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-110BC Biology of Social Issues

Fall. Credits: 4

This seminar teaches basic biological principles that affect important, complex and often-controversial social issues. We will challenge ourselves to think beyond our comfort zones, exploring difficult questions in topics such as medical and scientific ethics, aging, gender in society and biology, climate change, conservation, evolution and religion, genetic engineering, and fertility. We will explore how our personal beliefs affect our understanding of biological facts, and will study how press coverage can vary from original published scientific studies. We will discuss in class and reflect in writing, developing both the critical thinking skills and the basic biological knowledge of well-informed citizens.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
P. Brennan
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-110BR Breakfast in the Americas

Spring. Credits: 4

Have you ever thought about the origins of the sugar, coffee, bananas, and chocolate that we consume at the breakfast table? Who cuts the sugar cane? Who owns the coffee plantation? What are the social and environmental costs of bananas? This interdisciplinary course examines some of the cultural, historical, social, political, and economic issues surrounding these Latin American commodities. We will explore the lives of company owners, laborers, producers, and consumers as we trace the role sugar, coffee, bananas, and chocolate have played in the historical and cultural development of Latin America. We will also learn how these products are represented in art, literature, and film.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
D. Mosby
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-110CM Coming of Age on Screen

Fall. Credits: 4

In this course we will trace the representation of teenage girls in television and film from the 1950s to the present as a way to better understand how moving images shape culture. We will look closely at the notion of "entertainment" and at the ways in which moving image texts create ways of seeing and meaning.

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

FYSEM-110CW Goodbye, Conventional Wisdom

Fall. Credits: 4

One of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education is to draw on a broad base of knowledge in order to interrogate common assumptions. No one exemplifies this critical approach better than French philosopher Michel Foucault. One of the most influential thinkers of recent times, Foucault revolutionized several academic disciplines and even questioned the very notion of a discipline itself. He did so by revealing the history and transformations of ideas now viewed as self-evident. This first-year seminar invites students to develop similar analytical skills. Following Foucault's lead, the course pays special attention to preconceptions about government, freedom, identity, and sexuality.

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

FYSEM-110CY Cyberpunks in the Digital Age

Fall. Credits: 4

For several decades now, journalists, artists, and scholars have attempted to articulate the ways the Internet and digital culture has transformed how we live and think. Examining novels, movies, blogs, and other digital media, we will consider how the digital age shapes our understandings of gender and sexuality and how notions of femininity might help us define 'being digital.' As we develop reading and writing skills, we will also experiment in groups with new digital tools such as distant reading, advanced searching, and media remixing. Topics may include the Internet and brain science, avatars and fembots, virtual relationships, as well as cyber-bullying, hacking, and networking.

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

FYSEM-110DS We Didn't Start the Fire: The United States Since WW II

Fall. Credits: 4

The United States emerged from the Second World War as the most powerful nation on earth. This First Year Seminar explores American political, cultural, and social life in the postwar era, with an eye toward helping students gain a firmer understanding of contemporary issues and conflicts in our nation and around the world. We will examine both primary and secondary sources for topics including the Cold War at home and abroad, popular culture and consumer society, the civil rights struggle, the political and cultural rebellions of the 1960s, the resurgence of conservatism, and America's changing relationship to the world in the post Cold War era. Students will write several short papers on topics of their choice and, and will also be introduced to the tools required for doing historical research.

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

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-110FA Fashion, Style and Design

Spring. 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-110FD Italian Food Culture Between Tradition and Modern Business

Fall. Credits: 4

Food is essential for Italian family and society, and the food industry is an important part of the Italian economy. Starting with Carlo Petrini's Italian Slow Food revolution, we will explore and analyze the strong relationship between food, culture and business in modern Italian society. We will read and discuss literary and historical texts, films, and, of course, cookbooks. Taught in English.

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

FYSEM-110FF The Once and Future Family Farm? A Social History of Small-Scale Agriculture

Fall. Credits: 4

Small-scale agriculture fed the world until the middle of the 20th century, and the majority of the world's population farmed small plots in rural areas until the last decade. What role will family farms play in the world we are creating? We examine how small scale agriculture has changed over the past 200 years in East and West Africa, the Andes, China, India, and in the United States, and consider its future. Using recent and classic scholarship, autobiographies, memoirs, archives, and oral histories, we will develop skills in analysis, critical reading, and academic writing. We will visit local farms and interact with farmers on other continents using social media.

