FS 102 Descriptions (Spring 2021)

Specific descriptions of sections of FS 102, Academic Discourse II, offered in Spring 2021:

Please consult WebAdvisor to confirm the days, times, and locations of these sections.

Module 1 – January 19 through February 11, 2021

FS 102 M1, The Contemporalry American Musical
Professor Cosdon
Credits: 4
An exploration of the contemporary American musical, with a focus on the presentation of “difference” and “diversity” on stage. A series of recent, boldly inventive American musicals have challenged long-held values and cultural norms. Rather than the traditional fusion of syrupy plotlines with flashy songs and dances, these shows are “taking musical theatre on a whole new trip” (Passing Strange). Musicals studied may include Sunday in the Park with George, Rent, Hairspray, Passing Strange, Next to Normal, Fun Home, Hamilton, and Dear Evan Hansen. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills, with an emphasis on persuasive communication.

FS 102 M3,
Professor O’Brien
Credits: 4

Module 2 – February 22 through May 17, 2021

 

FS 102 01, Revolution: The Beatles and Cultural Change in the 1960s
Abbreviated Title: The Beatles and 1960s Culture
Professor Beverburg
Credits: 4
An examination of how the Beatles shaped and reflected the cultural and musical trends of the 1960s. The Beatles reached an unprecedented level of fame as “Beatlemania” swept nearly the entire globe, and with this notoriety came the power to spark change. Students investigate how the Beatles’ music, appearance, personalities, and views contrasted with the prevailing conservatism of that time and examine their role in the radical changes taking place during that decade in four main areas: racial inequality, the widening generation gap, gender relations, and economic class divisions. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 02, More How to Think Intelligently About Almost Anything
Professor Jackson
Credits: 4
The ability to tell good sense from nonsense seems to be in seriously short supply these days. But, given how complex the world we inhabit has become, it is possibly more important (and certainly more difficult) than ever to know the difference between an intelligent idea and charlatan claptrap. In this course, we try to hone our ability to take in and process the vast amount of information (some of it useful and edifying; some of it misleading and toxic) that daily comes our way. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 03, Contemporary Topics in the US Economy
Professor Golden
Credits: 4
An exploration of contemporary economics topics, many of which are hot-button issues. We will examine multiple policy debates including raising the minimum wage, limiting migration to the U.S., repealing and replacing Obamacare, and preserving Social Security for future generations. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 04, Nothing Is Without Music
Professor Willey
Credits: 4
An historical investigation of the concept that the universe is governed by principles of musical harmony. Originating in ancient Greece with the idea that the planets emitted musical notes, this vision of heavenly harmony eventually became a theory of everything to the extent that by 630 CE Isidore of Seville could claim that, “nothing is without music.” In this course we trace the history of the idea from its ancient Greek roots up to its current incarnation in String Theory. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 05, Deductive Reasoning and Persuasive Communication
Abbreviated Title: Mathematics and Communication
Professor Lo Bello
Credits: 4
An exploration of persuasive communication based on the works of experts famous for their appreciation of mathematics and logic. We study some masterpieces of those who excelled in the art of presenting one’s arguments in accordance with the method of deductive reasoning. These may include works written by Plato, Euclid, Descartes, and John Stuart Mill. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context. 

FS 102 06, Succeeding By Mistake
Professor Weir
Credits: 4
An exploration of the many ways that mistakes and failure can lead to success. Societal messages teach us that we must strive for perfection, avoiding mistakes and failure at all costs. In this course, we examine the negative consequences of such messaging and the crucial, creative role of mistakes in many fields. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 07, Whose Schools? Policy, Power, and Rhetoric in the U.S. Education System
Abbreviated Title: Whose Schools?
Professor Foreman
Credits: 4
A foray into historical and current policies shaping education in the United States. Our learning community investigates how federal, state, and local policies impact how students are educated in U.S. schools. We debate ongoing controversies regarding privatization of education, accountability systems, and systemic discrimination. We explore potential reforms and discuss what the future of education should be. Students gain confidence and rhetorical skills through individual and collaborative assignments. This seminar develops oral and written communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 08, Wrongful Convictions and Exonerations
Professor Normile
Credits: 4
An exploration into the world of wrongful convictions. Many innocent individuals have spent years in prison as punishment for crimes they did not commit. We examine the factors that contribute to the wrongful conviction of the innocent, including break downs in the criminal justice system as well as racial and ethnic biases. We explore the various organizations that have dedicated themselves to exonerating the innocent and learn about the struggles and stigma exonerees face when assimilating back into society. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 09, No Pain, No Gain
Professor Eckstein
Credits: 4
An exploration of the benefits of positive thinking along with its limitations. The powers of positive thinking are often extolled, and the search for happiness has given birth to an entire industry of self-help books, tapes, retreats, and coaches. And yet the relentless search for happiness and the avoidance of discomfort, failure, and setbacks can make us more miserable. We explore why the “secret” to a state of contentment may lie in embracing discomfort. Readings are drawn from the popular press, but also from psychology, philosophy, biology, and religion. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 10, The Expressive and Persuasive Power of Video Games
Abbreviated Title: The Power of Video Games
Professor Wiebel
Credits: 4
An exploration of videogames as an expressive and persuasive medium. We examine how video games influence our values, understanding of the world, and our place within it by analyzing games, game playing experiences, and by designing our own games. Particular attention is paid to studying how videogames teach us about how things in the world are supposed to work and how we are supposed to interact with them. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 11, Costumes, Character, & Criticism
Professor Patterson
Credits: 4
An exploration of costumes of stage and screen, audience reaction, and critical response. Students critically engage with historical and contemporary costumes to address questions regarding the visual impact of clothing as it relates to character; how particular cultural contexts shape perceptions; and how character representations shift over time. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 12, Interpreting Popular Culture
Professor Sinha Roy
Credits: 4
A study of how consumer culture reflects and shapes our “popular” imagination. Examine various ways of ‘looking’ and how they construct cultural meaning. The course explores the use of media artifacts to preserve cultural memory, the creation of new ideological myths through media industries, the fetishization of personal/social identities, and forms of cultural resistance. Assignments contribute to communication debates on local and global media topics and draw from popular ethnography, film, photojournalism, advertising, music, reality TV shows, fan fiction, and high/low art. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 13, Movie Epidemics in Pandemic Times 
Professor Votava
Credits: 4
An investigation of movies representing the community experience of epidemic disease. Students examine both the myth and the science of public health crises. These may include the bubonic plague, AIDS in 1980s America, and the twenty-first century’s obsession with zombies and other public health disasters. We also consider how the current COVID crisis shapes our own responses to dramatized epidemics, both real and imagined. Topics include the problem of representing traumatic experience and the cultural as well as physical power of plague to shape society. This seminar develops oral and written communication skills 

