First-Year Seminar Courses

          Here you can explore our vast selection of FYS courses available to our students! All departments from College of Arts & Sciences have contributed one or more topics of courses varying from governmental take on security on the Internet, history of separate minorities of the US population to problems of sustainability in the world and in the University. We hope you find a course that you will enjoy!

SF 116, Enlightened Insanity

Professor Barbara Abrams, Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies

Course Description:
Historically, social critics, artists, poets and philosophers are often on the margins of society working from the position of observer.  Although their methods and vocabulary seem to push opposing agendas, one thing that modern day philosophers, artists, economists, historians, political scientists and literary scholars all have in common is a focus on the period 1750-1830 as the pivotal turning point in the development of a “modern” mindset. Enlightened Insanity probes the background of our modern concept of marginality beginning with the French Enlightenment philosophes and continues to today’s commentaries on the modern French thought. Freshman Seminar is a beginner level course with no prerequisites.  Though the course is conducted in English, parallel readings in French will be made available to those who wish to read and/or compare the original texts.

SF 1151, Reproduction and Society

Professor Amy Agigian, Department of Sociology

Course Description:
This course explores relationships between reproductive health and reproductive rights both nationally and internationally. Many of our topics fit into two broad areas: conflicts over the control of childbearing (sterilization abuse, birth control, and abortion) and conflicts over who deserves to be a mother, especially when the mothers in question face social stigma and lack political power. Other topics include safe birth and maternal mortality, breastfeeding, infertility and reproductive technology. We also examine the politics of women’s sexual and reproductive autonomy, including the policies that shape women’s choices to prevent, achieve, abort, or carry to term a pregnancy.

Throughout, we are guided by the following questions: Why is reproduction an important site through which to understand society? How do statuses such as race, class, gender, sexuality and ability influence people’s reproductive possibilities? What is the role of the state in shaping these experiences? How have communities supported or resisted efforts at reproductive control? And, finally, how can the reproductive justice framework help us to address these questions?

SF 1133, Problems and Solutions in American History

Professor Robert Allison, Department of History

Course Description:
This semester we will explore some of the major problems in American history, focusing on the earlier years of the republic.  How did the people at the time identify their problems? What solutions did they propose?  What solutions worked, what did not?  What can we learn from their achievements and from their failures?

We will discuss three big topics—the creation of a government, the paying off of a debt, and the institution of slavery.  How fast we proceed is unknown, but for each section we will have primary readings, some secondary sources, and people to learn about.  You will be expected to read the primary and secondary material, which will be available on our Blackboard site, before our class discussions.

SF 1165, History of Boston

Professor Robert Allison, Department of History

Course Description:
This semester we will explore Boston’s history. We will read books, visit historical sites, and you will learn how to do historical research on your own. This course meets the requirement of Humanities and History.

SF 1135, Women Warriors: Strong Women, Strong Voices

Professor Elif Armbruster, Department of English

Course Description:
Since the beginning of time, women have been “doing battle” to them-selves, while men have gone to battle against others. Whether it is through yielding to an abuser in order to survive, leaving home to find one’s own way, or subjecting oneself to great physical challenges, this course introduces students to the many ways in which, whatever battles they face, women are warriors; they fight to survive. Utilizing an array of narratives by women, students will make connections and draw conclusions between women here and abroad, rich or poor, native or immigrant, to explore how women (no matter how different their backgrounds and stories are) draw upon unique inner resources to survive.

SF 1163, Literary Witches and Wizards

Professor Elif Armbruster, Department of English

Course Description:

Since the beginning of time and across cultures, people have been interested in the supernatural, the paranormal, and the otherworldly. Often, these phenomena have appeared in the form of witches, wizards, and spirits, whether good or bad, wicked or wonderful. Women who have not fulfilled traditional gender roles have historically been cast as witches or, to use Shakespeare’s phrase, as “weird sisters”, or, in Donald Trump’s recent election parlance, as “nasty women.” Men in turn appear as wizards, usually more positively than female witches. Men and women alike also can take the form of spirits or ghosts; even houses can be possessed. What lies beneath the great fascination with the supernatural and the paranormal, with the haunted, the possessed, and the spellbinding? What accounts for the different manifestations of spirits? This course takes students on a tour of witches, wizards, and otherworldly spirits throughout American literary history. Tropes of the witch and the wizard have appeared in literature from the time of Shakespeare (see Macbeth) to the contemporary best-selling Harry Potter series, and hits every century in between, such as in Anne Hutchinson’s Puritan accounts form the 1600s, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe’s in the 1800s, The Wizard of Oz in 1900, and John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick in the 20th century. The course offers readings across genre lines-poetry, fiction, non-fiction, young adult fantasy, and drama-and includes excerpts from film and television shows based upon wizards and witches (such as Bewitched, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Vampire Diaries).