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

FYSEM-110FR The Meaning of Friendship

Fall. Credits: 4

This course will explore the history, meaning, and significance of friendship. Students will engage with multiple texts that explore the relationship between social and personal identities related to friendship. Current research and trends regarding the study of friendship, particularly intersectional dimensions for friendship will be explored. Students will be encouraged to apply the theories and practices learned in this course as they build community at Mount Holyoke.

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

FYSEM-110GF God, Free Will, and Morality

Fall. Credits: 4

This first year seminar is a critical thinking boot camp. Students will learn to charitably interpret, logically reconstruct, and critically evaluate arguments. The arguments come from classic and contemporary readings in philosophy about God, free will, and morality. We will focus on 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-110GP Gender and Power in the History of Mount Holyoke College

Fall. Credits: 4

Mary Lyon, founder in 1837 of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, held out to her students the possibility that they might transform the world around them -- a tall order for young women who were excluded from proper citizenship and political power. Duty, discipline, and economy would make it possible. What transformations ensued? And what can we learn from them about the complexities of gender and power in worlds shaped by racism, colonialism, capitalist development, national aspirations, Protestant dominance, and normative regimes of gender, sexuality, and bodily comportment? This course will introduce students to the richness of the College Archives and the possibilities of historical thinking.

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

FYSEM-110HE Health in Africa

Fall. Credits: 4

What are the major diseases and health conditions facing African families south of the Sahara? What health care choices are available and which options are most effective at addressing conditions such as malaria, cholera, and malnutrition? This course looks at the economic and biological opportunities and barriers to improving health outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa.

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

FYSEM-110LD A Landscape of One's Own

Fall. Credits: 4

This seminar will focus on portrayals of women in nineteenth and twentieth-century America in the context of nature and landscape. We will explore how women, often objectified in visual images set in nature, appropriated established devices or developed new images and structures to represent womanhood in their own terms. With selected works by Thoreau as our springboard, texts will include essays or sketches, short stories, novels, paintings, films, and photography. Virginia Woolf wrote of the need for a woman to have "a room of one's own," a quiet space for creativity and reflection. What emerges in the works of women writers who chose the land beyond that room for their creative space? The course will focus on women who told the stories of their lives in the context of islands, forests, prairies, and deserts of the United States.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
L. Glasser
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-110MA Exploration of Mars

Fall. Credits: 4

Exploration of Mars is an ongoing effort that has greatly expanded our knowledge of the Red Planet and changed our vision of its surface. We will examine the history of the investigation and exploration of Mars. We will also plan future observations from orbiting spacecraft, engage with scientists involved in current missions, and imagine the best ways to explore Mars in upcoming decades. Developing physical intuition and analytical skills in astronomy, geology, physics and other sciences will be emphasized, as well as speaking and writing ability.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
D. Dyar
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-110MN Medical Narratives

Fall. Credits: 4

A study of writing by and about patients, those who diagnose and treat them, and the communities and cultures that shape their stories. Readings will be drawn from essays, plays, memoirs, short stories, and novels that tell real or constructed tales of getting worse and getting better.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
S. Sutherland
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-110MY Classical Myth in Western Art

Fall. Credits: 4

The aim of the course is to acquaint students with the stories of gods and mortals represented in Western art. Students will examine modes of storytelling in various media and develop a heightened visual literacy. In which contexts did such stories appear, why, and what do we know about their reception among contemporary viewers?

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

FYSEM-110PC Op-ed: Writing on Politics, Culture, and the Arts

Fall. Credits: 4

We will read and discuss current writing on politics, culture and the arts. Drawn from a variety of print and on-line sources (including The New Yorker, n+1, Arts and Letters Daily, and Bomb), subjects will range from literature, cinema, and art to international politics, crime, and celebrity culture. Using strategies and techniques learned from the readings, students will write essays and articles of their own.

