First-Year Seminars Fall 2013
Registration for First-Year Seminars is on a priority basis dependent upon date of deposit to the University and individual scheduling requirements. Preferences for students who submit the online form after June 10, regardless of deposit date, may not be accommodated, depending upon availability. New students will receive their course schedules at New Student Orientation in August.
Submit your top five choices for First-Year Seminars using the online form on MyArcadia (under New First-Year Student Forms).
Apocalypse: The End of Days, Yet Again? (FY103.1)
Kathleen Pearle, History
From ancient times to the present, cultures across the globe have represented Creation as the Beginning of Days. Likewise, many cultures, ancient through contemporary, have envisioned the End of Days on earth as the climax and resolution of a prodigious struggle between the forces of good and evil: the Apocalypse. Students will first investigate the visions and messages of pre-modern apocalyptic communities. In the second part of the course we will examine the transformation, as well as the commercialization, of apocalyptic images and revelations in modern times. This seminar includes a museum trip, film viewings and a Last Supper.
Art Scandals: From Michelangelo to Mapplethorpe (FY103.2)
Bonnie Hayes, Art & Design
Students will explore historical and recent scandals involving the visual arts, focusing on the intersection of art, politics and religion. Do artists seek controversy, or is it created by audience reaction, or both? Why are certain depictions of the nude called indecent? Why are some religious images labeled blasphemous? Why are some political images offensive? And who should determine what visual images adults see? Enter the debate on these issues as we encounter actual works of art through field trips to museums in Philadelphia and New York.
The Art of the Scavenger: Found Art & Poetry (FY103.34)
Dorian Geisler, English
Found art is art created from everyday objects or products. Found poetry is poetry written from language overheard or read. The key to found art and poetry is knowing where to look and having an eye for strange (yet cool) possibilities. In this class, you will make poetry out of the Patriot Act and art out of landfill images. You will remix a famous political speech into a poem, and animate a famous painting into a short video. You will also learn about the history of found art and poetry, from its beginnings with Picasso pasting a photograph onto a canvas, to Flarf—a type of contemporary poetry made entirely by Googling. Like a scavenger, you will learn how to see the whole world as (artistic) source material.
Beyond The Broadway Blockbuster: Exploring Thoughtful Theater (FY103.22, FY103.3)
Jonathan Shandell, Theater
There's nothing wrong with feel-good Broadway-style musicals. But at its finest, theater is a serious art that provokes ambitious thinking, self-examination and social engagement. This seminar exposes students to thoughtful dramatic productions on the Arcadia campus and around Philadelphia, explores the creative process involved in staging serious drama, and examines how Philadelphia-area artists are using the stage to engage with the vital political, cultural and social questions of our time. Students attend performances, speak with theater artists, and develop critical skills for analyzing what is seen on stage.
Bodies In Motion: Foundation For Physical Therapy (FY103.4)
Meredith Mayes, Physical Therapy
What is movement? What is the relationship between anatomical structure and function? How is movement acquired? What alters movement? What is physical ability and disability? This seminar introduces students to the science of movement and bioengineering as tools for analysis and adaptation. Visual observation of different kinds of human motion within varied locations and contexts serves as the framework for discussion of the individual’s, society’s and science’s approaches to the concept of physical ability. Strategies to address mismatches in physical ability and environmental demands underscores the seminar topics as students are guided toward an understanding of physically active individuals.
The Body Adorned: A look at the personal, societal and historical context of decorating our bodies (FY103.6)
Karen Misher- Art & Design
This seminar will examine the varying ways in which we decorate and adorn our bodies. From the earliest evidence of mankind comes depictions of bodies that are painted, pierced, scared, draped in elaborate clothing and decorated in jewelry. We will discuss examples of body art from different global cultures dating from prehistoric times to the present day. A common element across nearly every culture is the use of our own bodies as a means of communicating something about ourselves. With either permanent scars and tatoos or temporary decorations like make-up and jewelry, body art is often a way to define a person’s role in society, identify a special occasion or rite of passage. With an added studio component, we will look more closely at how our contemporary methods of adornment are tied to this rich history while we experiment in creating our own items of decoration.