SF 1156, The Insanity Defense

Professor Eric Bellone, Department of Government

Course Description:
This course examines sixteen case examples providing a clear and compelling introduction to one of the most important topics in the relation between public policy and law. This course address: the history of the insanity defense; the effects of different standards for determining insanity; the arguments for its retention, abolition, and revision; media and other responses to it; and the controversies around pre- and post-conviction commitment. The case examples illustrate a variety of outcomes and include individuals who were found not guilty by reason of insanity; found guilty even though mentally ill; and not charged because of mental illness.

SF 1168, The Real Thing: The Pursuit and Problems of Authenticity

Professor Iain Bernhoft, Department of English

Course Description:

This course will focus on the concept of authenticity in American culture, from its origins in the early 19th century to the present. When the advertising gurus of Coca-Cola branded it as “The Real Thing,” they were exploiting something powerful: the idea of something real, stripped of any falsity or illusion. Humans have always desired to know the world and others “as they really are,” but this desire is particularly strong in the modern world: witness the eagerness to discover one’s “true self,” cut through the B.S., obtain the genuine article, and “live authentically.” In this course we will interrogate this pursuit of the Real Thing. In various ways, the texts we study both embrace authenticity as an ideal and also question its goodness, usefulness, or even its very possibility. We will thus confront a number of interrelated questions: Where does this desire for authenticity come from? What counts as “authenticity,” in life and in art? Is authenticity really a virtue to live by? How does it shape artistic and literary expression? Is there even such a thing as “the real you” This course will be divided into three units. In the first unit, “Counterfeiters and Self-Made Men,” we will study how a commitment to authenticity arises in antebellum American literature and culture during a time of rapid national expansion and invention. Readings will include texts by Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, and P.T. Barnum. In the second unit, “Authenticity and Contamination,”we will consider two major ways in which authenticity becomes idealized around the turn of the 20th century: as artistic ideal set against fears of mass cultural production, and as a cultural ideal set against fears of racial and cultural mixing. Readings will include texts by Ernest Hemingway, Nella Larsen, Jean Toomer, and William Carlos Williams. In Unit Three, “Buying and Selling Authenticity,” we will examine how authenticity becomes commodified (associated with products and “lifestyles”) in post-WWII American culture. Texts will include works by Andy Warhol, David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Banksy, and the TV series Mad Men. Final projects will ask students to consider authenticity today: how is the pursuit of the Real Thing affected by technologies of reproduction, by commodification, and by the increasingly virtual world of the 21st century?

SF H182, Heroes, Antiheroes, & Outsiders

Professor Wyatt Bonikowski, Department of English

Course Description:
How is it that “comics,” a genre often viewed as entertainment for children and adolescents, has become one of the most exciting forms of narrative and visual art? To answer this question, this seminar will examine a range of graphic novels, focusing on three key figures: heroes, antiheroes, and outsiders. Some of these works celebrate their origins in superhero comics, such as Alan Moore’s Watchmen and G. Willow Wilson’s new Ms. Marvel, and in dystopian science fiction, such as Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Bitch Planet. Others treat subjects from everyday life, such as the autobiographical stories in Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. As we read these works, we will look at how the combination of words and still images makes the graphic novel a unique storytelling form, as well as how artists and writers push the envelope to create new styles and challenge our expectations. In addition to class discussions and writing assignments, we will take a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, have a class visit from Boston comics artist Karl Stevens, and create a class anthology of graphic narratives (all abilities welcome).

SF 126, The Boston Theatre Scene

Professor Richard Chambers, Department of Theatre

Course Description:
Taking the current Boston theatre season as its syllabus, this writing and analysis intensive course will explore plays across a range of professional productions in Boston. The scripts of four to five plays will be studied before attending performances of those works. Other activities will include a backstage tour and conversations with theatre professionals such as producers, directors, actors, designers, playwrights and critics, in order to lift the script off the page and provide a living experience of theatre. Requires students to be available for evening (usually Wednesday) performances. A fee for tickets at student rates will be assessed.

SF 1161, The Playwright and the Stage

Professor Richard Chambers, Department of Theatre

Course Description:

This writing and script analysis intensive course will explore plays across a range periods and styles. The scripts of five plays will be studied and we will attend performances of two of those works at professional theatres in Boston. Other activities will range from a backstage tour to conversations with theatre professionals such as producers, directors, actors, designers, playwrights and critics, in order to lift the script off the page and provide a living experience of theatre. Requires students to be available for evening (usually Wednesday) performances. A fee for tickets at student rates will be assessed.

