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A Message From Patricia Tarantello, Director of First Year Seminar

The First Year Seminars (FYS) we offer at Marist combine academic skill development with an expansive approach to learning. They are designed with you—a brand new college student—in mind. These classes not only broach topics, ideas, theories, systems, ideologies, cultures, time periods, and literary genres that you may never have had the opportunity to explore in high school, but they also provide support to you as you adjust to a new set of academic standards and expectations. 

With your active participation, the FYS faculty create a dynamic classroom environment to stimulate curiosity and enhance your knowledge, skills, and level of comfort in your new community. 

This class may take you in unexpected directions, and it will surely be a sturdy foundation upon which to build your academic career at Marist. Make the most of it!

Fall 2024 First Year Seminar Courses

Sections, Titles, and Descriptions

Do I know how to budget my time and money now that I am basically on my own? Do I know how to do my income taxes? Do I understand all those flyers and applications I receive for credit cards? Should I even get a credit card? Why do I need, or do I need, life insurance? What are the best ways to invest my money? Why should I start thinking about a retirement fund now? Have you ever had these questions? How will I survive my first year in college, let alone life after college? Many people have written articles and books, launched websites, and created podcasts to consider and provide some answers to these questions. In this class we will research and discuss some of the most relevant information available about surviving your first year in college and life in the "real world."

Soccer is the world’s most popular sport in number of participants and fans, offering mass entertainment. Every single country in the world has a national team, with the exception of the Marshall Island in the Oceania continent. Soccer is not just a popular ball game, fun and beautiful, but it does also have real impact in international development, politics and society. We will be looking at the history of soccer, the laws of the game, the different soccer organizations, the different championships, the world cup, the best players and the best teams around the world. We will also explore the impact of soccer in society.

The intersection of faith and fashion reveals much about religion and society and how we tell our faith stories. This course aims to explore the function and ritual of apparel in faith practices while examining the influence of religion and spirituality on fashion and its cultural impact. Starting with the fig leaf in the Garden of Eden, students will trace the origins of fashion through the lens of religion. We will study how iconic designers and brands have both celebrated and misappropriated faith through fashion and how sacred garments and symbols have been used to promote propaganda and persecution throughout history. By exploring how fashion can be both sacred and profane, students will gain a greater understanding of the power of faith and fashion.

Since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s, the relationship between fashion and popular music has been a culturally significant one. This course will explore the ways in which the constant intertwining of fashion and rock ‘n’ roll has shaped attitudes, taste, and consumption as well as the identity of the youth of the past seven decades. Looking at a variety of media including music, magazines, and videos, we will study this unique and exciting relationship while engaging critical college-level skills such as information literacy, research, public presentation, and writing.

What does it mean to be both Black and Latino? This course will explore the ways in which Afrolatino authors, artists, scholars, and activists are revealing the anti-Blackness inherent in many contemporary representations of Latino identity. In this course, students will analyze the intersections of Blackness and Latino identity in a variety of cultural products from the US and Latin America, including literature, film, music, and social media posts.  

Everyone is a fan of something. You may be waking up at 2am to catch an artist's latest album release, participating in fantasy sports, singing along at your favorite band’s show, connecting with other fans online, attending a game wearing your favorite athlete’s jersey, rewatching a cult classic film for the seventh time, or attending a convention in cosplay. What does it mean to be a “fan?” Where do fandoms thrive? What are fans’ activities, rituals, and expectations? How do fandoms and identity intersect? How do fans navigate being critical of the things we love? This course will explore the theories and research around fandoms, first defining them broadly and looking more closely at different types of fandoms. You will reflect on your own fan activities; conduct research on specific fandoms; engage in multiple fandoms and fan activities; and better understand how fandoms, cultures, identities, and politics intertwine.  

Creativity is a fundamental skill for success in today's rapidly evolving world. Traditionally, creativity has been seen as an innate trait, but we will challenge this notion by exploring how creativity can be nurtured and developed. You will learn to expand your creative potential through readings from various authors and engaging activities. We will explore the definition and importance of creativity in the 21st century, investigating its origins and the various factors that influence it. Techniques for enhancing creative thinking skills are introduced, along with strategies for overcoming barriers to creativity. Students will gain valuable insights into their creative abilities and develop strategies to unlock their creative potential. This course offers students the opportunity for self-discovery, as students embark on a journey to expand their creative capacities and apply them to academic and personal pursuits.

Growing up is hard. Family drama, friendship woes, school troubles, identity issues, and bodily changes are just a small sampling of the myriad problems that modern tweens and teens face. Unfortunately, growing up in the 21st century doesn’t come with a manual or how-to guide. So where to turn for advice, perspective, or even a sense of comfort? Authors of children’s and young adult literature have long sought to remedy this problem by crafting compelling, relatable narratives about the struggles of growing up. When kids see their own experiences reflected in the stories of others (both real and imagined), they learn that they’re not alone in their predicaments. Just as importantly, when kids see the stories of those who seem unlike them, they stand to learn compassion and empathy for the circumstances of others.

