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 2014
FYSE 1105 The Poet's I

(B. Millier)
FYSE 1145 Voices Along the Way
In this seminar designed for international students, we will examine American culture through the lens of “migrations,” the 2012-13 theme of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity. We will study how migrations form the essence of American culture, philosophy, and history. We will read texts by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Julia Alvarez, and Sandra Cisneros. Throughout the seminar, we will work on discussion, oral presentations, research, and writing, which will include both short and long papers.
(H. Vila)
FYSE 1167 Shakespeare's Characters
Shakespeare’s reputation owes much to his characters; yet well-known as they are, they remain mysterious. What did they mean in Shakespeare’s time, and how do they still succeed? What explains the charisma of Bottom, the idiot who cannot act? What can we learn from Beatrice’s banter with Benedick, or Henry V’s flirtation with Princess Katherine, about Elizabethan—and our own—understandings of gender and language? What prompted 19th century critic William Hazlitt to declare, “It is we who are Hamlet”? Addressing such questions, we will develop critical thinking and writing skills. Texts include three of Shakespeare's plays (e.g., A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet) and contextual readings. We will also study a film of one of these plays.
(J. Berg)
FYSE 1336 Tell About the South
“Tell About the South”: Exploring Southern Cultures*
In William Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom!/, Southerner Quentin Compson's Harvard roommate says to him: "Tell about the South. What's it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all?" These questions, posed by a Canadian, underpin our class study. In this seminar we will investigate the widespread perception of the South as a distinctive region that may—or may not—be in jeopardy of disappearing into a more homogenous national identity. By examining southern culture through a variety of disciplinary lenses, we will begin to explore why, how, and with what results this regional identity has evolved. Together we will explore the South’s social, economic, and cultural development, focusing on artistic representations of the region in literature, film, photography, music, and popular culture.
(D. Evans)
FYSE 1418 Global Youth
In this seminar we will explore global manifestations of youth culture and politics. We will map connections across time and place, exploring how young people around the world respond to global economic change, unemployment, lack of opportunity, and barriers to education and mobility. We will use key concepts from Human Geography, such as scale, space, place, region, and globalization to explore both everyday experiences and momentous mobilizations of young people. We will work to understand geographies of difference and of interconnection, linking the uses of social media, organizing, and cultural production around the world with those of students at Middlebury.
(K. McKinney)

FYSE 1419 Civil War & Civil Rights
War is a time of national emergency, where the rules governing everyday life often get suspended to meet a more pressing need. What rights of citizens remain protected in these circumstances, and what gets sacrificed? Using scholarly works and historical documents from the American Civil War, we will explore the challenging issues that government leaders faced, including the suspension of habeus corpus, confiscation of private property, profiling of certain social groups, censorship of the mails and the press, and conscription of civilians for service in the military.
(A. Morsman)

FYSE 1425 Physics of Musical Sounds
In this seminar we will study the physical phenomena associated with the creation and transmission of sounds, especially those related to conventional musical instruments (both acoustic and electric, including the human voice). The categorization of sounds according to their harmonic content will be discussed, and we will also consider electronic means of production, transmission, and processing of sound. (This course assumes familiarity with high-school trigonometry)
(S. Ratcliff)
FYSE 1427 American Political Tradition
In this seminar we will study the theoretical ideas that informed the creation and development of America’s political system and consider some of the major contemporary challenges to American democracy. Topics to be treated include the political thought of the American Founders, the place of religion in public life, the nature of written constitutions, American political culture, race in American politics, and the role of America in the world. Readings will include selections from the Federalist Papers, Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, John Dewey, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and many other primary source documents.
(K. Callanan)


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