You'll take a FYS within your first two semesters at Xavier. FYS is a 3-credit course. In the catalog, FYS is called CORE 100.  Search under "Core Curriculum" to find these courses.

Fall 2017

Reading YouTube                                        Kelly Austin

This seminar will explore media content on YouTube. We will study vlogs, original web series, and online literary adaptations, as well as theories on transmedia and fandom. As part of the unit on literary adaptations, we will be reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice alongside the YouTube modernization The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. We will examine how YouTube as a medium is changing our cultural literacy, the genres associated with YouTube, and learn how to read online texts more critically.

 

Remembering the Days of Slavery                      Randy Browne

In 1975, the Jamaican reggae artist Burning Spear recorded “Slavery Days.” His song asked a simple question—“Do you remember the days of slavery?” And he urged, “Cry and remember, please remember.” This course takes up Burning Spear’s challenge, asking how the history of Atlantic slavery has been remembered, represented, and memorialized on both sides of the Atlantic. What have different people and institutions chosen to remember—and forget—about the history of Atlantic slavery? How should we decide which representations to accept or reject? And how do our memories of the past shape our understanding of the present and hopes for the future? 

 

Catastrophe                                                 Timothy Brownlee

How ought we to respond to experiences of devastation that threaten human forms of life? In this seminar, we will examine the threats that environmental destruction and interpersonal violence pose to the conditions for human life, and ask about the status of ethics in conditions of catastrophe. We will consider major works of historical and contemporary literature, philosophy, and history.

 

Paris                                                              Rachel Chrastil

Paris: the City of Light. Over the last two centuries, city planners, revolutionaries, artists, immigrants and tourists have all shaped Paris into their vision of the good city. In this course you’ll explore Paris from the catacombs to the top of the Eiffel Tower through novels, paintings, films, memoirs, and famous monuments.

 

Myth and Modernity                                                Norman Finkelstein           

In this seminar, we will examine modern theories of myth, and modern treatments of myths in a number of literary genres, in order to understand how these ancient forms of thought continue to shape our modern world-view.

 

Technology & Transcendence                                 James Helmer

The American futurist and transhumanist thinker Ray Kurzweil has suggested that the essence of humanity is our creation and employment of technology. In exploring ethical and religious themes in relation to emerging biotechnologies, this seminar will engage "big questions" such as the reality of God/the Transcendent, the meaning of human existence, and the nature of the human condition (e.g., embodiment, life, death, sickness, disease, finitude, moral perfection). The seminar will give particular consideration to the ethics of employing such biotechnologies in order to overcome human limitation and to fundamentally alter the human condition.

 

Bob Dylan                                                                Graley Herren

This seminar will trace the artistic evolution of Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan. Along with careful analysis of his songs as written and performed, we will examine his work in various contexts: musical, literary, cultural, historical, political, and autobiographical.

 

Modern Times                                             Staff Johnson

This course analyzes and explores the great events, personalities and ideas of the last 100 years, with an emphasis on those historical figures who sought truth and acted to make the world better. With this historical perspective, students analyze and reflect on our current time in terms of events and people who have made a positive difference.

 

Capital Punishment                                                Cheryl Jonson or Y. Gail Hurst

Capital punishment is one of the most controversial policies in America’s criminal justice system. With such controversy comes both staunch proponents and opponents who present persuading arguments for their respective positions. This course seeks to allow students to critically assess both the support for and opposition against the death penalty.

 

God on Trial                                                  Martin Madar

This seminar will examine the religious dimension of human existence in relation to a number of problems and challenges: the problem of knowledge; the relation of faith and reason; various historical, social and existential critiques of belief; the challenge of atheism and humanism.

 

Battle for the Future                                   Anas Malik

The “commons” means the shared resources, such as water, forests, and the atmosphere, which we all use. Many consider the Internet to be a new type of commons. Overuse and abuse can destroy the commons--dwindling forests, water scarcity, and climate change caused by greenhouse gases are examples. Can we figure out how to govern the commons sustainably?

 

The Human Need for Narrative                             Anne McCarty

Story? Who needs it? For a phenomenon that seems to serve little practical purpose for human survival, narrative plays a significant and ongoing role in our lives. In this class, we’ll explore various facets and functions of story and consider the following questions. How do we shape and how are we shaped by narrative? How do we employ narrative as we attempt to understand, cope with, and modify our past, present, and future both as individuals and as a society? How do the stories we currently produce and consume contribute to or detract from the greater good?

