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Fall 2020 Seminars

2020 First-Year Seminars

For more information on how COVID-19 impacts your First-Year Seminar, please refer to the COVID-19 Seminars Update page.

AAAS 177-Discovering Popular Culture in East Africa

AAAS 177-Discovering Popular Culture in East Africa 

Section 29222, MW 11 AM-12:15 PM, SNOW 452

Popular culture creates a shared experience. Music and film play a fundamental role in today’s globalized society and are closely linked to identity. Through the lenses of music and film, we will discover popular culture in East Africa, especially Kenya and Tanzania. Among the questions we will consider are the following: 1. How does broad access to films influence popular culture? 2. How has music shaped language innovation in terms of multilingualism (English, Kiswahili, and indigenous languages)?

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Brenda Wawire

Brenda Wawire is a language and culture educator who was born and raised in Kenya. She is fluent in Lunyala – an indigenous African language, and Kiswahili and has conversational ability in Japanese. Growing up in a multiethnic society spurred her interest and curiosity about educational practices that foster the understanding and appreciation of ethnic and cultural diversity in society. Her areas of interest are Second Language Acquisition, Reading across Languages, Culture, and Identity. Brenda teaches Swahili language and culture courses in KU’s Department of African and African American Studies.


AAAS 177-Language and Power in North Africa

AAAS 177-Language and Power in North Africa 

Section 18330, MW 12:30 - 01:45 PM, SMI 108

Language is a fundamental aspect of human life. We use it every day to highlight our values, beliefs and customs. As such it plays an important role socially and for group identity and cohesion. In this course, we will study the powerful role language plays in everyday life in North Africa. We will analyze texts that show how languages compete in education, films that picture everyday social life, and songs that reflect how language is used in popular culture, such as hip-hop, to negotiate identity and power relationships. By the end of the semester, students will realize how language impact identity in North Africa in terms of gender, class, religion and education. You will also be able to compare and contrast the role of languages in North Africa and the United States.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Amal El Haimeur

Dr. Amal El Haimeur is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies. She is also the coordinator of the Arabic language. She has extensive experience in foreign and second language instruction. She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and specializes in Arabic as a heritage language, second language acquisition, and teaching Arabic as a foreign language. She is also interested in language contact in North Africa.


AMS/SLAV 177-Novels and the Shaping of Generations

SLAV 177-Novels and the Shaping of Generations 

AMS 177 Section 29495, SLAV Section 28403, MW 12:30 - 01:45 PM, WES 4041

How do turbulent political events and natural disasters affect the social conditioning of young people? How do individuals born in the same period come to form an identifiable “generation”? How can novels create a sense of community and generational identity?

Unlike familial generations, social generations are not born, but made. The members of an age group become transformed into a generation only when many of them realize that they are bound together by the experience of a major social cataclysm. The development of a distinctive generational consciousness does not necessarily take place in the midst of the formative event. This may happen years later when the individual memories gradually amount to a more or less coherent generational discourse.

In this course we will examine how the classical genre of the ‘coming-of-age’ novel is used to validate collective experiences of major political and social upheavals. We will read and interpret several Polish and American coming of age novels whose protagonists’ transition into adulthood overlaps with equally transformative events in their countries’ socio-political life. We will examine literary, historical, sociological and psychological studies related to the concepts of the coming-of-age novel and generation formation and explore how knowledge from one field of study can illuminate another.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Svetlana Vassileva-Karagyozova

Svetlana Vassileva-Karagyozova was born and raised in Bulgaria. She grew up under communism and witnessed the fall of the totalitarian regime during her freshman year of college. Her first book focused on pseudo-autobiographical novels of contemporary Polish writers, who like her, experienced a cataclysmic political change on the threshold of their early adulthood, and pondered the existential questions “Who am I now?” and “How should I live my life?” Professor Vassileva-Karagyozova speaks 5 languages and has spent time in 15 countries in Europe, America and Asia. She has a soft spot for ethnic jewelry and never comes back from a trip without a new item for her growing collection.

AMS 177-On Drugs: Heroin Users and American Drug Policy

This Section is Currently Full.

AMS 177 On Drugs: Heroin Users and American Drug Policy

Section 21116, TuTh 09:30 - 10:45 AM, FR 227

We have heard about the “war on drugs” but what do we really know about the people at the center of the battle? We will engage with and challenge stereotypes and propaganda about drug users and American drug policy, and encourage the development of empathy for those caught in the drug war, regardless of societal position. We will focus on the following key questions: Who are drug users?  What are the links between drug use and crime in America? What are the social and legal responses to drug use? Finally, how do we approach this social problem as scholars? This First-Year Seminar takes a close look at the world of homelessness and drug addiction in the contemporary United States by examining street heroin users.  Through discussion, oral presentations, and unique writing assignments, we will tackle some difficult material about “the drug problem” that continues to devastate American communities and families.​

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Margaret Kelley

Professor Margaret Kelley has been interested in deviance, drugs, and crime since her undergraduate work at Wichita State University. She had a class in deviance that captured her attention and motivated her to know more about people that live on the margins of society, either by choice, status, or circumstances. She then spent one summer working as a volunteer with the children’s visitation program in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in upstate New York, and saw first-hand the damage the war on drugs was doing to women and their families. About the same time, Professor Kelley read The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky by P. David Finks. This account of Alinsky’s social activism inspired her to pursue research that could be used to make the world a better place.