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

FYSEM-110PH Environmental and Public Health

Fall. Credits: 4

This course offers a broad introduction to the problems and solutions in the field of environmental and public health. Students will read about and discuss issues that occur in both industrialized and developing countries. Topics include the biological, physical, and chemical agents of environmental contamination; methods used in epidemiology and toxicology to evaluate environmental hazards; policies currently in place to reduce health risks and protect populations from exposure; and emerging global environmental health problems.

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

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-110PT Politics and Truth

Fall. Credits: 4

What is the relationship between truth and politics? Does democracy require truth or pervert it? Can truth thrive in any type of government? What's really at stake here? In this course, we will explore a variety of classic texts, ranging from such authors as Plato to Karl Marx to Hannah Arendt to Martin Luther King, Jr. to contemporary feminist theorists. We will focus on developing the ability to reflect on your own beliefs, analyze authors' arguments, and to articulate and defend your own perspective.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
E. Markovits
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.
Advisory: for students in their first two semesters at the College only

FYSEM-110PY Anthropology of Play

Spring. Credits: 4

We associate play with childhood, a time of spontaneous and creative activity, in contrast to the boring routine of adult responsibilities. And yet play is more than just fun and games. It is through play that children develop lasting cognitive and social skills. For adults too, there can be serious play--play that has real consequence--play that shapes the intimate lives of individuals, as well as entire social formations. In this course, we will explore play cross culturally, from the Balinese cockfight to American football, from gambling to role playing. We will design games based on the anthropological readings in order to appreciate the game-like qualities of many domains of life.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
J. Roth
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 debates and political innovations, including human rights debates and indigenous movements, in order to establish the foundation for a deeper understanding of contemporary Latin America.

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-110RM Confronting Power and Authority in Ancient Rome

Fall. Credits: 4

Romans hated kings, and when they founded their Republic they did so on principles of shared governance and popular sovereignty in order to prevent the rise of monarchy. Yet in times of crisis Romans tolerated and even promoted leaders with absolute power. How did this ideal of popular sovereignty square with the need for dictators? What happened when populism confronted authoritarianism? How did Romans represent power and authority--in literature, ceremony, architecture, and art? This course will consider these and other related questions through the careers of Julius Caesar and Augustus, who oversaw the transformation of Roman political culture from Republic to monarchy.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
G. Sumi
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-110TG Transgressive Music

Fall. Credits: 4

The seminar will introduce and discuss various musical works and genres that fall under rock critic Ann Powers' definitions of 'Violator Art,' exploring them within the context of their wanton and disturbing appeal, as well as their often scandalous social impact. Topics will include the Second Viennese School, free jazz, protest music, punk rock, hip-hop, works such as J. S. Bach's 'Cantata No. 179,' Strauss's 'Salome,' Stravinsky's 'Le Sacre du printemps,' Billie Holiday's 'Strange Fruit,' George Crumb's 'Black Angels,' and artists such as Frank Zappa, Donna Summer, Prince, and Nirvana.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
D. Sanford
Restrictions: First-year students only, by placement.
Notes: Students should be prepared for mature themes and some coarse language.

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-110VH Volcanoes and Volcanic Hazards

Fall. Credits: 4

We have a love/hate relationship with volcanoes. We go out of our way to visit volcanoes; to witness eruptions and to bag a high peak. But, often volcanoes turn deadly killing hundreds of people and making life difficult for many more. Volcanic eruptions pose both significant local threats and often global concerns (e.g. climate change). Volcanoes occur on every continent, yet they tend to occur in tectonically predictable settings. Less predictable, however, is the timing and magnitude of specific volcanic eruptions. In this course we will investigate why volcanoes occur where they do, the type of lava that is associated with different volcanoes and the hazards associated with volcanic eruptions. We will study past and present volcanoes and volcanic eruptions as case studies. Students will be actively involved in class presentations and discussions and will research and write a number of papers throughout the semester.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
A. Werner
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-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-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-110WW Stories and Histories of World War I

Fall. Credits: 4

In this seminar, we will investigate how literary texts, photographs, films and memorial sites represent World War I up to the present day. Analyzing gender roles in film, literature, and memoirs, present-day commemoration projects, and the Expressionist movement in literature and art, we will focus especially on Germany's role in WWI and its portrayal in history, literature and art.

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