 

Beyond Hook Up Culture                            Marcus Mescher

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be male or female, gay or straight? What do we want from our relationships and experiences of intimacy? What resources can we employ to respond to experiences of discrimination, objectification, and violence? This course examines current experiences of identity and sexuality—especially through the prevalence of “hook up culture”—and compares that to what we can learn from a variety of disciplines and perspectives including theology, philosophy, sociology, and psychology to explore how personhood, relationships, and sexuality can contribute to “the greater good.”

 

Villains and Antiheroes                             Niamh J. O’Leary

This seminar asks if villains can serve the greater good and why we love good stories about bad guys. How do we as a society decide what makes a person “bad,” and what value do we attach to that label? How has our understanding of a historical person’s relative villainy or heroism changed over time? Together, we will consider the definitions of heroism and villainy, debate whether you can work toward justice from outside the system, and study nontraditional approaches to the good—from revenge narratives, to tales of vigilante justice, to fortunate falls, to damaged or despicable “everyman” heroes.

 

"You Can’t Say That!": Free Speech in the Digital Age             Randall Patnode

People will tell you, “It's a free country. I can say what I want.” But can you? Should you? This seminar will explore the tension between the desire for an orderly society and individual free speech in its many forms, including symbolic speech, political speech, and hate speech, and how access to digital communication complicates matters.

 

Borderlands of Being Human                                Don Prues

This course keeps coming back to one three-pronged overarching question: What is the human animal, why do we think the way we think, and why do we act the way we act? Ultimately, this course will challenge our assumptions and our motivations about what we believe, what choices we make, what opinions we hold, what’s in our nature, and what it means to be human.

 

Political Theory of Democracy                              John Ray

The course is a detailed reading of parts of John Locke's Second Treatise of Government, the Federalist Papers, and Tocqueville's Democracy in America with a view to understanding the political theory of modern liberal democracy. Emphasis will be on student discussion of the moral, political, and economic issues discussed in the texts. 

 

Health Care: Right or Privilege? or Obamacare & the Zombie Apocalypse

                       Jaylene Schaefer   

Is healthcare a privilege or fundamental right? This course will examine Obamacare in comparison to other countries, including our system’s ability to prevent illness, support wellness, and respond to crisis-be it flu pandemic, Ebola, or zombie apocalypse.

 

Caesar: Tyranny and Political Violence               Thomas Strunk

This course will focus on the image of the tyrant and tyranny in Western political culture; we will be using Julius Caesar as a touchstone to investigate tyranny and opposition to it across the centuries, including medieval, early modern, and contemporary views on tyranny and political violence in light of the greater good of society.

 

Dante, Pilgrim of the Mind                                    Michael Sweeney

Dante will be our guide to college as a journey—a pilgrimage of the mind. Medieval pilgrimage was a physical journey to the Holy Land or to some other holy site that was meant to change and rehearse the journey of a life. In the Divine Comedy, Dante is often called a "pilgrim," but the Divine Comedy is a different kind of journey, an intellectual journey that is meant to change and rehearse the journey of a life. This course will propose the question whether college is merely job training or whether it is also an intellectual pilgrimage. We will read closely Dante's Divine Comedy with the assistance of selections from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Thomas Aquinas' Summa theologiae.

 

Exploring Real and Imaginary Places                    Rebecca Todd     

We all make journeys in our lives, through the known to the unknown, and back again. Where and how do we find ourselves? This seminar’s focus will be exploring real and imagined places, through reading (and creating) maps, pop culture artifacts, fiction and non-fiction. Students will be asked to write traditional essays and create multimodal ones.  

 

Marriage: Crisis & Renewal                                  Marita von Weissenberg

Why do we argue about marriage? How do we seek to understand it? This course seeks to complicate our assumptions by exploring what marriage has been, is, and might yet become within the Western tradition. We will examine challenges to notions of marriage through history, law, psychology, and literature, to name a few.  

 

Gimme More! A History of Stuff                               Amy Whipple

This class will explore the history and ethics of consumerism in Western society from the 1700s to the present. How have people made stuff, sold stuff, designed stuff, and decided who gets stuff? And why have people wanted all this stuff anyway?

 

Ireland, Culture, & Film                                            Timothy White 

This course explores Irish culture since the late nineteenth century focusing on the development of Irish identity and how this identity has been challenged by those not included in the historic conception of Irish national identity.

 

Quests for the Good                                                  James Wood

We human beings naturally yearn for something beyond ourselves, some higher reality that will fulfill us and satisfy our desires. We might call this longed-for yet elusive reality the Good. Some conceive of the Good as a higher order of reality, even a divine being; some see it in the enduring history and future promise of a nation; and some see it in the simple but perennial values of home and family. In this course we will read some of the most powerful and influential accounts that our culture has handed down of the pursuit of the Good and of the exemplary human beings who have pursued it. We will discuss how they conceived it, pursued it, and found or failed to find it. In the course of examining their stories, we will reflect on our own evolving conceptions of the Good and consider how we today might best seek it, both as individuals and as a community.