AMS 177-Take Me Out to the Crowd: Stadiums as Sites of Memory and Learning

This Section is Currently Full.

AMS 177-Take Me Out to the Crowd: Stadiums as Sites of Memory and Learning 

Section 27830, TuTh 01:00 - 02:15 PM, SMI 108

For one hundred years, stadiums have appeared as common features across the American landscape. From large cities to small towns, they are central features of our built environment. Buildings that not only host games, but also concerts, political rallies, charity events, orientations, and myriad other programs. Stadiums are places people go for entertainment and community, and, sometimes, in desperate need. The larger questions for our class will be: in what ways do stadiums operate as educational sites? And, why are they seemingly universal? Course readings are chosen from an array of disciplinary perspectives including architecture, geography, political science, cultural studies, and literature. Students will develop not only a depth of knowledge concerning the history and functionality of stadiums, but they will also practice and build skills for college-level coursework including critical thinking and reading, discussion, and written communication. At the conclusion of the course, students will not only better understand why so many of us want to be taken out to the crowd, they will also have experiences and learning opportunities that will help them know their community and take advantage of the opportunities KU has to offer.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Howard Graham

“For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the intersections between education and sport. It is a passion, and the reason I came to KU for graduate school. I developed a particular interest in stadiums as sites of memory and learning when I came to the realization, while attending Tradition’s Night, that at KU, like at so many other schools, the only building on campus big enough to fit the entire student body is David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.”

Across his 17-year KU career, Howard has worked in Kansas Athletics, the Office of First-Year Experience, and the Alumni Association. He has taught in Humanities and Western Civilization, European Studies, Psychology and Research in Education, and History, in addition to American Studies. Howard was raised in Cooperstown, New York, Home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He has earned degrees from KU and Colgate University. His wife Amanda is an RN at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and they have two children, Rusty (6) and Ruby (4). Rusty is named for Howard’s bowling ball.

ANTH 177-Boots, Machetes, and Lasers: Lost Cities and How to Find Them

ANTH 177 Boots, Machetes, and Lasers: Lost Cities and How to Find Them

Section 25766, MW 11:00 - 12:15 PM, FR 220

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to discover a lost city? Or how to tell the difference between real discoveries and hoaxes? This seminar will use real and imagined archeological discoveries in order to understand how the scientific method and critical thinking are equally vital components of inquiry in this and other scientific fields. Through our studies of how the imagination, creativity and new technologies are used to solve mysteries and produce new understanding about the ancient past, we will examine the excitement of scientific discovery, along with the dangers of errors in method and interpretation.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, John Hoopes

John Hoopes is an archaeologist who has done lots of fieldwork in Central and South America. He has been featured in numerous film documentaries about ancient mysteries and the scientific realities behind them. He's an internationally recognized authority on topics such as Maya calendar prophecies, the stone spheres of Costa Rica, and the "Lost City of the Monkey God" in Honduras, as well as the archaeology of Latin America. He also supervised a research project that used satellite imagery to study ancient irrigation systems in Afghanistan.

ARCH 177-If These Walls Could Talk: Exploring KU Campus Architecture

ARCH 177-If These Walls Could Talk: Exploring KU Campus Architecture 

Section 29230, MW 12:30 - 01:45 PM, MAR 305

Have you ever seen a building and wondered why it looks the way it does? When you've seen pictures of campus, are you inspired or intrigued by the architecture? This seminar will be an introduction to analyzing and critically understanding architecture for those who appreciate, but do not necessarily want to major in architecture studies. We will take behind-the-scenes tours of campus buildings, visit archives to see original historic building drawings and photos, and hear from guest speakers about KU campus architecture. We will try drawing exercises, 3D scans, and documentation of buildings to analyze architecture. All the techniques used in the class are ones that “real” architects use, but will be presented in an introductory and accessible method. No special equipment is required for the students. 

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Amy Van de Riet 

Amy Van de Riet is a licensed architect in Kansas. She received her Bachelor in Architecture from the University of Kansas in 2003, and her Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Columbia University in 2005. She worked in New York City as a preservation architect until 2012 when she began teaching adjunct for Florida Atlantic University School of Architecture. In 2016 she began teaching adjunct at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Design. Amy’s courses taught include Foundation Studios ARCH 108 and ARCH 109. Amy also teaches ARCH 649 Historic Preservation Technology, one of four courses that constitute the Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation. Amy has been on the council for Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council since May of 2019.

ART 177-The Artist, Image Making, and Visual Culture in the Digital Age

ART 177 The Artist, Image Making, and Visual Culture in the Digital Age

Section 19564, TuTh 09:30 - 10:50 AM, CHAL 423

We sometimes lament our role as passive ‘observers’ in the visual culture that surrounds us...have we moved on to become passive "makers" in that same culture?

