First-Year Seminars

Offerings for 2024-2025

A Century of Egyptian Cinema

Jewish, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

This First-Year Seminar offers a survey of Egyptian Cinema, from silent film to contemporary productions. In addition to regular film screenings, we will be reading articles in film criticism, as well as in history and fiction. This course is designed to enable students to develop their academic and conceptual tools to critically approach national cinemas. Students should utilize and further advance their knowledge of major historical and theoretical themes in cinema studies, cultural studies, and literary studies and apply them to analyze Egyptian Cinema as a case study. Additionally, this course will function as a window to reflect on political, rand critical themes, such as: colonialism and postcolonialism, modernism and postmodernism, class, gender, identity, nationalism, representation among other questions.

Angels, Prostitutes and Chicas Modernas: Women in Latin American History

American Culture Studies; History; Latin American Studies; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; L61 FYP 2118

Women have been active players in the construction of Latin American nations. In the last two decades, leading scholars in the field have taken up the challenge of documenting women's participation. This research explosion has produced fruitful results to allow for the development of specialized courses. This course looks at the nation building process through the lens of Latin American women. Students will examine the expectations, responsibilities and limitations women confronted in their varied roles from the Wars of Independence to the social revolutions and dictatorial regimes of the twentieth century. Besides looking at their political and economic lives, students will explore the changing gender roles and relations within marriage and the family, as well as the changing sexual and maternal mores.

Beethoven and Van Gogh: Myths of Creativity, Genius and Madness

Art History and Archaeology; Music; L61 FYP 1172

This course draws into dialogue the creative ambitions, artistic production, critical reception and the historical construction of personae and oeuvres of two exceptionally productive and iconic artists who worked in different media: Ludwig von Beethoven (1770-1827) in music and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) in painting. We will introduce students to methods of musical and art historical analysis, and then build on those skills to examine the historical contexts within which these artists worked, as well as the ways in which their reputations were established. This course will also consider how Beethoven and Van Gogh became exemplars of creativity and genius for later audiences and artists, leading us to explore fundamental and provocative questions in the humanities.

Black Lives Matter and Educational Justice for Black Youth

African and African-American Studies; American Culture Studies; Education; L61 FYP 102C

In the wake of the global uprising against racial injustice, this introductory course examines how schools in the United States can create opportunities for Black youth to thrive. We will examine the schooling experiences of Black children and youth amid pervasive anti-blackness, analyze the relevance of educational models for racial justice, and imagine radical ways that P-16 schools might dismantle white supremacy.

Campus Novels and Dark Academia: Stories of College Life

English Literature; L61 FYP 155

"It was a beautiful college," remarks Ralph Ellison's protagonist in the novel Invisible Man, before describing his failure to fit in as a student. This course explores how varied, sometimes contradictory college experiences have been represented across genres and platforms. Our archive includes novels, music, films, poetry, and short stories, including The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman, and Taylor Swift's newest album, The Tortured Poets Department. We will study how mystery, consent, nostalgia, desire, beauty, angst, and coming-of-age circulate in these texts. We will glance back at the origins of Dark Academia and older campus stories, from the Greco-Roman tradition to Edgar Allan Poe's gothic tales, and look to the future against the backdrop of higher education in crisis. Most importantly, we will linger in the present to interrogate what it means to be students of the university, the city of St. Louis, and the digital world.

Chinatown: Migration, Identity, and Space

Asian American Studies; American Culture Studies; Global Studies; L61 FYP135

 "Chinatown," as a cultural symbol and a spatial entity, links various topics and studies in this course. Our survey starts with a historical and geographical glimpse of Chinatowns and ethnoburbs in the U.S. through real-life stories of their residents. We then expand our horizon to global Chinatowns with selected case studies of Chinatowns in Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Australia. Our historical and ethnographic inquiries also investigate the ways in which Chinese food has been adapted to each local culture and society. Through the lens of Chinatown, this seminar looks into migration and settlement while tackling questions about representations of identity and culture as well as spatial constructions by immigrant communities. In doing so, we reconsider popular narratives about Chinatowns or ethnic enclaves in general. The assignments include ethnographic surveys of Chinese businesses.

