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Choosing a College Seminar

Fall 2022 College Seminars

The following seminars will be offered in Fall Quarter 2022.  Click on the ">" in front of a title to read the course description. Please confirm class days and times in Caesar as there may be some changes.


Instructor(s): Mary Pattillo

Description: Writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston wrote the following about her time at Barnard College in the 1920s: “Among the thousand white persons, I am a dark rock surged upon, overcome by a creamy sea. I am surged upon and overswept, but through it all, I remain myself.” A first-year seminar gives students the tools to manage the “surge” of college, both socioemotionally and academically. All of you have left the familiarity of your families, neighborhoods, and high schools to enter a new context, one with new forms of diversity, hierarchy, division, and opportunity for connections. Even though she was in college and writing nearly 100 years ago, Hurston is still an awesome guide as you navigate issues of race, gender, class, and academic belonging at Northwestern. Some topics we will explore include: privilege, politics, love, friendship, curiosity, perseverance, grades, work, and community. Hurston’s vast body of work will be the basis for your own analysis, reflections and writing.

A Dark Rock Surged Upon’: Navigating Race, Class, and Gender in College

Instructor(s): Michael Maltenfort

Description: Who is a mathematician? Who teaches mathematics? Who learns mathematics? Why are U.S. mathematicians disproportionately male and white? How is math education affected by identities such as race, gender, country of origin, and socioeconomic background? Students in this class will explore these topics through essays, academic writings, plays, and movies. We will collaboratively create an anti-racist framework and use this framework to understand how privilege has shaped society, academia, and mathematics. Can mathematics become a field which is equally open to anyone? If so, how

Balancing the Equation: Exploring Equity in Mathematics

Instructor(s): Ginger Pennington

Description: In this seminar, we will explore various perspectives on femininity and what it means to be "female," with a particular emphasis on the ways in which modern society exerts influence on the self-concepts of young women. In the wake of such events as the Women's March on Washington, the #MeToo movement, historic election victories for female candidates, record-breaking achievements for female artists, and highly-publicized sexual harassment allegations against major political and media figures, women are confronted with conflicting messages about the nature and impact of "girl power." Do today's young women feel more empowered than previous generations? Does the modern woman have the power to "choose" her own definition of femininity? What forces help shape girls' understanding of their own sexuality, social roles, and future opportunities? We will read work by psychologists, sociologists, journalists, ethnographers, and other scholars who present divergent points of view on gender roles and feminist psychology. Students will be encouraged to engage in the spirited exchange of ideas on these issues and integrate the readings with their own observations and lived experience.

Being Female in the 21st Century

Instructor(s): Marcello Vinces

Description: The word biology describes both the characteristics and processes of life and living organisms, as well as the discipline that studies these. Like all the natural sciences, the study of biology is a data-driven endeavor, concerned with describing, predicting and understanding natural phenomena based on evidence from observation and experimentation. But like all human activities, it does not exist in objective isolation, but rather within a societal context. And biological phenomena, such as infection and disease, interact with non-biological elements of human society. This course aims to contextualize the study of biology towards a better understanding of how social and cultural histories and dynamics have had a profound effect on both biological research as well as biological phenomena, and how social, political and economic parameters influence the impact of scientific breakthroughs and the outcomes of biological events such as epidemics. The topics we will cover, among others: the cultural, political and societal barriers to reaping the benefits of biological research; the damaging legacies of racism, sexism and colonialism on the biological research enterprise; the role of communications in the field of biology; and select biological topics in evolution, genetics and disease. Students will learn from press articles, academic literature and non-fiction books (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot; Pandemic, by Sonia Shah).

Biology & Society: Promises & Perils
MWF 9am-9:50am

Instructor(s): Bey Marquis

Description: This course will introduce students to the parameters and textures of black life, trans life, and black trans life. Popular discourse has either depicted black trans people as glamorous superstars or always and already predisposed to death. This course, then, seeks to usefully complicate these narratives and focus on black and trans life. To that end, the course will task students with gaining an understanding of the nuances of black life via its entanglement with the afterlife of slavery and contemporary radicalism; with trans life via its troubling of the gender binary; and black trans life via the ways that blackness and transness interact and converge. This is, in short, a course on black life, full stop; trans life, full stop; and black trans life, full stop.

Black Life, Trans Life

Instructor(s): Charly Yarnoff

Description: Coming-of-age novels and memoirs portray the journey from childhood to adulthood. In this course, we will focus on works of fiction and autobiography that pay special attention to the role that college plays in that journey. These works portray the formative childhood influences and conflicts that shape the protagonists. In the chapters on college, they dramatize the different ways that higher education helps the characters navigate the difficult and confusing task of taking control of their lives and coming to a deeper understanding of who they are and what they want from life. In each work, we also get to see the impact of their college experiences after the characters have graduated and entered the so-called "real world." The works explore such questions as: Does college change who you are or, rather, help you to understand who you are? How does it impact your relationships with your family? What factors contribute to success in college and beyond, and what is even meant by "success"? Through reflection on and discussion, you'll begin to answer those and other questions for yourself too. We will read a variety of books that include: Bread Givers, a novel about a Jewish girl struggling with poverty at the turn of the 20th century; A Particular Kind of Black Man, a novel about the child of Nigerian immigrants who faces discrimination not only from white people but from African Americans; Educated, a memoir about a girl who grows up in an isolated, rural community with almost no formal education; and other literary works. In each work, college is a turning point for the main character, helping them to mature and move forward in their lives with clearer self-understanding and sense of purpose. The readings will offer you the opportunity not only to enjoy and discuss some wonderful books but also to reflect on the path that has led you to Northwestern and the ways you hope you will continue to grow and mature while you're here.

Coming of Age, Coming to College

Instructor(s): Max Sinitsyn

Description: We will discuss various findings from the fields of marketing, psychology, and economics that help us understand consumers' decision making. This background will be useful for critical evaluation of standard economic theories.

Consumer Behavior

Instructor(s): Bennett Goldberg

Description: Throughout history the famous scientists, the most recognized scholars, and university and national laboratory leaders have been largely white and asian males, excluding many minoritized groups. This continues today, enshrined by sociological and structural policies and processes. We will explore this history of oppression and examine current efforts to create more inclusive science and engineering environments. This seminar posits that to study in a discipline and be an inclusive practitioner requires both an understanding of that discipline’s sociological origins as well as skills in its constituent elements (e.g. math, physics, etc.).

Creating Inclusive Science: Advancing Equity to Overcome the Exclusive Social Constructs in Physics

Instructor(s): Sandy Zabell

Description: Cryptology is the study of secret writing, or more generally secure communication. We will discuss classical methods of cryptography, followed by the use of the German Enigma machine during World War II, and end by discussing modern cryptosystems such as RSA and PGP, digital signatures, and their use in internet security.