Is there a role for the “Artist” in our future, or has the proliferation of images (and the ease with which they seem to be made) rendered the artist obsolete? Is everyone an “Artist”?

Images are constantly being created (and recycled) at a rapid pace, created using technologies that have become widely available. Participants in this course will explore the intersection of “looking” and “making” in art and visual culture, examining the use of digital tools and technologies in contemporary art practice. We will attempt to analyze and critique this situation in kind: capturing images with our cell-phones and surfing the Internet for pictures, we will embrace lo-fi and hi-tech, and consider how images might be recycled into new “works of art.”

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Luke Jordan

Chances are that Luke Jordan is looking at, thinking about, or making photographs at any given moment. To help support this habit (and provide cover), Luke teaches in KU’s Department of Visual Art, works as a Specialist in Photography at the Spencer Museum of Art, and is the staff photographer for the KU University Theatre. Luke is enthralled by 19th Century Photography and Contemporary Art; he is also obsessed with soccer and music (garage, punk, soul, blues, and jazz).

ART 177-Decoding Art: Reading Symbols and Interpreting Contemporary Work at the Spencer Art Museum

ART 177: Decoding Art: Reading Symbols and Interpreting Contemporary Work at the Spencer Art Museum

Section 29240, TuTh 01:00 - 02:15 PM, CHAL 322

How do works of art speak to each other? In this seminar, you will focus on KU's Common Works of Art and Common Books. Along with topics presented by these two KU programs, this course will also include a studio workshop component. No background in art is required. Students will be asked to put themselves in the place of the artist - to do the research, apply art studio practices and ultimately create a piece of art that is in conversation with one of the past Common Works of Art.  Preparation for the studio workshop will include the historic and cultural atmosphere a piece of art is created in as well as the studio practices of the artists responsible for the Common Works of Art.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Christine Olejniczak

Christine Olejniczak is an artist who works in many different mediums. She received her BFA from the University of Texas at Austin and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While attending graduate school in Chicago, she began to do recordings of herself drawing and later made compositions with her recordings. Her first instruments were made in 1995 and she has been performing and collaborating with artists, writers and musicians ever since. Christine currently is a lecturer at KU in the Department of Visual Art and teaches Drawing.

BUS 177-Culture and Diversity in the Workplace

This Section is Currently Full.

BUS 177 Culture and Diversity in the Workplace

Section 20160, MW 01:00 - 02:15 PM, CAPF 4041

In today’s business world, cultural diversity plays an ever more important role. The understanding of cultural differences is a critical skill in today’s business world; whether working in a foreign country, communicating with a foreign business partner, or working in today’s increasingly diverse U.S. workplace. Culture matters in every aspect of doing business.

In this seminar, we will examine cultural differences in the workplace using eight aspects of conducting business. These aspects include communicating, evaluating, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing, and scheduling. Students will engage in critical discussions about how cultural context influences business practice, and identify ways that enhanced cultural competency might advance business needs.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Dan Galindau

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, upon graduating from high school Dan Galindau knew exactly where he wanted to go in life; somewhere new. Thus began a 35 year adventure that included moving to LA to obtain degrees from both UCLA and USC, four years of service in the U.S. Navy that found him living in Florida and sailing the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, and a twenty year career with a European company that included 11 years living and working in Seoul, South Korea and Hong Kong. During this time, he traveled and worked throughout 13 countries in Asia Pacific. He now teaches International Management and Cross-Cultural Business both at the University of Kansas, and in China for several weeks each summer in a Chinese University Executive MBA program.

ECON 177-The Affordable Care Act

ECON 177 The Affordable Care Act

Section 25569, Tu 09:20 - 11:50 AM, WES 4068

What were the economic, political, medical, and public health issues that the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was designed to address? This seminar will examine the most extensive reorganization of health care in the United States since the 1960s from numerous angles: the problems that the federal government was trying to solve, the strengths and weaknesses of the solutions it offered, the trade-offs made to ensure its passage in Congress, the accuracy of its predicted outcomes, the problems that arose when it became law, and the prospects—for better or for worse—for starting over (“repeal and replace”). All of these complicated dimensions of the ACA are intertwined, and ongoing efforts to repeal it bear serious implications for policy, politics, and the millions of people who would be affected by such a change. We will approach these issues in the framework of Health Economics, which examines the intersection of the economy, medicine, and the healthcare industry; we will learn about such concepts as one's "health stock", health care as a product or “consumption good” and as a “production industry,” and health insurance as a tool to prevent disruptions to one’s quality of life. We will also explore the analytical concepts of efficiency and equity in the realm of public policy. We will read, analyze, and discuss sections of articles and books tied to these issues that have been written by a number of individuals who have shaped and influenced our understanding of this controversy, including Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economics professor and key architect of the ACA, and Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist, professor of medical ethics and health policy, and advisor to the Obama White House on health care reform.  Over the course of the semester, each student will develop a policy recommendation for a change that would improve the current situation. We will also hear from many guest speakers with expertise on health insurance, public policy, and other aspects of this topic. Past speakers include Kathleen Sebelius, former Health and Human Services Secretary and Kansas Governor and Sandy Praeger, former Kansas Insurance Commissioner. 