SF 1134, The Meaning of Life

Professor Nir Eisikiovits, Philosophy Department

Course Description:
Nietzsche has famously called man the “unfinished animal”. As far as we know human beings alone search for, invent and revise the meaning of their lives. Goldfish don’t wonder if their lives are meaningful. Golden Retrievers don’t want to “make something of themselves”. They just are. In this class we will explore what it means for a human life to be meaningful. In particular: are some lives more meaningful than others? Can we be wrong about what we think will make our life meaningful? What does it mean to justify the way one has lived? What’s the relationship between happiness and a meaningful life? Can a life lived exclusively in the service of others be meaningful? Is our obsession with technologically altering, improving and preserving our bodies and mental capacities making our lives any better? What’s the relationship between being free and living a meaningful life? We will consider these questions by reading and discussing classics of philosophy and literature from Plato to Sartre (with some narrative journalism thrown in for good measure).

SF 101, Energy and Water

Professor Craig Christensen, Department of Engineering

Course Description:
Two of the most daunting challenges the world faces (or will face) is how to provide for both its growing energy needs and potable drinking water. Regular news events include climate change, droughts, flooding, and petroleum struggles. Human nature often requires a severe crisis before it responds. This course will investigate the historical science driving the use of energy since the Industrial Revolution to convert energy resources into work, including the steam engine, the electric motor, and the internal combustion engine. It will also consider alternative energy options to fossil fuels, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and ocean power. Along the way we will consider the evidence for Global Warming and Climate Change. We will look into human nature, simple life styles, conspiracy theories, and the influence of those in power to shape human opinion. We will also consider how our water supply is provided and where it goes after being used. What options do developing countries or drought racked areas have to remedy their water needs? Although the course pursues a scientific understanding of these issues, the mathematics used will be gentle, and a larger emphasis will be placed on the intuitive appreciation of these concerns.

SF 183, Politics, Power and the Media

Professor Brian Conley, Department of Government

Course Description:
Is there a relationship between accumulated political power and mass media representations?  Is news content impacted by existing political power relations?  It is the object of this course to critically analyze the role of the mass media within the framework of existing power relations in the United States. In particular, the course will focus on the role the mass media play in promoting and reinforcing dominant political practices and ideologies. The course will begin by exploring various theories of the press, notably its function in a democratic society, as well as the concepts of power and propaganda.  We will continue with a series of case studies, complemented by secondary sources that highlight how media representations affect contemporary policy discussions and the distribution of political power in the US. Topics of discussion will include the current US war on terrorism, the ongoing national health care debate, the public disavowal of “big government,” and the concept of a liberal media.

SF 156, The Mask Behind the Face

Professor Tom Connolly, Department of English
Course Description:
The theatre has always been a metaphor for life. In modern times life has become theatre. This seminar will confront the idea of real life and the eroding boundary between performers and audience. Students will study the roots of the contemporary obsession with stars and stardom, a mania that began in the 18th century and flourished in the 19th century. We will look at philosophy, studies, performers’ memoirs, plays, and films that dramatize this dilemma.

SF 1154, Introduction to Visual Studies

Professor Charles Cramer, Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies

Course Description:
This seminar provides an introduction to Visual Studies, a relatively new interdisciplinary field that examines how images communicate and the roles that they play in society.  We will apply the concepts and techniques of Visual Studies to analyze sites and signs from everyday life around Boston, such as advertisements, product design, street signs, clothing, body language, news photographs, architecture, and interiors. Class projects will increase your awareness of your visual environment and your ability to critically analyze the visual rhetoric that surrounds us and is often used to manipulate us.

SF 1173, Vast Sweep of Chinese Culture

Professor Christopher Dakin, Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies

Course Description: 

This course is an introduction to both ancient and modern Chinese civilization with a focus on its literature, arts, and 4000 year cultural history. We will see China at its earliest stages through its archaeology and progress to the heights of literary splendor in the Tang and Song Dynasties. Study of select early plays from the Mongol Yuan period will clearly tie into the development of Ming and Qing period fiction. With the fall of imperial China in 1911, the focus of literature changed drastically and we will study how many modern authors were able to draw from a massive wealth of literary resources to help create a new Chinese literature and culture. We will watch several films that will provide a rich visual portrait of the culture. We will read quite a few representative literary and historical works in English translation that will give a great deal of insight into modern China and how we can both relate to and interact with this complex and amazing country.  This course is a good introduction to further study of Chinese history and culture and, in particular, provides a valuable context for students in all majors that wish to gain a deeper understanding of Asian culture.

SF 1147, Global (In)Security

Professor Roberto Dominguez, Department of Government

Course Description:
The course is designed to introduce freshmen students to the main trends, complexities and contradictions in the field of global security. The underlying contention is that understanding the interaction between global, national and societal security is indispensable for adequate comprehension of the prevailing concepts, organizing principles, military deployment patterns, legal regulations, and political relationships that determine the state of international security at the moment. The sessions are divided in four main areas. The first will examine key theories and indicators in global security in order to stimulate students to produce a policy report. The second part of the course will examine changes in traditional threats to global security such as warfare, arms race and controls, terrorism, intelligence and private security. The third section examines non-traditional security risks and threats such as environment, health, natural disasters and cyber-security. The fourth and final part will focus on the role of international organizations and main states or regions as security providers.

