First-Year Seminar Courses 2022-2023

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

Spring 2023

The Art of Expression: Cultivating Creativity for Balance, Growth, and Community
Madeleine Mitchell
Anyone can be an artist, but many people don't see themselves as one. This seminar explores how creative expression is an integral part of being human and how it contributes to personal and intellectual growth, meaningful life work, and stronger communities. In this course, we will examine various roles of artistic expression in society: healer, teller of hard truths, voice of solidarity, and catalyst for social change. Students will study and research examples of art movements, engage with local artists, and create individual works of art.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Colonial Shadows
José María Mantero
In this course, we will study works of literature, art, and film to better understand how colonial ideologies are still present today in the Americas and how these relate to our own individual faith and our Jesuit institutional identity. The readings (short stories, poems, essays, and a series of scholarly articles) and works of art (paintings, etchings, graphic art and graffiti, for example) will come from traditional and non-traditional sources as we examine the parallels between literary and artistic expressions within a discrete historical context. We will also study films and include other digital media such as podcasts and video recordings that document and construct the historical perspective. The overall objective of the course is to examine the manner in which specific texts, works, media, and artistic objectives dialogue with a particular historical context and both reflect and transcend broader shifts in ideology and faith.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

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 First Year Seminar, 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, food deserts, and the ethics of meat production and consumption.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Criminal Minds
Irene Luken
Several canonical German texts portraying various acts of crime will be discussed. Instead of figuring out whodunit, students will to act as literary and cultural detectives, examining the crime scene for evidence of broader structural problems in society. The students will consider how each work reflects its own time period, and how these literary masterpieces offer the reader socially significant ethical questions that have implications beyond the time they were written. The texts are English translations and the language of instruction is English.

Food on the Move: From Ship to Shore
Margaret Martin
In this FYS, we explore food on the move, from ancient Roman olive oil to South African wine, from wars "won on their stomachs" to high-tech military labs, from banana boats to modern shipping containers. Our plates are full--of history, technology, logistics, economics, politics, ethics, and more.

Metaphors, Memes, and the Power of Language
Jane Conzett
What does human language reveal about what we believe? In this seminar, we will explore conceptual metaphor-- something that is often “invisible” to us--and examine its use in multiple disciplines. We will also take a short dive into memes as a subset of metaphor, focusing on their original, broader definition and their transition to today’s internet memes. Our overarching questions will be, “What is the power of language?” and “What is its role in the Greater Good?”

Great (and not so great) Expectations
Lara Dorger
We live in our own heads most of the time, but we often evaluate our wants mostly in terms of the outcomes rather than what makes the foundations of our wants. Often our sense of success is arbitrary and personal and may depend mostly on preconceived beliefs. Rather than focusing on solely an end result, a more-sound approach would involve understanding our expectations going forward. This seminar has you carefully reading 12 short stories to use as a springboard to foster the practice of asking questions about topics relevant to you at this time: school, career, and relationships, among other subjects. Some of the questions you will have the chance to discuss are "Can I be a good friend if I stop listening to my friend's problems?" "How much work am I willing to do to get an A?" or the age-old question "What is love?" While answers may not be forthcoming for all questions, you will have the chance to create the habit of examining your expectations prior to evaluating your success or failure, a key component to analysis, through the media of short stories and writing.

"You Can't Say That!": Free Speech in the Digital Age
Randy 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.

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?

Rereading Frankenstein
David Reid
In this multidisciplinary seminar, we’ll begin with a close reading of Mary Shelley’s timeless 1818 novel Frankenstein and will trace its evolution into the pop-culture icon it has become. Included in the first part of the course will be literary analysis that situates Shelley’s masterpiece in historical and philosophical context. In the second half of the course, we will extend the themes and ideas of Frankenstein into our modern world of artificial intelligence, considering issues of The Common Good along the way. The course materials will include four novels, one biography and several films. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein…200 years old…and yet…it’s alive!
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Growing Pains
Kelly Austin
Welcome to college, that space between adolescence and full-blown adulting. That means the freedoms and responsibilities of adulthood, without the experience. It's a time to explore who you want to be (identity) and what you want to do (vocation). Some psychologists call this developmental phase emerging adulthood. In this section of First-Year Seminar, we'll study theories of development, identity and belonging to see what makes this phase of life unique and interesting and challenging—and sometimes terrifying. After all, they're called "growing pains" for a reason. We'll examine literature that highlights adolescence and emerging adulthood and use those discussions to investigate your own journey on the path to adulthood.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Emerging Artforms
Jason C. White
This course helps students to answer the question, “What’s new in the Arts?” by introducing them to emerging art movements and new genres of art developing around the world. Using excerpts from selected arts-based history books and video demonstrations, this course also introduces students to innovators and pioneers of contemporary visual, literary and performing arts practices.