Instructor(s): Maayan Hilel


The modern history of Israel / Palestine is usually studied through the lens of the Jewish-Arab conflict. Most historical studies in the field focus on political and military aspects and reflect the world view of the leadership and elite. In this course, however, we will examine the social history of Israel / Palestine by focusing on ordinary people such as women, children, workers, immigrants, and more. We will read memories, diaries, and autobiographies through which we will learn how major historical events were experienced and interpreted by various social groups during the formative years of the British Mandate over Palestine. Through these texts, we will also discuss central issues in the social life of both Jewish and Arab societies such as immigration, gender, and childhood. Apart from these texts we will analyze other primary sources and will get to know methodological tools for the study of history in general and of history "from below" in particular. Because this is a first-year seminar, we will also spend time each week learning about and reflecting on different aspects of your transition to Northwestern including developing study skills and skills in critical reading and writing that you can bring to future coursework in the Humanities. Learning Objectives: Learning Objectives By the end of the course, students will: • gain familiarity with the modern history of Israel \Palestine • gain familiarity with the study of social history and History from Below • reflect on their own daily life experiences • develop skills in critical reading and textual analysis • develop writing skills, both academic and personal • develop presentation skills Teaching Method: Discussion Group work Lecture Presentations Readings Writing Assignments

Evaluation Method: Attendance: 10% Class participation & Online Work: 20% Presentations: 10% Research Project: 30% Paper, mid-term: 30% Required Materials: Materials will be provided by instructor.

Daily Life in Israel/Palestine

Instructor(s): Brady Clark

Description: When academics discuss communication, they tend to focus on ideal uses of language involving cooperative, honest, helpful, and trustworthy speakers. Real-world communication is not like this at all. This seminar examines communication in our non-ideal world. Our focus will be several forms of deceptive communication: lying, bullshitting, and misleading. We will explore a wide range of topics: what are the linguistic cues to deceptive communication, if any? does lying necessarily involve deception? why is there so much bullshit in contemporary political speech? how is fake news related to lying, misleading, and bullshitting? is fake news a useful notion at all? Our goal will be to figure out what tools and concepts we need to understand the varieties of deception that characterize human language interaction.

Deceptive Speech

Instructor(s): Laura Panko

Description: What is the academic study of dinosaurs all about? In this seminar we will examine both recent scientific research on dinosaurs, as well as how studying a subject like dinosaurs as a college student is different from the teaching and learning processes familiar to you from high school.

Dinosaurs in College

Instructor(s): Deborah Rosenberg

Description: What do we do about a world that doesn't conform to our expectations? Do we set out to mold reality to our vision or accept it as it is? How do we forge ahead with our dreams if others do not share our values or goals? Cervantes' Don Quixote tackles these big questions in ways that are both moving and funny as it narrates the adventures of the bedraggled hero--a man driven mad by reading too many fantasy novels--and his earthy sidekick Sancho Panza. The novel contains themes that resonate with our lives today, exploring not only what it means to write--and read--fiction but also asking us to evaluate what kind of person we want to be in the world. In our class, we'll read the novel closely and debate how its essential questions can shape our personal choices moving forward.

Don Quixote's World

Instructor(s): Scott Ogawa

Description: We will read Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. We will discuss reason, science, humanism, and progress

Enlightenment 2022

Instructor(s): Edward Muir


In recent years historians have developed a new technique called microhistory for capturing the lives of the people who have been lost to history—peasants, religious heretics, poor women, gays, ethnic minorities, and con-conformists of all sorts. These were the people who because of their low social status, rural origins, illiteracy, or unpopular beliefs were ignored, despised, or persecuted by the dominant society. Microhistory is a method of investigation that usually relies on the evidence from judicial trials of otherwise obscure people who found themselves in trouble with the authorities. The method gives a voice to those who otherwise left no written record of their lives. The result of the studies has been a remarkable re-evaluation of the experiences and beliefs of the common people of the past. 

Finding People Lost to History

Instructor(s): Clay Cogswell


Located just north of one of America’s most vibrant and historic cities, Northwestern University has had deep ties to Chicago since the school’s founding in 1851. This first-year seminar will immerse you in Chicago, guiding you through an investigation of its rich literary and cultural life. Reading stories of the city’s recent past like The Devil in the White City and Native Son, learning about today’s writing scene through the iconic local magazine Poetry, studying the Chicago Blues that developed after the Great Migration, and shuttling down to our world-class libraries, students will gain a profound understanding of the city that starts just two miles south of campus. We will hold screenings of some of the best depictions of the city on film, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Chi-Raq. Working across different genres and media, from the blues riff to the narrative poem, this class will help you hone your writing and critical thinking skills while you get to know the city that will be your home over the coming years. Teaching Method: Seminar discussion

Evaluation method: Short writing assignments, class participation, creative final project Texts include: Larson, The Devil in the White City; Wright, Native Son Texts will be available at: Norris

First-Year in the "Second City": An Intro to Chi-Town

Instructor(s): Tara Gonsalves

Description: In this course, we will explore the relationship between gender and globalization. We will study how gender and sexuality are produced as global social categories. The course will survey liberal approaches to gender and sexuality categories as sites for international human rights claims-making. It will then turn to postcolonial and transnational feminist critiques of taken-for-granted social groupings, such as “woman” and, more recently, “gay” and “transgender,” that are assumed to be globally relevant. Critical approaches to gender and sexuality challenge conventional “born this way” narratives about gender and sexual identities as innate and therefore universal. This course will raise questions that will make us uncomfortable and, hopefully, give us tools to critically reflect on our own gender and sexuality identities and practices.

Gender, Classification, and Globalization

Instructor(s): Xan Holt

Description: Contemporary climate activism and movements for degrowth and sustainable development have made us pay greater attention to our ecological footprint and the impact that our production of waste has on each other and the Earth’s ecosystems. Alongside this growing interest in political ecology and environmental justice, artists, writers, and directors have drawn on various kinds of ‘trash’ (e.g., debris, dirt, sewage, litter, as well as ‘trashy’ individuals or places) as objects of intellectual and aesthetic fascination. In this course, we will focus on a handful of literary texts, films, and other works of visual art that approach waste in its provocative materiality and metaphoricity. In doing so, we will attend to the following questions, among others: How are some materials, people, and places devalued or made disposable? How does art attempt to return value to these discarded things and subjects? How do these artists and writers try to disrupt the economic, political, judicial, and social systems that produce these various kinds of ‘waste’? Since this course is a first-year seminar, we will also discuss various aspects of academic life and further develop our critical-thinking and writing skills.

