Academic Core

A Message From Professor Robyn Rosen, 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!

Incoming Freshmen: Click here to view the First Year Seminar Section Numbers for Fall 2020 pdf icon

Spring 2021 First Year Seminar Courses

FYS 101: Course Titles and Descriptions

620, 621: Celebrity in the 19th Century

This FYS class will examine the concept of “celebrity” in order to better understand what it is, how it is cultivated, and how it changes over time. To this end, we will study 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. Because we live in an age obsessed with fame and self-image, it is useful to look back and see how the concept of celebrity emerged and developed over the years.

Instructor: P. Tarantello

Schedule:

  • 620: MR9:30
  • 621: MR12:30

622, 623: Murder, Madness, & Mental Mayhem

This seminar will focus on the recurring motif of madness and mental illness in literature, film, television and society in general, and address the question of how madness challenges traditional assumptions regarding individual identity. Through an interdisciplinary approach, we will explore the nature of the human mind and cultural representations of madness in a variety of contexts. Students in this course will consider how madness is a very ordinary human possibility which can be creative and/or destructive, which can be a breakdown and/or a breakthrough. We will examine the significant presence of madness in society and question how central madness is to human life. Students will study both social/intellectual components and cultural/emotional/expressive aspects of mental illness.

Instructor: L. Neilson         

Schedule:

  • 622: MR12:30
  • 623: MR2

624, 625: Gendered Bodies, Alien Relationships

Have you ever heard the phrase “men are from Mars, women are from Venus”? This phrase originates from the title of a book written by a relationship counselor in 1992 that sold an astonishing 50 million copies. But the success of this book, and the adoption of its title phrase as popular wisdom, posed a troubling question for American society at the end of the 20th century: after a nearly 100-year period that saw major advancements in social and political equality, why did such a large number of Americans see the opposite sex not as fellow human beings but as something akin to aliens from outer space? What were the interpersonal effects of this mutual alienation? And does this sense of gendered alienation carry on into the 21st century?  Students in this first year seminar will explore questions about gender definitions and roles both historically and today through study of what is commonly termed “speculative fiction.” These speculative works (novels, stories, films, television shows, and other cultural products) will provide us strange and often provocative lenses through which to examine gender issues in American society. By introducing us to alien peoples, genderless cultures, third sexes, advanced technologies, alternate histories, and both utopian and dystopian worlds, this literature will reveal to us the potential detriments of a rigidly gendered society as well as the possibility of a future free from gender's restrictive influence. Readings extend from the late 19th century to the beginning of the 21st, with selections from major speculative authors like H. G. Wells (The Island of Dr. Moreau), Joanna Russ (The Female Man), and Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale).

Instructor: J. Canino

Schedule:

  • 624: MW5
  • 625: MW3:30

627: Sowing the Seeds of Success

What does it mean to be successful? What skills are necessary in order to become an “expert” in a field? What is the relative significance of knowledge, grit, character, and curiosity? What is the 10,000 hour rule? Do successful people have something in common, whether they are artists, scholars, or athletes? In this class will attempt to answer (or at least examine) these questions by reading works of non-fiction and fiction by authors who have addressed these questions in a variety of ways and from a variety of disciplines. 

Instructor: C. Martensen

Schedule:

  • 627: TF9:30

628, 629: Happiness Embodied

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. This experiential learning culminates with the creation of a choreographed flash mob as a way of understanding how ritual functions to transform gathered individuals into bonded groups.

Instructor: B. Loh

Schedule:

  • 628: MR12:30
  • 629: MR2

630: Greek Myth & the Other

How do we understand myth making in contemporary times? What role might it play in shaping an understanding of ourselves and the world we live in? In this course, we will take a closer look at myths of Greek antiquity and their reception in the realm of contemporary philosophy in order to open a dialogue around the questions of myth, meaning, and otherness. Centering on the themes of creation myths, the outcast, the scapegoat, the ideal state, divine encounters, the power of masks, ethical obligation, alterity and power, students will explore how, through myth (both stories and criticism) and philosophy, an attempt to negotiate the encounter with otherness is a necessary endeavor of our times.