FS 102 15, Ethics and Animal Life
Professor J. Miller
Credits: 4
An exploration of what it means to treat other creatures fairly. We focus on cases where the interests or needs of human beings conflict with the interests of animals. After examining several theoretical approaches to animal ethics, we consider how they might apply to current controversies ranging from the everyday practice of neutering pets to the rarefied sport of big-game hunting. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102, 16, The Robots Are Coming
Professor Hart
Credits: 4
An exploration of human-machine interactions. Students engage with fictional representations and scholarly analyses of machines and machine intelligences and consider how they impact human communication, jobs, education, creative arts, and interpersonal relationships. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 17, Lost Territory: Depictions of Simulation
Professor Rich
Credits: 4
A study of the relationship between art, science, and technology as viewed through the lens of science fiction film and critical theory texts. Students investigate social interaction and construction through analysis of depictions of near-future scenarios and speculative technologies while examining the evolutionary process through which science and technology develop. Students dissect complex relationships between speculation and technological advancement as they relate to socio-political climates. Social, technological, and scientific notions of “simulation” conceptually underpin the media analyzed. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 18, The Politics of Post-Humanity
Professor Callen
Credits: 4
A consideration of what it means to be human in a post-human world where it is increasingly less clear what the boundary between human and machine is. Our examination revolves around novels and academic texts that raise the question of how much we can modify ourselves before we stop being human. Through class presentations and papers, students consider the political implications of modern technology, particularly in terms of access to technology, changes to democratic decision-making brought about by technology, and which entities receive political rights. This seminar develops oral and written communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 19, Politics of Populism in Europe
Professor Oliver
Credits: 4
An exploration of the politics of populism in Western Europe over the past decade. We will examine the case of Brexit in the UK and the rise of populist parties in Germany, Italy, and Sweden. We also investigate counter-acting forces and new dynamics at play. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 22, Emerging Genetic Technologies: Promise and Peril
Professor Nelson
Credits: 4
An exploration of the scientific, historical, and ethical dimensions of emerging genetic technologies. Little more than a century since the word “gene” was coined to describe the basic unit of genetic inheritance, techniques such as CRISPR raise the possibility of reshaping the genomes of a wide range of organisms with unprecedented ease and precision. What about these technologies worries scientists? What cautionary tales does history reveal? How do we define the “ideal” genome and what are the ethical implications of doing so? This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 23, The Evolutionary Biology of Sex
Professor Mumme
Credits: 4
An investigation of Buddhist views on and uses of money. Money and religion are commonly thought of as uneasy bedfellows—religious traditions handle spiritual or otherworldly concerns, while money is tied to the physical or this-worldly concerns. We discuss the various ways that people have explained, critiqued, or exalted the interplay of Buddhism and money, from those who saw Buddhist use of money as a sign of religious degeneracy to those who suggest that Buddhism can be an inspiration for better business practices. We examine primary religious texts, scholarly case studies, theoretical works, popular culture references, and contemporary how-to guides. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 24, Change Everything: Neoliberalism in the World Today
Abbreviated Title: Change Everything
Professor Franz
Credits: 4
An examination of how Millennial and iGen identities have been molded by a political ideology unknown to most young people. Neoliberalism impacts every aspect of our daily lives – from culture and values, education, and our professional lives. Neoliberal ideology has shaped who we are today – convincing us that living in a society based on competition is the only choice. Who has power? How does freedom balance with equality? Why should we care about those ideals? We examine these issues through contemporary readings and films. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.

FS 102 25, Growing (in) the Community – Plants and Your Environment
Abbreviated Title: Growing (in) the Community
Professor Ludewig
Credits: 4
An exploration of the environment and our relation to it with trees and other plants as lead “partners.” Students arrive at a intersecting picture of how culture, community, and the environment intertwine. How is any interaction with the plant world shaped by local, national, and ethnic communities and their unique narratives? As circumstances allow, students work with local community partners to put their knowledge into practice and reflect on the value of community engaged learning. This seminar develops written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context.