Gorgeous Garbage: The Aesthetic Life of Waste

Instructor(s): Ipek Yosmaoglu

Description: During WWI, the leadership cadre of the Ottoman state enacted a number of measures ostensibly in order to prevent the empire’s Armenian population from collaborating with the Russian Army in the eastern front. Most significant among these measures was the decision to deport the Armenian population of the “critical zones” to a location where they could not act against the Ottoman military. The result was the almost complete annihilation of Ottoman Armenians, as the result of a series of events culminating in genocide, known as Medz Yeghern in Armenian, before Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide.” The year 2015 was the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, and witnessed the organization of commemorative events and scholarly meetings worldwide, including one at Northwestern University. There were also counter-demonstrations, most of them organized by the Turkish state that continues to deny, more than a hundred years after the events, that what happened to the Ottoman Armenians constitutes genocide. The Turkish official version seems more untenable with the appearance of each new scholarly work, and various forms of “denialism” are now defended only by a fringe group of academics. Therefore, the purpose of this seminar is not a discussion of a “question” of genocide, but rather the analysis of it—by different scholars, from different angles, and through the use of different sources.

History and Politics of the Armenian Genocide

Instructor(s): Barbara Shwom

Description: Every day on the Internet, on television, on the streets and in classrooms, we hear people expressing opinions about a variety of topics. The people who are most persuasive, however, are those who are most informed. This course is designed to give you the tools to develop an informed opinion about something that is important to you, to present that opinion to others orally and in writing, and to persuade others to consider (and even accept) your point of view. In other words, the seminar is designed to help you make the transition to a college mindset. We will begin the seminar by quickly exploring a few controversial topics, evaluating how well writers in both the scholarly and the popular press support their opinions and persuade audiences. In the process, you will learn how to evaluate sources, read critically, listen and consider opposing points of view, and develop a powerful response. Then you will have the opportunity to select a controversial topic of your choice and research it in depth, using library resources, the Internet, interviews, and surveys. In addition to learning research techniques, you will also learn techniques for presenting your ideas persuasively, both orally and in writing. By the end of the course, you will be in position to discuss your ideas in a thoughtful, authoritative way, becoming a more effective contributor in college classes as well as in conversations with family and friends. In this sense, you will have earned the right to call yourself an expert on your topic.

How to Become an Expert

Instructor(s): Mary Finn

Description: Clarity of expression is no doubt valued in all communication. But a newcomer to scholarly writing in all fields of study at Northwestern could be forgiven for wondering if many a scholar’s goal was in fact confusion if not downright opaqueness. No matter what your major, you will read critical material by scholars writing from within the discipline, drawing on the methodologies particular to that discipline and on the specialized vocabulary in which arguments are crafted using those methodologies. These materials can read to a novice like the very antithesis of clarity! And they can tempt a new reader not to fully engage with the argument and therefore potentially miss the point. So we will read a set of them together over the course of the quarter. For comparison and contrast, across the disciplines you will also read material considered to be for the “general public” (in The New York Times, The Economist, The Atlantic, for example). What is gained and what is lost when a complicated topic is “translated” from “academic speak” to “plain prose"? Finally, what does it mean to hone your skills of close reading? It means reading carefully at the level of the sentence; tracing the argument through the sequence of paragraphs; and identifying the evidence – or lack of evidence – so central to any successful argument in all fields. This kind of reading enables sophisticated analysis and critique, the goal of this class for your written assignments as well as your contribution to class discussion. As your close reading skills become more advanced, your participation in discussions and your own critical analysis in writing will advance. We will read scholarly material across the social sciences, sciences, and humanities, including quite a number of articles by Northwestern professors. All material will be available electronically.

How to Read: Critical Thinking & the Craft of Close Reading

Instructor(s): Meaghan Fritz

Description: This course aims to ease some of the transitions that you will experience in your first quarter at Northwestern by defining, exploring, discussing, and reflecting on your own experiences. By reading and discussing novels, essays, short stories, and works of journalism that take up the theme of life transitions, we will work together to cultivate productive study habits and to hone your critical thinking, reading, writing, and research skills for Northwestern classes. Our class will serve as a social support system, as we work generously with one another through seminar discussion and a routine exchange of writing.

I Guess this is Growing Up: Transitioning to College Life

Instructor(s): Amy Partridge

Description: What does it mean to describe race, gender, sexuality, and class as "intersecting" identities or categories? What new forms of knowledge and ways of knowing, political tools and ways of doing politics does this insight make possible? And how can we use these to make sense of and respond to the urgencies of the present moment? In this seminar we will focus on "intersectionality" as a mode of feminist critical inquiry and activist practice (or "critical praxis") forged by Black feminists. As Patricia Hill Collins explains, "The term intersectionality references the critical insight that race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, ability, and age operate not as unitary, mutually exclusive entities, but as reciprocally constructing phenomena that in turn shape complex social inequalities." Together we will read foundational texts by Collins and other Black feminist scholars and activists to understand and explore this critical insight and the coalitional politics that an intersectional analysis both demands and makes possible. We will pair these readings with collective research into both past and present projects that engage this form of Black feminist "critical praxis" to respond to complex social inequalities, including Black Lives Matter, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.

Intersectionality & Coalitional Politics

Instructor(s): Daniel Ferguson

Description: All of us have a sense of justice, and, whether we like it or not, all of us feel the pull to punish and exact revenge on those who’ve done us or others wrong. This is no truer for us than it was for the ancient Greeks, who, like us, grappled with these sentiments in their literature. In this course, we’ll study their masterful portrayals and examinations of justice, punishment, and revenge in mythology, epic and lyric poetry, history, drama, forensic speeches, and philosophy. Our goal will be not merely to understand ancient Greek literary attitudes towards our themes, but also to gain a deeper understanding of our own views about them. No less importantly, we will improve our interpretive and argumentative skills by way of seminar discussion and written assignments.

Justice, Punishment, and Revenge in Ancient Greek Literature
TTh (tentative) 11-12:20pm (tentative)

Instructor(s): Lisa Del Torto

Description: Scholars of language and writing argue that language and its varieties, genres, modes, and rhetorical strategies are always shifting, flexible, and contested. Thus, sociolinguistic diversity—differences across and within languages and dialects—is inevitable. This seminar will explore how language difference is situated in current US and global discourses, considering language in written, spoken, and signed forms. We will disrupt monolingual ideologies that infiltrate those discourses, focusing on language diversity as an asset to individuals, cultures, and institutions. The course will consider college as one of those institutions and will explore language diversity and linguistic social justice as part of your first-year experience at Northwestern. Using scholarly readings from sociolinguistics and writing pedagogy along with popular non-fiction, the course will consider how we can sustain sociolinguistic diversity, how we can foster equity, access, and inclusion around language difference, and how our sociolinguistic diversity sustains us. You will formulate and explore your own questions about language diversity and linguistic justice in papers, presentations, and class discussions. Our seminar will operate as a community that celebrates our diverse language use and as a system of academic, practical, and emotional support as you begin your college experience. Students of all sociolinguistic backgrounds are welcome in this seminar, and our course design will provide direct benefits to students who identify as international, multilingual, and/or native speakers of non-mainstream Englishes.

