Writes Back: Politics and Literature from Postcolonial Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia
A hundred years ago, Britain ruled about a quarter of the world’s population, and the British Empire covered approximately a quarter of the earth’s land surface. Though most of the colonies have won formal independence, the effects of global imperialism continue to be felt, and arguably Empire has taken on other forms. In this seminar we will discuss fiction, poetry, and drama by postcolonial writers such as J. M. Coetzee, Derek Walcott, Daljit Nagra, Wole Soyinka, Mahashweta Devi, Jean Rhys, Arundhati Roy, Edward Said, and Frantz Fanon, addressing questions about the nature and effects of colonization, anti-colonial resistance, representation, agency, and power. (Yumna Siddiqi)


FYSE 1507 – The Women of Games of Thrones
In this seminar we will examine the representation of women in George Martin’s Game of Thrones book series and its popular television adaptation. Introductory theoretical readings on gender, sexuality, race, and class, as well as on audience reception and fan culture will inform our discussion of the major characters in the show. In what ways does the role of women in the show’s fictional socio-political structure shed light on real-world issues of patriarchy, oppression, and violence? What aspects of the HBO series’ representation of women are defined by genre conventions and audience expectations? (Nikolina Dobreva)


FYSE 1525 – Writer’s Decathlon
One of the best skills a writer can hope to cultivate is flexibility—the ability to write for different audiences, different situations, different media, and with different goals in mind. In this course we will develop our skills as flexible writers by tackling ten different writing exercises, including the op-ed, several sub-genres of the traditional academic paper, personal essays, creative fiction, the persuasive essay, business communications, modern tech-based genres, and more—we may even try our hand at writing an old-fashioned love letter with a quill pen. We will workshop our writings in class regularly, and examples of these various genres will be our course readings. (Antonia Losano)


FYSE 1546 –Language of Conspiracy Theories
In this course we will explore the language of conspiracy theories by examining some longstanding theories—such as that of the moon landing hoax—as well as more recent theories spread by the likes of Alex Jones and other talking heads. Our work will pinpoint the rhetorical nature of conspiracy theories (what makes them viable, how they spread, and how to spot them), while also finding ways to argue against people making bad-faith arguments. Overall, this course will emphasize the various dimensions of conspiracies and challenge students to find approaches to counteract them. (James Sanchez)


FYSE 1559 – A Guide to College
Starting college is a major life transition. It coincides with the emergence from adolescence into young adulthood, and is when students build new identities within the context of increased academic, social, and cultural pressures. At this dynamic moment, we will begin to explore possibilities, identify goals, and create individualized action plans in an effort to experience college with intention. The course readings will primarily be drawn from the fields of Psychology and Education. Together, we will learn best practices identified in the social sciences and tap into our creative energies to share our real-time experiences as we synthesize guides to getting the most out of college.  (Robert Moeller)

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