SF 1164, Reinventing Europe

Professor Roberto Dominguez, Department of Government

Course Description:

While newspaper headlines focus on the multiple problems Europe is facing today, the evolving adaptation of European nation states and the integration process receive less attention. Brexit and economic crises seem to be synonymous of Europe today, but facts such as the European Union accepting five new members in the coming five years or Europe being the most advance environmental actor or the main international provider of official aid are often ignored by public opinion. This Seminar for Freshman examines the dynamic evolution of the integration process in Europe in the context of globalization. Three sections articulate the main debates and tensions in the interplay between national and supranational institutions and policies. The first part analyzes how eight European countries have forged their national preferences to delineate their level of immersion in the integration process; it later proceeds with the examination of the main historical events in the history of the integration process. The second part explores the functioning of the EU institutions in order to grasp the essence of the complex policy-making in the Europe of 28 members. The third and final section presents the analysis of the main areas of the EU policy making such as agriculture, monetary and economic issues, among others, and observes the main developments in the area of EU external relations.

SF 1148, Brave New Worlds

Professor Leslie Eckel, Department of English

Course Description:
Explores themes of adventure, self-discovery, exile, and culture shock in classic and contemporary travel writing (including fiction, poetry, and non-fiction) as well as film. Students will experiment with creative writing of their own, develop theories of cosmopolitan world citizenship, travel through the city of Boston on field trips, and team up to learn about different countries in Suffolk’s global network of study abroad programs.

SF 1176, What Is A Fact?

Professor Nicholas Frangipane, Department of English

Course Description:
What makes a fact a fact? What makes a fact true? At one time, these questions were only asked by epistemologists and postmodernists, but with the rise of fake news and the discourses surrounding it, these questions are relevant to everyone. Understanding facts is also essential to college students, who must learn to use reliable sources in order to create credible work. In this class, we will examine works of literature, art, science, and history that interrogate how facts are created and how we determine their truth value. Texts will include podcasts, novels and book-length studies of memory and theory of mine (the study of how we understand what others are thinking). We will also utilize the resources of Boston and Suffolk University; we will visit the WBUR NPR newsroom, a local museum, and learn about the legal definition of “truth” from a representative of the law school. By analyzing these texts, participating in these experiences, and completing a series of assignments that ask students to think critically and creatively, this class seeks to understand how we create facts, and why we need them.

SF 1152, The Idea of America: Past, Present, Future

Professor Gregory Fried, Department of Philosophy

Course Description:
A systematic exploration of thinking about America, both its history and its possible futures, including traditions of thought that reflect upon the founding principles and the unfolding American experiment. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will be studied with an eye to their philosophical content and sources. The course will also examine works of philosophers and other thinkers who address conflicts over the meaning of founding principles in the course of the nation’s history, from the struggle over slavery to America’s contemporary role in the world. Because this course intends to apply theoretical understanding to real life, students will be expected to read contemporary journalism on a regular basis and assess the controversies of today in the light of the nation’s philosophical and historical currents, and we will weave these issues into our weekly schedule.

SF 132, The Beatles: Here, There, and Everywhere

Professor David Gallant, Undergraduate Advising

Course Description:
This seminar will investigate the impact and legacy of The Beatles.  As a force in raising the status of popular music to an area of serious concern and study, The Beatles deserve our attention not only as musical innovators, but also as cultural avatars of an era, the 1960s, which still exerts influence today.  We will examine the multivariate ways in which The Beatles “rocked” the establishment and became signature figures in post-war youth culture.  We will also discuss how other cultural practices (the visual arts, film, fashion, style) and fields of study (mass media, marketing, recording technology, copyright law, English history) can be understood by using The Beatles as template and theme.  Students will engage a range of published critical commentary on The Beatles of both a scholarly and a popular nature.  In fact, the whole debate concerning the realm and boundaries of the “academic” merit of popular culture forms can be represented by how critics view The Beatles.  We will be concerned in this course with how social movements and historical shifts affect, reflect, and are reflected by works of art.  Society, manners, mores, etc. were as affected and influenced by John Lennon’s line “I’d love to turn you on…” from “A Day in the Life” as they were from any piece of social legislation of the time.  In addition to regular writing assignments and examinations, students are expected to keep tabs on instances of a continued reliance on The Beatles, in image, sound, and word, to express ideas or call upon a nostalgia that informs the present day. Students will interrogate why The Beatles and how they have been re-presented (musically, visually) continue to be an influence on other artists or on those involved in the “culture industry.”