Classical to Renaissance Literature: Text and Traditions

Comparative Literature; L61 FYP 201C 

Students enrolled in this course engage in close and sustained reading of a set of texts that are indispensable for an understanding of the European literary tradition, texts that continue to offer invaluable insights into humanity and the world around us. Homer's Iliad is the foundation of our class. We then go on to trace ways in which later poets and dramatists engage the work of predecessors who inspire and challenge them. Readings move from translations of Greek, Latin, and Italian, to poetry and drama composed in English. In addition to Homer, we will read works of Sappho, a Greek tragedian, Plato, Vergil, Ovid, Petrarch, and Shakespeare.

Early Political Thought: Text and Traditions

Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities; Legal Studies; L61 FYP 203C 

A selected survey of the political and moral thought of Europe from the rise of Athenian democracy to the Renaissance, with emphasis on analysis and discussion of writers such as Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Castiglione, and Machiavelli.The course aims to introduce students to basic texts in the intellectual history of Western Europe, understood both as products of a particular time and place and as self-contained arguments that strive to instruct and persuade. The texts are simultaneously used to chart the careers of such fundamental notions as liberty, virtue, and justice.

Exploring East Asian Classics

Chinese; East Asian Languages & Cultures; Japanese; Korean; L61 FYP 150A

This first-year seminar introduces students to major works of the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese traditions. Although written centuries in the past, these texts still reverberate with meaning today and offer important means to understand the often chaotic and confusing events occurring daily around us. What is the self? What is the relationship between the individual and society? How do we live an ethical life? What is literature and for whom is it intended? In grappling with these questions, students will directly engage with the texts through close reading and in-class discussion. Students will, at the same time, also ask broader questions that concern how knowledge is produced, spread, and consumed: what is a canon? Who are the gatekeepers? What does it mean to approach East Asia through a set of "canonical" texts? Among the texts considered will be The Analects, Daodejing, Lotus Sutra, Tale of Genji, Tales of the Heike, Tales of Moonlight and Rain, Samguk yusa, and Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong. 

Feminist and Queer Science and Technology Studies

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; L61 FYP 1061

This course will introduce students to key concepts and ideas emerging from the fields of feminist and queer science and technology studies. Science and scientific practice are commonly understood to proceed from a neutral, objective perspective aimed at producing universal truths. Similarly, technological innovation is understood to be an unquestioned good for human development. Feminist and queer thinkers have critiqued these views along epistemological, methodological, and socio-political lines. They have consistently pointed to both the gaps in scientific knowledge production and the risks of uncritical technological development for reproducing marginalization and oppression. At the same time, feminist and queer thinks have critically imagined the possibilities of both science and technology as potential forces for addressing social injustice. We will survey a number of these interventions while considering how this work might inform our present contexts. 

Gender, Sexuality and Settler Colonialism

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; L61 FYP 1041

This course examines settler colonial societies through the lens of gender and sexuality. Central questions of the course include: How is colonialism a fundamentally gendered process? What is settler colonialism and how is it different from/similar to "extractive" or "franchise" colonialism? How does the political, legal and social construction of indigeneity intersect with other social categories such as race, gender, class and sexuality? How have social movements mobilized against land dispossession globally in ways that incorporate diverse understandings of gender? Looking at various global case studies, we will examine how indigenous feminist scholars and organizers think about and respond to resource extraction, economic exploitation, gender violence, and land theft. Drawing on anti-colonial, queer, indigenous feminist, two-spirit, transnational feminist and anti-capitalist traditions, we will compare settler colonial regimes and modes of organizing across economic, cultural, political, and environmental spheres. 

Global Population on the Move: Language & Resettlement with Law, Healthcare & Education

Global Studies; Legal Studies; L61 FYP 117

Today, the number of displaced people is as its highest: one out of every 113 people on Earth. In this course, we begin with an understanding of what it means to be a refugee, and we discuss readings that lead us to an understanding of the modern refugee as we contextualize the significance of such terms as 'refugee,' 'asylum,' 'sanctuary,' 'non-refoulement,' or 'forced displacement.' With this foundation, we move to the role that language plays with resettlement into society and examine factors in the legal, healthcare and educational systems. We examine global work done through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and more, and we concentrate on the current state of refugees and New Americans in St. Louis and the USA. The course fosters critical thinking across academic disciplines, encourages practical implications of research on resettlement and language policy, and includes invited guest lectures by local practitioners and other Washington University scholars.