Chocolate: From Montezuma To Madison Avenue (FY103.7)
Scott Rawlins, Art & Design
For many, chocolate is simply a sugary confection, but chocolate is a complex subject. Throughout its 3,000-year history, chocolate has been used as currency, as medicine, and as an aphrodisiac. The processing and manufacturing of cocoa products has evolved from the simple preparation of a cold beverage consumed by the Maya elite to the creation of artisan truffles sold at high-end boutiques in New York and Paris. The production of chocolate is an industry currently worth billions of dollars. Students in this seminar explore the natural and cultural histories of the cocoa bean and learn about chocolate cultivation, processing and marketing.
Choreographing The Word: Investigating Intersections of Dance and Poetry (FY103.8)
Meredith Pribble, English
What moves us? Words can bring us to tears, inspire action, and make us get up and dance. Students will learn, on an intro level, how to analyze poetry and then explore how that can translate to movement. Not only will major periods in poetry be covered, but also the global community’s influence on American dance, such as Latin American and Afro-Caribbean styles. The main goal will be the students' collaboration as they explore how self-expression speaks through body and word. Students will attend local performances, both poetry readings and dance. No matter the level of ability, students will learn to creatively express themselves, gain an appreciation for these art forms as cultural markers, and explore how these art forms are integral parts of society.
Death on the Ice: Science, Ambition, Politics and Insanity at the Poles (FY103.9)
Eric McCloy, Global Information Services
Exlore the brilliance, lunacy, patriotism, science, pseudo-science, heroism, disappointment, risk-taking, profit-making and spin-doctoring that surrounds our collective fascination with Polar exploration. Imagine: January 9, 1909, Ernest Shackleton's team stands 100 miles from the South Pole. Facing a dwindling food supply and a raging southern winter, they abandon the quest, race home and, barely outrunning starvation and blizzards, return to a hero's welcome. Two years later, Robert Falcon Scott faces the same decision, leads his team forward to the Pole, but in returning gets pinned down by an interminable blizzard and fails to outrun the starvation stalking behind. Who do you think made the right decision?
The Ethics of Harry Potter (FY103.10)
Rick Arras, Computer Science & Math
Do you wish you could apparate, play quidditch, or ride a hippogriff? In this seminar, students look at the Harry Potter books, not only as compelling stories but as an opportunity to examine their own values and notions of “right” and “wrong.” (Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the power we choose to act on. That's who we really are., - Sirius Black) (It is not our abilities that show what we truly are, it is our choices., - Albus Dumbledore)
Forensic Science: Shaping The World Of Justice (FY103.11)
Marie Murphy, Biology
Forensic science plays a key role in determining the innocence or guilt of a crime suspect. Learn about crime scene procedures, the techniques of fingerprinting, the procedure of an autopsy, the analysis of hair and fibers, and the use of DNA evidence. Practice making and learning to analyze blood splatter patterns. Explore the world of ballistics. Do a forensic facial reconstruction on a cast of a human skull. This seminar explores the ways in which a love of science can be combined with a commitment to service in the interests of justice and public safety.
From Rags to Riches and Back Again (FY103.12 and FY103.33)
Rachel Collins, English
Rags to riches. Self-made millionaire. A house with a white picket fence. These are all pieces of the “American dream”—the master narrative that Americans like to tell about who we are and what we believe. But there’s also a darker side to the story. Even though the American dream claims to be universal, it’s actually highly raced, classed, and gendered, and from some perspectives it even resembles a nightmare. Throughout the semester we’ll read novels and watch films that offer different perspectives on American dreams and American nightmares. As we explore the narratives articulated by everyone from the writers of the Declaration of Independence to the stars of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, we’ll ask what their stories reveal about Americans and how they shape our sense of identity and possibility.