First-Year Seminar Instructor, David Slusky

David Slusky is an associate professor of Economics. He is originally from Philadelphia. As the son of a stroke rehabilitation physician and an executive with an MBA in health care administration, he has always been fascinated by health and health care.  As a professor he focuses on access to healthcare, infrastructure and environment, and health insurance. He has done work on women’s health, the Flint water crisis and Medicaid expansion, and has testified before the Kansas Senate on Medicaid Expansion. He earned his PhD at Princeton with professors who have worked with the federal government at the highest level, including a former chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, and he earned his undergraduate degree at Yale, where he majored in physics and international studies.  


ENGL 177-Science, Storytelling and the Human

ENGL 177 Science, Storytelling and the Human

Section 21646, TuTh 01:00 - 02:15 PM, WES 4068

How have science and literature shaped our understanding of what it means to be human? How have they drawn distinctions between humans and animals? What implications have these distinctions had for society, particularly for our understanding of evolution, race, and culture? In this seminar we will explore these questions through works of fiction, art and nonfiction that have asserted and challenged definitions of what it means to be human over the centuries. We will read stories about humans' relationships with other animals, comparing scientific texts with literary ones (e.g. Charles Darwin's Descent of Man and Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves). We will also study works that dehumanize others to justify slavery and colonialism. Finally, we will also look at how modern writers like Toni Morrison portray the violent legacy of theories of the human from previous eras.

First-Year Experience Instructor, Anna Neill

Anna Neill grew up in Auckland, New Zealand.  She moved to the US in 1990 to attend graduate school at Cornell University, and then joined the KU faculty in 1996.  She teaches courses on Victorian fiction, on human evolution and literature, and introductory English courses to students new to KU. In the past, she has also helped to organize and teach poetry classes at the Douglas County Jail. She has written two books, one on sea voyaging and global commerce in the 1700s and one on psychology, evolutionary theory, and British novels of the 1800s.  She is currently writing another book, this time on human evolution and science fiction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is a parent; she has two corgis; and she wishes she could own a horse.

ENTR 177-The Entrepreneurial Mindset

This Section is Currently Full.

ENTR 177 The Entrepreneurial Mindset

Section 18804, TuTh 11:00 - 12:15 PM, CAPF 4011

Entrepreneurs are passionate, creative, idea people. They ask the tough why not questions, they seek and seize opportunities, they rarely accept the status quo, and throughout history entrepreneurs have developed innovative answers to the most challenging issues in technology, business and society. This course will allow students to become rigorous, versatile and agile thinkers by flexing their own critical thinking muscles through an examination of the entrepreneurial mindset. What made entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mary Kay, Mark Zuckerberg, and Oprah so wildly successful? We’ll look at them, and look at ourselves to see if and how to apply their innovative techniques to our own pursuits.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Lisa Bergeron

Lisa Bergeron was born in New Jersey but spent the majority of her childhood in Manhattan, Kansas.  She attended her first Capital Budgeting class, taught by her dad, at age 7 when her mom had a last minute meeting, so her dad had to take her with him to class. She knew from that day forward she would be involved with business and finance. While her dad was Dean of the School of Business at K-State, Lisa came to KU for her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business. Lisa has worked at Hallmark in the New Ventures Group where she was involved with many new business acquisitions and new product launches. She now enjoys teaching about the entrepreneurial mindset to students at KU. In her spare time, Lisa coaches football and spends time with her family.

EVRN 177-Apocalypse Now? Imagining Environmental Disaster in Climate Fiction

This Section is Currently Full.

EVRN 177-Apocalypse Now? Imagining Environmental Disaster in Climate Fiction

Section 26898, MW 11:00 - 12:15 PM, LIN 309

The larger question for our class will be: what role can apocalyptic literature play in our understanding of and approach to climate literature?The apocalypse metaphor has been used to imagine the end of the world based on various causes: alien or monster invaders, nuclear war, and environmental destruction. These threats symbolize a crisis that authors and filmmakers represent in order to speculate on potential outcomes or solutions. Climate change presents a contemporary crisis that literature, broadly defined, increasingly grapples with, and so much so, that scholars now refer to “cli-fi,” or literature that examines the impact of human-caused climate change during the Anthropocene. In this class, we will examine novels, films, TV shows and/or short stories that use narrative techniques to shape our conception of global warming. We will address debates surrounding ethical human-environment interactions, the role technology plays in environmental solutions, and will reflect on the social conflicts that are heightened in climate-changed futures. The larger question for our class will be: what role can literature play in our understanding of and approach to climate change?

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Ali Brox

Ali Brox was born in Kansas, and her interest in literature and the environment started young; family travels often involved trips to national parks and forests. Always a reader, Ali’s research interests solidified while she attended graduate school at the University of Nevada, and her brother’s family had to evacuate New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. She watched the situation unfold on the news, and her experiences in the city after people were allowed to return influenced her decision to research the way environmental disasters are represented in literature and the media. Ali has a deep connection to the University of Kansas. Her parents met at a dormitory on campus, and she completed both her B.A. and B.S. degrees while competing as a varsity athlete at KU. She is a lifelong Jayhawk.

