|Faculty Focus: "Obsessed" with Dr. Juan Martinez
LVC’s General Education Program supports the College’s commitment to the classical—and interdisciplinary—liberal arts education. Designed to promote articulate communication, intellectual curiosity, careful thought, broad-based educational competence, and an openness to difference, the program’s requirements include: five courses in English and written communications; four courses in cross-cultural studies, including two in a foreign language; eight courses falling within the College’s Liberal Studies designation; and a junior- or senior-year Disciplinary Perspectives class.
LVC freshmen may opt to fulfill their first-semester writing requirement by enrolling in a First-Year Seminar. These introductory-level courses tend to be exceptionally broad in their focus as they explore the intersection of popular culture with the topic under consideration.
Last fall, Dr. Juan Martinez, assistant professor of English, taught a First-Year Seminar that examined the role of obsessions in people’s lives and personalities, as well as in a broader social or cultural context. Like all First-Year Seminars, “Obsessed” was a writing-intensive class: “Our readings used cultural studies and technology and popular culture, but the point was to let students learn how to go about writing about themselves,” Martinez said. “We were basically encouraging students to take ownership of their own interests and obsessions.”
Martinez encouraged his students to look for linkages across the readings. “I tried to let students know that they already have a command of a great deal of knowledge, and that they can actually make the connections themselves,” he shared. “Giving them this latitude allowed them to break out of the mold where they were trying to give me what they thought I wanted to hear. It has been great letting them have the authority to speak eloquently and interestingly about the things they love.”
Martinez noted that the seminar combined classical liberal arts training with a very open-ended approach to subject matter. “The class was in many ways ultimately about rhetoric—how do you present an argument, shape an argument, and present an argument in an academic setting? But what was unexpected was that so much of that involved students using personal narrative in an academic context. The students realized that there is this entire world that they have complete knowledge of—their own lives.”
A Selection of This Year’s First-Year Seminars
Last fall, incoming LVC freshmen could choose from 23 different First-Year Seminars, including the following:
• Obsessed: A look at the many ways in which individual obsessions can intersect with broader social and cultural concerns; taught by Dr. Juan Martinez, assistant professor of English
• Reading the New York Times: Critically engaging with national and international news, arts reviews, and op-ed pieces in the nation’s leading newspaper; taught by Dr. Michael Schroeder, assistant professor of history
• Man Up/Act Like a Lady: An exploration of the images and representations of what it means to be a man or a woman in contemporary society; taught by Dr. Catherine Romagnolo, associate professor of English
• Going Viral: Social Media and Digital Technology: Examining the impact of new media platforms on literacy, education, community interaction, journalism, democracy, and creativity; taught by Dr. Mary Pettice, associate professor of English
• Life in the Universe: A look at the emerging field of astrobiology, which encompasses astronomy, biology, physics, and chemistry in an attempt to understand the origins of life; taught by Dr. Anderson Marsh, associate professor of chemistry and director of the chemistry track for engineering
• Happiness: A discussion of what makes us happy versus what we think makes us happy; taught by Dr. Michelle Niculescu, assistant professor of psychology, and Dr. Deanna Dodson, professor of psychology