Horror Across Media

Film & Media Studies; L61 FYP 120

In spite of—and because of—its propensity or terrifying readers and viewers, horror has proven to be one of the most resilient and popular genres across all forms of media. Why are audiences attracted to a genre that causes fear, revulsion, and distress? This course will consider the cultural, philosophical, and generic dimensions of horror and explore how it operates across an array of media platforms: film, literature, television, comics, and video games. We will read two literary masters of the genre, H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King, and we will screen some of the most successful horror films of the last 50 years. We will also study horror through a variety of critical frameworks, including gender, stardom, special effects, transnationality, adaptation, transmedia storytelling, and interactivity. The course will culminate in two extended case studies. In the first, we will compare and contrast literary, filmic, and televisual adaptations of "The Shining." In the second, we will consider "The Walking Dead" as a franchise that spreads its narrative across comics, multiple television programs, and video games. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Required screenings: Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

Imagining and Creating Africa: Youth, Culture, and Change

African and African-American Studies; Children’s Studies; L61 FYP 178A

The goal of this course is to provide a glimpse into how youth reshape African society. Whether in North Africa with the Arab Spring, in West Africa with university strikes, or in East Africa through a linguistic full bloom, youth have been shaping social responses to societies for a long period. In this course, we will study social structures, including churches, NGOs, developmental agencies as well as learn about examples of Muslim youth movements, and the global civil society. The course will also explore how youth impact cultural movements in Africa and how they influence the world. In particular, we will examine Hip-Hop movements, sports, and global youth culture developments that center on fashion, dress, dance, and new technologies. By the end of the course, students will have enriched ideas about youth in Africa and ways to provide more realistic comparisons to their counterparts in the United States. 

Immigrants and Exiles

English Literature; L61 FYP 151A

Literature has traditionally been a welcoming space for people who, by choice or history, do not fit easily in the mainstream of community life. The widespread changes and upheavals of the last century have vastly expanded the ranks of such people, accelerating the processes of immigration and exile while fundamentally altering traditional notions of home and belonging. This course will examine fiction by writers such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Albert Camus, Jean Rhys, Franz Kafka, and Teju Cole, who write from and about the position of "outsider," exploring what such texts have to say about living in an unsettled, diasporic modern world - a world in which real belonging seems an increasingly elusive goal. In reading these texts, we will investigate how their authors have portrayed the journeys, hopes, and hardships of dislocation and alienation, as well as the role literature might play in creating a sense of community for immigrants, refugees, and people living in various forms of exile.

Improving Student Success Through Psychological Interventions

Education; L61 FYP 102B

One of the most exciting transformations in the social sciences in recent years is the finding that brief psychological exercises can improve important student outcomes for months and years, such as raising school achievement and reducing inequality. These interventions help individuals flourish and help our society live up to its ideals. They address critical psychological questions that people have, like the following: Do people like me belong in this school? Can I learn math? When will I ever use what I am learning in class? In this seminar, we will learn about psychological interventions in education; how they work; how they can cause lasting benefits; their intellectual lineage; how they can be used, adapted, and scaled to address contemporary problems; and challenges and mistakes that can arise in doing so. In addition to learning from classic and contemporary research, students will design their very own intervention and workshop others' efforts. When students have completed this seminar, they will more fully understand the psychological aspect of educational problems and how this can be addressed through rigorous research.

Introduction to Critical Thinking

Biology; L61 FYP 1122

This course is for first-year, non-transfer students only. This course uses thought-provoking questions in biology to develop analytical skills, at the same time understanding what level of content is needed to address such questions. Each class will involve discussion of the questions as well as lecture material as background. It will thus provide an early exposure and springboard into the translation of biology content to problem-solving. The skills learned will be applicable to future challenges The course focuses on molecular biology and processes central to all organisms on earth. The last component of the course will focus on microbiological research, gaining knowledge of the research enterprise to generate new knowledge and the primary literature (published manuscripts). Freshman with an interest in biology career (e.g., graduate or health professions). The course is also designed to help students prepare for Biology 2960, which is offered each spring semester. Intended for students without strong AP Biology preparation, which is helpful for success in Biology 2960.

Introduction to Environmental Humanities

Environmental Studies; L61 FYP 215A

In this environmental humanities course we will explore the human and ecosystem impacts resulting from Euro- American colonization and agricultural settlement of the U.S. Our reflection will include the social, political and economic factors which shape individual relationships with and experiences of nature in Indigenous, enslaved and newly-arrived immigrant communities. Topics will include: the fragmentation of the Sioux American Indian ecosystem and subsequently the dispersion of Sioux people into settled, disparate reservation lands; agrarian democracy, including plantation agriculture, improvement farming and Homestead farming on the Great Plains; and the Dust Bowl.