 

Hamilton: Then and Now                                           Jodi Wyett

This course considers the ongoing influence of eighteenth-century revolutionary ideas about human rights that shaped Western sociocultural thought and practice, including our notions of “the greater good”. We will study how “human” and “rights” were defined during the Enlightenment, paying particular attention to issues of race, class, and gender as well as how the musical Hamilton adapts (embraces? interrogates?) these ideas (ideals?) for modern audiences.

 

Extraordinary Women: A Comparison of the Women of Grimm and Today’s Women with Disabilities                                                                                   Victoria Zascavage

This seminar revolves around the new millennium’s reactions to four 19th century tales edited by the Brothers Grimm in which the central character, a female, has a physical or mental impairment. The tales will be compared to current situations around the world for women with disabilities. The seminar will include pertinent reading and video production. 

 

 

 

Spring 2017

Popular Culture & The Civil Rights Movement    Christine Anderson   

This seminar examines the cultural significance of the Civil Rights Movement, including:  portrayal of Civil Rights struggles in newspapers, photos, and films; Civil Rights in music, theater, and visual art; rock-n-roll and changing consciousness; and Civil Rights community organizing strategies and mathematical literacy today.

 

Reading YouTube    Kelly Austin

This seminar will explore media content on YouTube. We will study Vlogs, original web series, and online literary adaptations, as well as the theory of transmedia. We will study traditional print versions of these texts for comparison as we examine how this medium is changing our cultural literacy, and how to read online texts more carefully.  

 

Slow Food: We Are What We Eat     Kelly Blank

Slow Food is an international movement that began in Italy in 1986, emphasizing Good, Clean, and Fair food. In this course, we will discuss the history, philosophy, and influence of the Slow Food movement worldwide while examining the problems with the modern agricultural machine both in a local and in a global context. Topics of discussion will include the importance of local and seasonal produce, the inherent connections between plate and planet, the water footprint of food, labeling of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), biodiversity, and the ethics of meat production and consumption.  This is an FYS International Course.  Students in this course will travel to Italy during Spring Break.  Spaces are limited!  You must apply through the Center for International Education.  Apply now!

 

Inequality     Timothy Brownlee

It is well-documented that the US is a more unequal society than it should be, according to citizens polled regarding their views about appropriate levels of economic inequality. In this seminar we will investigate why people might worry about economic inequality, broadening our focus to consider different forms of equality by looking at works from the history of philosophy and literature.

 

House of Dawn: Grand Canyon and Navajo Nation    Leon Chartrand

Sacred Navajo places—like Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly—teach us what it means to be human. In sacred places, we touch the pulse of a living planet. We feel fully alive because these places are fully alive. There, we discover the center of being. Flowing through us like breath are timeless lessons borne from a silence that transcends space and time. Just as the Ancient Ones did, we go to these places not for beauty and inspiration, but for the lessons.  This course is a Xavier Expedition.  It includes travel over Spring Break to the Grand Canyon and the Navajo Nation.  Spaces are limited!  You must pre-register and deposit through Xavier Expeditions.  Apply now! 

 

Socrates Meets Jesus     Daniel Dwyer

In this course you will critically compare claims by and lives of Socrates and Jesus. Both embodied wisdom, both died martyrs, and neither wrote anything. We will analyze the claims of reason and the claims of revelation, of Athens and Jerusalem, to come to foundational conclusions in the philosophy of religion.

 

Karl Marx and Communist Revolution    Gabriel Gottlieb

Why not communism? What's wrong with capitalism? Is one better? These questions are at the heart of Karl Marx’s philosophy, a figure vilified by both liberals and conservatives. This course will introduce students to Karl Marx’s philosophy through The Communist Manifesto, historically situating his thought, and wondering whether communism or some form of socialism could work in the United States.

 

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: Biodiversity and the Greater Good     Elizabeth Groppe

At a time when humans are both deepening our appreciation for biodiversity and precipitating mass extinction events, this seminar will probe the relationship between the good of the human species, the good of other forms of life, and the goodness of God.

 

Women in Time    Jennifer McFarlane Harris

What is time? Does it fly? Can we manage it? Map it? Travel through it? In this course, we will investigate the impossible beauty and fragility of time by reading texts that feature women “in time”: characters who time travel to the past; writers who expand and contract time in narrative forms; cultural critics who ask big questions about balancing work and family life. Along the way we will consider how to best use our time in service of the greater good.