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.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

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.

History of Xavier
C. Walker Gollar
This course explores the history of Xavier especially in relationship to recent campus-wide discussions about Xavier’s historical connections to slavery. Amidst national debate about what to do with Confederate monuments, how to make sense of the brutal killing of George Floyd, and what the recent events at the Capitol signify, etc., Xavier has been wrestling with some heretofore untold aspects of the school’s past. Over the past four years, Xavier has entertained some vibrant conversations. This course is an invitation to join the discussion.

Uprising: Slave Rebellions in the Atlantic World
Randy Browne
From the early 1500s through the end of the nineteenth century, millions of Africans and their descendants were enslaved throughout the Americas. In this seminar we will explore enslaved people's armed resistance to slavery, during the Middle Passage and in American slave societies.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Mexico and the U.S.         
Julia O’Hara
Mexico & the U.S. share one of the world’s most important international partnerships. How has this relationship developed, and why has it become so tense? What does the greater good mean for the people of both nations? This class explores these and other questions through the history, politics and culture linking people on both sides of the border.

Hanna Wetzel
Addiction has been a part of the human experience for thousands of years. In this seminar will explore addiction from all angles, including the science, historical perspectives, societal impacts, legal ramifications, first-hand accounts, and equity issues surrounding addiction. We will challenge each other to define “what is addiction?” and determine “how should it be treated?” through the course of the semester as we learn about this complex topic.   

Manias and Bubbles
Tim Kruse
Market bubbles and manias are a common feature of financial market history. These bubbles vary in scope and consequence (ranging from tulips in 1634 Amsterdam and bunnies in 1872 Tokyo to dot.coms in the 1990s and the subprime real estate crisis in 2008). They also typically involve many colorful and complicated characters. This seminar will examine many of these episodes with a focus on the main events, participants, and consequences. We also will investigate whether current markets such as cryptocurrencies/NFTs and Chinese real estate may be showing bubbly characteristics.

The Lives of Black Women and Girls
ShaDawn Battle
Incredulous reactions to Meg Thee Stallion’s accusation that a Black man shot her are a part of an epistemic framework in which Black women and girls are perceived to be unworthy of protection, their bodies disposable, and their truths undermined or deemed inconsequential to a racist, patriarchal, misogynoiristic, homo / transphobic, and ableist U.S. regime. This course will employ a Black Feminist framework to make legible the interdependent forces that imperil the lives of Black women and girls, including Black trans women. To examine the material and ideological realities of Black women and girls in the U.S. such as, Sha’Carri Richardson, Breonna Taylor, Dajerria Becton, the enslaved Anarcha, and Laverne Cox, we will take up the following topics: Black Women and Girls in Sports; Black Women and Girls in the Medical Industrial Complex; and Black Women and Girls and the Policing Apparatus.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Sport at the Service of Humanity
Sr. Rose Ann Fleming
How can sport serve humanity? Selected readings show how sport brings humanity together across global boundaries to celebrate human talent, regardless of religion, race, culture, beliefs, gender and ability. Immersive experiences such as visits and interviews with members of professional teams and NCAA Division I teams, indicate how sport teaches men and women positive values of joy, respect, love, compassion, enlightenment and balance. Dialoguing with sport experts, and attendance at local sports games, enables the class participant to reflect, critique, and discuss, orally and in writing, the principles and values that sport offers humanity, as well as how to address the evils and scandals that can arise when the power of wealth and greed in sport corrupt the sport environment.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.