Your FYE will develop your critical thinking and communication skills, while also supporting you through your transition into college life. FYE classes have two components: first, a core 3-credit class focused on traditional academic skills like writing and analysis, and, second, a companion 1-credit class focused on transitional skills like coping with stress, planning for your career, managing time, and understanding major and general education (here called “Constellation”) requirements.
You will live in proximity to other residential students enrolled in the same FYE, so that—in addition to the two classes you’ll take together—you can enjoy related programming in the residence halls. For instance, films associated with various FYE sections will be shown in the dorms. Because you will learn together and live together, these arrangements are called “Living-Learning Communities.”
Both inside your classrooms and outside them—in the dorm and the wider LVC environment—your FYE will provide you not only with the skills necessary to succeed academically at LVC, but also the community and relationships necessary to thrive here, so that you will be ready to take advantage of the many opportunities LVC offers. Go Dutchmen!
Please use these descriptions to fill out your FYE Course Selection Form.
Frame Tales: Narrative Form and Literary Adaptation
Professor: Shayani Bhattacharya
And they lived happily ever after….
Whether there be ogres, monsters, princes, witches, talking frogs, evil stepmothers or magic beans; almost every fairy tale has one thing in common – the happily ever after. But if fairy tales are the stuff of childhood why do they crop up in the adult world through films like the steam punk gore rendition of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters or the feminist retelling Maleficent, procedural TV shows like Grimm and Beauty and the Beast, or ads for Chanel No.5 and Adidas? We will explore the frame narratives of the “classic” fairy tales of the Grimm brothers and Charles Perrault in the hands of twentieth century writers to reflect on modern renditions of the “ever after” myth. The class will investigate the validity of fairytales in an era of reworkings and adaptations through various readings, music videos, films, ads etc.
Electing the President
Professor: Jim Broussard
In this course we will use recent presidential campaigns (including 2016) to focus on four questions: 1) how did the process of nominating and electing a president in 2016 compare with past years; 2) does this process need major changes; 3) what is the proper balance between government power and individual liberty; and 4) what is the proper balance between your rights and your responsibilities as a citizen of a free society? Class activities will include drafting a party platform, preparing a campaign plan for a presidential candidate, critiquing and writing political ads, and explaining the surprising outcome of the 2016 election.
Let the Great World Spin
Professor: Sally Clark
The world became entranced by “The Crime of the Century” in 1974 when a young Frenchman danced along a tightrope strung between the top of the nearly completed World Trade Towers. Colum McCann’s novel, Let the Great World Spin (winner of the 2009 National Book Award), uses the daring act of this “angel in the sky” to contrast with people in the depths of the city who struggle with diverse issues, ultimately searching for joy and redemption. Using film and other texts, both fiction and nonfiction, we will spin off of McCann’s novel to explore such subjects as art and risk, faith and belonging, loss and grief, and the nuances of history. As Esquire’s Tom Junod explains, “We are all dancing on the wire of history, and even on solid ground we breathe the thinnest of air.”
The Horror Genre in Film and Literature
Professor: Laura Eldred
From the old English classic Beowulf to the TV series The Walking Dead, art has expressed people’s fascination with monsters and violent mayhem. Though the horror genre has always been popular, it is also often dismissed as lowbrow, even exploitative, entertainment that caters to humanity’s baser instincts. In this class, we will confront that point of view by looking at the ways in which horror entertainment both reflects and challenges the cultures in which it is produced. We will analyze a variety of texts, including Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein and George Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead. Students will learn about milestones in the development of the horror genre in film and literature, gain an understanding of introductory terminology in film and literary analysis, and discover the main theories about why audiences enjoy horror.
Do the Right Thing
Professor: Gary Grieve-Carlson
Most of us want to "do the right thing," and we want other people to "do the right thing" as well, but sometimes it's hard to know what the "right thing" is. In this seminar we'll read several books (fiction and non-fiction) that depict moral dilemmas, situations in which a person has to make a difficult moral choice, and we'll think about why those situations are so difficult and what they tell us about what it means to act morally.
The Examined Life
Professor: Noel Hubler
Socrates famously said that the “Unexamined life is not worth living,” but what did he mean by an examined life? For Socrates examination did not so much involve reflection of one’s own views and values, but an active and critical inspection of the positions of others, primarily about the nature of the good life. In FYE 111, we will retrace the steps of Socrates through the writings of his most famous student, Plato. We will also engage more recent philosophers both in class discussions and interactive writing assignments.
