2022 First-Year Seminars

1.  Ideas that Have Shaped the World  

Why do ideas matter? What is the relationship between the individual and the community? How can we define human nature? What is justice? Are there universal moral principles? Or are our actions considered moral according to the moment and place in which we find ourselves? Explore these and other fundamental issues of humanistic inquiry through a series of compelling and influential texts. Faculty members from several different disciplines will join with students to read and discuss the work of authors as diverse as Homer, Plato, Augustine, Shakespeare, Jefferson, Descartes, Marx, Darwin, Du Bois, Duras, and Achebe, among others.  The reading list is focused around the question, “How do the ideas of these authors – all from different cultures and eras -- resonate across time and help us to understand our present experience within a global community?” Furthermore, studying carefully the work of outstanding thinkers, readers, and writers is one of the best ways to learn to read, think, and write well yourself. Because all sections of the course will read the texts simultaneously, conversations will extend beyond the classroom. The seminar also features six plenary lectures by visiting speakers and Dickinson faculty on themes and issues central to the readings. Students and faculty in all course sections will attend these plenary sessions together.

Professor: Andy Wolff, Political Science
Time: MF 11:30

2.  Storytelling with Food in France

This course investigates the role food plays in French literature and storytelling. It is not a coincidence that France’s fervent food culture and celebrated literary practice share a long, integrated history. Many of France’s most renowned authors have, for centuries, viewed food as an essential vehicle to examine and depict society, culture, and the human condition. In this course, students will read a range of texts from some of France’s most distinguished authors, both past (Emile Zola, Marcel Proust) and present (Muriel Barbery, Marie Ndiaye), with the aim of interrogating the dynamic relationship between food and storytelling. In addition to analyzing the way food has informed French literature and vice versa, students will reflect on their own culinary experiences, including how food might act as a literary inspiration in their own life. As part of this investigation, the class will have opportunities to break bread together and share our favorite dishes.

Professor: Adeline Soldin, French and Francophone Studies
Time: MF 11:30

3.  Water: Protecting a Scarce Resource; Preventing a Crisis

Water is essential for life on earth. We all know this. Yet while many headlines refer to the growing water crisis, it is not something we tend to think about as long as water is running from our own taps. In this seminar, we will explore the meanings and causes of water scarcity, focusing on many examples from around the United States and the world. Water scarcity can be a resource phenomenon where supplies are insufficient to meet local demand. Water scarcity can be caused by water pollution or inadequate infrastructure that prevents a community from meeting its water needs. To inform our understanding of water scarcity today, we will explore the history of water infrastructure, scientific understanding, and legal institutions. We will discuss policies that can help prevent water scarcity becoming a crisis. Using Carlisle as a case-study, we will explore documents in the Dickinson College archives, visit the local water and wastewater treatment plants, learn about water use on the Dickinson College farm, and test the quality of water in the local Yellow Breeches creek.

Professor: Nicky Tynan, Economics
Time: MF 11:30

4.  "One Health”: Linking Human, Plant/Animal, and Ecosystem Health for a More Sustainable Future

“One Health” is a multi-disciplinary approach to sustainably balance the interdependent health and well-being of humans, plants/animals, and ecosystems in our highly-globalized world. This seminar will employ the One Health lens to examine the impacts and consequences of the current climate crisis, emerging infectious disease, habitat and biodiversity loss, and ecosystem dysfunction. Case studies will include the Ebola 2014-16 epidemic, the current COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing Sixth Extinction, and efforts aimed at preservation, conservation, and mitigation. We will discuss a wide range of readings from books, magazines, and the academic literature, including Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer and Half Earth. Our Planet’s Fight for Life by E. O. Wilson.  The ultimate goal of this seminar will be to explore constructive approaches for using the One Health approach to adapt to a changing planet.    

Professor: John Henson, Biology
Time: MF 11:30

5.   Lies, Revenge, and Really Bad Ideas:  How Behavioral Economics Explains some of our Most Human Moments

Have you ever worked late into the night on an assignment, promising yourself you will never procrastinate so much again, only to make exactly the same mistake a month later?  Have you ever made a purchase you regretted almost immediately?  (Worse, was the foolish nature of the purchase entirely predictable?)  Do you get magazine subscriptions you do not read or have a membership to a gym you seldom visit?  Economics is built around critical, emotionless analysis. People are said to maximize their happiness over the long term and respond quickly to changing conditions. Yet “real” people make flawed decisions, seem to forget about the future, take revenge even when it hurts them to do so, and sometimes lie.  What gives?  In this class we will recreate economic experiments that illustrate some of the ideas of behavioral economics and explore how these “mistakes” of human behavior can lead to outcomes we wouldn’t always expect – and often do not want. We will evaluate some of the economic assumptions about human behavior and how well it fits what we see in the world around us. We will think about honesty and when (and under what circumstances) we tend to break from this ideal. Students will evaluate articles and book chapters, write reflections and put authors in conversation, as well as develop one longer written assignment which they will peer reviewed.  We will also look for common behavioral mistakes in our home community, Dickinson, and Carlisle, and think creatively about ways to engineer our environment to nudge people to make better choices.  And you will present your ideas to the class at the end of the term in creative ways such as a policy brief, podcast or presentation.