Language Diversity & Linguistic Justice

Instructor(s): Robert Launay

Description: Anthropologists are committed to understanding other cultures in their own terms. One way of developing such an understanding is to read works that they have written or recited. This class will focus on two such works from cultures as different from each other as they are from ourselves. Njal's Saga is a medieval Icelandic story of a series of revenge killings that spins further and further out of control. Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee is a fictional account of how a real 8th century magistrate solves three mysterious Through each of these books, we will explore the different ways in which cultures understand and implement law and lawlessness, justice and injustice, loyalty and treachery.

Law and Disorder

Instructor(s): Joanna Grisinger

Description: This course explores the relationship between law and civil rights - in particular, African-Americans' efforts to secure legal, political, civil, and economic rights. How and why did the American civil rights movement pursue legal change through the judicial, legislative, and executive branch? How and why did legal actors (including judges, White House officials, members of Congress, and state governors) engage with civil rights reformers? What are the benefits of pursuing legal change, and what are the limits? In order to answer such questions, we will read and discuss material including court cases, statutes, speeches, memoirs, newspaper articles, photographs, and songs.

Law and the Civil Rights Movement

Instructor(s): Helen Tilley

Description: How does our understanding of global history change when we foreground law and empire? To what extent have international legal regimes arisen out of imperial dynamics? Why were slavery and settler colonialism so important to so many constitutional histories? This course takes up these and other questions in order to make sense of the interplay between laws and empires around the world over the last four centuries (circa 1600 to 2000). We will examine: 1) the origins and effects of mixed jurisdictions (or legal pluralism) in different regions; 2) the ways empires have shaped key concepts of sovereignty and citizenship; 3) the role of transnational corporations in bolstering imperial rule; 4) the roots of empire in the history of human rights and global governance; 5) tensions between scientific and legal definitions of race, reality, and indigeneity; 6) Catholic canon and Islamic law; and 7) entanglements between cultural and intellectual property.

Laws, Empires, and Global History

Instructor(s): Kathleen Carmichael

Description: Ever since Pentheus’ fatal decision to spy on the revels of Dionysus, audiences have had a guilty fascination with the spectacle of addiction—a fascination which crosses not only centuries but disciplines, captivating scientists, policymakers, philosophers, artists, and laypeople alike. This class will trace the evolution of literary representations of addiction across several centuries, from classical depictions of god-induced madness, through the Gothic narratives such as Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, temperance classics such as Ten Nights in a Barroom (whose impact has often been compared to that of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), to the twentieth- and twenty-first century comedies and confessionals that make the bestseller lists today. Through these readings and related critical texts, we will examine the ways that such literature provides a staging ground for public controversy and emerging theories about the artistic, cultural, ethical, and scientific significance and ramifications of addiction. Course readings/viewing will include works of fiction, journalism, and writings from the natural and social sciences as well as popular films. We will also consider practical topics such as how University library resources and experts can help students locate and evaluate key sources and develop authoritative arguments.

Literatures of Addiction

Instructor(s): Ricardo Court

Description: Together we will explore the making of the first great political scientist of the modern age starting with a close reading of his secret diplomatic communications, his villainous guidebook The Prince, his licentious play The Mandrake, ending with his resigned (and some say cynical) later histories. So much of our exploration of the inner workings of states and regimes begins with Machiavelli, who raised ire and admiration, no less for his willingness to say out loud what others whispered, than for the temerity to show what makes power work.

Machiavelli: Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Instructor(s): Averill Curdy


Just as it can be easier to view a star by looking slightly to one side of it, writers for centuries have achieved greater clarity by approaching the complexities of the self through indirection—telling the truth, but telling it slant, as Emily Dickinson wrote. In this creative reading and creative writing class, students will be introduced to a diverse set of contemporary writers who find both freedom and authenticity in the use of personae, emblems, and ekphrasis. Weekly writing prompts inspired by our readings will enable students to engage more deeply with the nuanced truths of the self by exploring these strategies of indirection in their own creative writing (poetry or prose), leading ultimately to a short final portfolio of polished work. Teaching Method: Interactive lectures, writing workshops, small group discussions.

Evaluation Method: Reading journal, including weekly short critical or creative writing assignments Final portfolio of creative work in prose, poetry, or a combination of the two, selected, developed, and revised from journal entries. One short 5-7 page analytical essay on assigned reading(s). Class participation, weekly Canvas postings, peer critiques. No final exam. Course Materials: Course Reader, posted on Canvas. Hard copies available for purchase at Quartet Copies, 825 Clark Street in Evanston

Masks & Artifacts: Approaches to Writing About the Self

Instructor(s): Lauren Stokes

Description: The Mediterranean Sea is currently the world's deadliest border. According to the International Organization for Migration's Missing Migrants Project, more than 23,000 people have drowned in the attempt to reach Europe since 2013. The European Union currently spends billions to combat this migration: both to intercept and turn back boats on the high sea, and to pay African states to stop those boats before they ever leave. Humanitarian activists have rescued capsizing boats and brought migrants to shore—at which point they have been arrested as "smugglers" for aiding unauthorized migration. While far right parties have exploited tensions over migration, migrants have fought what they see as inhumane policies, with undocumented activists in France, Spain, Italy and beyond demanding the decolonization of European migration policy. This course introduces students to multiple perspectives on migrations across the Mediterranean, with a particular focus on placing current events in historical context. Topics will include the history of colonial, fascist, and post-colonial migrations, the ethics of humanitarian aid, European and African cooperation on regulating migration, and the contemporary activism of undocumented migrants in Europe.

Mediterranean Migrations

Instructor(s): Benjamin Gorvine


While those going into the field of mental health typically think about it as a "helping profession", there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the psychological, economic, and political forces that have defined the development of the field. The course will focus on the contemporary framework for defining mental illness - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (now in its 5th edition) - with a particular focus on some of the problems that have emerged from the disease-based framework utilized in the manual, and the assumptions that it makes about disorders and typical development. We will explore the role of state mental hospitals in the U.S. in the early to mid-20th century, and we will examine the political forces that drove the de-institutionalization movement of the 1970s and 1980s, with additional consideration of the contemporary implications of the closing of state hospitals. Finally, the course will focus on the evolution of psychotherapy in the modern marketplace, and some of the challenges posed by the demands of the health insurance industry and academic research. The aggressive way in which the DSM has been marketed internationally and the implications of culture for diagnosis will also be discussed. Along the way, we will explore critiques of the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance industry, and modern psychiatry. Some of these themes will also be explored through analysis of popular films and other media.