Introduction to Problem-Based Learning in Biology

Biology; L61 FYP 112

In this course, students take responsibility for their own active, inquiry-based learning on biological problems. Instructors will guide small groups of 8-10 students in researching issues of biological importance using primary literature as their principal resource. Learning to read and interpret research articles from scientific literature is emphasized. Topics covered in this class have included: neurological disorders, infectious diseases, CRISPR, cancer, and stem cell therapy among others. Students should have a strong background in general biology. They will be challenged to use critical and creative thinking in both independent and group work. Enrollment limited. Intended for but not limited to prospective biology majors. Prerequisite: high school biology, preferably an Honors or AP class. 

Introduction to Urban Studies

American Culture Studies; Urban Studies; L61 FYP 101

This course provides a survey of the field of Urban Studies, utilizing the city of St. Louis as a field site. The major purpose of the course is to gradually reveal how a city operates internally, and how it operates externally with its sister cities, surrounding metropolitan areas and neighboring states, amidst competing and often contradictory interests. Utilizing historical analysis as a guide, the course will briefly revisit the experiences of previous waves of ethnic groups to the St. Louis metropolitan area, as a lens for understanding the current social, political and economic dilemmas which many urban dwellers in St. Louis now face. The course will reveal to students the intricacies of social welfare issues and policies among high density populations, in St. Louis, that are homogeneous and heterogeneous, at the same time. Visits and discussions with various governmental and nongovernmental agencies, and how such agencies function or dysfunction for various constituencies allow students to ask crucial questions regarding equality of opportunity in a democratic society. Students will also encounter diverse communities and neighborhoods and the intended and unintended consequences of social welfare policies designed to ameliorate urban dilemmas such as poverty and inequality, homelessness, educational underachievement, gentrification, migration and immigration, development, health care, fiscal issues, the informal economy, and issues concerned with crime and social justice, among others. Readings are reinforced and challenged through visits, interactions and observations with broad constituencies and institutions, ranging from city officials to community residents. As such, this course offers a survey discussion of the rich interdisciplinary field of Urban Studies for those who may be interested in pursuing a stand alone major in the field of Urban Studies.

Literature and Democracy

Comparative Literature; L61 FYP 111C

Recent trends in the United States and around the world have led many to believe that the beliefs and institutions undergirding democracy are in peril. This Freshman Seminar examines how literary and theatrical works have explored both the promises and challenges of democracy. Can literary and theatrical works model democracy by articulating multiple points of view in ways that allow for informed civic deliberation? How can literary works allow for free, democratic expression in totalitarian and repressive political contexts? The course begins with an overview of democratic ideas. Next Plato's attack on democracy is taken up, followed by a unit on ancient Greek theater in the context of democratic institutions. Shakespeare's ambivalent representation of proto-democratic ideas is explored. A large part of the course is devoted to the founding principles - and contradictions - of American democracy. We will read parts of Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America", essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and poems by Walt Whitman. Sustained attention will be given to the systematic exclusions of American democracy (notably, of women and African-Americans) and the efforts to form "a more perfect union," as we read authors such as Margaret Fuller, Susan Glaspell, and James Baldwin.

Literature and Justice

English Literature; Legal Studies; L61 FYP ??

This seminar explores the problem of justice through a broad range of literary writings. Students will study classic texts from different historical periods and cultural traditions, ranging from Sophocles and William Shakespeare to Fyodor Dostoyevski and Toni Morrison. We will pay particular attention to the following questions: What do we owe each other? What is the relationship between equity and the letter of the law? How do different cultures determine what is just and what is unjust? What is the role of art in the representation of injustice? Aimed at developing the habits of close textual analysis that are central to the study of texts in the humanities, the course will help students cultivate the art of critical judgment.

