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 and are taught by regular, full-time faculty members who also serve as students' academic advisers during their first three semesters at Middlebury. Cook affiliated First Year Seminars for fall 2015 are listed below.

FYSE 1302  C.S. Lewis: Ecology, Philosophy, and Imagination  In this course we will explore the writings of C.S.Lewis, with an eye to how important philosophical and theological ideas evident in his non-fiction essays and books find expression in his major works of fantastic fiction: The Chronicles of Narnia and the Ransom Trilogy. Particular emphasis will be given to the implications of his views of nature and ecology (including ecological practices). We will focus on Lewis’s own writing, especially his fantasy novels, but will also read a small selection of writing about Lewis, such as Alan Jacobs’ The Narnian. 3 hrs. sem. CW LIT      Matthew Dickerson

FYSE 1417 True Lies: Espionage in Film and Fiction  We will study the depiction of fictional spies in literature (Ian Fleming's Bond novels), film (The Bourne Identity), television shows (Alias, Homeland), and parodies (Burn After Reading) in an attempt to address the following questions: Why have narratives about spies and spying been so commercially successful since the mid-19th century?  How has the genre changed to reflect the development of new technologies and major historical events (WWII, the Cold War, and the War on Terror)?  How do ideas of gender and nationalism affect the depiction of the extraction of information in controversial ways, e.g., bribery, seduction, torture, and hacking? 3 hrs. sem. ART CW  Nikolina Dobreva

FYSE 1438  Vermeer: Forgeries, Fictions & Films
Since his rediscovery in the 19th century, Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer has received sustained and enthusiastic praise for his refined paintings of everyday life in 17th-century Holland. In this course we will examine how Vermeer’s art and life have been evaluated from the 17th to the 21st century. We will not only contextualize Vermeer in his own time and place, but we will also consider how his work has elicited a range of responses in modern times, including forgeries, novels, and films. 3 hrs. sem. ART CW EUR       Carrie Anderson       

FYSE 1458 Pyramids 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.  3 hrs. sem. CMP CW SOC           David Stoll                                              

FYSE 1484 World Musical Instruments
Every culture has musical instruments, and we admire musicians who play them well.  Yet, musical instruments can tell us a lot more about a society if we have the tools to analyze their sounds, morphologies, functions, classifications, playing techniques, and scales or tuning systems.  In this seminar, we will develop critical skills for analyzing these elements through a selection of world musical instruments.  We will also have the opportunity to construct musical instruments out of recycled materials.  Course activities will include intensive reading, writing, discussions, research, oral presentations, and hands-on activities.  No prior musical background is required.  3 hrs. sem.  ART CMP CW  Damascus Kafumbe

FYSE 1476 Homo Economicus  "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest," states Adam Smith, the "father" of economics.  We will explore the power and limitations of models of human behavior that posit self-interest as universal motivation.  What about seemingly irrational choices?  Do we need new economic models to explain philanthropy or procrastination?  To explore these questions, we will study works by early economists like Smith, current works on behaviroal economics, writings by Seteven Levitt, author of Freakonomoics, and Nate Silver's writings about data analysis.  3 hrs. sem. CW SOC   Tanya Byker

FYSE 1459 Money, Morals, and Madmen in Global Politics
Non-state actors bring resources (money), new norms (morals), and revisionist aims (madmen) to global governance.  In this seminar we will look at how private actors, including corporations, non-governmental organizations, and terrorist groups, have shaped development and conflict around the world.  Throughout, we will reflect on how these groups represent societal interests and work to improve or undermine state sovereignty and global governance.  3 hrs. sem.  CW SOC  Sarah Stroup

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