The Graphic Novel as Literature (FY 103.13)
What exactly is a graphic novel? Can pictures tell a story? Are comics considered “literature?” What’s the difference between Superman and Scott Pilgrim? Is there one? This course will tackle these questions (and many more) as students focus on the golden age of the graphic novel - beginning in the late 1970s and continuing to the present day – with a particular emphasis on recent works. As we navigate this increasingly popular genre, we’ll dispel the myth of comics as mere novelty and reinforce the fact that the graphic novel is a complex medium, one which draws on art, literature, and film. By the end of this course, students will have a working knowledge of visual literacy as well as a deep familiarity with the representative works of the genre.In addition, this course will include trips and on-site encounters with cartoonists, as well as the possible creation of their own individual or collaborative comic.
The Hero’s Journey: Ancient Myth to Modern Day (FY103.14)
Frankie Mallis, English
Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker all have something in common. They are all heroes and all of them set out on heroic journeys and quests that relate back to story structures found in ancient world myths. While entertaining, the fact that these myths repeat themselves over and over again in every religion, culture and even in Disney movies, shows the hero is something worth examining, and a crucial part of the human experience. This class will explore the hero in myth, literature, movies, pop culture, and in ourselves. We’ll also begin to create our heroic myths following in the steps of J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien and more. We’ll read from Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, and also look at the feminine counterpart of the heroine’s journey in myth and pop culture.
Making Moves: Strategic Nonviolence and Civil Disobedience in American Culture (FY103.5)
Allyson McCreery, Historical and Political Studies
Throughout American history strategic nonviolence and civil disobedience have led to significant transformations in American political, economic, and social spheres. The strong force of activism in American culture, represented through actions such as peaceful protests and boycotts, has changed the course of American history. Civil rights and liberties often compose the platform of strategic nonviolence and civil disobedience as citizens exhibit resiliency in their efforts and motivations to change the status quo. This course will investigate why and how civil resistance works, noting both successes and failures across several decades from the Civil Rights Movement to current day. Utilizing primary and secondary sources, students will expose the role of the protestor in initiating change through demonstrations, boycotts, and other nonviolent measures.
Mindful Eating (FY103.15)
Chad Crisp, English
Students will investigate the environmental, nutritional, and ethical implications of what we eat. This seminar enables students to make conscious, informed decisions about their food, and empowers students to take responsibility for their individual eating choices. This course encourages students to take an active role in the food culture of the campus and to consider, and possibly implement, changes that would benefit the Arcadia community as a whole. Last, but not least, an emphasis will be placed on the enjoyment of food and include both the regular preparation and sharing of meals as a class.
Monsters in our Midst (FY103.16)
Rhianon Visinsky & Antoinette Peters, English
Are you afraid of what lurks in the dark? The things that go bump in the night? Or do you relish the thrill of terror that these things evoke? Whether they be vampires, witches, werewolves or zombies, monsters are creatures that play a complex and necessary role in our society. Throughout history they have helped us to reinforce our cultural, political and even personal boundaries. They tell us who we are, who we aren't, and who we may secretly long to be. In this course we will examine this strange combination of disgust and desire that monsters and monstrosity elicit in each and every one of us. Through literature, film, and other media, we will study the myths surrounding well-known monsters, along with their origins and evolution. We will ask ourselves why we continue to encounter the same forms of monstrosity in the stories we hear, read and see today. After all, monsters aren't real....or are they?
Must Love Dogs: An exploration of the human-canine relationship (FY103.17)
Linda Pizzi, English
In recent decades, our relationships with our canine companions have changed radically. Unlike prior generations, both dog-owners and scholars today accept that dogs possess intelligence, have emotions, and can communicate. Current studies indicate that dog-owners are generally healthier and happier than most. How do we know this? How have dogs and humans evolved together and changed each other? What are the social and psychological ramifications of living with dogs? These are just a few of the many questions we will tackle as we learn from biologists, anthropologists, psychologists, historians, ethologists, and each other about the human/canine relationship.
The Politics of Food (FY103.18)
Amy Widestrom, Historical and Political Studies
In this course we will consider the politics of food in America; our food might define us culturally or socially, but much of the food choices we make are defined by political and policy decisions. Some of the topics we will cover in this class include the environmental dimensions of food production, food production and public health, food and identity, the geography of food, inequality and food choice/diet, labor politics in food production, farming and farm subsidies, and the regulatory state.