Professor: Tricia Hawks, Economics
Time: MF 11:30

6.  What is Food?! Proofing Our Understanding and Knowledge of Food.

Where does your food come from? Why do you enjoy some traditional foods instead of others? What are the environmental impacts of your salad or your burger? Together we will critically examine food and the evolution of its procurement, production, consumption, and cultural meanings. Through readings, discussions, a field trip to the Dickinson Farm, and even some cooking, we will conduct a multidisciplinary investigation of food. This course is designed to help you develop critical thinking and ethical reasoning skills, along with clear and argumentative writing as we analyze information, examine food-related issues from multiple perspectives, and discuss some of the complex questions that frame food studies. Which current food systems are sustainable? What factors will shape the future of foodways and food culture? What is the ethical responsibility of our eating?

Professor: Luca Trazzi, Italian and Italian Studies
Time: MF 11:30

7.  Cancelled

9.  Game Changers, Gaffes, and Zingers: Debating American Politics

In America today it seems that many political participants would much rather be wrong than admit to changing their mind.  In this course, we will focus on the topic of persuasion in American politics.  We will study the impact of many types of political communication as we evaluate how and when people’s opinions might actually change.  Students will complete a series of persuasive writing assignments that represent the kinds of ways folks argue about contemporary American politics - op-eds, letters to the editor, policy essays.  And this class will also emphasize the development of each student’s speaking skills.  Over the course of the semester, all members of the class will participate in a formal, moderated, one-on-one debate on a key issue affecting American politics.

Professor: David O’Connell, Political Science
Time: MWF 12:30

10.  Rebellion and Revolution: Revolutionaries from past to present 

What makes a revolution? We hear lots of discussions of revolution and rebellion throughout history, but these concepts are used in many different contexts. In this class, we will use historical and current examples to answer the question of what makes a revolution or a revolutionary. We will address examples from the classic “Great Revolutions” like the American, French, Chinese, and Russian revolutions, as well as more contemporary cases like the Arab Spring of the 2010s and the Myanmar Spring Revolution that began in 2021 where the outcomes remain uncertain. Our class will consider strategies that range from civil disobedience to violence and how these relate to the goals of revolutions. We will also look at a variety of ways that revolutions are discussed: academic literature, firsthand accounts of participants, documentaries, and news reporting. By reading and watching these different accounts of revolution, we will explore different genres of writing and communication, as well as gain a holistic picture of what it means to be revolutionary.

Professor: Rachel Jacobs, Political Science and International Studies
Time: MWF 11:30

11.  Man’s Best Friend: The History and Science of our Unbreakable Bond with Dogs.

More than 15,000 years ago, humans began a unique collaboration with a fellow predator – the wolf - that changed the course of evolution for both species. How did dog traits evolve in response to selective pressure from humans? How has our dependence on dogs affected our evolution? What are the genetic differences between the wild, distinguished wolf and the stout, lovable pug? Why do dogs have such a profound effect on human physiology? How do dogs understand human language and read human facial expressions? This course will explore the history and science of our relationship with dogs. We’ll consider the evolution, genetics, psychology, and physiology of the human-dog partnership, including how our brains have evolved to respond to each other. We’ll learn from historical evidence, personal accounts, and scientific studies, including the famous field fox domestication experiment and recent genomic analyses. Field trips might include visits to the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, and the Dickinson College Dog House. Students will have the opportunity to write creative blog posts based on interviews with dog volunteers and their owners. We’ll have special guest lectures by scientists, veterinarians, and dog trainers to help inform our understanding of this multifaceted topic.  A final project will be to disseminate what we’ve learned through our research via scripted podcasts. 
Professor: Missy Niblock, Biology
Time: MF 11:30

12.  Pinnacles and Pitfalls: Basic Science in the Service of Human Health

The contributions of biomedical science to the welfare of humanity are unarguably impressive.  Between 1840 and the present, human life expectancy has almost doubled. This is largely a function of societal embrace of evidence-based improvements in both public health initiatives and clinical practice. Amid these tremendous accomplishments, however, are unanticipated challenges.  In this seminar, we will explore human health from two perspectives. In the first, we will investigate the role of basic science in solving and, sometimes simultaneously, creating, humanity’s most significant existential threats. In the second, we will evaluate the often unequal and always convoluted management of health care delivery.  Readings for this course will include Pandora’s Lab by P.A. Offit, An American Sickness by E. Rosenthal, and articles from professional clinical and research journals. Guest speakers will also enrich and inform our debate of these timely issues.