SF 175, War and Apocalypse in Sci-Fi

Professor Deborah Geisler, Department of Communication and Journalism

Course Description:
This seminar will examine science fiction literature, film, and television from 1940 through 1970: A time when science fiction moved from the era of pulp magazine to the large and small screens.

SF 1177, Revolutions in Thought

Professor Kenneth Greenberg, Department of History

Course Description:
The course will consider major changes in thought that revolutionized the cultures and societies in which they were embedded. Topics include the rise of monotheistic religions; the American Revolution; the recognition of slavery as a moral evil; the idea of women’s equality; Freudianism; Darwinism; Marxism; as well as Einstein and the Theory of Relativity. We will enrich the readings and classroom conversations with visits to museums, churches, historic sites and other locations that reflect some aspect of the revolutionary changes that are our focus.

SF 1167, Fantasy Fiction

Professor Hannah Hudson, Department of English

Course Description:

Readers lining up at midnight for the newest Harry Potter book, hundreds of thousands of viewers crashing HBO’s website in their eagerness to watch Game of Thrones: examples of fantasy’s recent popularity are everywhere. This course explores the genre of contemporary fantasy through a historical and critical lens, from the work of J.R.R. Tolkien to the 2015 Nebula Award Winner, Uprooted. We will begin by reading selections from medieval literary texts, including Arthurian legend and Anglo-Saxon epic, to understand the roots of the fantasy genre and consider how these early works have inspired and informed the world-building efforts of later authors. We will also explore fantasy’s newest manifestations across different kinds of media, from big-budget film adaptations to internet fan fictions. Critical questions will include: How do works of fantasy deal with the ethical questions surrounding the categories of “good” and “evil”, “monstrosity” and “otherness” How do common fantasy plots such as coming-of-age or quest narratives work to aid in fictional character development and build suspense? How are contemporary anxieties about issues such as gender, race and class explored through the genre of fantasy?

SF 189, American Gothic

Professor Peter Jeffreys, Department of English

Course Description:
This class will introduce students to one of the major literary trends of American writing: the gothic grotesque. Advancing chronologically, the class will read classic short stories by Poe with a view to appreciating his foundational role as father of this genre in America. Students will explore Poe’s notion of the short story narrative as a “grotesque and arabesque” as expressed in his critical essays. Critical readings from Allan Lloyd-Smith’s American Gothic Fiction and the classic study The Grotesque by Philip Thomson will be applied to class readings. Steven Biel’s study of the iconic painting American Gothic will be read with a view to understanding how the image cuts across both high and low-brow culture as both icon and parody. The course will proceed to Flannery O’Connor who took the tradition in new and innovative directions with her own unique representation of the Southern Gothic idiom, and on to selected stories by Annie Proulx who brings a new “frontier-gothic” prairie aesthetic to the gothic tradition. The course will include a detour into satire with David Sedaris’ humorous and irreverent essays that make comic use of the grotesque aesthetic. The semester will conclude with an exploration of the gothic trend in popular young adult literature with Ransom Riggs’ bestselling novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. A walking tour of Poe’s Boston will be arranged and a film will be viewed in conjunction with the assigned readings.

SF 174, Tragedy and Literature

Professor George Kalogeris, Department of English

Course Description:
An introduction to tragedy as a form of literature in different genres, including: epic poetry, lyric poetry, verse drama, and short stories. The tragedy of war in Homer, of friendship and loss in Gilgamesh, the tragedy of desire in Othello, the tragedy of family and politics in Antigone, the tragedy of personal desire in Greek and Roman mythology, and the tragic-comic in Kafka are some of the major concerns this course will address.

SF 198, Music and the Brain

Professor R. Harrison Kelton, Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies

Course Description:
SF-198 uses lecture, reading, listening, and writing to tell “the story of how brains and music coevolved – what music can teach us about the brain, what the brain can teach us about music, what both can teach us about ourselves” (Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music). We also study neuroscience, examining people with gifted or diseased brains, and the effect of music and music therapy on them (Sacks, Musicophilia), as well as the psychology of musical perception in exercises documenting the effect of music on our brains and emotions. (Ortiz – The Tao of Music).

SF 1169, Immortality: Real and Imagined

Professor Brian Kiniry, Department of Philosophy

Course Description:

Most of the world’s religious traditions have as a part of their doctrines some notion of immortality, rendered both in scriptures as well as iconographically. What precisely is entailed by immortality and why does it constitute such a significant element of so many religious traditions? What can we learn about immortality by investigating various conceptions of the afterlife? Is immortality truly a desirable thing? These questions among others will be examined from the perspectives of philosophy, religion, psychology, anthropology, and biology.