Reading Between the Rhymes: Exploring Social Justice and Diversity through Popular Culture (FY103.19)
Rochelle Peterson, Education
“So much on my mind I just can’t recline”... Taleb Kweli, Common, Mos Def, Tupac, Lupe Fiasco speak truth to power. Do you? This course examines dimensions of diversity and social justice using elements of hip hop music and other forms of popular culture to critique what we teach and learn in our society about gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, social class and more.
Rebel Yell: Youth Rebellion in Film and Literature (FY103.20)
Tracey Levine, English and Theater Arts
Youth rebellion as a coming-of-age story has continually been depicted in film and literature, the product of which is many times provocative, disarming, and poignant. This essential story is particularly focused on forging identity and reinvention through some drastic action, and has been portrayed through comedic and dramatic films, as well as in the written form in memoirs, fiction, and poetry. Rebellion is a very American ideal in that it forces a questioning of authority and the freedom involved in making choices. The goal of this class is to explore the story of youth rebellion and the coming-of-age genre in both films and literature to better understand and analyze the cultural impact, legacy, and continued interest by filmmakers and writers in the tumult of adolescence and the importance of it in shaping character. This course will ask students to analyze film and literature texts and respond in writing that is analytical. Students will also be asked to craft their own creative works that explore this genre.
Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold (FY103.21)
Finbarr O’Connor, Philosophy & Religion
Why do we find revenge so fascinating? And why do we also find it dangerous, distinguishing vengeance from justice? Why do so many societies have legacies of “blood vengeance,” resulting in vendettas or feuds? What about, instead, trying reconciliation or forgiveness? We will attempt to track down the roots of the enjoyment of vengeance in biology and psychology. We will delve into the revenge systems of other societies (Albanian canun, Samurai katakiuchi) and we will explore literary treatments of the topic in novels (Count of Monte Cristo), drama (Oresteia, Titus Andronicus), and films (Kill Bill, Sweeney Todd, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).
Romantic Comedy in Film (FY103.22)
Shekhar Deshpande, Communications
Romantic comedy is a unique genre of popular cinema. From the much discussed screwball comedies to the pejoratively termed “chick flicks” romantic comedies shape and are shaped by the imagination of relationships in films. There is more to love beyond the traditional, fantasized romances and courtship of the youngsters and beyond the pursuit of conventional sexual connotations. This course will pursue a variety of films and perspectives on love and relationships in romantic comedies. Films include City Lights (1931), It happened One Night (1934), Roman Holiday (1953), Harold and Maude ( 1971), Annie Hall (1977), Roxanne (1987), As Good as it Gets (1997), Sweet Home Alabama (2000), Bread and Tulips (2000), and Amelie (2002) among others. Assignments include a film viewing journal, readings in perspectives on romantic comedy, brief essays in visual and written form and other creative projects.
The Shock Of The Sixties (FY103.23)
Jo Ann Weiner, English
The 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Feminine Mystique. Haight-Ashbury. Woodstock. Flower power. The Vietnam “conflict.” “The White Album.” The assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK. The Graduate. The lunar landing. All of these are part of one of the most interesting decades in recent American history, the 1960s. In this seminar students read, view, and listen to a variety of texts in art, history, film, music, politics, and science of the time. And students have an opportunity to work extensively on an individual topic that interests them most.
So You Want To Be A Lawyer: Exploring Criminal Law Practice (FY103.24)
Linda Peyton, Political Science
Experience first hand the criminal legal process. With the United States Constitution as a guide, students focus on the practice of criminal law and study the impact of key constitutional amendments on police investigations and arrests, the trial process, sentencing, and punishment. Students observe criminal court proceedings at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, tour a Philadelphia County Prison, visit a Pennsylvania State Prison to meet with a group of inmates serving life sentences for murder, and form defense and prosecutorial teams to try a criminal case before a jury of their peers.