Professor: Chuck Zwemer, Biology
Time: MF 11:30

13.  How to Lie with Maps:  Terra Incognita in the Modern World

The accidental and purposeful manipulation of maps and their implications for social justice makes being map-literate a critical skill in today’s world.  This course will introduce foundations of cartographic principles, map critique, the history of cartography, and critical cartography as tools to aid in constructing and interpreting maps.  With the expansion and integration of the internet into society, the ability to produce maps has dramatically expanded and transformed their role in society.  Geographers have labeled this transition in cartographic practice “neogeography.” The consequences of this transition mean that becoming a literate consumer of maps and map production is vital to being a literate member of society as we live in an ever more cartographically constructed world.  

Professor: Gordon Cromley, GISP
Time: MWF 12:30

14.  Don’t Get Lost: Television Drama and Community 

Television drama offers unusual points of access to stories of failure, punishment, transformation, and achievement that construct our social and cultural beliefs. In this seminar, we will explore (a selection of) three television series that raise questions about how we create, organize, and protect communities and shape our roles and those of the “others” within them: Lost (2004-2010), Homeland (2011-2020), and Pose (2018-2021). In Lost, a bunch of strangers stranded on a desert island must set rules to survive and function against a hostile environment, coming to terms with the complexities of civilization. This series will be our first portal (or hatch, as the “Losties” would see it) to explore compelling ethical questions about communities. We will then examine Homeland, a post- 9/11 series on the “war on terror” in which the community is the American nation, which must be protected from the terrorist threat. Homeland will challenge us to look at the American values and community from an external, decolonizing perspective. Pose is a drama on the New York City’s African-American and Latino LGBTQ community in the 1980s, early 1990s, which was subjected to discrimination and alienation, but created a space of creativity and safety within the ball culture drag scene. We will take on the challenge of acting as “resisting viewers” (as opposed to passive viewers) able to analyze cultural frameworks; identify matters of race, ethnicity, and gender; and even pinpoint the ideological pitfalls of the series. Readings from several theoretical texts that these three television dramas evoke, such as Anderson, Appiah, Butler, Deleuze, Foucault, Locke, Rousseau, and Said will support our analysis.

Professor: Nicoletta Marini-Maio, Italian and Film and Media Studies
Time: MF 11:30

15.  Ukraine, Russia, and the Future of Europe

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the war that followed has redefined longstanding ideas about Europe, globalization, and Russian influence in former-Soviet nations. Some scholars have argued that this is “a chance for Europe’s renewal,” in response to the global outpouring of support for Ukraine and its defense; others have highlighted that we are witnessing “the return of tragedy to European soil.” In this seminar, we will take a multidisciplinary look at the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. We will consider what it means to study the contemporary moment, while also paying careful attention to the history that got us here. We will develop our critical thinking, reading, and writing skills by analyzing texts in a variety of genres—including film, fiction, art, scholarship, journalism, and oral histories. Russia’s war against Ukraine is among the most urgent topics today for scholars of that region, and we will engage with this work to better understand the global resonance of the crisis. 
 
Professor: Alyssa DeBlasio, Russian
Time: MF 11:30

16.  Narratives of Arctic and Antarctic Exploration

The Earth’s poles have long fascinated explorers and adventurers. This seminar will examine how the Arctic and Antarctic have been portrayed through books, film and art. Looking not only at explorers’ published accounts, we will also read and discuss literary representations of Far North and South. We will discuss such topics as the history of polar exploration, representation of women and minorities in these narratives, and the changing climate of these regions. Texts and films will include those by Peary, Henson, Cherry-Garrard, Ransmayr and Herzog, among others.
Professor: Kamaal Haque, German
Time: MWF 11:30

17.  Poxes and Plagues: The History of Medicine through Pandemics

How has humanity historically managed pandemics?  How have definitions of patients, practitioners, and sickness changed?  Who has been instrumental in changing these definitions? Starting with the Black Death and progressing to the present day we will examine major pandemics in medical history.  We will explore how changes in the understanding of illness and treatment, both local and global, have shaped the course of disease.  

Professor: Kendall Thompson, Library
Time: MWF 12:30

18.  Does the Place Make the Person? The Effects of the Physical Environment on Human Psychology

How do our physical environments affect us? This course will explore the effects of physical environments on our thoughts, moods, relationships, physical and mental health as well as how the design of physical environments communicate cultural values. We will examine these issues from a variety of perspectives including psychology, sociology, public health, art history, architecture and urban planning.  Class assignments will focus on helping students develop college level skills in understanding academic texts, identifying appropriate sources of information and college level writing. Class projects will include an analysis of how your physical environments affect you and an opportunity to do in-depth research on the aspect of physical environments that most interests you.

Professor: Sharon Kingston, Psychology
Time: MF 11:30

19.  Immigration Stories: Fictions of Migration in Global Perspective 

Why do people leave their home country for another? How have authors and filmmakers represented this experience? This seminar will explore what belonging, identity, and difference mean as we read short stories and novels and watch films with migration experiences as a central theme. We will discuss how these authors talk about home and family, exile, alienation, memory, culture, and loss. We will also explore how these themes intersect with broader social categories such as race, class, gender, citizenship status, and language. We will explore how these authors respond to challenges and how they actively reshape cultural spaces by re-telling their experiences. Throughout this seminar, we will focus on the idea that although migration happens worldwide, it is not the same experience for everyone. We will potentially read texts by authors from Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the United States, including Richard Rodriguez, Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo, Laila Lalami, Najat El Hachmi, and others.