FMS 177-"Get Real:" Representing the Self in Contemporary Japanese Media

This Section is Currently Full.

FMS 177-"Get Real:" Representing the Self in Contemporary Japanese Media

Section 28512, W 12:00-2:30 PM, SUM 420

This seminar uses film and media studies as a lens to explore how Japanese identity is created and represented in popular media. Because so often the Japanese people and culture are represented in terms of extremes, media is a particularly useful way to investigate the how these popular fictions are created. We draw on films, television programs, articles, interviews, lectures, and discussions to discover how the Japanese mainstream media constructs identities. We will see how discourses of power, gender, ethnicity, class, money, sex, law, war, and social transformation are vital in the construction of Japanese identities – and we will consider why they are such hotly contested topics in Japan. By understanding media within the broader context of these themes and thinking about their histories, students will not only gain a deeper understanding of another culture but also learn how recognize how their own identity is mediated through media. 

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Michael Baskett

Michael Baskett grew up in Japan and the US where he worked for several years in the Japanese film industry. During this time he was a distributor of Hong Kong films in Japan and also served an assistant director on the 1995 feature films Flirt directed by Hal Hartley (Henry Fool, Amateur) and the 1997 feature film The Soong Sisters directed by Mabel Cheung (An Autumn's Tale, Beijing Rocks). After moving back to the US, Baskett worked for a time in the Japanese game industry where he was an executive in charge of Localization for Square Soft. Baskett earned his doctoral degree from UCLA, was a Fulbright fellow in Japanese film at Waseda University (Tokyo) and a Japan Foundation Visiting Professorship at Meiji University (Tokyo). His first book, The Attractive Empire—Transnational Film Culture in Imperial Japan (University of Hawaii Press) is a comprehensive history of the Japanese colonial enterprise of film culture in Asia. Baskett's work has been translated into Korean, Dutch, and French, and appeared in several journals. He is currently completing a manuscript on Japan's Cold War cinema and a monograph on the Ziv Television show, I Led 3 Lives.

GERM 177-Marx and Marxism in German Culture and Beyond

GERM 177-Marx and Marxism in German Culture and Beyond

Section 27585, MW 03:00 - 04:15 PM, WES 1015

When and how did the word "socialism" get reintroduced to American public discourse? Have you ever wondered about the history of this concept? This seminar will offer an introduction to the work of Karl Marx (1818-1883) - the founder of modern socialist theory - and to the writers, thinkers, and filmmakers of the 20th- and 21st-century who were influenced by Marx and his critique of capitalist society. We will examine not only Marx's impact on the politics and culture of German-speaking Europe, but also the way Marxism became an international phenomenon. To what extent, we will ask, does Marxism still provide a critical perspective through which we can better understand our current historical moment?

First-Year Instructor, Ari Linden

Ari Linden is Associate Professor in the Department of German Studies. He grew up in Southern California, received his B.A. in History at the University of California, Berkeley, and earned his Ph.D. in German Studies at Cornell University. His teaching and research focus primarily on the literature and critical thought of modern German-speaking Europe and on the culture of German-Jewish exiles who came to America after the rise of Nazi Germany. Married to a philosopher and the father of a two-year old, Ari enjoys - in his "free" time - talking and thinking about the politics of the Left as much as he enjoys listening to podcasts and electronic music, binging series on Netflix and HBO, and spending time with friends. He also loves playing and watching basketball.

GIST/FMS/REES 177-Representing the Body in Contemporary Eurasian Cinema

REES 177 Representing the Body in Contemporary Eurasian Cinema

Section(s) 29567 / 29607 / 26188, TuTh 02:30 - 03:45 PM, WES 4022

What is “the body”? How do we define it? How is it understood in different fields of study? How are bodies represented in the media and entertainment industries? Do images of and ideas about the body refract the cultures that produce them? Why and how can images of the body be used, and to what ends? The body is the material reality that we experience on a daily basis, yet it remains an enigma, impossible to capture fully through intellectual inquiry or creative endeavors. In this course we will reflect on these questions through watching, discussing, and writing about twenty-first-century films from Eurasia (Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, Central and South-East Asia, and the Middle East). The wide variety of films we will study share a focus on issues of the body or “corporeality” of, for example, immigrant bodies, gendered bodies, working bodies, children’s bodies, as well as sick and dead bodies. These films will challenge us to think about human bodies from an intercultural perspective. We will also study the socio-political context and diversity of the vast Eurasian continent that produces such films, and we will delve into the why and how of analyzing films, including the basic terms used in film criticism.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Justyna Beinek

Justyna Beinek has studied and taught Eurasian and global literatures, cultures, and cinemas at universities from Southern California to Canada to Russia. At KU she teaches interdisciplinary courses, such as “Understanding Russia and Eastern Europe” at the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and she sneaks film into them whenever she can. A native of Poland, she holds a doctorate in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard, but her true claim to knowing something about Russia and Eurasia comes from the experience of taking the Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostok. For fun she likes to swim, garden, and think about genealogy, memory, migrations, and DNA.