Instructor: S. Biro

Schedule:

  • 630: TF8

631, 632: Family Matters

Families: we all have them, be they adoptive, biological, or chosen. We have relationships with our parents or caregivers, siblings of various sorts, and many face the question of whether to start families in the future. Although we don’t always consider them, these relationships raise a variety of philosophical questions and concerns, which we will explore in this class. Should one have children? Do parents have a special obligation to their children that they do not have to others? Who should do the caretaking? How should parents raise their children? What role should parents play in their adult child’s life? What obligations do children have to their parents? Focusing on contemporary philosophy and personal narratives, the class aims to challenge and enrich the students’ thoughts about parenthood and family, while also building vital skills in presentation, writing, and information literacy.

Instructor: C. Muller

Schedule:

  • 631: TF8
  • 632: TF9:30

633: Consumer Culture and the Pursuit of Happiness

Human consumption patterns have always gravitated beyond the bare necessities of basic food, clothing, and shelter to goods that provide comfort, entertainment, or even a sense of adventure. However, a consumer society, one in which people consciously, obsessively and meticulously organize their lives around the acquisition of goods that are not needed for mere subsistence, but to gain prestige, identity and social standing, is a more modern phenomenon. By and large most Americans subscribe to the notion of consumerism, although the spread of consumerism has not been an uninterrupted process. The history of consumer society in the United States reveals periodic movements against consumerism. More recently, starting in the 1980s the idea of voluntary simplicity attracted a following among many Americans driven by the desire to reduce environmental impacts of unrestrained consumption, improve work-life balance, family and social connections, healthy living, and stress reduction. These ideas were given a further boost by the millennials and Gen Z, who are more likely to build long-term relationships with companies that strive to be authentic, ethical, socially responsible, and sensitive to social diversity.

This seminar is aimed at helping students develop an understanding of why consumers do what they do and why consumer culture takes the forms that it does. Perspectives from disciplines, such as, history, sociology, economics, marketing, and advertising will be drawn from to help students critically examine the relationship between consumerism and happiness.

Instructor: S. Sengupta

Schedule:

  • 633: TF12:30

634, 635: Comics & Maps & Medieval Manuscripts

In this course, you will strengthen your skills as a writer, researcher, speaker, and critical thinker by working with multimodal texts. Comics & maps & medieval manuscripts have a lot in common: they all communicate visually, verbally, and spatially. Moreover, all 3 kinds of texts have complex social and political histories. Depending on their creators’ goals, comics & maps & medieval manuscripts have been used to empower others or to demean and silence them.  

So: if you have thoughts about the Game of Thrones opening credits, or are interested in reading works by the 15th-century professional writer Christine de Pizan, or have started to ponder the cognitive effects of seeing so many ampersands in one course description, take this class & we’ll talk about all of these things, and more.

Instructor: M. Fitzgibbons

Schedule:

  • 634: MR9:30
  • 635: M11/W9:30

851, 852: Understanding Financial Crises: From Great Depression to Global Pandemic

This course will introduce students to the important factors that caused the Great Recession of 2008, including speculation in the housing market, high debt levels, and deregulation of finance, as well as the lasting political and economic impacts.  The role of the Federal Reserve and the government in counteracting the impact after 2008 will be compared with the Great Depression of the 1930s. By examining these events, we will draw lessons for addressing future financial instability, such as the impact of COVID-19.

Instructor: A. Davis

Schedule:

  • 851: MR8
  • 852: MR2

853, 854: Reading the Apocalypse

People have long been fascinated by how the world ends, and that critical imagining has become even more intense since the turning of the last millennium. This course will sample literature written in the past ten years that takes as its premise the end of civilization as we know it, and we’ll use film and television to supplement our investigation. Why are we so interested in the destruction of civilization, and why now? We’ll use history, psychology, philosophy, and literary studies to try to answer this question.

Instructor: R. Grinnell

Schedule:

  • 853: M11/W9:30
  • 854: TF9:30

Honors First Year Seminars

620: Greek Myth & the Other

How do we understand myth making in contemporary times? What role might it play in shaping an understanding of ourselves and the world we live in? In this course, we will take a closer look at myths of Greek antiquity and their reception in the realm of contemporary philosophy in order to open a dialogue around the questions of myth, meaning, and otherness. Centering on the themes of creation myths, the outcast, the scapegoat, the ideal state, divine encounters, the power of masks, ethical obligation, alterity and power, students will explore how, through myth (both stories and criticism) and philosophy, an attempt to negotiate the encounter with otherness is a necessary endeavor of our times.

Instructor: S. Biro

Schedule:

  • 620: TF12:30