First-Year Seminars

Elizabeth Markovits, Director of the First-Year Seminar Program

Overview and Contact Information

The First-Year Seminar Program welcomes students to Mount Holyoke College, inviting them to join in the pleasure of an intellectually adventurous education in the liberal arts. In these small, discussion-based seminars, students work with faculty to achieve the first Learning Goal of the Mount Holyoke curriculum, which will form the foundation for their education here: the ability to think analytically and critically by questioning assumptions, evaluating evidence, and articulating well-reasoned arguments. All First-Year Seminars are writing-intensive.

All entering first-year students must complete a First-Year Seminar in their first semester at Mount Holyoke. Transfer students and Frances Perkins Scholars who enter with sophomore or junior standing are exempt from this requirement, although encouraged to take a First-Year Seminar.

First-year seminars do not meet other graduation requirements and must be approved courses at Mount Holyoke.

All first-year seminars share the same FYSEM subject designation, but they are taught by faculty from departments across the College.

Course Offerings

FYSEM-110 First-Year Seminar

FYSEM-110AL All About Love

Fall. Credits: 4

What is love? What are its causes? What kinds of love do we value? This interdisciplinary seminar explores different kinds of love (romantic, familial, divine, etc.) from diverse perspectives, including those of select philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, religious thinkers, and social justice activists.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
S. Mrozik
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.
Notes: This class may be especially suitable for students who do not identify as native speakers of English.

FYSEM-110AS Art and Society

Fall. Credits: 4

This course explores the interconnections between art and society using a sociological lens. We will examine topics such as the social construction of cultural authenticity; the relationship between cultural capital and group boundaries; and the legitimation of art forms.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
P. Banks
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110BE Black Memory and Imagery

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course examines the role of the life story, or memoir, in the construction of African American Identity after the Civil Rights Movement. The years immediately following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are marked by an enduring iconography of black subjectivity. How does one create a life not entirely his or her own? What do these life stories tell us about how race is lived in the United States of America? In particular, we will focus on gendered constructions of memory as articulated through a plethora of artistic, personal, and political literary influences. The latter half of the 20th century holds significant meaning for the progression of race relations in the United States, the nuances of media representations and the presence of visual autobiography via documentary and photography. We will thus use this course to examine the works of: June Jordan, Deborah Willis, Tommie Smith, Kathe Sandler, bell hooks, Barack Obama, and Marlon Riggs in an attempt to explore the fullest measure of interiority available during this important historical moment.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
K. J. Brown
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110BK Books Within Books

Fall. Credits: 4

From Shakespeare's plays within plays to Rowling's diary of Tom Riddle, from Velázquez to Escher, writers and artists have consistently embedded moments of self-referentiality within their works to raise representational questions such as the relationships between illusion and reality, between truth and fiction, between past, present and future time, between words and worlds, and so on. We will explore these and other paradoxes by examining a variety of artistic forms including poetry, stories, plays, painting, and film.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
N. Alderman
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110CL Representative Works of Modern Chinese Literature

Fall. Credits: 4

The twentieth century started with the downfall of the Chinese monarchy, numerous humiliations at the hands of Western countries, and the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911. In the spirit of reform and renaissance, a group of young writers, educated in both China and the West, spearheaded a new direction in Chinese literature. This group of writers abandoned the classical Chinese language, was keenly interested in social development and betterment, attacked Confucian tradition, and adopted Western ideals. The class will read representative works of these writers and try to understand their sociopolitical impact, while appreciating the artistic qualities of these writings.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
Y. Wang
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.
Notes: This class may be especially suitable for students who do not identify as native speakers of English.

FYSEM-110DC Chinese Diasporic Communities Around the World: History, Identity, and Race

Fall. Credits: 4

How does a study of the Chinese diasporic communities in Southeast Asia, the U.S., and other parts of the world help us rethink concepts of 'Chinese-ness'? We seek to answer the question in this introductory history seminar on the Chinese diaspora. Coverage spans from the 1500s to the present. Readings focus on the question of Chinese-ness as constructed and negotiated by different groups and individuals. Themes include imperialism, race, ethnicity, gender, nationalism, transnationalism, orientalism, hegemony, and globalization.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
R. Chu
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110DG Learning in the Digital Age: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and More