 

Latin American Revolutions    Julia O’Hara

What is it like to live through a revolution?  With literature, history & popular culture, we’ll explore the causes and nature of revolutions in 20th-century Latin America.  Focusing on Mexico, Cuba, and Central America, we’ll study how revolutionaries (and their opponents) defined the common good and why some revolutions succeed while others fail.

 

Critics of the Digital        Richard Polt

This seminar will study authors (such as Dave Eggers, Sherry Turkle, and Nicholas Carr) who have criticized the effects of digital technology on privacy, concentration, intimacy, our sense of self, and the state of our society. We will test their claims against our own experiences and consider a variety of responses to their views.        

 

Black Literature & Faith    Chris Pramuk   

This seminar explores the dynamics of faith, struggle, resistance, and hope in the lives of African Americans from the deep past to the present through the lens of great works in classic and modern black literature.

 

Borderlands of Being Human        Donald Prues

This course keeps coming back to one three-pronged overarching question:  What is the human animal, why do we think the way we think, and why do we act the way we act? Ultimately, this course will challenge our assumptions and our motivations about what we believe, what choices we make, what opinions we hold, what’s in our nature, and what it means to be human. 

 

Tocqueville on Democracy        John Ray

Detailed reading of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.  Often called the best book on democracy, Tocqueville's account of the major characteristics of modern mass commercial democracy grew out of the aristocratic Frenchman's 1831 trip to America as well as his reading of Pascal, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. The focus of the course will be on student discussion of the moral, social and political issues raised by the text, and the relevance of Tocqueville’s analysis to American life today.

 

Making Babies    Jennifer Robbins

Does parenting make us moral? How--and why--has parenting evolved over time? From animals to early humans, from East to West, from ancient to modern, we will study the whys and hows behind the making and raising of babies.  Beginning in biology, we will extend our analysis to the effects of parenting on human societies, religions and ethics.

 

Future Worlds: Literature, Art, Film     Alison Russell

By examining representations of the future in different media, we will try to account for the fascination with dystopic visions that dominate much fiction, film, and art. We will explore how these writers/thinkers grapple with questions about preserving the common good, as well as how our own choices might affect our possible futures.

 

Native Americans & the Law        Frank Rzeczkowski   

Indians were the first inhabitants of what would become the United States – yet not until 1924 did all Native Americans become U.S. citizens. This course will examine the complex, unique, and often conflict-ridden relationship between Native American and the country they found themselves contained in, and examine the struggle of Native peoples to become equal – yet remain separate – within American society.

 

Exploring Real and Imaginary Places     Rebecca Todd

We all make journeys in our lives, through the known to the unknown, and back again. Where and how do we find ourselves? This seminar’s focus will be exploring real and imaginary places, through reading (and creating) maps, pop culture artifacts, fiction and non-fiction. Students will be asked to write traditional essays and create multimodal ones.     

 

Gimme More!  A History of Stuff     Amy Whipple

This class will explore the history and ethics of consumerism in Western society from the 1700s to the present. How have people made stuff, sold stuff, designed stuff, and decided who gets stuff? And why have people wanted all this stuff anyway?

 

Ireland, Culture, & Film     Timothy White

This course explores Irish culture since the late nineteenth century focusing on the development of Irish identity and how this identity has been challenged by those not included in the historic conception of Irish national identity.

 

Rowling, Lucas, Disney: Passion as Career        Stephen Yandell

This course considers three artists who generated wildly creative, meaningful careers by pursuing their deepest passions: J. K. Rowling, George Lucas, and Walt Disney.  These three, arguably some of the most influential storytellers of the past fifty years, serve as models for a range of passions on which a career might be built: an individual’s life pursuits, skills, and creative outputs.  Texts by these and others will allow students to engage in critical analysis about the nature of passion and its connection to their lives.  Students will have the opportunity to consider the passions of individuals they admire, articulate the most significant of their own passions, explore new ones, and reflect on passions’ connections to lifelong careers—callings that are not simply fulfilling to an individual, but contribute to society’s greater good.

 

Extraordinary Women: A Comparison of the Women of Grimm and Today’s Women with Disabilities   Victoria Zascavage

This seminar revolves around the new millennium’s reactions to four 19th century tales edited by the Brothers Grimm in which the central character, a female, has a physical or mental impairment. The tales will be compared to current situations around the world for women with disabilities. The seminar will include pertinent reading and video production.

 

 

The Choice is Yours: Choosing in Everyday Life     Lisa Ottum
Every day we make dozens of choices, some small (what to wear) and some larger (where to attend college).  What shapes these different choices?  This seminar examines choice-making from various disciplinary perspectives.  We’ll explore how culture shapes our choices, whether choice is always desirable, and how choice relates to the greater good.