Sustainability in the Global Marketplace
Professor: Kimberlee Josephson
This course will look at the role and impact which the corporate world and civil society play in regards to sustainability in the global marketplace. Students will learn about the transnational movement concerning sustainability and the rise in both conscious consumerism and eco-entrepreneurship on a global scale. By looking at real-world examples, students will assess how companies determine what sustainability initiatives to adopt and evaluate how natural capital and social capital can impact a company’s bottom line.
The Making + Remaking of Everyday Life
Professor: Robert Machado
This course investigates film, literature, photography, and other media (including “noise” music) from the last century-and-a-half whose forms, themes, characters, and ideas might be considered extreme, unrecognizable, “bizarre,” and even impenetrable. In doing so, one of our primary goals will be to enhance our ability to bring attention to the overlooked, and to rethink / remake the familiar. Together, we will find ways to intervene, to challenge established critical practices and ways of thinking, and to test interdisciplinary approaches to analysis and production that might allow us to innovate within our individual fields of interest, communities, and everyday lives.
Professor: Andy Marsh
What does it mean to “be human”? What distinguishes “us” from the rest of existence? How should humans interact with other humans, society, the world, and the universe? Various disciplines have sought answers to these questions, and some have found them. While the sciences may have definitive answers, others do not. In this course we will read and discuss works of science fiction that will take us to alternate realities as compared to the world in which we live. We will try to discover what the authors have to say on the topic as we attempt to develop our own answers to these age-old questions.
African American Popular Culture
Professor: Cona Marshall
From Kevin Hart to Kendrick Lamar to Beyoncé to Shonda Rhimes, African Americans influence American cultural production. This course introduces writing genres of spoken word, rap and comedy while engaging African American cultural productions—movies, music, religion, sports—to better understand narratives of how African Americans write themselves in the world and how counter-narratives have been written and read about African Americans in American society. The readings we examine, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine and The Color Purple, will provide some unique perspectives on African American experiences, exploring the multi-faceted relationship between language, culture, and society. We will also examine such topics as defining African American identities, the construction of race, racism, and Ebonics.
To the Ends of the Earth
Professor: Kevin Pry
Why are human beings fascinated with the unknown and the dangerous? Why will some people take enormous risks in the world’s most forbidding environments, just to reach the extreme limits of human endurance? This seminar invites students into the story of polar expeditions and the often-fatal attraction that exploration as organized risk-taking exerts on our fellow humans. Will skill, luck, organizing ability, and determination combine to find the fabled Northwest Passage, win the races to be first at the North and South Poles, and come back alive, or will carelessness, lack of foresight, and character flaws be exposed ruthlessly and lead to defeat, disgrace, destruction, and even (shudder!) cannibalism?
Faith and Doubt in the 21st Century
Professor: Matt Sayers
This course will explore questions of religious meaning through the various ways contemporary individuals and traditions have sought to reconcile their faith with the modern world. Objectives will include the effort to understand the continuing importance and impact of religion on contemporary culture, politics, and philosophy, to learn about the many facets of religious diversity in the United States and around the world, and to reflect on the crisis of traditional beliefs about God brought about by the development of modern science and technology. Writing assignments will provide opportunity for students to narrate their own spiritual journeys and identify their own questions of meaning.
Dystopian and Apocalyptic Literature and Film
Professor: Jeff Ritchie
Dystopian and apocalyptic literature and films are prevalent in times of social, cultural or technological change. Aside from providing thought-provoking settings for works of fiction, the treatment of such themes often reveal the anxieties of the age. From graphic novels, to literature, and film, this course will analyze what these dystopian settings can tell us about cultural anxieties and concerns. The course will engage literary works such as the graphic novel V for Vendetta, The Windup Girl, 1984, and Neuromancer, films such as Metropolis, Brazil, City of Lost Children, Sleeper, and Blade Runner and smaller works of poetry, short fiction, and myths.