Fall. Credits: 4

This course focuses on the ways digital technologies are used to enhance learning in educational settings and personal spaces. Students will have the opportunity to gain a foundation for empirical study of young people and their learning in schools, assess the effectiveness of a range of mobile devices and apps to assist in the learning process, and create their own digital toolkits for learning. Some of the topics we will address include transformative learning, participatory culture, information fluency, digital citizenship, flipped classrooms, digital storytelling, personal learning networks, digital distraction, and the "googlization" of everything.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
S. Lawrence
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110DV Adventures in Music

Fall. Credits: 4

Designed for students with or without prior musical experience, 'Adventures in Music' explores the materials of music. Through reading, hands-on interaction with instruments and their players, discussions and recordings, students will explore concepts of pitch, time, space, structure and timbre, thereby enriching their perception of the world of sound. The best way to access the indescribable in music is often to make music. With this in mind the class will embark in mini composition projects culminating in a final project that utilizes the knowledge acquired over the duration of the course.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
T. Ng
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.
Notes: This class may be especially suitable for students who do not identify as native speakers of English.

FYSEM-110EM Emily Dickinson at Mount Holyoke

Fall. Credits: 4

Drawing on archival records and other documents, including Dickinson's letters and poems, students in this seminar will explore what Dickinson's year at Mary Lyon's Mount Holyoke might have meant to her as student and poet. We will also examine Lyon's vision of women's education, as well as contrasting visions of education in 'Old New England' from such writers and thinkers as Emerson, Thoreau, and Stowe.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
C. Benfey
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110ER Emergence of Animals

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

The origin of animals was perhaps the most important event in the history of our planet. In this course we will review the history of Earth, learn basic geology, and then examine the problem of the origin of animals by studying Mount Holyoke College's unequaled collection of Precambrian and Cambrian fossils. The emergence of animals has been called the Cambrian Explosion. We will examine what this means for our understanding of evolution, and review the hypotheses proposed to explain this extraordinary event.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
M. McMenamin
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110FA Fashion, Style and Design

Fall. Credits: 4

This First Year Seminar will discuss the impact of political and social change on the fashion and decorative art movements of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Students will study how and why fashions were created, explore the meaning and significance of style, and examine the role of design in the popular imagination and cultural memory of the period.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
V. James
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110FC 20th Century American Short Fiction

Fall. Credits: 4

This course looks closely at short fiction of a number of American writers. These writers portray a changing American society and the complexities of family, race, class, and gender as well as the insidious dynamics of privilege and prejudice, sexism and racism, mental instability and disability, collective violence and self-destruction, and most especially "the human heart in conflict with itself." Tracing historical, cultural, and literary context, we will identify American themes and modernist techniques -- such as unreliable narration, shifting points of view, black humor, grotesqueries, apocalyptic transformations and other elements -- which complicate and enrich our reading of these texts.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
J. Creighton
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110GF God, Free Will, and Morality

Fall. Credits: 4

This course will introduce students to philosophy and its methods by looking at what philosophers, past and present, have said about three important and interrelated topics: God, morality, and freedom. We will ask questions such as: Does God exist? Is it rational to believe in God? What should I do if I want to do the right thing? When is it ok to criticize other cultures? How much do I owe to others? Do we have free will? Can we ever be held responsible for anything? Students will come out of the class better thinkers, better writers, and better equipped to tackle difficult questions like these with rigor and care.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
K. Vavova
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110GS Gender in Science

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines explanations for the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with an eye to identifying how to increase the participation of women in science. The course will address questions about gender differences in cognition and ability, the role of stereotyping, as well as the "leaky pipeline" issue, that is, the rate and timing of the departure of women from scientific fields. Course readings will explore the psychology of gender, as it relates to STEM. In addition, we will read research from physical scientists, reports from professional organizations such as the American Physical Society, and reports from congressional committees.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
K. Aidala
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110GT Getting There

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

A course about journeys: some real, most fictional, all metamorphic. We will focus on the ways that a change of location, especially a move from or to home, is marked not only by encounters with place, but also by new understandings of others, and by reshapings of the self. Readings will be selected for historical, cultural, and thematic range, likely including works by Homer, Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Eugene O'Neill, Doris Lessing, Charles Johnson, Jamaica Kincaid, Kazuo Ishiguro, Lan Cao, and Annie Proulx.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
S. Sutherland
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110GY Art in Paleontology