Students will be evaluated on the basis of class attendance and participation, co-leading a class discussion with peers, and writing assignments including short reaction papers and a longer research paper. Evaluation Method Students will be evaluated on the basis of class attendance and participation, co-leading a class discussion with peers, and writing assignments including short reaction papers and a longer research paper. Class Materials (Required) Schwartz, B. (2005). The Paradox of Choice: Why more is less. New York: Harper. ISBN: 978- 0060005696. Gnaulati, E. (2018). Saving Talk Therapy: How health insurers, big pharma, and slanted science are ruining good mental health care. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN: 978-0-8070-9340-5. Paulson, G. (2012). Closing the Asylums: Causes and Consequences of the Deinstitutionalization Movement. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN: 978-0-7864-7098-3. Watters, E. (2011). Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. New York: Free Press. ISBN: 978-1-4165-8708-8.

Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment

Instructor(s): David Smith


For many, music serves a valuable function in everyday life. Music can serve as a mode of artistic expression, a method of relaxation, a means of influencing mood, and an avenue toward transcendence. This course will focus on the human experience of music by integrating research and theory from cognitive, social, and developmental psychology. Special attention will be given to topics such as the perception of music, the development of musical expertise and creativity, the effect of music on cognition, the emotional impact of music, and effective musical instruction. Registration Requirements Attendance at 1st class mandatory Teaching Method Class time will be spent mainly in discussion but I plan on showing videos and listening to musical excerpts. We will also attend musical performances outside of class. Evaluation Method Students will be evaluated based solely on written work.

NUMBER OF WRITING ASSIGNMENTS AND THEIR LENGTHS Introductory paper to be assigned the first week: Why Music? (2-3 pages) Research paper : Top musicians: What does the evidence say about the role of nature vs. nurture? (3-4 pages) Reaction paper based on attending a musical performance (2-3 pages) Final paper based on research project. (8-9 pages) Class Materials (Required) Primary text: Levitan, Daniel J. (2006) This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of Human Obsession. Dutton, New York. ISBN-13: 9780452288522 Plus a list of readings: TBD

Music and the Mind

Instructor(s): Elizabeth Trubey


Why go to college? To become educated? To stay up all night thinking deep thoughts? To prepare for a career? To party? Is college a straight and narrow path through requirements and electives to graduation, or is the story more complicated, more open-ended? What happens when the story ends (or doesn’t end) at graduation? Does attending college even matter today? The stories we tell about the college experience shape our expectations and our experiences at a university – as do current debates about the value of a liberal arts education. Course Goals and Objectives: To get you thinking critically about why you chose Northwestern and what you hope to achieve here; to hone your close reading skills by examining contemporary texts (fiction, non-fiction essay, film) that tell different stories about college; to understand today’s debates about the liberal arts; to introduce you to new ideas about how to learn and thrive in college; to introduce you to Weinberg College and its resources; to hone your skills as a writer of college-level work. Optimistically: as we think our stories about a/the College Experience, you will begin to write the story of your own. Teaching Method(s): Discussion.

Evaluation Method(s): Regular 2-page response papers; short, ungraded writing assignments; participation Texts include: Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding 9780316126670 Brown, Roedinger, and McDaniel, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning 0674729013 Graff and Birkenstein, They Say/I Say 0393631672 Students may opt for paperback, e-book, or other editions of these texts. Other readings available on Canvas Texts will be available at: Norris.

Narratives of College

Instructor(s): Samantha Botz

Description: It is said that the Victorians invented the idea of childhood: an idyllic state of wonder, play, imagination, and innocence. The orphans, adventurers, tricksters, and runaways in Victorian children’s novels befriend animals, outsmart pirates, soar through the London sky, and fall down rabbit holes. What made these stories so popular in the nineteenth century, and why do they continue to enchant readers today? This course will explore key works of the Victorian literature canon to consider how these various narratives reflect rapidly transforming conceptions of childhood during the nineteenth century. From Lewis Carroll’s playfully puzzling Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Rudyard Kipling’s novel of colonial espionage, Kim, Victorian children’s novels offer a unique perspective on a world in the grip of profound political, economic, and religious change. As we read, we will also reflect on the categories of the human and the animal, the nature of child sexuality, the distinctions drawn between innocence and maturity, as well as differences in gender, race, class, and disability. How does the constructed representation of “the child” speak to the desires, ambitions, and anxieties of a given historical moment? And what does the very category of children’s literature suggest about literature’s purpose and value? Teaching Method: Discussion-based

Neverlands and Secret Gardens: 19th Century British Children's Fantasy

Instructor(s): Tracy Vaughn-Manley

Description: This first-year seminar will be an intensive, multi-genre study of literary and cinematic works that focus on passing or the reinvention of identity from 1900 through the turn of the 21st century. Through film, literature, and other expository writings, this seminar will explore the various ways in which notions of race and other identities are socially constructed performances. What does it mean to act, talk, be black, white, or multiracial? How do these identities relate to one’s socio-economic status and/or gender or do they? Can socio-economic status be performed as well? Finally, when are these social constructions of identity fluid, interchangeable, temporary, or permanent? Students will learn how to read closely and critically; how to develop a distinctive voice in their writing; how to become confident in asking questions and framing persuasive answers. We will acquire a technical and critical vocabulary for various literary forms and put it to use in our own written explorations of a given text. Ultimately, students will experiment with several ways in which identities are performative.

Passing and the Performance of Identity

Instructor(s): Chad Horne

Description: To borrow a phrase from Aristotle, sex is said in many ways. The word "sex" can refer to the domain of the erotic, that is, to sexual desire and sexual activity. It can also refer to certain biological categories related to an animal's reproductive role, such as female, male, or intersex. Among humans, "sex," along with the nearby term "gender," can also refer to cultural or social categories like woman, man, or nonbinary. And we can also talk about "sex" in the sense of sexual orientation, a set of categories relating an individual's own sex or gender with the sex(es) or gender(s) that the individual is typically attracted to, such as gay, lesbian, straight, or bisexual. Needless to say, things gets complicated pretty quickly. In this seminar, we will read and discuss recent philosophical attempts to make sense of all this. The course will cover a wide range of topics, including: What is sexual desire? What (if anything) is sexual perversion? What is the best account of concepts like gender identity or sexual orientation? How (if at all) do those concepts relate to biological sex? What about the ethics and politics of sex? Is there anything wrong, morally speaking, with casual sex, or with the buying and selling of sex? What should we think about the ways that gender roles and expectations affect people's economic and social prospects? Readings for this course will be drawn mostly from contemporary philosophical sources.

Philosophy of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

Instructor(s): Paul CaraDonna

Description: This course will focus on developing an understanding of the ecology of plants, pollinators, and their interactions. We will build on this ecological knowledge in order to think critically about the conservation challenges faced by plants and pollinators all across the globe today. Topics in this course will range from plant and pollinator life cycles, pollination ecology, pollination as an ecosystem services, and conservation. Emphasis in this course will be on the development of skills in critical reading, interpretation, discussion, and writing in science.