Professor: Eva Copeland, Spanish and Portuguese
Time: MF 11:30

20.  Indigenous Education: Native Americans, Schooling, and the Carlisle Experiment
*This seminar forms a learning community with "“We are Still Here”: Indigenous People Yesterday and Today" and "Indigenous Futurism in Contemporary American Culture."

Just over a mile from the campus of Dickinson College is the site of the infamous institution, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. From 1879-1918 over 7500 children from 140 tribes attended Carlisle, which became the prototype for boarding schools throughout North America, both in the U.S. and Canada, as well as other English-speaking settler colonial nations. This first year seminar, “Indigenous Education: Native Americans, Schooling, and the Carlisle Experiment,” will take up the question of how the United States government attempted to use these boarding schools as a method of genocide, control, and “civilization” and how Native Americans have in turn responded, reshaping and reclaiming their own indigenous education.  Drawing from historical accounts, fiction, and art, this seminar will move between exploring the (often contradictory) goals of the U.S. government in creating these schools and the complex experiences of Native Americans themselves.  Indeed, the pain of these schools is longstanding as we know from paying attention to those Native Americans who are now working closely with the Secretary of the Interior, Barbara Haaland, to return the remains of the children who died while at the schools to their own homelands. This seminar will allow us to ponder indigenous histories and futures, to think about the legacy of a government policy that forcibly relocated Native children, and, most broadly, to consider the purpose of education in general (including ourselves, at this moment), its liberatory as well as coercive possibilities.  As part of the seminar, students will be encouraged to draw deeply from the archives of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, held at both Dickinson (http://carlisleindian.dickinson.edu/) and the Cumberland County Historical Society, in order to complete their own final research projects. 
 
Professor: Amy Farrell, American Studies and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Time: MF 11:30

21.  Muslim Lives in the First Person

We explore how Muslims have told their life stories in memoir and fiction. The authors include a nineteenth century princess of Zanzibar, a Saudi novelist describing boyhood in Mecca, an Egyptian pioneer of women’s liberation, and a leading advocate for Islamic revival. The course will introduce students to academic approaches of analysis and interpretation through close reading of scholarly articles in anthropology, feminist theory, historiography, and political thought.  Through these works, some films, and a visit to a local mosque (pandemic conditions permitting), we will consider the formative impact of context on Muslim lives in different historical and contemporary situations. Students will develop writing skills through a series of assignments connected to the first-person accounts and to scholarly articles.

Professor: David Commins, History
Time: MWF 11:30

22.  Race, Science, Nature, Socialism, Feminism, and the Human Condition: The History of Ideas that We Still Ponder

In this seminar, we examine the ways in which WEB DuBois, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Mary Shelley, Sigmund Freud, and Emmeline Pankhurst identified and expanded fields of intellectual study (race, capitalism and exploitation, evolution and genetics, technology and ethics, psychology and psychoanalysis, and feminism) and new ways of thinking about scientific and social issues. The works of these thinkers had – and in many ways continue to have – tremendous influence on the ways in which societies have been organized and understood. While our primary focus will be on the ideas that these writers examined and the historical context in which they arose, we will also concern ourselves with the ways in which 20th- and 21st-century societies grapple with their complexities.

Professor: Karl Qualls, History
Time: MWF 12:30

23. “We are Still Here”: Indigenous People Yesterday and Today 
*This seminar forms a learning community with "Indigenous Education: Native Americans, Schooling, and the Carlisle Experiment" and "Indigenous Futurism in Contemporary American Culture."

Who are Indigenous Peoples? Where do they live? What are their past and current struggles? Though this seminar we would discuss the impact and continuity of colonial experiences in contemporary Indigenous populations living in different parts of the world (with special emphasis on Latin America and Australia), and the various types of inequalities they endure and resist. We will use, among others, land acknowledgements, public apologies, and Indigenous literature and art to critically examine governmental policies, racism, and knowledge production as they relate to Indigenous communities. We will read texts produced by and watch documentaries about Indigenous leaders such as David Kopenawa and Rigoberta Menchu to understand Indigenous perspectives on colonialism, climate change and inequalities. A field visit to the site of erstwhile Carlisle Indian Industrial School is proposed.