Fall. Credits: 4

Paleontological art brings ancient organisms back to life. In this course we will consider the role that art itself plays as a mode of scientific discovery. We will examine how artists can uncover key information about prehistoric life well in advance of its recognition by the scientific community. Coursework will track the evolution of paleoart from 1830s representations of Mary Anning's fossil discoveries to the emergence of digital art and CGI. In a collaborative class project, we will identify the best and most representative works for a proposed exhibition at the Mount Holyoke College Museum of Art. For individual final class projects, students may choose between a research paper and presentation, and their own paleontological artwork in any visual medium.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
M. McMenamin
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110KG Knowing God

Fall. Credits: 4

This first-year seminar confronts the critical differences in the ways the Greco-Roman philosophical world and the Judaeo-Christian culture understood and experienced the divine nature and the relationship of diviity to humanity. Hence, we read Sophocles' Oedipus tragedies against the Book of Job, Plato's Phaedo against Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and Cicero's Conerning the Nature of the Gods as seminal texts in coming to grips with the problem of knowing God.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
B. Arnold
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110LG Slang: Community/Power/Language

Fall. Credits: 4

Language is a living system. It grows and changes, despite efforts to preserve it. This course examines how slang participates in these changes. What separates slang from standard language, and who sets the standard? Through readings in linguistics and literature, this course examines how we use language to connect, create, and control.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
M. Shea
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.
Notes: This class may be especially suitable for students who do not identify as native speakers of English.

FYSEM-110LN How to be a Successful Language Learner

Spring. Credits: 4

This seminar will provide an understanding of the language learning process and will help students to develop strategies to increase their ability in learning a second language. Students will be encouraged to reflect critically on language learning issues through a variety of topics such as different theories of second language acquisition, individual factors considered to play a role in acquiring a language -- aptitude, motivation, age, personality, learning styles, etc. -- , and how these factors are related to those strategies that have been identified in the literature as "good language learner' strategies." This course will enable students to become more independent learners able to take control of their own learning experience.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
E. Castro
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110MD Early Music Drama: Music and Drama in Europe from the Beginning to 1630

Spring. Credits: 4

This seminar will explore the development of the relationship between music and drama in Europe from its beginnings in classical Greece to the first public performances of opera in the 1630s. We will hear, see and read selected works along the way. These plays, rituals and entertainments will be our texts for the semester. We will discuss and write about such issues as the relationship between words and music, the interaction between music and the visual component of these works (dance, costumes, sets, acting) and the social, political and economic contexts of these texts.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
R. Eisenstein
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110ML U.S. Multiethnic Literatures: Refracting America

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines African American, Asian American, Chicana/o-Latina/o, and Native American literature and cultural politics. Examining the historical intersection of race, gender, and sexuality, we will explore themes of cultural identity, segregation and community formation, citizenship, labor, class, and family. Authors may include Toni Morrison, Danzy Senna, Josefina López, Sherman Alexie, Junot Díaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Joy Kogawa.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
I. Day
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110MM Music in Women's Communities

Fall. Credits: 4

This course surveys music in a range of women's, and womxn's, communities and ensembles-from medieval convents and "all-girl" swing bands to Cuba's Camerata Romeu and the Butterfly Music Transgender Chorus. Although the focus will be on Western art music, we will also encounter women's music from Ghana and Bulgaria, and women's rock/pop festivals and DJ collectives. Performers and conductors will visit the class, and we will learn about the history of music ensembles at the College. You do not need to be a musician or know how to read music; listening across cultures and genres, we will contemplate the opportunities and challenges of womxn-only spaces for music in the twenty-first century.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
A. Mueller
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110MU Multicultural Families

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines the various ways the multicultural family in contemporary American, British, European, and South African culture is imagined by writers and filmmakers. Issues to be explored include: generational conflict, the struggle to 'break away,' and the claims of memory and nostalgia. Above all, the course seeks to explore the range of cultural forms in which these themes find expression.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
D. Weber
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110MW Mapping the World, the Mind, the Self

Fall. Credits: 4

Maps are essential tools for understanding the world around us. But do our maps show us the world as it is, or do they allow us to choose the world we will see? Texts for the course may include poetry by Elizabeth Bishop, Thomas Hardy and others; short fiction by Borges, Faulkner and others, and visual art from the College Art Museum.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
M. Shea
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.
Notes: This class may be especially suitable for students who do not identify as native speakers of English.