Besides being cross-disciplinary, the course will be multi-media in nature. In addition to reading philosophical and religious texts concerning the nature of immortality, students will study various accounts of immortality and the afterlife, examine how the afterlife has been dealt with in (visual) art, literature, and film, and investigate current research into life prolongation (biomedical gerontology).

SF 1171, Latino Writers in the USA

Professor Celeste Kostopulos-Cooperman, Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies

Course Description:

Hyphenated-Americans of Latino origin come from many places and backgrounds. Often perceived as a divide, an either/or that separates and distinguishes one ethnic group from another, the hyphen can also be viewed as a link that connects, integrates and facilitates the formation of “new” cultural spaces. Through films and written narratives by and about U.S.A. Latino(a)(x)-Americans, students will examine how individuals who live on the threshold between two languages and cultures embrace the challenge of preserving their own identity and moving beyond stereotypes. Each of the Latino/a/x authors that we will read in this course will describe his/her own experiences living in the U.S.A. By examining their views through our own filtered lens we shall try to answer questions like the following: 1. What role does language have in our definition/understanding of cultural identity? 2. How do individuals move beyond the hyphen and stop seeing themselves as hybrids? 3. How can an individual who does not belong to a marginalized group (i.e. one considered less powerful and secondary) understand and empathize with those who do? 4. How does globalization affect the dichotomies that arise in bi-cultural and multi-cultural communities?

SF 1170, The Meaning of Friendship

Professor Julia Legas, Department of Philosophy

Course Description:

The thematic focus of this seminar will be friendship. Friendship is one of the most important of human relationships; one that every student in this seminar has already participated in for many years. It shapes who we are and helps determine who we may become. And while it is a universal phenomenon, it has been practiced quite differently at various times and places in human history. And while we all have an intimate, personal and practical knowledge of friendship through our own experiences, sometimes things that are so close and so obvious to us can be hard to see. Over the course of the semester we will inquire into friendship from many different angles, trying to gain both a broader and a deeper understanding than our own individual experience allows. We will look at friendship first through the lens of philosophy, particularly through the foundational text of Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics. We will look at other views of friendship from the ancient world, starting in the past to help us see that friendship has not always been thought of the way we think of it now. After this initial foundation is laid, we will examine other writers and thinkers and take up additional topics like friendship in different cultures, friendship and gender, friendship in and through the arts and innclude an examination of friendship through the lenses of many different academic disciplines to see how other systematic thinkers conceive of friendship. All along we will be comparing and contrasting with our own personal experiences and considering what modern technology, such as social networking sites, has done to influence friendship, in the way we practice it and the way we conceive it. It is the aim of this class that students not just study different academic points of view, but that that they take up the questions and challenges that these thinkers present to them and fully engage with them on a meaningful personal level.

SF 178, Sacred Hoops

Professor Rich Miller, Department of English

Course Description:
This course is about the basketball hoop dream played out at the high school and college levels. We will study a wide variety of materials – novels, films, websites, reference works – to understand both the construction, and destruction, of the hoop dream in such diverse places as New York City, Seattle, rural Indiana, suburban Georgia, and the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Issues of race and culture will serve as guiding themes as we develop critical theory explaining why the hoop dream has persisted, and adapted, over time, to fit the needs of its believers and supporters.

SF 194, Rebirth Tragedy: Rock 1968-1972

Professor Quentin Miller, Department of English

Course Description:

I asked Bobby Dylan, I asked the Beatles,

I asked Timothy Leary, but he couldn’t tell me either.

They call me The Seeker;

I’ve been searching low and high.

I won’t get to get what I’m after

Till the day I die.

The 1966 hit “The Seeker” by The Who expresses (with characteristic anger and violence) the frustration of so many youths of the later 1960s: no one can give the individual “seeker” the right advice.  Only a profoundly personal journey culminating in death will suffice.  The singer of this song looks for guidance from the two most influential rock acts of the era – Bob Dylan and the Beatles – as well as a Harvard psychology professor who encouraged the widespread use of LSD.  No luck. 

Here is one version of tragedy on a small scale: a young man looks for wisdom from the poets and troubadours of his generation only to realize that they can’t give him what he wants.  He will die unfulfilled.  But what is tragedy? Is it necessarily a bad thing?  How is it linked to music and to performance?

In this course, relying heavily on an intense examination of an 1872 essay by Friedrich Nietzsche, we will collectively attempt to deepen our understanding of the forces that culminate in tragedy.  A portion of the course will be devoted to defining and redefining this term.  We will examine thoroughly and from many angles rock’s “golden age” (1968-1972) which saw the tragic deaths of some of its most talented stars and the breakup of its most important group.  We will look at the culture surrounding this music, including contemporary events, poetic precursors, and cultural analysis.  We will accomplish all of this through analysis of visual texts, literature, criticism, and especially Nietzsche’s challenging philosophical essay.