Professor: Amalia Pesantes Villa, Anthropology and Archaeology
Time: MWF 11:30

24.  Design: Principles and Practice

Design is everywhere around us. The clothes we wear, the media we consume, the devices we all use, the vehicles we transport ourselves around in, the things we eat, and the places where we live, eat and recreate were all designed by someone. Some of these things were designed well and some were not. What does “designed well” mean and how does one design something well?  These are the two questions that will serve as the focus of our readings and class discussions in this introductory First-Year Seminar on design. We will spend a good deal of our time learning about an emergent paradigm in design called design thinking.  Design thinking refers to a set of principles that reorient the entire design process toward the end-users’ needs and wants, while also taking account of more normative criteria such as sustainability, intrinsic value, and ethics. Toward the end of the course, students will be given the opportunity to apply what they have learned by researching and writing about the design of something of their own choosing. In addition to covering the “back story” on how the subject of their work came to be, students will address what design-thinking principles we learn about were followed or ignored in the process.  

Professor: James Hoefler, Political Science
Time: MF 11:30

25.  Technology and Society

How many times have you checked your phone today? It’s likely that your answer to that question will be “too many to count.” In the past two decades, rapid development of communication technology has transformed how people relate with one another. However, new research suggests that the overall level of social connection has actually decreased over the past twenty years. What’s more, we now know that technology corporations have, in some cases, intentionally manipulated billions of people in order to increase their profit potential, according to recent whistleblower revelations and investigations. This course will attempt to make sense of this contradiction: it’s easier than ever before to “reach out and touch someone,” but, today, people spend less time connecting with one another than they did before the social media era. We will learn about, explore, and use new technologies while we read social theory and cutting-edge research to make sense how these rapid technological changes have impacted societies around the globe.

Professor: Erik Love, Sociology
Time: MF 11:30

26.  Who Am I in Today’s Post-Truth World? 

By now, almost everyone knows the meaning of the expression post-truth: situations in which objective facts are less influential than emotions and beliefs when it comes to shaping public opinion. Then what can be said about the possibility of addressing the question “who am I?” in this post-truth world in which we live? Is it different to answer this than to be able to tell apart truth from lies in the public-opinion arena? What determines truth? This seminar will focus on these questions primarily with regards to truth and the self, first from a philosophical perspective, and then from the point of view of literature, music, and film produced in different times, countries, languages, and cultures. This will lead us to an awareness of who we may be through the eyes of other selves in different media and help us determine how we shall become responsible and civically engaged citizens. Through this seminar, students will develop the ability to draw analytical conclusions from studying ideas in an interdisciplinary manner while discussing them orally and especially in clear writing for academic purposes.

Professor: Jorge Sagastume, Spanish and Portuguese
Time: MF 11:30

27.  Cancelled

28.  Freedom

Americans love to talk of freedom. In support of Donald Trump. In opposition to Donald Trump. In support of #blacklivesmatter. In opposition to mask mandates. Why does freedom seem so valuable? And what exactly is it? In this course, we will explore three varieties of freedom: political freedom, psychological freedom, and free will. We will engage with the ideas of a wide range of influential people from various times and places. These potentially include Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, Ida Wells, Mohandas Gandhi, George Orwell, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Ralph Ellison, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stanley Milgram, and Iris Marion Young.

Professor: Chauncey Maher, Philosophy
Time: MF 11:30

29.  Writing the Self: The Personal Essay

Many kinds of knowledge come from looking out into the world. A Dickinson education might involve fieldwork in the arctic, an exchange semester in New Zealand, or hours spent observing the universe through a telescope. In this class, we will learn about a different kind of knowledge: the kind that comes from looking into ourselves. A bit over four hundred years ago, a man named Michel de Montaigne invented a new kind of writing, which he called the “essay.” He wrote about his favorite books, about his childhood, his sleep habits, his friends, about random things he noticed. “When I play with my cat,” he mused, “how do I know she is not instead playing with me?” Centuries later, telling our own stories through the essay form remains a powerful form of testimony and self-expression, and reading essays offers us greater understanding of others. In this class, we will apprentice ourselves to canonical and contemporary authors in the essay tradition, including Montaigne, David Hume, Samuel Johnson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Junichiro Tanizaki, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Sofia Samatar. We will hone our writing skills by imitating and analyzing their essays. Alongside our critical reading and writing, we will become authors of our own works of essayistic reflection and self-discovery.

Professor: Jacob Sider Jost, English
Time: MF 11:30

30.  Indigenous Futurism in Contemporary American Culture
*This seminar forms a learning community with "Indigenous Education: Native Americans, Schooling, and the Carlisle Experiment" and "“We are Still Here”: Indigenous People Yesterday and Today"

“If Yoda Was an Indian, He’d Dance the Tail Every Time,” notes Yakama & Pawnee visual artist Bunky Echo-Hawk in the title of one of a series of several pieces revising the famous green elder of the Star Wars universe into traditional Indigenous regalia. And Echo-Hawk is not alone in his revisions and reworkings of the science fiction genre: in the field of what scholar Grace Dillon has termed Indigenous Futurism, Native artists from the visual to the literary have found a profoundly ripe stage for Indigenous representation and artistic exploration. Following historically on other alternative-futurist projects such as Afrofuturism and Queer Futurism, Indigenous Futurism shares certain sensibilities with these related aesthetic forms, perhaps most strikingly as a strategy of decolonial clapback against the white-washing tendencies of most popular speculative art throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. Nevertheless, Indigenous Futurism marshals the field of SF/Futurism in critically different ways unique to the history and relationship of the Indigenous Americas to popular culture and colonial history. Indeed, this emerging field has a particular strategic advantage due to its temporal and pop-cultural orientation, allowing such art to function as a prolific laboratory of resistance to the settler-colonial project. This course examines Native authors, filmmakers, and visual/multimedia artists to evolve an understanding of the character of the field of Indigenous Futurism and why it operates as a critical strategic negotiation site for the representation of Native people in contemporary American culture.