Literature of Addiction: From Opium to Adderall

English Literature; L61 FYP 156

This course investigates literary representations of addiction, from Thomas De Quincy's CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER (1821) to Ottessa Moshfegh's MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION (2018). We will study the development of familiar stages in narratives of substance abuse-i.e. experimentation, transcendence, downward spiral, "rock bottom," and recovery/sobriety-posing questions like: What symbolic and literal positions have people with addictions occupied in their societies? How has the modern pharmaceutical industry and the War on Drugs impacted perceptions of "typical" drug use? How do race, gender, age, class, and sexuality factor into the imagination and realities of chemical dependency? To what non-narcotic substances-e.g. media, gambling, sex, adrenaline-do we consider people addicted? We will read diverse selections of poetry, fiction, scholarship, and memoir from authors like Samuel Coleridge, William Burroughs, James Baldwin, Sherman Alexie, Denis Johnson, Irvine Welsh, Paul B. Preciado, Melissa Broder, Tao Lin, Michelle Alexander, Laurie Weeks, Mian Mian, Reginald Dwayne Betts, and Nico Walker. Through discussions and short writing assignments, we will explore various imaginations of people with addictions as tortured souls, creative geniuses, immature party-goers, and/or depraved monsters, seeking to better understand the way experiences of addiction shape perception, and in turn, how perceptions of addiction shape human experience.

Mapping the World: Introduction to Human Geography

Global Studies; L61 FYP 1550

What is human geography and why is it important? This course addresses these questions by introducing students to the fundamentals of the discipline of human geography. A geographic perspective emphasizes the spatial aspects of a variety of human and natural phenomena. This course first provides a broad understanding of the major concepts of human geography, including place, space, scale and landscape. It then utilizes these concepts to explore the distribution, diffusion and interaction of social and cultural processes across local, regional, national and global scales. Topics include language, religion, migration, population, natural resources, economic development, agriculture, and urbanization. In addition to providing a general understanding of geographic concepts, this course seeks to engender a greater appreciation of the importance of geographic perspectives in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world. No prerequisites.

Medieval and Renaissance Venice

General Studies; L61 FYP 1801

This course will introduce students to the unique culture and artistic achievements of the Venetian republic from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. After establishing the governmental, social, and religious foundations of the republic and the economic basis of its fabulous wealth, we will look at the expression of its religious and historical identity in architecture, painting and sculpture, its response to the humanistic movement, its literature, the role of music in society and in the church, and the unique role of Carnival in Venetian life.

Modern Political Thought: Text and Traditions

Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities; Legal Studies; L61 FYP 207C

What is modernity? What kinds of politics are characteristic of modern politics? How did modern figures imagine this new world? What kind of politics were they rejecting in these efforts? This course begins by examining early modern figures, such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, and the concepts, principles, and aspirations of the modern project, such as the emergence of the nation state, modern notions of freedom, and religious toleration. Next, we engage with some of the most influential critics of modernity, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Hannah Arendt, asking how they challenge our modern intuitions and commitments.

Monumental Anti-Racism

African and African-American Studies; American Culture Studies; Sociology; L61 FYP 144

As sources of national memory and identity, public monuments, place names, historical markers, and other elements of commemorative landscapes are potential sites of cultural violence (e.g., alienation, disrespect, and erasure) contributing to broader conflict and inequality, and therefore important considerations in movements for equal opportunity and justice. Some contend that memory sites are "the new lunch counters," where our racial politics are worked out. This course examines the racial politics of commemorative objects and practices, and commemorative intervention as a strategy of anti-racist activism. We begin with an historical survey of various ways that racism has been inscribed on the commemorative landscape, and readings in history, political theory, cultural studies, and other fields to gain insight on these contested commemorative objects, their development, and social significance. We then turn to a critical assessment of efforts to remove and recontextualize commemorative objects, and to erect new objects commemorating neglected figures and issues. We consider how these reparative efforts relate to what political theorists call remedies of recognition, and specifically how they might aid in advancing equal opportunity and justice. Through our study and engagement with contested commemorative landscapes, including local, national, and global cases, students will become familiar with the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of memory studies, diverse forms and sites of commemoration, local and global efforts to advance what has been termed "commemorative justice," and challenges they face.

Pleasure and Pain: European Fashion as (Art) History

Art History and Archaeology; L61 FYP 1062

In the words of Louis XIV, "fashion is the mirror of history." This first-year seminar will explore what fashion in (art) history can tell us about gender, sexuality, class, race, and revolution. Incorporating a global perspective (although concentrating primarily on the West), further themes to be considered include the textile trade, commerce and empire, identity politics and nation-building. From the chopine to the corset, the pannier to the Pompadour pump, we will incorporate surviving examples of material culture as we explore the art and history of European fashion from the 15th to the 19th century.