GIST/PORT/LAA 177-The Amazon: Framing Environmental Issues through Literature and Film

PORT 177 The Amazon: Framing Environmental Issues through Literature and Film

Section(s) 28547 / 22629 / 22244, TuTh 01:00 - 02:15 PM, WES 2600

This seminar will explore environmental issues in the Amazon through the lens of literature and film.  How do narratives of place shape our understanding of our relationship to the natural world?  What role do novels and films play in bridging local realities to a broader global context?  Students will read news stories and journal articles to establish a framework for present-day environmental challenges in the Amazon.  Through course activities, students will critically examine how different sources build understanding and serve as catalysts for change.  Additionally, students will consider how the lessons of the Amazon apply to local and national debates about preservation issues, for example, through investigations of the Baker Wetlands and the Badlands of South Dakota.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Luciano Tosta

Luciano Tosta is Associate Professor of Brazilian Literature and Culture. Born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, and the grandchild of a Tupinambá woman, the Amazon Rainforest has been dear to him his whole life. As a professor, he continues to be fascinated by the region, which contains the second largest river in the world, produces 20% of the Earth’s oxygen, and is home to countless animals and plants. The region is also under constant threat by mining, bio-piracy, poaching and deforestation. His research focuses on hemispheric American studies, with the goal of discussing Brazilian cultural production from a comparative perspective.  In his spare time he plays capoeira and the mandolin.  

This course does not require any previous experience or instruction in the Portuguese language.


HA 177-Visualizing War and Peace in Western Art

HA 177 First-Year Seminar: Visualizing War and Peace in Western Art

Section 20247, MW 03:00 - 04:15 PM, SMA 208

The subjects of war and peace have a long and emotionally intense history in European and American art. What choices have artists made in their depictions of the horrors of war and the blessings of peace? Which fictional or historical events have been commemorated and for what reasons? Why do some works of art, such as the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., inspire raw emotions in visitors daily, and other monuments to war or peace do not? This seminar will focus on the theme of war and peace in order to learn how to analyze and interpret the meaning of a work of art. Students will discuss how artwork of diverse materials and size—painting, sculpture, architecture, prints, photography and so on—can powerfully communicate sorrow or propaganda, protest deadly conflict, or honor peace. Seminar participants will discuss their own opinions about the persuasive power of such artwork.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Linda Stone-Ferrier

Linda Stone-Ferrier is a Professor in the Kress Foundation Department of Art History. She was born in Pennsylvania, lived briefly in Michigan, and grew up in San Diego, CA. She discovered Art History her junior year of college while studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She has also lived in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and the Netherlands. She is passionate, in particular, about the study of seventeenth-century Dutch art, including paintings by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer, and loves to share her enthusiasm for Art History with her students.

ITAL 177-"That's Amore:" Fragments of a Discourse on Love

ITAL 177-"That's Amore:" Fragments of a Discourse on Love 

29089, TuTh 11:00 - 12:15 PM, FR 206

To paraphrase Raymond Carver, What do we talk about when we talk about love? How is love represented in cultural products (literature, music, theater, cinema, etc.)? How are we affected by these representations and their changes over time? Perhaps Emily Dickinson was right when she wrote, “That Love is all there is, / Is all we know of Love”, for what do we know about it after all? The main goal of this course is to investigate love as a mysterious, most pleasant and most deceitful subject, while in the process becoming better readers, critical thinkers and writers. Through the analysis of novels, short stories, poetry, music and live theater, we will consider how humans relate to love relationships as a main bond among individuals and as a tool of self-discovery as well. Read about Dante’s lustful souls in the Inferno, debate Boccaccio bawdy tales from the Middle Ages, and listen to Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Verdi’s La Traviata.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Patrizio Ceccagnoli

Born in Perugia, an Etruscan city in the center of Italy, Patrizio Ceccagnoli received his Ph. D. in Italian from Columbia University in 2011. He joined KU in 2014 and is currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Italian. Trained in classics, he is an expert of the Italian avant-garde movement called Futurismo and works as literary critic and translator in a comparative perspective. He equally loves Franz Kafka and Roger Federer. As a kid, he wanted to be Oscar Wilde, when he grew up, or at least Sherlock Holmes. Now he wishes he could have had a gelato with the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi.

JOUR 177-Just Breathe: Mindfulness, Meditation and the Media

This Section is Currently Full.

JOUR 177 Just Breathe: Mindfulness, Meditation, and the Media

Section 21281, MW 03:00 - 04:15 PM, ST 338B

Have you ever tried yoga to relieve stress? Have you ever been told to simply breathe to center your mind and slow down? Mindfulness meditation activities such as these have entered into the American mainstream lexicon with its share of attention in media coverage, but how does this coverage affect our understanding and experience of it? Media is a window through which we understand the world around us, and the academic field of Journalism and Mass Communication provides the intellectual tools and practical information necessary to reflect critically on how (and by whom, and for whom) that window is constructed. While headlines such as “Meditation exercise helps students focus” and “Enjoy a party with yoga and color” suggest the advantages of integrating mindfulness practices into college students’ lives, they also are examples of how the media present these ideas for specific target audiences.