Pollination Ecology
TTh 2pm-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Rebecca Zorach

Description: Over the centuries, individuals and societies have often made the decision to tear down monuments to past historical figures who committed reprehensible acts or who symbolize great injustices. When, in recent years, people cast critical attention on statues of Confederate generals, they participated in a long history of conflict over monuments. In this course we study general issues around monuments but focus specifically on monuments in Chicago: those that arguably represent historical violence and injustice; those that attempt to redress wrongs; those that do not yet exist but should. We also look at how contemporary artists have intervened in the very definition of what a monument is or can be, using different tactics (not necessarily always statues) to assert their claims. How can contemporary art represent history? How can we engage in debate about the ethical and political issues involved? By engaging with readings and multiple site visits, we will explore how to research, write about, discuss, and present the history, politics, and visual and material characteristics of works of art situated in public space. We will also explore the visual traces of African American, Native American, and women's history (and their intersections) in the city.

Problematic Monuments

Instructor(s): Megan Hyska

Description: Democracy works when people are able to make conscientious, informed decisions about the kind of society they want to live in. Thinkers from antiquity to the present have been concerned with the various ways that this ability can be undermined by propaganda, both in purported democracies and in explicitly authoritarian regimes. On the other hand, many radical thinkers have suggested that propaganda isn't always bad, and is perhaps a necessary component of liberatory social and political movements. In this course, we will be asking three central questions: What is propaganda? How does propaganda function in the world today? And finally, how can a just society deal with propaganda's negative effects? Our lives are filled with questions about what is better and worse: Would I be a better person if I were a vegetarian? Would it be better to give money to this person, or a charitable organization? This course isn't about these particular questions, but rather the conception of goodness implicit in them. In particular, the topic is: how is goodness related to what I should do? What draws me to (want to) do good things? Is it love? And how is goodness related to what I am as a person?


Instructor(s): Ashley King


About half of LGBTQ+ Americans identify as religious, though their stories may be less familiar to us than stories of religious oppression and acrimony. Today, conservative religious institutions lead the opposition to LGBTQ+ rights and provide the public framework for discrimination against queer people. Is religion homophobic and transphobic? Does it have to be? This course explores how queer religious people in America, past and present, have made sense of their lives as queer and religious. We will ask how religion has shaped queer people’s self-understanding as queer, and how queerness has shaped their understanding of faith through their stories of coming out, conversion, transition, diaspora, desire, loss, and healing from spiritual trauma. We will identify the many contributions queer people have made to American religious history—sometimes while hiding their rainbow under a bushel. Course materials comprise multiple genres of academic writing (history, theory, theology, ethnography, and cultural criticism) and popular media (memoir, fiction, film, podcasts, music, and social media), drawn from Native American religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Haitian Vodou, and New Age spiritualities like tarot and astrology. Instruction will focus on developing critical thinking, reading, and writing skills through familiarizing first year students with basic research methods and strategies designed to prepare them for college-level research in any humanities field. TEACHING METHOD: Discussion, Readings, Research project, Writing assignment

EVALUATION METHOD: Attendance, Class participation, Papers, Research project CLASS MATERIALS: James Baldwin, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (ISBN: 978-0345806543, $8.99) Melissa M. Wilcox, "Queer Religiosities: An Introduction to Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion" (ISBN: 978-1442275676, $32.00)

Queer Religion

Instructor(s): Maite Rebecca Marciano

Description: In the middle of the twenty-first century, anti-colonial and anti-humanist movements critiqued European humanism and its conception of man as rational and superior to others. Today, advances in technology (e.g., gene editing and virtual reality) and climate change raise new issues as they challenge the future of humanity and how we define ourselves as subjects. What does it mean to be human, and how will recent advances in technology and climate change radically transform our humanity in the future? How might we "re-enchant" our understanding of the human beyond harmful views that have shaped the West historically through colonialism and imperialism? How might we imagine a humanism centered on repair, sustainability, and re-enchantment? This seminar will explore these questions through a wide range of critical essays and narrative fiction. We will examine various conceptions of the human from the discovery of the New World to contemporary theories of post and trans-humanisms. We will trace how redefining humanism requires us to address problems in bioethics, media, technology, and other perspectives at the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality. Additionally, as our course is a first-year seminar, we will also learn about and discuss various aspects of college academic life as well as the skills you will need to flourish at Northwestern.

Re-Enchant and Repair: Theoretical and Literary Approaches to the Human Subject

Instructor(s): Elvia Mendoza

Description: This course surveys an array of cultural productions to examine representations of race, gender, and sexuality. Wewill engage with different forms of texts such as novels, short stories, films, exhibits, photographs, and performanceto examine how these categories of identity are represented, articulated, and given meaning. In exploringconstructions of race, gender, and sexuality, we will pay particular attention to the ways these artistic mediumsenable different forms of self-making and embodied liberatory practice at the intersections of race, gender, andsexuality.

Reading Race, Gender, and Sexuality
TTh 12pm-1:20pm

Instructor(s): Stefan Henning

Description: The Chinese have achieved enormous economic growth over the last forty years which has dramatically raised living conditions in China. The Chinese Communist Party has steered this economic development through authoritarian rule which denies the Chinese liberties you take for granted. Thirty-one years ago, the Communist Party killed Chinese who demanded these liberties by employing the military inside the country. Since the massacre of 1989, protest in the streets has moved to networking on the internet. You will write your paper about this challenge to authoritarian rule by engaging some of the following questions: How have urban Chinese lived with the trauma of the massacre? What exactly happened in 1989? Making and uploading videos to the internet is a crucial weapon for activists. How do you evaluate the power of individual videos to force political change? These videos are documentaries, performance art, interviews, covert recordings of state agents, cries for help of fugitives in real time, and witness testimony. The creators of these videos are prepared to take risks because they feel there is something wrong with China today. These feelings are value judgments, or valuations. How do you tease out the values by which activists judge the state and evaluate their lives in China? What in turn are the value judgments of American reporters who report on Chinese activism to the American public? What are the value judgments of American professors who study Chinese activism? And what are your own value judgments: If it turns out that U.S. capitalism in its combination with democracy cannot economically compete with Chinese capitalism in its combination with authoritarian rule, and you were forced to choose, would you choose capitalism or democracy? What parts of your life would be impossible under authoritarian rule? Which line would populism and neo-authoritarianism in America have to cross for you to fight the government?