FYSEM-110PQ Politics of Inequality: Social Movements in the U.S.

Fall. Credits: 4

The course explores comparative racial and ethnic politics in the U.S. during the twentieth century. We will analyze the creation and maintenance of structural inequalities through laws and policies targeted at persons of color in the areas of healthcare, transportation, immigration, labor, racial segregation, and education. Through readings, lectures and films, we will discuss critical histories of community struggle against social inequality, registering the central impact that race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship have had on efforts toward social justice.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
D. Hernández
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110PS Self-Portraiture

Fall. Credits: 4

How do we represent ourselves? How can the self -- that is to say, subjective experience, private life, identity, consciousness -- be translated into written form? How, in turn, does writing fashion and construct the self? Throughout history, authors and thinkers have engaged these questions in countless texts and textual forms -- in essays, confessions, autobiographies, and poetry. This seminar will sample influential and innovative works of literary self-portrayal from around the world, exploring how a wide variety of writers have rendered themselves in language, narrative, and text. Authors may include Augustine, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Joyce, Nabokov, and Plath.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
S. Roychoudhury
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110PW Pursuit of Wellness

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course examines topics within the physical, mental, psychological and social dimensions of wellness. Current research and trends in health and wellness are emphasized and students will be encouraged to apply this knowledge in practical ways for healthful living. While this course is not activity based, a few classes will involve physical activity to promote wellness.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
L. Priest
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110RA Our America? Social Movements in Latin America: Latin American Cultural Studies

Fall. Credits: 4

This interdisciplinary course provides an introduction to the political and cultural landscape of Latin America through the lenses of some of its social movements. It focuses on some of the region's most recent polemics and political innovations in order to establish the foundation for a deeper understanding of contemporary Latin America while interrogating its geopolitical boundaries. Some themes are the impact of social movements on national policy shifts, the significance of indigenous groups for political discourse, or the use of human right agendas in local contexts.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
A. Pitetta
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110RR Remembering as Reconciliation in the Wake of Violence

Fall. Credits: 4

We explore how memorialization and reconciliation take place in societies that have experienced extreme violence. How do survivors, perpetrators and their descendants record the experience of atrocity through testimonials and memorials in ways that contrast with 'official' national narratives of the past? In what ways does memorialization end cycles of violence without re-triggering trauma? How does restorative justice, for example, address feelings of despair or guilt that get passed down from one generation to another? Our transnational study will include examples from Germany, Japan, Rwanda, and Cambodia primarily, with other examples included based on student interest.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
K. Remmler
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110SJ Wonder Woman: The Original Social Justice Warrior

Fall. Credits: 4

For the past 75 years, Wonder Woman has been a cultural icon and an ambassador of social justice. Since her first appearance, Wonder Woman has taught millions of girls -- and boys -- the strength of sisterhood, peace, understanding, acceptance, and empowerment. Wonder Woman's lessons are accessible to each of us, regardless of social identities. We will explore Wonder Woman's origins, her depictions in art, media, and social movements and how we can find -- and be -- Wonder Woman in 2017. Anti-racism, feminism, and pacifism are some of the topics that will be covered. This course is speaking- and writing-intensive and culminates in a final project.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
J. Daigle-Matos
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110SK Shakespeare, Then and Now

Fall. Credits: 4

A 2016 interactive article in The New York Times "Culture" section claimed via its title, "There Is No Escaping Shakespeare." Showing over fifty clips gleaned from film, television, and music videos, the piece aptly demonstrated how Shakespeare permeates various levels of not only Anglophone culture but global culture as well. Rather than simply studying Shakespeare's works in their own historical context, we will explore them as entities that travel through various media, historical periods, and cultural contexts. Why do so many authors, filmmakers, video artists, painters, songwriters, composers, and choreographers continue to adapt Shakespeare's works? How does "Shakespeare" accrue new meanings through the process of translation across language and media, and how do such adaptive strategies allow Shakespeare's work to remain current even four hundred years after they were written?