In this First-Year Seminar, we will explore this central question: What is the role of media in popularizing and representing mindfulness meditation practices, and how does that role impact our experience of these practices? To accomplish this, we will engage in thoughtfully executed mindfulness activities to gain a first-hand experience and understanding of them. This will allow us to study how their representation in the media shapes that experience. Our learning will be enhanced through visits to campus museums and libraries to explore artworks and other subjects that participate in these mediated representations. We will also apply that knowledge to the development of research projects that examine the media’s depictions of mindfulness practices. Are you ready to breathe (and learn) together?

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Yvonnes Chen

Yvonnes Chen grew up in Taiwan, an island country praised by Portuguese mariners in 16th century as ‘Ilha Formosa’—beautiful Isle. The country’s lush landscape, inviting cultures, and diverse communities have inspired her outlook in life and have informed her interest in the practice of mindfulness and her perspective on wellness. She taught in Washington, Virginia, and Switzerland prior to joining KU in 2013. Her research is motivated by a curiosity to discover how human beings interact with the environment (physical and media) to pursue better health. Chen is a lifelong learner, and her most recent obsession is with experimenting with fermentation recipes from all over the world.

LING 177-Beyond English: Is One Language Enough in Today's World?

LING 177-Beyond English: Is One Language Enough in Today's World?

Section 17424, TuTh 11:00 - 12:15 PM, BL 108

Although 75% of the world’s population uses at least two languages on a daily basis, debates persist in the United States as to whether we should allow the use of languages other than English in primary schools and whether we should encourage the study of foreign languages.  Would we be better off bilingual? 

This course will take a critical look at these types of ‘language debates’ across the globe, examining the conditions that both promote and repress bilingualism. We will also explore the bilingual mind, examining research that tests whether ‘bilinguals are better’ when it comes to certain cognitive abilities. The goal of the class is to see and experience firsthand how linguistic research can frame larger societal debates as well as inform individuals as they make very personal decisions such as whether to raise a child as a bilingual.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Alison Gabriele

Alison Gabriele was born and raised in Queens, New York, and attended Binghamton University and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. All through high school and college she felt torn between the humanities and social sciences  until she discovered Linguistics, which presented the perfect combination of both fields of study. Her main research interests lie in discovering whether adult second language learners can ever come to resemble native speakers and what specific abilities predict successful language acquisition. She has been at the University of Kansas since 2005 and is currently a Professor in the department of Linguistics.

MUS 177-Where Does a Music Scene Come From?

MUS 177 Where Does a Music Scene Come From?

Section 26921, TuTh 02:30 - 03:45 PM, MUR 442

This First-Year Seminar is designed to allow students the opportunity to research and discuss mainstream and underground music trends while addressing key aspects of the music industry that shape our lives. How do places shape the music industry? How are the music industry, music “scenes” and even music itself shaped by technology and changes in our culture and society? Are the spaces and places used to organize and understand music changing? We will study the industry from a variety of perspectives and engage with participants of the industry (musicians, technicians and managers) to develop an awareness of these complex questions. At the end of the semester, students will apply what they’ve learned to design 3 hypothetical concert (live music) plans with University of Kansas college students as the audience.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Brandon Draper

Brandon Draper is a drummer, DJ, producer, composer and educator, involved in every genre of music. He has performed in both traditional classical music settings and in contemporary/jazz settings. He recorded and toured the U.S. with the “live-tronica” pioneers Particle. He has performed in the critically acclaimed world premiere of the new hiphop musical "Venice" (Los Angeles, Fall 2010), and he premiered his own original work “Bass Darabukas” with the “cirque” performance group Quixotic and with the Kansas City Symphony (Spring 2011).  More recently, Brandon has joined KU’s music faculty, where he teaches jazz drums, world percussion and steel band, while also directing KU’s Music Enterprise Certificate, an innovative academic program combining music business and entrepreneurship. According to, "Draper mashes up his DJ and percussion talents into a world-music dance party with some of the most polyrhythmic beats you'll hear this side of the Atlantic Ocean."

PHIL 177-The American Dream: Alive, Dead, or Myth?

This Section is Currently Full.

The American Dream: Alive, Dead, or Myth?

Section 28534, MWF 10:00 - 10:50 AM, SUM 407

What is the American Dream? Can young Americans today affirm it despite our pressing political, racial, environmental, and economic problems? In this course, students will study and critically assess competing ideas about the American Dream and the principles that are foundational to the "American Experiment."  To bring in a variety of contemporary viewpoints, students will interview friends, family, and others and critically synthesize the results as a group. This should be a lot of fun in an election year!  We will also study and critically assess various African-American, feminist, socialist, and communitarian critiques of contemporary society and the American Dream itself.  Students will learn to develop reason-backed ideas and views through critical debate and to express their views in argument driven blog posts and comments.  Finally, they will also develop critical analysis and research skills while dissecting book chapters, magazine articles, popular blog posts, videos, and documentaries.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Bradford Cokelet

Brad Cokelet grew up as a disaffected Gen X teenager in a suburb of Rochester New York –  a location with no family roots and little sense of community.   In college he struggled with questions about what values to adopt and about how to live a good life in the "land of opportunity" and was prone to skepticism about the American Dream and its value.  Now, as a KU philosophy professor and the father of two young sons, he is happy to be in a small college town with more of a community ethos.  He cares more than ever about the future of America and he is hopeful that people will find ways to improve the American Dream and keep it alive for future generations. 