Rebellion and its Enemies in China Today

Instructor(s): Stefan Ionescu

Description: Repairing historical injustices is one of the most debated topics in today's society in many countries on every continent. Restitution (return of confiscated property), reparations (various forms of material compensation for what cannot be returned physically), and apologies (public recognition of wrongdoing and assuming responsibility for it) are perhaps the most widespread transitional justice methods used to amend the massive breaches of human rights perpetrated by colonial empires, dictatorships, authoritarian regimes, and democracies throughout history. Slowly emerging after World War II, the theory and practice of restitution, reparations, and apologies have developed tremendously especially since the 1990s, even though many governments and citizens are still reluctant to accept them. Which were the most well-known and controversial cases of restitution, reparations, and apologies around the globe during the last 75 years and how were they justified, opposed, and implemented? Is the boom of restitution, reparations, and apologies the sign of a new international morality and democratization spreading worldwide? This course investigates these questions by focusing on theories and cases studies of repairing historical injustices perpetrated by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in Europe (against the victims of the Holocaust and the Gulag), by colonial Empires and settler democracies in the Americas, Australia, and Africa (against Native Americans, African Americans, Japanese Americans, Africans, Australian aboriginals, the Maori of New Zeeland, and Indonesians), by the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II Asia (against the victims of sexual slavery, the so-called "comfort women"), and by the apartheid regime in South Africa (against black Africans).

Repairing Historical Injustices

Instructor(s): Briam Odom

Description: The scientific enterprise, over the centuries, has often interacted with human spirituality and religion. This interaction has at times been synergistic and at times antagonistic. This course will focus on recent developments. We will look at relevant writings of influential scientists, including mystics, believers, agnostics, and atheists. We will also look at research probing the physiology of spiritual experience. In-class discussion will at all times be respectful, to allow productive dialogue on these deeply personal topics.

Science and Spirituality

Instructor(s): Veronica Berns

Description: Clear and concise communication is highly valued in many STEM fields. Whether conveying the technical details of an experiment for a colleague or translating the impact of a study for the public, scientists need to discuss complex ideas with different audiences. This course analyzes the goals of scientific writing by examining texts that represent different levels of communication, including how to use auditory podcasts and the visual language of comic books for conveying complex scientific ideas.

Science and the Scientist: How we communicate complex ideas, from comic books to journal articles

Instructor(s): Michael Wilczewski

Description: Brothels, bathhouses, and backrooms—take a tour through the sexual underworld of Eastern Europe. In Sex and the Slavic World, we uncover the more salacious parts of history that no one asks about, covering the history of sexuality in Eastern Europe from the mid 19th century to the present. We will cover such topics as fin de siècle culture and sexual decadence; the medicalization of sexuality; prostitution and sex-trafficking; sex reform and sexology; the World Wars and sexuality; gender and sexuality under state socialism, and representations of queerness in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. As a First-Year College Seminar, this course will help students further develop critical thinking and writing skills, familiarize them with research methods necessary for writing college-level papers, and help them transition to college life.

Sex in the Slavic World

Instructor(s): Jamie Druckman

Description: What explains the current state of our political system? How do political campaigns work? Are voters manipulated by slick media-based campaigns? What about campaign ads? Do polls help or harm voters? How do we study political campaigns? These are some of the questions that we will explore in the class "Studying Campaign 2022." The goal of the seminar is to enhance our understanding of the contemporary political environment, how politicians conduct campaigns, how campaigns and media coverage affect voters, and how we study campaign dynamics. We will not only examine the academic literature on these topics, but we also will follow the ongoing events of the 2022 congressional campaigns. Through a combination of group projects (e.g., analyzing campaign websites, a survey), short assignments, and essays, we will learn what makes a campaign effective and to understand campaigns.

Studying Campaign 2022

Instructor(s): Tony Chen


This course explores the idea that the extreme level of political polarization and economic inequality that prevails in our own time can be traced to the conflicts and dilemmas of the "long 1970s." In addition to exploring primary sources from the period, students will read an interdisciplinary selection of monographs, book chapters, and journal articles.

Grades will be based on class discussion as well as a combination of short and long writing assignments.

That Seventies Show: Politics and Society in the 'Long 1970s' and the Origins of Our Time

Instructor(s): Will Reno

Description: This course surveys the changing American strategies in the conduct of warfare since the end of the Cold War in 1989. The course opens with a consideration of the massive military buildup and assault on Iraq in 1991. The American military presence in that region never went away. This presence provides us with a framework for analyzing the changing character of warfare. Consideration of the Iraq War (2003-2011) focuses on the development of counterinsurgency and the emergence of multi-domain warfare (i.e., political warfare, information warfare, etc.) and increased reliance on low-profile Special Operations Forces. Our attention then turns to recent challenges of hybrid warfare (i.e., hacking and fake news and their roles in conflicts), and the advent of flexible responses such as increased American reliance on drones and contractors in the conduct of warfare. The course ends with the consideration of several emerging American war-fighting strategies.

The American Way of War

Instructor(s): Jeff Eden

Description: This course charts the development of history as an academic discipline. We will examine the course of "Western" historical thinking in particular, with emphasis on the most influential philosophies of history and historical methodologies. Students will learn the work of the historian, how historians think about history, and how to do scholarly historical work. Throughout the semester, in other words, we will concentrate on the different approaches historians have used to solve the complex problems of interpreting the past and presenting their findings to an audience, and how to apply these approaches to our own work

The History of History

Instructor(s): Megan Geigner

Description: We will investigate how media, academics, policy, and popular culture in US society have defined and codified race. (Examples of materials include newspaper articles, podcasts, song lyrics, maps, personal essays, TV, and film). In studying how we define race, we will also consider the intersections of citizenship and immigration, gender and sexuality, and more. This seminar helps students transition into college-level inquiry and into being conscientious and ethical members of a diverse learning community. Students will demonstrate their new knowledge about racial formation in the United States through drafting and revising journal entries, analytical papers, and creative assignments.

The Legacy of Race in the United States

Instructor(s): Tristram Wolff


From its beginning, the rise of the novel was all about the overactive imaginations of passionate readers, and the dangerous effects of popular literacy. The books we read in this course are studies of emotional over-investment and varieties of censorship, addressing when and how literature and reading become dangerous (whether to individuals, social values, or the powers that be). How does reading lead to devotion, enthusiasm, madness, or transgression? And how do these effects prove revelatory? How are concerns about the effects of reading and the spread of literacy motivated by the desire to control information, freedom, and social mobility? Broadly speaking, how do reading and literary interpretation teach us new techniques for how (or how not) to interpret the world? Our course offers a brief introduction to the remarkable story of the modern novel, while exploring the influence of literary works on social values. Expectations include engaged participation, short papers, and a presentation.

Required texts (available at Beck’s books) • J. W. von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther (ISBN 978-0199583027) • Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (ISBN 978-0199535545) • Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (ISBN 978-0143107309) • Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (ISBN 978-0199535651) • Toni Morrison, A Mercy (ISBN 978-0307276766)

The Pleasures and Dangers of Reading

Instructor(s): Larry Stuelpnagel

Description: Presidents, politicians, and citizens often claim that the press is either "liberal" or "conservative." But many factors drive what the public receives as news. Those factors include: the economics of the business, information biases that come from striving to be "objective," work routines by journalists, and the need to tell a story in a simple fashion so that readers and viewers can easily understand the subject. This course will critically examine assumptions regarding how news is reported, how politicians attempt to manipulate the news and how this impacts the outcome of elections, policies and the perception of political players.