SF 1143, In the First-Person: Storytelling in the 21stCentury

Professor Amy Monticello, Department of English

Course Description:
This section of the Seminar for Freshmen will consider the forms, venues, and impacts of narrative nonfiction in contemporary culture. From the exploding popularity of personal essays in the digital age to the living, evolving essays we create on social media, we are constantly narrating and archiving our lives, shaping their content for specific audiences. In doing so, we shape what our experiences mean and represent. In order to analyze the power of narrative nonfiction, we will look at a variety of multimodal texts: essays, podcasts, Instagram and Twitter feeds, stand-up comedy, and storytelling slams. We will also write our own narrative nonfiction, and adapt our first-person stories for listening and viewing audiences, such as the MassMouth story slam and podcasts like This American Life. Additionally, we will practice narrative nonfiction for professional audiences, using storytelling as a way to showcase personal strengths to employers, internship coordinators, and the like.

SF 1172, The US-Mexican Border

Professor Iani Moreno, Department of World Languages & Cultural Studies

Course Description:
One hundred and sixty nine years have passed since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed. It is only fitting to analyze the profound changes that the gain/loss of these territories caused for the citizens of both sides of the border. This course will explore the literature, culture, and history of the United States-Mexican Border and the most pressing problems pertaining to the region. Emphasis will be on contemporary border theater and film. The works of Salcedo, Galindo, Lopez and others will be studied as well as contemporary films and documentaries such as Alambrista, Senorita Extraviada, The Gatekeeper, Sin Nombre, Wetback: the Undocumented Documentary, Victoria para Chino, Which Way Home, and much more. There are no prerequisites for this course. Though the course in conducted in English, parallel readings in Spanish will be made available to those who wish to read and/or compare the original texts.

SF 173, Crime in American Society

Professor Donald Morton, Department of Sociology

Course Description:
Popular conceptions about crime are often inspired by the media and by criminological theories.  Various theories and media images about crime are examined in detail throughout this course.  The course reviews the hits and misses of commonly held beliefs.  Topical questions include:
– Are criminals rational beings?
– Do external forces cause people to commit crimes?
– Why are some criminals violent? (Evil person? Sick person?)
– What are the best ways to protect ourselves from crime?
– Is crime random? (Are victims in the wrong place at the wrong time?)
– Are criminal justice systems biased?

SF 1146, A Natural History of Dogs

Professor Lauren Nolfo-Clements, Department of Biology

Course Description:
This course explores the evolution of dogs from wolves and the ways in which dogs have adapted to their niche in human society. The ecology, behavior, genetics, and adaptations of dogs will be explored in relation to both their wolf ancestry and artificial selection by humans. The course includes 2 mandatory field trips to a wolf sanctuary and an animal shelter.

SF 191, Film Adaptation

Professor Monika Raesch, Department of Communication and Journalism

Course Description:
“Why did they change the ending of the book? The novel is so much better!” We will explore the concept and industry of film adaptation. Students will read novels and watch respective film adaptations to explore how the written word is adapted to the screen; both fiction and non-fiction works will be considered. Also, field trips to past film locations in Boston will be taken to explore why specific settings were chosen for respective situations. Additionally, students will create their own written adaptations of source materials, putting into practice the concepts studied in class.

SF 1129, Beacon Hill: Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy

Professor Gerald Richman, Department of English

Course Description:
The course will explore the physical geography, history, and image in literature, film, and pop culture of Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. The purpose and objective of the course is to provide students with a deep knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Beacon Hill through examination of written and visual sources, and feet-on and eyes-on experience of the public parts of the Hill.

SF 1166, Global Challenges on Film

Professor Marjorie Salvodon, Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies

Course Description:

This course focuses on French-language films – with subtitles! – that address pressing social issues of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as hunger, female genital mutilation, immigration, racism, economic inequality, genocide, gender, sexuality, colonialism and post-colonialism.

SF 1150, Religion in Contemporary Society

Professor Susan Sered, Department of Sociology

Course Description:
This course is designed to provide students with an overview of the social settings and cultural meanings of religion in the contemporary world. Topics that will be covered in reading and discussions include the rise of religious fundamentalism, religion and violence, women’s and men’s religious experiences, new religions, and portrayals of religion in popular films. In addition to the readings, students will observe and experience religious expressions and activities through fieldwork assignments and tours. The emphasis on films and fieldwork reflects my belief that religion is made up of “lived experiences” of actual individuals and communities. In order to understand religion in contemporary society we will make every effort to see (in person or in film) a wide range of religious activities. The films we will see include some of the following: Leap of Faith, Devil’s Playground, Kadosh, Women of Hizballah, Singing Stream, A Still Small Voice.