PORT 177-Trashed: Our Everyday Life with Trash and What We Do with It

PORT 177-Trashed: Our Everyday Life with Trash and What We Do with It

Section 28507, MW 11:00 - 12:15 PM, WES 4011

“Trashed” focuses on analyzing the political and cultural dimensions of modern societies through garbage. This course guides students towards a critical reflection on the modern urban environment, social relations of inequality, globalization, and peoples’ relationship with the environment. It examines a variety of ‘new geographies of waste’ in Europe, Africa, North, and Latin America, with special attention to Brazil, Portugal, Angola, and the USA. Through the analysis of data from various sources (movies, academic articles, testimonials, visual art, etc.) students have a chance to gain a broader understanding on the role of discourses and practices of waste, sustainability and the urban environment, formal and informal labors of garbage management, processes of recycling, waste-based social movements and the art of rubbish.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Simone Cavalcante Da Silva

Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Simone has a B.A. in English and American Literature from Rio de Janeiro State University and a graduate degree in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Simone has been teaching Portuguese language and culture since her grad school and has done extensive research on new methodologies in language teaching. Her academic interests include questions of gender and sexuality, Latin American and Lusophone cinemas, Human Rights and Environmental Studies. In her free-time she enjoys running, surfing, cooking, playing music, and watching series/movies with her two cats, Kerby and Little (aka Titus Andronicus).

PSYC 177-The Broken Ladder: Psychology and Inequality

This Section is Currently Full.

The Broken Ladder: Psychology and Inequality

Section 26068, MW 12:30 - 01:45 PM, FR 214

How does inequality affect how people think and feel? How does the distribution of income and wealth affect decisions, happiness, and health? This seminar explores the psychology of inequality, wealth, income, and how the big picture (how society is organized) affects the smaller picture (how people make decisions, how interpersonal relationships work). We will examine our own place in the social world, and how this place affects our goals, dreams, desires, relationships, and prejudices through a structured series of small and manageable tasks and reading The Broken Ladder. Students will develop skills in hands-on and real-world research, communicating effectively in writing, and thinking critically in order to better tell the difference between good and misleading evidence.

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Chris Crandall

Chris Crandall is a Professor of Psychology who studies prejudice, politics, and the very first stages of friendship. He has lived in Washington, Michigan, Connecticut, Florida and Kansas; he has built twelve boats, plays piano in a sadly mediocre fashion, is the editor of a scientific journal, and will want to know your opinions about music, movies, books, travel and food. His greatest regret is being monolingual, because Pig Latin doesn't count.

REL 177-God vs. Green?: The Relationship Between Religion and Environmentalism

God vs. Green?: The Relationship Between Religion and Environmentalism

Section 27347, TuTh 01:00 - 02:15 PM, SMI 107

In today’s American society, environmentalists and religious people are often portrayed as opponents: environmental activists sometimes blame religion for getting in the way of change, while some prominent religious leaders portray environmentalists as godless radicals. Yet many people see their religious convictions and their commitment to protecting the environment as closely connected. This seminar cuts through the heated rhetoric to ask what role religion plays in how humans respond to the natural world. Does religion tend to alienate people from the environment, or foster a sense of superiority over other beings, as some environmentalists claim? Or does religion promote connection to the environment and foster an ethic of responsibility, as many people of faith have argued? The answer, of course, is “both”! In this class we will examine the variety of ways religious and environmental attitudes intersect, studying the writings of famous environmental and religious thinkers such as John Muir and Pope Francis, among others. We will also explore the idea of “the sacred” in the natural world: What does it mean to consider nature to be sacred? How have such ideas been expressed across different religious traditions?

First-Year Seminar Instructor, Molly Zahn

Molly Zahn’s deep love of the natural world and her interest in religion both trace back to her upbringing in central Wisconsin. Her research and teaching focus on the Bible in its ancient context, and on the early Jewish and Christian worlds in which the books of the Bible were first read. Intending to study music and environmental science at the University of Minnesota, she instead became captivated by the amazing variety of ways religious communities read and interpret their sacred traditions. Most of her work involves manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which preserve some of the earliest evidence for these creative interpretive processes. After growing up in Wisconsin and college in Minnesota, Molly lived and studied in Germany, the UK, and Sweden, before completing her PhD at the University of Notre Dame. She has been teaching full-time at KU since 2010. In her spare time, she keeps up her music as a member of the viola section of the Topeka Symphony, and enjoys getting outdoors to hike and watch wildlife with her husband and 5-year-old daughter.


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