Saints and Society

History; Religious Studies; L61 FYP 154A

The topic of this course is saints and society in medieval and early modern Europe. It will explore the complex relationships between exceptional holy men and women, the historical settings in which they lived, and the religious and cultural traditions on which they drew. It will consider saints as both embodiments of the highest ideals of their societies and radical challenges to ordinary patterns of social existence.

Shakespeare: The Godly and Grotesque

Drama; L61 FYP 1104

While Shakespeare is celebrated for his realistic depictions of characters, events, and emotions, his work is filled with other-worldly elements, including sorcery, oracles, myths, and grotesque creatures. This course will explore Shakespeare's use of the fantastic, the unnatural, and the monstrous. Reading a wide selection of comedy, tragedy, and history, we will consider Shakespeare's often contradictory attitude to the supernatural: on one hand, a source of evil, villainy, and perversion, and, on the other, a symbol of the divine and a means of surpassing the humanly possible. We will look at how Shakespeare used monstrous imagery to reflect upon his own work and the nature of theatre itself, paying special attention to how the performance practices of his time impacted his portrayal of the fantastic. At the same time, we will supplement our readings by watching more contemporary performances of Shakespeare's works in order to consider the impact that innovations in theatrical technologies and practices has had on the depiction of the supernatural in these plays. Finally, we will consider how Shakespeare used the unnatural to probe the gender, politics, race, disability, and globalization of his own time and in so doing, we will discover how is work continues to impact our own engagement with these issues-and indeed, our conception of monstrosity itself. Plays and productions studied will include Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Richard III, The Winter's Tale, and Othello. Students with no prior knowledge of Shakespeare are welcome to enroll.

The Linguistics of Constructed Languages

Linguistics; L61 FYP 148

What's "wrong" with English, or French, or Chinese, or any one of the 6,000+ languages spoken natively by humans today? Why invent a language like Esperanto to be a common tongue among all people, or invent a "calculus of thought" to "perfectly" express pure meaning? Why is it hard to sound romantic while speaking Klingon? What are the benefits of Lojban's attempt to rid the world of confusion and ambiguity? This course explores the design of and motivation for constructed languages from a modern linguistic point of view. Constructed languages are those that are the result of some conscious and deliberate design rather than ones occurring naturally. We will explore the different motivations for language construction, from the desire to create a "perfect language", to fictional world building, to fostering global harmony. In characterizing the different types of invented languages, students will develop familiarity with the basic tools of linguistic theory, focusing on phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. Languages analyzed in detail include Klingon, Esperanto, Heptapod B, Lojban, Dothraki, Valyrian, Elvish, and various philosophical languages.

The Literary Life

English Literature; L61 FYP 100

This class approaches literature from many angles: the creative to the scholarly, the emotional to the ethical, the edifying to the entertaining. At the heart of our study will be a survey of literary "values" such as invention, emotion, style, subversion, beauty, humor-those fundamental reasons readers come to literature in the first place. Through readings and discussion, we will consider the great variety of ways literature expresses these values, and will explore them ourselves via creative assignments. Along the way, we will learn about literary culture today through discussions with nationally renowned writers and scholars who will visit the class, and you will write and workshop your own stories, poems, and non-fiction works.

The Secret Lives of Plants

Biology; L61 FYP 1260

This course is designed to familiarize undergraduate students with the fascinating lives of plants, their evolution, their remarkable structural and morphological diversity, how they grow, and how they have been modified to feed the planet. Topics include: how plants can survive with just water, minerals and light, how they transport water astonishing distances, their unusual sex lives, why they make seeds, how they can grow nearly forever, how plants survive extreme environments without running to hide, why they synthesize caffeine, nicotine, THC and opiates, how they defend themselves from pathogens without an immune system, how they sense their environment without dedicated sensory organs, how plants have been modified by humans to provide food, fiber and fuel, and how genetically modified (GMO) crops are made and their implications to the environment and society. Overall goals are to enhance an understanding and appreciation of the plant kingdom, to help young scientists understand the primary scientific literature, and as a starting point for possible careers in plant biology. Class includes field trips to the Missouri Botanical Gardens and a local plant biotech company/institute.Where appropriate, the class will also emphasize key differences between plants and animals. This course is primarily for first-year students interested in majoring in biology, with a possible emphasis on plants. This course is also for those that want to know more about where their food comes from, how these amazing creatures survive and flourish, and how GMO crops are engineered. Course will be lecture/discussion/hands-on format for 2 of the 3 hours per week. Students will present 20-minute papers discussing topics relevant to their interests for the remaining 1 hour (two students per class). Prerequisites: Students must have taken both biology and chemistry in high school and at least one at the AP or IP levels; or have taken Bio 2960 or Chem 111/112.