Professor: Darren Lone Fight, American Studies
Time: MWF 11:30

31.  Engaging Carlisle: A Town In-Between

I borrowed the title for this seminar from Judith Ridner’s critically acclaimed book, A Town In-Between: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Early Mid-Atlantic Interior. Ridner shows that in colonial times Carlisle represented an important mid-Atlantic hub, a migration gateway to the interior of the country. Situated at the intersection of I-81 and I-76, our area continues to be a place in-between, playing a crucial role in the distribution of goods throughout the Atlantic region, with dozens of warehouses that surround and almost choke the town, providing thousands of jobs to the community while making the air often unbreathable. In this seminar, we will study the history of Carlisle, treating its urban landscape as a palimpsest composed of many different layers. You will pursue a research project of your choice, dealing either with Carlisle historical past or the problems that the town and its region are facing today.

Professor: Tullio Pagano, Italian
MWF 11:30

32.  Zadie Smith's 21st Century

When Zadie Smith’s White Teethwas published in 2000, it was a sensation. A sprawling and lively first novel by a brilliant young writer, White Teeth told interlocking stories of immigrants from Britain’s former colonies making new lives for themselves in (mostly) 1970s and 1980s London—and remaking modern Britain in the process. In the two decades since her debut, Smith has written novels, short stories, and essays that explore lived experiences of post- and anti-colonial politics, generational divides among immigrant families in the UK and US, the psychological and emotional aspects of race and identity, the complexity of friendships, the rise and often antisocial effects of social media, and the necessity of public things, among them art and artistic expression. This seminar dives into Smith’s fiction and thought. We will read the novels White Teeth (2000) and Swing Time (2016), and read from the short story collection Grand Union (2019), the essay collection Feel Free (2018), and the meditation on COVID-19 and anti-Blackness Intimations (2020). 

Professor: Claire Seiler, English
Time: MF 11:30

33.  Music and Sound in Everyday Life
*This seminar forms a learning community with "Current – Using Music to Examine Human Interactions with Water and the Natural Environment"

This seminar calls on students to open their ears to the music and soundscapes of the everyday, at Dickinson, in Carlisle, and in communities that are temporally, geographically, or demographically remote. What roles do music and sound play in structuring the experience of everyday life? How do you listen to music, how do you consume it? What is public about music listening and what is private? How do institutions and social groups use music to shape experiences of belonging or of exclusion? We start with understanding our seminar as a specific community of listeners, examining our practices and experiences. We then move to examine soundscapes and everyday music at Dickinson, in Carlisle, and through deep dives into specific case studies. We will take local sound walks, visit the Dickinson archives, listen to recordings, read deeply, discuss widely. Students will learn to use writing as a medium to sharpen their thinking and listening, to read critically, and to give and respond to productive peer review.

Professor: Ellen Gray, Music
Time: MF 11:30

34.  Anger, Grief, Joy:  Affective Echoes of Queer History 

This course examines critical affective moments in LGBTQ2 history that shaped our understanding of queer identity and community.  What was life like for earlier generations of queer people, and how have their lives shaped the experiences of LGBTQ2 people today?  How has feeling been an integral part of queer experience?  We’ll consider these questions through three major themes: “Anger & Resistance” focusing on Stonewall, Compton’s, and other LGBTQ resistance to police harassment in the 1950s and 60s; “Grief & Loss” examining the 1980s AIDS epidemic and the effects on different LGBTQ communities; finally, “Joy & Sex” looking at the Harlem Renaissance and the vibrant queer cultures it enabled early in the 20th century.  Our investigations will lead us through film, manifesto, art, music, poetry, and other primary materials from each of these moments.  Our final project enables each student to explore a part of LGBTQ2 history that speaks to them.  

Professor: Katie Schweighofer, American Studies/ Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Time: MF 11:30

35.  Natural Disasters and You

This seminar is about natural disasters and how they affect us and, most importantly, you. We will examine ancient disasters (e.g., asteroid impact-induced mass extinction 66 million years ago that killed most of the dinosaurs), historic disasters (e.g., Krakatoa and the Japan tsunami), recent disasters (e.g., an event in your lifetime or in your hometown that personally affected you), as well as ongoing or potential future disasters (e.g., global warming, sea level rise, Yellowstone eruption, 6th mass extinction, alien invasion, etc.). We will wrestle with many concepts. What is nature? Are humans “natural?” Do natural disasters have to have a human component? How should we respond to natural disasters? In addition to discussions, you will be writing papers and giving oral presentations on natural disasters of your choosing. We will be reading a variety of first-hand accounts, popular literature, and technical reports on natural disasters. We will also watch a few “disaster” movies and documentaries (e.g., Koyaanisqatsi). This will all be augmented with a few guest speakers as part of the Earth Sciences departmental weekly seminar series.