Over the last two decades, authors of children’s and young adult graphic novels have become some of the most important voices to capture these experiences in print. Enormously popular with children, parents, and librarians, the comics medium offers an immediate and engrossing canvas upon which to visualize adolescence, with its words and pictures working in tandem to represent typical anxieties, frustrations, and loneliness right alongside triumphs and joys. In this course, students will explore the trials and tribulations of growing up in America through a wide variety of graphic novels, both fiction and memoir, by authors like Raina Telgemeier, Johnnie Christmas, Victoria Jamieson, Claribel Ortega, Mike Curato, and Jen Wang. Coursework will encourage students to reflect on their own experiences growing up while also researching the issues these graphic narratives introduce.

This course will introduce you to key moments and issues pertaining to Black identity, liberation, and social justice.  A nuanced and interdisciplinary approach to understanding global Black experiences is foregrounded.  We are concentrating on power as a concept and considering literary, cinematic, historical, and sociological narratives.  Critical Race Theory, Afrofuturism, and Black Feminism are among the paradigms and theories that will guide our analyses.  Power to the People! also centers your own empowerment journeys as first year students.  By the end of this semester, you will be equipped with strategies for success and efficient tools to further your academic progress at Marist College and beyond.

Keywords for this course include: agency, power, politics, freedom, and representation.

Many college students feel pulled in a million different directions. Work, family, friends, relationships, roommates, coursework, internships, and career-related decisions are just some of the distractions the average college student must deal with on a daily basis. These stressors and responsibilities, coupled with our growing dependence on technology (e.g. smartphones) can make us feel disconnected, distracted, and alone. Have you ever wondered what impact this growing lack of mindfulness can have on our ability to focus, engage, and learn?

In this course, students will explore how developing a mindfulness practice—a practice of living in the present moment, without judgement or reaction—can help us to feel more grounded and connected, and improve our learning process. During this process of exploration, students will research the cognitive, emotional, and physical effects of various mindfulness practices, and experiment with these practices in order to determine which practice(s) provides them with the most benefits; that is, benefits to their learning process, as well as to their mental, emotional and physical health.

Some of the mindfulness practices that will be explored in this class include: yoga, meditation, reflective journaling, contemplative reading and listening, guided visualization, walking mediation, and mindful drawing. Please come to this class with an open mind and a desire to experiment with mindfulness practice.

Did you know that from the 1930s through the 1960s, millions of comics were printed right across Route 9 from Marist College? The area that now houses the bank, pizza place, Home Depot, and other businesses used to house the Poughkeepsie branch of the Western Printing & Lithography Company. Bringing together editors, truck drivers, printing technicians, artists, and many other kinds of workers, Western Printing was an important employer in the area. Its products went all over the world and included children's books and paperbacks as well as comics.

In our course, you will develop your skills as a writer, speaker, and researcher by exploring this history. We will engage with many primary sources, and your work will be featured in an end-of-semester presentation open to the campus community. 

In this course, we will explore the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals from countries across the world. We will use documentaries, short films, peer-reviewed research, personal narrative, popular press articles, and more to gain an interdisciplinary understanding of the state of LGBTQ+ issues globally. We will focus on legal rights and access, mental and physical health, and discrimination and prejudice. Throughout the semester, students will identify common threads of experience, while also gaining an understanding of the unique circumstances that LGBTQ+ people are in based on their geographical location. As we "travel" around the globe, students will also gain skills in writing, information literacy, critical thinking, creative expression, and oral communication.

This course will expose students to oral and written argument through appellate advocacy. The foundation of this course draws from law, policy, philosophy, as well as other aspects of society found within case law. Relying on the collegiate Moot Court model, we explore U.S. Supreme Court case law relevant to recent intercollegiate Moot Court competitions. Students will be prepared to compete in intercollegiate Moot Court by the end of this course. The readings in this course primarily revolve around improving research, writing, and oral communication skills.

What does it mean to listen for race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, age, and ability? How can one develop an ear to recognize and address power dynamics in our contemporary audiovisual culture? In this course students analyze the roles sound and listening play in shaping our perception of the world and our responses to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, and ableism. Sound and listening relations in contemporary culture are the point of departure in developing a critical listening skill to analyze their relation to social and political power in consideration of forms of oppression, violence, and discrimination. In this interdisciplinary course, we will develop critical listening skills to understand power dynamics in contemporary audiovisual or audio-only media such as podcasts, radio, cinema, television, music videos, and advertisements.

