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.

As an incoming first-year student, you will be assigned a room in one of our traditional residence halls designated as first-year residential communities. Because all first-year students live in close proximity to one another, you will enjoy related programming within the residence halls. For instance, films associated with various FYE sections may be shown in the residence halls.

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. 

Please take a few minutes to review the FYE sections that are scheduled for Fall 2019. You will make your FYE selections along with your other courses during New Student Advising Day in May.

Fall 2019 Sections

To the Ends of the Earth

Professor: Dr. 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?

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 American Dream

Professor: Theresa 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.

From the Crib to College

Professor: Dr. Rachel Albert


Why do teenagers fight with their parents? Is TV really bad for kids? How do babies learn to talk? Why do children lie? In this seminar, we will discuss these topics and many more related to how children's social environments (e.g. parents, peers, school, and media) impact their learning and development. We will read and discuss current research findings while considering the parenting and public policy implications for these childhood questions. This course will enhance your knowledge of child development while encouraging you to reflect on the family, friends, and experiences that shaped the person you are today.

Get Medieval on It

Professor: Dr. 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.

Art and the Body

Professor: Dr. 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 Examined Life

Professor: Dr. 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.

Faith & Doubt in 21st Century

Professors: Dr. Jeffrey Robbins & Dr. Matthew 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.

Thinking Changes Everything

Professor: Dr. Robert 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.

Race in the 21st Century

Professors: Dr. Cathy Romagnolo


In this seminar we will investigate race as a social, cultural, and political phenomenon in the contemporary United States. By examining a variety of materials, including television, film, novels, and essays (e.g., Dear White People, Black Panther, Underground Railroad, Robin DiAngelo's White Fragility) we will analyze how the concept of race is perceived, experienced, challenged, and constructed in this historical moment. First semester will focus on history and theory. Themes and topics to be covered in FYE 111 include race and identity, and race and social relations.

Frame Tales

Professor: Dr. Shayani Bhattacharya


Whether there be ogres, monsters, 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 or fantasy dramas like Once Upon a Time, or ads for Chanel No.5 and Pepsi? In this class we will explore the frame narratives of the "classic" fairy tales of the Grimm brothers and Charles Perrault in the hands of 20th century writers and filmmakers to reflect on modern renditions of the "ever after" myth. We will read Angela Carter's feminist retellings of popular fairytales, participate in a D-I-Y shuffle narrative game, and create fairy tale adaptations of our own. The course aims to interrogate socio-political structures by examining the shared narrative fabric of society.

Horror in Film and Literature

Professor: Dr. 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.

What Do You Think About...?

Professor: Dr. Michael Kitchens 


What do you think about (the hot topic of the day)?  Writing and thinking are intricately woven together. Writing forces us to consider an issue in order to articulate our position; writing even can become a method for thinking about our position.  Good writing (and good thinking) means we must consider both sides of an issue, so in this class, we will examine several of the day's "hot topics"-current debates or issues being discussed in the public square-by readings from different perspectives on the topics. This course, then, invites students to enter into ongoing public conversations and develop good habits of developing and appropriately expressing their position as participants in a free society.

Dystopian & Apocalyptic Literature

Professor: Dr. Jeffrey Ritchie 


Dystopian 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 and cinematic works that focus on dystopia- 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.

Sports Journalism

Professor: Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer 


Students will study how sports have impacted our society and how the media has shaped the relationship. As a class, we will study the history of sports journalism, and students will read and analyze a variety of writing styles from sportswriters in all media, including broadcast, print and the web.


Professor: Dr. Michael Pittari


Noise, rage, rebellion–this is the ethos of punk. For nearly half a century, punk rock has endured through music, fashion, art, and politics, never getting old or wearing out and continuously redefining its boundaries. Yet the impulses of punk, its radicalism and violence, predate the 1976 explosion of the Sex Pistols onto the international scene. Its spirit was onstage in the '60s with the Stooges and the Velvet Underground, it was at the wheel when rebel icons Jackson Pollock and James Dean drove to their deaths in the '50s, and it fueled the most iconoclastic art movement in history–Dada–in the years following World War I. Flanked by two significant dates–1916, the year of the first Dada manifesto, and 1991, the year Nirvana's Nevermind was released–this seminar explores the origins and implications of punk as a pervasive cultural and socio-political force.

Old Stories

Professor: Dr. Gary Grieve-Carlson


In this first-year writing seminar, we'll read four old stories: Saramago's Cain (a re-telling of the Cain and Abel story from the Book of Genesis), the Book of Job (from the Old Testament), Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls (a re-telling of the story of the Trojan War from the women's point of view), and Emily Hauser's For the Winner (a re-telling of the story of Jason and the Argonauts). Each of these stories was first told long before the birth of Christ, but we'll think and write about what each may have to tell us, or to ask us, about our lives here in the twenty-first century.


Sports and Social Change

Professor: Dr. Lindsay Koch


In recent years the sports world has become intertwined with significant issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault, gender and sexuality, the role of the media, the role of protest, religion, collective bargaining, racial justice, ethics, university scandals and many more. This course will introduce students to key debates around social change, identify, and politics all in the world of sports. Through discussion and writing, we will explore the impact of social change in sports and social change through sports.

Risks/Benefits of Playing Sports

Professor: Dr. Tom Dompier


In this course we will review the current science surrounding the risks and benefits of participating in sport throughout the lifespan. Topics will include early sport specialization in children, traumatic brain injury, the most common injuries among various sports, and others.  We will weigh these risks against the vast benefits of sport participation including promotion of a healthy lifestyle, mitigation of chronic disease, academic achievement, and others. Class activities will include discussions and debates over these topics and others.  

People and the Planet

Professor: Dr. Michael 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.

Film & Society

Professor: Andrew Owen


This course seeks to develop the sociological imagination through an examination of the way in which film both influences, and is influenced by, dominant social and cultural ideology. Integral to the course is an analysis of the role of the filmmaker as artist, investigating the figure’s historically dichotomous role as both social subversive and propagandist. Topic areas include, but are not limited to, humor, science fiction, horror and censorship.