Professor: Marcus Key, Earth Science
Time: MWF 11:30   

36.  Mental Illness: From Movies to Memoirs

This course will critically review and evaluate certain mental illnesses from a number of perspectives: scientific, media, and first-person.  In the first two-thirds of the semester, we will review scholarly accounts of certain mental illnesses (e.g., drug addiction) and compare such accounts to those depicted in the popular press (e.g., Time magazine) and in classic movies (e.g., Psycho).  A discussion-style approach will be adopted in which we review primary and secondary sources pertaining to a certain mental illness. Watching full-length feature films outside of class time followed by in-class discussions of these films will be required. Written assignments (e.g., article, discussion and movie questions and position papers) also will accompany the viewing of the films.  Students also will select a memoir, autobiography or a case-study presented in a textbook involving a person afflicted with a particular mental illness (e.g., depression) to serve as the primary source for an individual oral presentation at the end of the semester.

Professor: Anthony Rauhut, Psychology
Time: MWF 12:30

37. (In)Civility: The Politics of Rage, Protest, and Disobedience

Do we have an obligation to obey the laws and policies set by our government?  If democracy is understood to be government “by and for the people,” what do we owe to the state and to our peers?  What responsibility do we have to follow – or resist – laws or policies that we consider to be unjust?  And, in the face of injustice, what kinds of protest, disobedience, and disruption are permissible?  To answer these questions, this course will engage with a range of texts, films, and archival materials from philosophers, legal actors, and practitioners of disobedience on such themes like obligation, justice, non-violent versus violent action, dignity, citizenship, authority, and liberty.  After considering foundational philosophical texts from thinkers like Plato, John Locke, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., and more, we will analyze tangible moments of democratically-oriented disobedience and resistance, including the American Revolution; the Labor Movement; the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; the Women’s Rights Movement; Occupy Wall Street; the Black Lives Matter Movement; the release of national security documents by Edward Snowden; and contemporary anti-masking protests.  Each of these moments will serve as “test cases” for thinking about expanding, altering, or otherwise rehabilitating the conditions of our democratic lives. Where and when appropriate, students can expect to observe or analyze the coverage of protests occurring in their local communities.  

Professor: Kathryn Heard, Political Science
Time: MWF 11:30

38.  Cancelled

39.  No Playing Allowed: Banned and Censored Theater

When Nora from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House walked out on her husband and children, her exit shocked the audience and the moment became known as “the door slam heard around the world.” Plays have historically had the power to provoke and perturb as they try to comment on and change the real life happening outside the theater. We will explore some of the more controversial and riotous plays of the past and those from the present that still have the power to cause debate and dissension. Among the plays we will explore and view on film or live when possible are Aristophanes’ Lysistrata (RIOTS Greek anti-war/pro-sex play), Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession (SCANDAL unrepentant brothel owner), Mae West’s Sex (ARREST cast for indecency), Kushner’s Angels in America (PROTESTS homosexual content), Wedekind’s Springs’ Awakening (BANNED scandalous subject matter), McNally’s Corpus Christi (CONTROVERSY anti-Christian).  Be prepared for debates and exploration through writing and research of the power, danger, and potential of play.

Professor: Karen Kirkham, Theatre and Dance
Time: MF 11:30

40.  Cancelled

41.  Chaos and Order in Science and Society

Can scientists predict where the planets will be in our solar system arbitrarily far into the future? It is certainly true that we know the physical laws that govern the motion of planets (Newtonian mechanics / general relativity), and that these laws are mathematically precise. Yet the answer to the question is no. The solar system is just one of many manifestations of what we call “deterministic chaos.” In this seminar we will explore the science of chaos and its philosophical implications. But there is also a flipside: order can spontaneously emerge out of chaos, people manage to clap in unison, groups of fireflies can synchronize their flashes. This is a kind of order that is not externally enforced but one that emerges organically. This seminar will explore the interplay between self-organization and chaos, and you will get a taste of the exciting scientific approaches that have been developed over the past half-century. Taken together, these advances constitute a true paradigm shift in science. In our reading we will encounter examples from such diverse fields as physics, biology, and sociology, and this diversity illustrates both the cross-disciplinary nature of the subject as well as the universality of the underlying principles at work. The class will be structured around reading, group discussion, writing, and editing. At times, seminar discussion will be supplemented by class demonstrations and short computer projects.