Topics in Anthropology: Environmental Justice as Public Health

Anthropology; Public Health & Society; L61 FYP 1010

Environmental justice has become a pervasive conversation topic as the effects of climate change become more and more prominent in daily life. Yet environmental justice has a longer history, notably one that is closely related to the global health developments. In this course, we will explore what environmental justice means, how it functions as a form of public health and health activism more broadly, and why the future of public health so heavily depends on it. Through these questions, students will further learn about how issues of environment and health are deeply intertwined with social, racial, and gendered inequities. As we will explore together, this relationship has led to conflicting political and economic priorities as well as the deliberate placement of environmental hazards next to or within working-class, Black and Brown, and other marginalized communities.

Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies: Jewish and black-ish: US Diasporic Cultures

Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities; L61 FYP 150

Judaism may be the only religion that takes an "-ish" in its adjectival form, but it's certainly not the only identity in US culture to consider its particularity through language. As the 2014 sit-com black-ish showed through its very title, mixed-race African diasporic identity haunted the Obama-era cultural imagination. But how does "Jew-ish-ness" differ from "Black-ish-ness"? Certainly all "ishs" aren't the same. We will engage with texts, films, and recordings from across the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, from The Jazz Singer to black-ish, to ask how cultural production inflects narratives of affiliation between Black, Jewish, and Black-Jewish people. How are cross-diasporic relationships depicted? How is historical trauma, specifically the Holocaust and the African slave trade, made sense of in artistic representation? What happens to these communities as identities become more mixed, more "-ish"? How do these diasporic affinities complicate national modes of belonging, or speak to other notions of diasporic identity in US culture and abroad? What are the perils and potentials of engaging with comparative diasporic study?

Unearthing the Science of Climate Change

Earth, Environmental & Planetary Science; L61 FYP 1410

How and why does climate change? How does the climate system interact with human systems? This course investigates the scientific principles of Earth's ever-changing climate, with a special focus on the present-day. Topics include Earth's energy balance; the components of the climate system; natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change; climate change detection and attribution; weather extremes; and climate adaptation/vulnerability in past and present human societies.

Villains of Ancient Rome

Classics; L61 FYP 1171

In the rich culture of ancient Rome, there were both many examples of "villainy" and much commentary on what constituted a "villain." In this seminar, we will read ancient historical and literary accounts featuring the great "villains" of Rome, such as the evil king Tarquinius Superbus, the tyrannical Marc Antony, and Agrippina the Younger, the conniving mother of the emperor Nero. Our sources will give us a useful view of the daily life, social structures, governments, economies, and multiple religions of Roman culture. Furthermore, we will come to see how traces of Romans (virtuous and villainous) live on today! After a semester of critical reading, class discussions, and writing, you should leave the course with a greater understanding of Roman culture broadly, different ideas of what constitutes a "villain," and the impact that Rome still has on our modern world.

What We Might Have Been: Utopianism in American Literature

American Culture Studies; English Literature; L61 FYP 152

Over the last decade, dystopian fiction has become a pop culture fixture. The dismal futures of The Hunger Games, Netflix's Black Mirror, and Hulu's adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale are familiar to most students. In the midst of all this dystopia, this seminar asks: is there room for dystopia's positive counterpoint, Utopia? "What We Might Have Been" treats utopianism as a central idea in U.S. literary history. We will read fiction, nonfiction, and theory depicting societies that have fundamentally restructured work, family, and political life along various ideological lines, from feminism and Black nationalism to green anarchism and tecnho-libertarianism. These utopian texts allow us to dream of sometimes beautiful, sometimes strange solutions to the ongoing crises of our contemporary moment and provide an imaginative laboratory to test the consequences of different ways of organizing social, political, and economic life. In addition to the philosophical shades that utopianism takes, we will compare the various literary techniques and genres that authors have employed to express their visions. Throughout the seminar, we will interrogate the idea of America and ask the salient questions, Is another way possible? And can it happen here?