This course uses the music and history of the late 20th-century American rock band, the Grateful Dead, as a point of reference for investigating the modern United States. Today, more than fifty years since its founding, and almost thirty years since the death of its iconic member Jerry Garcia, the band is more popular than ever. But, what does this mean? Does this success signal victory for the founding alternative vision of the group? Are we closer to utopia or dystopia in the U.S. today? For much of its lifespan, the Dead was an all-white, all-male band playing to a mostly-white audience. This course, however, will use the band’s music and story to branch outward to issues of diversity and injustice, art and politics, resistance and accommodation, consumerism, conflict, war, militarism, and materialism. Students need not have any prior knowledge or appreciation of the band to succeed in the course. But, you will need to be willing to listen to a fair amount of music, do a fair amount of reading, and talk seriously about the U.S. culture, society, politics, and history.

While classical music is often stereotyped as a form of music that “only old people enjoy,” the music of composers like Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms is played every season in most major orchestra programs. If classical music is only popular with a limited audience, then why does it continue to be played so frequently throughout concert halls. This FYS will consider the place of classical music in today’s society. In addition to considering the style of music itself, the class will think about the contexts in which it is played, examining things like stage setups, orchestra attire, and audience attire. Ultimately, we will explore how orchestras have (or have not) adapted over time to consider changing musical interests, the impact of social media, the influence of the COVID pandemic, and more for modern audiences.  

The search for happiness gives rise to humanity’s basest behaviors and its noblest pursuits. This religious studies and philosophy course examines the connection between happiness, identity, and belonging through the lens of the active human body. We examine how our physicality influences religious depictions of human excellence and the construction of our relationships and groups. More specifically, we will discuss topics ranging from gender and sexuality to martial arts, communal prayer, and ritual practice. While this course focuses on examining religious and philosophical texts, students in this class will also be invited to participate in physical forms of experiential learning, such as breath meditation or tai chi. As a course capstone experience, students will be invited to participate in a flashmob at the end of the semester.

This seminar will introduce students to modern historical events through the use of graphic literature. The course engages multiple regions of the modern world with a particular focus on how race, gender, warfare, and imperialism shape the lives of individual historical subjects. Topics include Colonial and Postcolonial Africa, the Holocaust, the revolutionary era in Iran, and the wars in Yugoslavia of the 1990s. In addition to reading such classics as Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, students will engage lesser knows authors and learn about how best to read, interpret, and contextualize works of graphic literature.

This class examines the millennia-long history of the taco. Using the history of food as a way to open up larger questions about the histories of agriculture, colonialism, modern society and the environment, we will trace the evolution and spread of one of the world’s most popular food items, following the taco from its historical origins in the ancient civilizations of the Americas to the food’s complex transformation within the 21st century global fast-food industry. We will explore the deep historical roots of corn and barbecue as sacred and technologically complex items in the cuisines and cultures of the Precolumbian America, and we will then examine the many transformations of the taco over centuries of colonial rule and capitalist development. Drawing on the fields of anthropology, history and commodity studies, we will explore the social and ecological parameters of the taco’s rich and multilayered history, and through the story of the taco’s global spread, we will examine some of the major themes in Latin American history and in the history of globalization.

In the popular collection of essays, Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer introduces us to the multiple strands of relationships that humans can have with nature, which create the tight bonds present in a braid. She also describes where and how the strands have frayed.

What do our braids look like? How do we connect to other species, to non-human life? Using Kimmerer’s book as our primary text, we will explore various ways that individuals and communities relate to the living and non-living natural world. How can the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, info tech, business, fashion, sports, recreation and other interests & activities influence how we perceive, use and safe-guard nature? We will explore how different cultures relate to the natural world and how some have suffered disproportionately as it has been despoiled. We will delve into some essential knowledge about the natural world, with the goal of becoming better informed on how to be responsible partners with our fellow species, to be stewards of life on earth. Class time, individual time and special field trips will include exploring and observing the natural world outdoors.

How do we understand ourselves and our place in the world? This course will look at the relationship between personal events/attitudes and the larger forces of culture and history that shape an individual's understanding of their experience. Americans have written about themselves in many ways, through letters, diaries, journals, and formal autobiographies. The cast of characters for this class will include the famous and the ordinary, and stretch from the colonial period to the near present.