Professor: Lars English, Physics
Time: MF 11:30

42.  Climate Change Mitigation: 100 Solutions

“The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report (AR6) removed any doubt as to the primary causes of rapid global warming, ‘It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans, and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred.’” (Carlisle Climate Action Plan, 2022). While most people agree that we are at a critical junction with regards to Global Warming and that only a small window exists to take decisive action, there is still hope and we CAN take action. But which actions are the best ones, the most effective ones, the easy ones, and the hard ones? Which actions will make the greatest difference in the shortest amount of time? What actions can we take individually, and which actions must we take locally, regionally, nationwide, and worldwide? In this seminar we will pursue solutions. We will explore the physics of global warming and investigate the concept of entropy as it pertains to sustainable living and sustainable technologies. In this seminar you will learn that entropy is closely linked to energy inefficiencies, and that ultimately a sustainable society will have to rely on renewable energy sources. To this end, we will engage in hands-on experimentation with renewable energy devices such as solar air heaters, evacuated tube solar collectors, solar concentrators, photovoltaic panels, and wind turbines.  As a consequence of this First-Year Seminar, you should be able to save at least $100 per month (for the rest of your life) on the heating, air conditioning, and electric bill for the house that you will build, purchase, or renovate after you graduate from Dickinson.
   
Professor: Hans Pfister, Physics and Astronomy
Time: MF 11:30

43. Cancelled

44. Current – Using Music to Examine Human Interactions with Water and the Natural Environment
*This seminar forms a learning community with "Music and Sound in Everyday Life"

“Current” examines environmental degradation through the lens of music performance and helps students to track historically shifting attitudes and approaches to activism through music. Music provides a context for advancing an understanding of damaged ecologies, of injured worlds (literally and metaphorically) when we deliberately position our audiences within them and listen to waterscape as history, as an exhibit of consequences. Students will seek and explore musical images and narratives of water from multiple perspectives: rivers, oceans, and waterways as nature, habitat, artifact, system, problem, wealth, ideology, history, place and aesthetic. This class will culminate in designing a public performance piece that will examine how we shape water and how it shapes us.

Jennifer Blyth, Music
MF 11:30

45. The Unending Crusades: Religion, Violence, Mythistory and its Legacy

The exciting challenge to studying the Crusades is that they are often used and misused in media platforms that we all encounter. In this course, we want to think historically, to understand the past on its own terms; learning about the Crusades helps us to do so because much of the crusading language, especially in popular culture, turns on clichés and partial understanding of those events. We explore this topic without shying away from the sometimes unsettling issue of religion—especially the toxic combination of religion and violence. So we involve the subject of religion and violence because there is so much misinformation and disinformation about the Crusades concerning this. We consider, throughout, how taking head-on the notion of mythistory can be an engaging learning experience. As we do so, we give some attention to Judaism, often overlooked, in addition to Islam and Christianity. We explore myths of the Crusades in Western European, Middle Eastern, and Jewish documents as well in as other writings about the Crusades and try to understand how different historians, as well as non-historians, see the Crusades, including trying to answer the question: “How many Crusades are there?” Finally, we examine what we have done culturally with the vestiges we have inherited from the Crusades -- for example, present day notions, film representations, political and cultural movements, maybe even online gaming.

Abraham Quintanar, Spanish & Portuguese
MWF 12:30

46  Africa and the Caribbean: Insight into the French Imperialism Narratives
 
This seminar’s topic “Africa and the Caribbean: Insight into the French Imperialism Narratives” investigates French imperialism in Africa and the Caribbean from both chronological and thematic perspectives, to provide insight into the imperial relationships, typical of the French Empire. Students will investigate how novelists, essayists, and filmmakers capture the complex destinies of life in African and Caribbean societies, challenging the subjugation that is inscribed in cultural and social fabrics of their communities, exploring imaginative and unexpected venues that may mobilize energies for people’s liberation.  The course will primarily address notions of multiculturalism, imperialism, national identity, as well as the development of colonial discourse in relation to the French Empire. No knowledge of French or African and Caribbean History is necessary. 

Benjamin Ngong, French
MWF 11:30-12:20 

47.  Ideas that Have Shaped the World  

Why do ideas matter? What is the relationship between the individual and the community? How can we define human nature? What is justice? Are there universal moral principles? Or are our actions considered moral according to the moment and place in which we find ourselves? Explore these and other fundamental issues of humanistic inquiry through a series of compelling and influential texts. Faculty members from several different disciplines will join with students to read and discuss the work of authors as diverse as Homer, Plato, Augustine, Shakespeare, Jefferson, Descartes, Marx, Darwin, Du Bois, Duras, and Achebe, among others.  The reading list is focused around the question, “How do the ideas of these authors – all from different cultures and eras -- resonate across time and help us to understand our present experience within a global community?” Furthermore, studying carefully the work of outstanding thinkers, readers, and writers is one of the best ways to learn to read, think, and write well yourself. Because all sections of the course will read the texts simultaneously, conversations will extend beyond the classroom. The seminar also features six plenary lectures by visiting speakers and Dickinson faculty on themes and issues central to the readings. Students and faculty in all course sections will attend these plenary sessions together.

Professor: Marc Mastrangelo, Classical Studies
Time: MF 11:30