SF 1158, Global Climate Change

Professor Prashant Sharma, Department of Physics

Course Description:
Conversation about the weather is considered to be the universal icebreaker. Yesterday’s sweltering heat, the storm predicted for this weekend, even long-term climate shifts find their way in our daily conversation. Today, however, such casual conversations have an edge to them, because we are realizing that humans play a role in determining the climate shift. In fact, understanding the human fingerprint in the Arctic tundra melting, or a devastating hurricane, has gone well-beyond small talk to become one of the most important challenges our society faces today, and one that is wedded to geopolitics. To meaningfully participate in any dialogue that addresses this challenge people have to be aware of certain key ideas of Physics and Planetary Science. These include such topics as energy, carbon cycle, greenhouse gases, planetary ecosystems and climate modeling. Misjudging the science involved in climate change will lead to making a wrong decision. Yet, many political leaders and concerned citizens have a hard time evaluating the issues, because they have never been taught about the underlying geophysics. Just how warm will Earth get? Which computer projections for the year 2050 are likely to be the most accurate? How should we go about trying to reduce the blanket of greenhouse gases that’s getting thicker each year? How can we best adapt to unavoidable changes? Just understanding why these difficult questions should be asked, involves an understanding of geophysics, and their answers might change our views or how we would argue for our standpoint.

The aim of this course is to provide you with some of the essential facts and pieces of science underlying such questions. A view of the world that includes a basic understanding of science and technology is a richer (and more satisfying) one. Knowledge is a better guide to judgment than opinions based on misunderstanding. This course will enable you to grasp many of the issues that dominate today’s political discourse and to develop an informed opinion (your, not our!) for which you can rationally and quantitatively argue.

SF 1162, Space Missions

Professor Prashant Sharma, Department of Physics

Course Description:

It is hard to believe that only 60 years ago, our only close-up view of a planetary body was that of Earth. We are truly living in the Golden Age of Space Exploration, when a new mission every few years brings us spectacular images from either a neighbor in the solar system or galaxies at the edge of the universe. This course will describe the dozen space missions that changed our view of the universe, ranging from our solar system to the most distant galaxies.

SF 197, Sustainability, Energy, and Technology at Suffolk

Professor Lisa Shatz, Department of Engineering

Course Description:
In this project and team-based course, students study the central scientific problems confronting the 21st century by researching topics and by performing experiments using robotics. Climate change, genetically modified foods, and nuclear energy are explored; past topics have included the BP spill, Hurricane Sandy, and the vaccination controversy.  A final team-based original experiment is performed in Boston High Schools to pique the interest of HS students in STEM.

SF 1127, The Vietnam and Iraq Wars: Polarized Perspectives

Professor Bryan Trabold, Department of English

Course Description:
This class will examine some of the many controversies surrounding the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, two wars that have raised fundamental questions and that have been profoundly polarizing for the American people.  Some of the issues and questions we will examine this semester include the following: What were the stated reasons U.S. policy planners gave to the American people about why it was necessary to fight these wars?  To what extent did these reasons correspond with the reasons policy planners discussed in private?  To what extent were the methods used by the U.S. military during each war “just”?  To what extent did the media play an appropriate role before, during, and after each war?  Did opposition to these wars serve primarily to benefit “the enemies” of the United States?  Or did opposition to these wars constitute a form of patriotism and love of country?  What are some of the profound implications of drafting young Americans to fight in a war?  What are some of the profound implications of not drafting young Americans to fight in a war?

SF 1141A, Classical Civilizations

Professor Camille Weiss, Department of History

Course Description:
The wisdom and values of the Greeks and Romans still educate and edify the world today by providing venues towards leading fulfilling and dignified lives. The guiding principles of their respective civilizations were: humanism, the pursuit of excellence, self-knowledge, rationalism, restless curiosity, love of freedom, individualism and the practice of moderation. In this course students will read and examine texts on the Greek and Roman contributions to the world that highlight the eight principles above for achieving the good life.

SF 190, Asia in America

Professor Da Zheng, Department of English

Course Description:
With a focus on some selected ethnic groups from Asia, this course studies the history and current status of Asian Americans in Boston and other parts of the country. It covers the time period between the mid-nineteenth century and the twenty-first century. We will examine the major reasons why Asian immigrants chose to leave their home country as well as their expectations and experiences here in America. We will also discuss the issues Asian immigrants have faced in this adopted “home” as well as the connections and conflicts among different ethnic groups or even within the same ethnic group due to political and socio-economic reasons. The course will include some level of community engagement, through Chinatown tour and service, which may enable us to have a direct contact with the Asian American population and reflect on what is being discussed in class. Through this course, we hope to gain a better understanding of the racial and cultural history of the country and arrive at a deep appreciation of the dynamics of cultural interactions in the twenty-first century.