A Study in Character: Sherlock Holmes (FY103.25)
Lisa Gratz, English
Who is Holmes? Is he the egotistical but flawlessly brilliant consulting detective stalking the fog-swirled, cobbled streets of Victorian England? The far more vulnerable and complex character of page, stage and screen, susceptible even to the risks of love, appearing in the century to follow? Is he the high-flying, fisticuffing, texting superhero translated into our contemporary moment by Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch? Why does this odd, infuriating, eccentric man continue to shape our concepts and standards of intelligence, strength, self-discipline and self-worth? In this course, we will peer through the magnifying glass to investigate the identity of Sherlock Holmes, comparing films, television shows, homage/pastiche stories, and other artistic representations from all over the world . We will gain historical understanding, attend a theatrical adaptation and talk with modern forensic detectives. Students will bring themselves in direct contact with Holmes through the crafting of a creative piece.
Travel To The Stars: Science Fiction From Star Trek, Star Wars, and Beyond! (FY103.26)
Bill Meiers, English
This seminar explores (at "warp speed") the "galaxy" of contemporary science fiction by reading, watching, discussing, and critiquing short stories, novels, and television and movie videos. As students travel, they examine how science fiction, at once entertaining, inspiring, serious, instructive, and funny, reflects and shapes the "final frontier" of our culture, beliefs, behavior, and selves. Students have a chance both to recommend science fiction episodes, movies, and written texts for class exploration and to present their favorite episode or example of science fiction.
Travel Writing: Talking The Walk (FY103.27)
Alan Powell, Communications
This seminar develops students’ observational and travel skills and integrates their research with their personal experience. Designed around several short trips in the Philadelphia region, some taken individually and others as a class, students explore neighborhoods and natural environments, investigate cultural legacies, and take in ethnic food, fine arts and entertainment. At the end of each trip students create written and visual presentations bringing together their travel experiences with historical and other information discovered about the places.
Understand your Brain: How to Work, Learn, and Play Smart (FY103.28)
Clare Papay, Education
Want to learn better and be more productive? Take a nap! That's just one of the many strategies that scientists have discovered through brain research. Our brains have evolved in certain ways to increase our chances of survival. Yet the structure of our work and learning environments often contradicts the ways our brains function best. In this course, we will explore the many strange and wonderful things our brains do and why we should be paying more attention to how our brains work.
Up Your Game: Raising Your Awareness in Video Games (FY103.29)
Timothy Belloff, Global Information Services
Do you play video games? Have you ever wanted to learn more about them, the history behind them, how they have changed society or made impacts in the culture of the United States? This course will focus on the impact that Video Games have had on our society in various aspetWe begin with a survey of the video game world and discuss it’s humble beginnings from Pong to Mario to Halo. From there we will look at historical based video games and compare them to actual events in history and then also look at how popular culture has been affected by our penchant for video games. Finally we explore the cultural effects video games has had on our society from opposing viewpoints.
Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History (FY103.30)
Jeanne Buckley, Library
Well-behaved women seldom make history has become a universal slogan for independent women across the globe. These words are on bumper stickers, coffee mugs, pens, buttons, and T-shirts. What does it mean for a woman to be well-behaved? Badly behaved? By whose standards? What does it mean "to make history?" This course will explore, from an interdisciplinary perspective, women who have made waves (i.e,' misbehaved') and history by challenging the status quo, stretching the boundaries of society in their time and who may, or may not be recognized as important contributors to the arts, politics, business, science, etc.
Words Of Mass Destruction (FY103.31)
Doreen Loury, Sociology
Sticks and stones, may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Remember that little rhyme from childhood. It’s wrong; and more than that, it’s a lie. Words are very powerful. Words can hurt or heal, build up or tear down, comfort or curse. This is especially true when we explore the legacy of words used in the United States to label ethnic groups, gender and sexual orientation. What does the use of such words reveal about our nation’s social landscape? How did these words evolve over time? How did they become part of our public and private lexicon? The seminar will seek to place many of these words (the N, C, F, H, JAP, BAP, and B words)… just to name a few; within both an historical and cultural context. Additionally, we will examine the influence of pop-culture, political correctness and the Fifth Amendment as it relates to if, when and where these words can be spoken, and by whom.