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
A. Rodgers
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110SN Social Inequality

Fall. Credits: 4

The study of social inequality is critical to understanding our contemporary world. In this seminar, we will focus on class, racial, and gender inequality. We will explore the origins and social consequences of these forms of inequality. Our examples will be drawn primarily from the United States, but the course will also touch on issues of inequality throughout the globe.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
K. Tucker
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110TS The Work of Translation

Fall. Credits: 4

Mount Holyoke's mission is "purposeful engagement in the world" but in a multilingual world, our goal can only be achieved with the help of translators and interpreters. As the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 46% increase in translation work 2012-2022, we consider it as a scholarly, professional and lay activity. Challenging stereotypes of translation as derivative or faulty, we reflect on the wealth of languages and cultures at Mount Holyoke College and how the curriculum depends on the work of translation. Students discuss what is gained, lost or simply transformed in translation. This introduction to translation studies is especially valuable to students with a background or interest in languages.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
C. Shread
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110UW American Women's Fiction, 1900 to Now

Fall. Credits: 4

In this course, we will analyze fiction by women writers located in the United States from 1900 to the present. We will focus on themes of gender, race, and sexuality, and explore experiments in form as well as content. Writers may include Gwendolyn Brooks, Willa Cather, Kate Chopin, Sandra Cisneros, Lydia Davis, Jennifer Egan, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Carson McCullers, Gertrude Stein, Monique Truong, and Edith Wharton.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
E. Young
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110VT Jack the Ripper and the Making of Late-Victorian London

Fall. Credits: 4

In the summer and fall of 1888, a series of gruesome murders captured the attention of Londoners and brought questions of class, gender, race and social-economic change to the forefront of public debate. Though the culprit was never identified, Jack the Ripper became synonymous with the perceived dangers of late-Victorian London. Using newspapers, periodicals, police archives, and other sources from the period, this course will set students on an historical investigation of the "Whitechapel Murders," seeking to understand the event, its historical context, and the way historians have interpreted its meaning.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
D. Fitz-Gibbon
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110WE How Wars End

Fall. Credits: 4

What social processes and institutions are necessary to bring an end to war? Do the efforts of citizens make a difference? What is the role of beliefs regarding identity? What about access to resources? What is the role of visible forms of restorative or retributive justice? This first-year seminar focuses on wars in Sudan, Somalia, Congo, and Uganda. Course assignments are designed to develop skills in academic writing, historical research, and collaborative learning. This is a community-based learning class: we will strive to build relationships with recent immigrants to our area from African nations.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning, Writing-Intensive
H. Hanson
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110WP How Words Change Worlds: Writers, Politics, and Power

Fall. Credits: 4

Jean Paul Sartre tells us words are like 'loaded pistols.' They have the power to transform worlds and inspire revolutions. Focusing on the power of language and the ideas they carry, we will look at writers as agents of social and political change. How do governments and society react to their work (censors, the media, readers?). We have two goals: to examine the interaction between aesthetics and politics, and the relationship between writers and governments. We will include some of the 'greats' such as Rousseau, Swift, Orwell, Sartre, Andrei Platonov, Solzhenitsyn, Rushdie, and Chinua Achebe.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
S. Jones
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110WR The West and the Rest: Muslims in Post-9/11 Europe and the U.S.

Spring. Credits: 4

This course traces the administrative and popular categorizations of Muslim populations in Europe and the United States following the events of September 11, 2001. The course examines the mechanisms through which Muslims are designated as a coherent, timeless category associated with backwardness, violence, and an urgent threat. By the end of the semester, the students will gain a critical, comparative perspective to identify and analyze some common mechanisms such as racialization, securitization, and gendering, as well as practices of border-making and border-crossing that travel across time and space to define certain groups as "dangerous others."

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
E. Babül
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-110WT Writing About Pictures

Fall. Credits: 4

True, pictures are worth a thousand words, but how do we know which thousand words to use? In this seminar, we will read a range of art criticism, art history, and fiction in order to examine the work of language in relation to pictures. We will explore a basic question: Why do pictures compel us to use words? We will learn to distinguish among different kinds of writing, visit the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum regularly, and learn to craft thoughtful words of our own about original works of art. We will work on collaborative projects, and cultivate leadership skills by actively listening to peers, and writing and speaking critically about art.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
A. Sinha
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.

FYSEM-210 First-Year Seminar for Frances Perkins and Transfer Students