The American Dream
Professor: Terri Rosenberg
The term American Dream, coined in 1931, suggests an ability for us to reach complete success and happiness in our personal and professional lives. Much has changed in American society and culture since 1931 leading many to question if the American Dream still exists. Through selected readings on family, education, and technology, this course will challenge you to think critically about the ability of a person to achieve the American Dream today. The readings will be supplemented with numerous media clips that will push us to explore the representation of ideal families in TV sitcoms from 1950-2000s, educate ourselves about the state of the education system through the documentary Waiting for Superman, look at how technology might change our world through the science fiction drama Humans. We will specifically challenge, revise, and defend the role of family, education, and technology in our pursuit of the American Dream.
Man Up/Act Like a Lady: Representations of Gender in American Culture
Professor: Cathy Romagnolo
As TV watchers, magazine readers, movie-goers, web-surfers, and students, we are bombarded by images and representations of what it means to be a man or a woman in contemporary society. In this course, we will examine some of these images and representations. Through our analysis of literature, film, television, print and online media depictions, we will work on better understanding the way discourse creates knowledge of gender and how that knowledge affects us as individuals in the United States. Through discussion and writing, we will explore our own perceptions and experiences as well as analyze experiences as represented by others.
People & the Planet: Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability
Professor: Mike Schroeder
What is the state of Planet Earth these days? How do we think about issues like climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification, the loss of biodiversity, energy use, consumption patterns, and most broadly, the changing relationship between people and the planet – today, in the recent past, and into the foreseeable future? What is meant by “environmental sustainability”? This course interrogates these and related enviro-questions via a diverse array of literatures, media, and activities.
How to Speak "Science"
Professor: Liz Sterner
Ever wished you could really explain a cool science experiment to your family or friends? Or maybe you’ve read news about a big scientific breakthrough, but weren’t sure if the journalists got it right? There is often a disconnect between how science is presented by scientists, and how it is perceived by the public. It can be difficult to navigate many different sources to get at an accurate representation of the facts. In this class, we will explore the different ways science is reported on, from scholarly journals to popular media, and figure out effective strategies for communicating about science without sensationalizing or misrepresentation. You will build writing, speaking and critical reasoning skills that will let you learn about scientific issues that are important to you, come to a well-supported opinion, and express your views. All majors are welcome, because science literacy is important for everyone!
Art and The Body
Professor: Grant Taylor
Our human body defines our species. Our complex living system is the seat of consciousness and the machine that replicates and transmits our code for continued life. As the physical extension and stored repository of our worldly experiences, our body is crucial to self-identity. It is no surprise, then, that the depiction of the body is central to art. Our desires, our self-doubts, and our prejudices are all found in the way we represent ourselves. Through various modes of critical thinking and writing, we will uncover, complicate, and question the history of human embodiment in the visual arts.
The American Dreams
Professor: Lewis Thayne
Is the American Dream a vision all Americans share? A symbol that Americans interpret in different ways at different times? An illusion that urges us to continue our national “pursuit of happiness”? In this seminar, the class will read and discuss historic documents, political speeches, iconic advertising, and literary texts that define or claim to embrace the American Dream. We will discuss the expression of the American Dream in film, advertising, music, and visual arts. Writing assignments and class presentations will provide students opportunities to explore various interpretations and perspectives, as well as develop an individual understanding of what the American Dream means.
Thinking Changes Everything
Professor: Bob Valgenti
Are you the sort of student who is driven to ask the big questions—Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Is there an ultimate good? What is beauty? If you are, then you are already on your way to success as a college student. What if being philosophical makes you a better student—a college student who takes charge of his or her own development and desires to live what Socrates understood as “the examined life”? In this course we will not only examine life with our minds, but also come to understand the extent to which the essence of reality is shaped by our minds and the knowledge we seek. Thus, we might begin: does thought change everything? Some things? Nothing? This is a question that stretches beyond philosophy and affects all of our knowledge in every discipline and form of experience. The purpose of this course is therefore to reflect, to reason, and to excite the wonderment that accompanies the many academic fields and pursuits that shape our common experience at LVC.
Get Medieval on It
Professor: Holly Wendt
The Middle Ages have long fascinated modern people, so much so that we’re constantly revisiting and reinventing them, in books, movies, and videogames, and through the lenses of history and fantasy. In this course, we’ll delve into medieval history and literature to separate fact from fiction and show how vibrant the “dark ages” actually were. We’ll also consider both books and films in popular culture to explore the ways in which medieval lore and tropes are used in contemporary contexts.