To understand who we are, we must consider the social form our various identities take. To understand how social change is possible (and how to create a better life), we must cognize alternative forms of social life. This course will examine various social categories of identity (class, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, and nationality): we will consider the possible truth, meaning and value these “identities” hold for understanding ourselves and for understanding the conflicts we see in our world today. We will survey theoretical accounts of such identity classifications and examine their practical application to various contemporary social and political issues. We will also investigate contemporary approaches to rethinking utopianism in light of various forms of oppression (e.g., racism, sexism, colonialism, nationalism, xenophobia, exploitation in work, etc.) and the challenges posed by living on a warming planet. We will read works on identity and utopia by philosophers, sociologists, political theorists, psychologists, artists and economists.  We will also read fiction and personal essays, watch films, and analyze current forms of media that reflect our different identities and utopias. Along the way, we will develop our own theories concerning the nature, meaning and value of identities as well as deepen our appreciation of the necessity of utopian thinking for practically addressing the 21st century challenges and crises that confront us (e.g., social justice, economic insecurity, ethnonationalism, global migration, climate change, political power, and more).

Whether you have lived in the area for some time, or have recently moved here, you will find there is much to learn about the Hudson Valley. It is rich with history, culture, and environmental activities, all of which you will have an opportunity to explore in this course. You will have an opportunity to utilize a number of resources, including museums, libraries, and local monuments, just to name a few. You will demonstrate your findings through written and oral assignments, thereby fulfilling the objectives of the course as outlined in the First Year Seminar curriculum.

Place is not mere geography. It is a cerebral and emotional blend of associations, an awareness that is part physical, part science, and part history, culture and social memory, an affective bond between people and place or settings. This course will focus on the symbolic and experiential aspects of place that define human experience. We will use literature as a means to deepen our understanding of the rich, complex, and varied engagement between human beings and the places they inhabit. We will examine how places, with their history, traditions, myths, tensions, social structures, and physical form, interact with our lives and imaginations, and explore the way literature is encoded with—often driven by—our deeply felt relationship to place. The reading list for the class will include a series of short works in addition to a few longer pieces, highlighting the intricate spaces and places recorded in them.

This course will introduce students to both foundational and contemporary ideas of justice and guide students in their first year to envision their personalized projects for future and lifelong learning. We will begin by examining influential principles and arguments about justice under the two organizing concepts of distribution and recognition. We will then read one to two novels selected each year to reflect on the latest currents in critical scholarship, such as the different variants of posthumanist and multispecies thinking. Equipped with both fundamental and current knowledge, students will complete their semester-long learning by creating a personalized plan for a future project in academic, creative, or community writing and on a specific topic fulfilling their intellectual interests concerning, for instance, disability studies, democracy, ecocriticism, or global justice.

Fall 2024 First Year Seminar: Honors Courses

Sections, Titles, and Descriptions

Since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s, the relationship between fashion and popular music has been a culturally significant one. This course will explore the ways in which the constant intertwining of fashion and rock ‘n’ roll has shaped attitudes, taste, and consumption as well as the identity of the youth of the past seven decades. Looking at a variety of media including music, magazines, and videos, we will study this unique and exciting relationship while engaging critical college-level skills such as information literacy, research, public presentation, and writing.

In this FYS, we will examine the concept of “celebrity” in order to better understand what it is, how it is cultivated, and how it changes over time. In particular, we will focus on literary celebrity, studying the written works and publicity methods of several celebrated personalities of the nineteenth century: Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe, prolific poet Emily Dickinson, abolitionist and activist Frederick Douglass, and investigative journalist Nellie Bly. In addition to thinking about their cultural value in their own time, we will consider their legacies and examine more modern representations of these figures. We will also find creative and interdisciplinary ways to introduce these authors to new and modern audiences. 

For some people, Africa is a country. For others, it is a country filled with poverty, diseases, warfare, and corruption. Some who identify Africa as a continent, including Welsh journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley, have named it the “Dark Continent.” This FYS aims to disrupt these misconceptions, demonstrate what the continent is about, and highlight the dangers of these misconceptions for Africans and non-Africans. We will watch films/documentaries and read readings (fictional and non-fictional) showing that (1) Africa has 54 countries with over 1.4 billion people who speak over 2,000 languages, and (2) the continent does not have a single narrative of pain. Ultimately, students who take this class will be challenged to engage with the African continent in a way that makes them emphatic citizens of the world in the twenty-first century. 

We will consider how a range of American writers frame human interactions with "Nature," and explore their various representations with the natural world. How has "wilderness" been imagined? How do authors construct language to shape the way readers think about the environment? What vision do these texts offer about the relationship of individuals to society, and about progress, industrialism, and technology? We will examine Native American stories, early accounts of natural history, diverse representations of plants, animals, and insects, memoirs of the local, as well as narratives of exploration and essays on urban nature. Nature writing often combines rhapsody and science and runs the gamut of the scientific, philosophical, psychological, aesthetic, ethical, and spiritual. We will explore how authors depict a range of diverse habitats and places, from oceans to deserts to rainforests. In this class you will construct essays based on meaningful places, on course readings, and on your classmates’ presentations.