The Press & the Political Process

Instructor(s): Karen Alter

Description: This seminar will investigate different ideas about what the rule of law is, and different realities of how the rule of law operates. It is a comparative legal systems seminar, with an international dimension. Given the broad sense that the rule of law is a critical element of good governance, international actors have become rule of law promotors. Is the rule of law something that outsiders can help to create or improve? Can one create a rule of law if governments or powerful actors refuse to subordinate themselves to the rule of law? How do those actors committed to the rule of law try to balance the aspiration of a rule of law and the political reality that governments and powerful actors have a variety of ways to resist? Participants will be divided into five country groups: South Africa, India, Colombia, China and the United States. All of these countries have constitutions and supreme courts, and all face rule of law challenges. The comparison will allow us to consider the variety of challenges that exist, and the country perspective will help us to consider what, if anything, outside actors can do to support the rule of law.

The Rule of Law Around the World

Instructor(s): Elizabeth Lenaghan

Description: As you are well aware, being young has many benefits and many drawbacks. For instance, the optimism and creativity that often characterize youth can lead to positive social and societal change. At the same time, though, young people often struggle to be taken seriously, even when their actions and ideas are good ones. Through examining several historic and contemporary case studies, this course will explore both the triumphs and terrors of youth (i.e., teens-twenties). What risks are uniquely available to young people? Which ones are rewarded and which end in regret? How might these outcomes be mediated by other factors (e.g., race, gender, sexuality)? Most importantly, what can we learn from the triumphant and terrible behaviors of others? As we explore answers to these questions through discussion, reading, and writing assignments, we'll also take advantage of your own uniquely youthful status as first-quarter, first-year students. Specifically, we'll think and learn about how both your transition to college and the years ahead present you with opportunities to both capitalize on your youth and cultivate for you and others (especially those who might disparage Gen Z) a more realistic idea of what it really means to be young these days.

The Terror & Triumph of Youth

Instructor(s): Steve Reinke

Description: This is a first-year seminar examining various approaches to experimental animation. There are weekly readings and screenings as well as weekly assignments. These assignments will usually involve writing (in various modes) as well as (sometimes) the presentation of that writing in class. As artists, we’ll look at film, video, internet and installation works that engage with animation. Though we will be looking at some earlier films, contemporary works will be emphasized. Some of the films will also be available to stream through links, others will only be screened in class. And, although we will be taking a variety of approaches, the ability to analyze — perform a close reading — will be emphasized. A final essay of around 3,000 words — proposed in close consultation with the instructor — will allow the student to develop their own approach to a work or works of their choosing.

The World is a Cartoon: Experimental Animation

Instructor(s): Luke Flores

Description: In this WCAS first-year seminar, we will examine recent research on learning and memory through the unique lens of college life. What do we know (or think we know) about how memories are encoded in the brain? How is college a different learning environment than high school? Together, we will review scientific studies on the impact of college life on student academic performance, and correlate those findings with studies of human and animal learning in the laboratory. After taking this course, you will have a foundational understanding of the neurobiological basis of memory, learn how to read scientific literature critically, and develop strategies to improve your study habits and performance here at Northwestern University. Open to first-year students in Weinberg College. This course does not satisfy major requirements in Neuroscience but does serve as a Weinberg first-year seminar. There will be several writing assignments on a science-related topic.

This is Your Brain on College

Instructor(s): Michelle Zugnoni

Description: As you begin your first year in college, you’ll encounter many different experiences that may lead you to ask the legendary questions: Who am I? and Who do I want to become? Identity forms an important part of our development, both inside university and outside academia. While we may assume one identity within the university, we may assume an entirely different identity within friend groups or within our families. The intersectionality of identity plays a pivotal role in shaping our world view. It’s also important to consider within the academic setting, as you begin to connect with others from different backgrounds who will form the basis of your peer and academic support and learning groups over the next four years. This class will explore the shaping of identity. You will have the opportunity to explore your own identities, both within university and outside academia. You will also explore how others shape their identities. Of particular emphasis will be the intersectionality of identity. We will consider elements such as sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and race. Emphasis will be placed on identity-shaping phenomena such as life experiences, socialization within communities and families, and popular culture. Together, we will come to a deeper understanding of identity. The culminating project of the class will be a “first-quarter-of-college identity” time capsule. At the end of your fourth year at Northwestern, Professor Zugnoni will send you your time capsule by email so that you can revisit your first days of the university experience.

Through the Looking Glass: Intersections of Identity

Instructor(s): Richard Walker

Description: In this seminar we will survey various topics in politics, philosophy and economics. Exactly what we end up covering will depend a little on what most interests the group. The aim is to find interesting things to read, talk and write about.

Topics in Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Instructor(s): Ray San Diego

Description: Education, despite being touted as a great equalizer, is a highly contested site of struggle. It is a struggle to get in, a struggle to get through, and a struggle to figure out what happens after. Throughout each of these time periods academic and journalistic coverage of the Asian American student experience argue that social, cultural, political, economic, and familial pressures converge and compound on this population leading to unfulfilling, unpleasant, and unbelievable outcomes. Following that claim, this course explores three interlinked and overlapping themes for the quarter: 1) The persistence of the model minority myth and its impact on higher education policy, 2) parent and teacher expectations of Asian American students in K-12 and university settings, and 3) Asian American student mental health and well-being. We will study student activism and the emergence of Ethnic Studies/Asian American Studies in higher education, explore contemporary intersectional Asian American student experiences, and critically examine the politics of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” rhetoric. In what ways do Asian American students survive, negotiate, and resist external and internal pressures of success and excellence? How do Asian Americans begin to redefine success on their own terms? Texts for this course may include Erin Ninh’s Passing for Perfect; Christine Yano, Neal Akatsuka, and the Asian American Collective’s Straight A’s: Asian American College Students in Their Own Words, and Debbie Lum’s documentary Try Harder!

Under Pressure: Asian Americans in Higher Education

Instructor(s): Axel Mueller

Description: In this seminar we will examine some of the fundamental ideas and questions behind democracy and provide a reading of their "inventors". Some of the questions are: What is democracy? Is it a form of government, a value, an ideal, a political system, a form of life, a bit of all this? Is democracy always the best political solution (in wartime? general starvation?)? Why should the whole of the people decide and not the specialists in the respective questions? Are all democratically taken decisions automatically legitimate (what about minorities' rights?)? How should all citizens in a democracy participate in politics? By direct self-government of the people or by voting representatives? Is everything democratically decidable or does the individual have unalterable rights? Is tolerance and/or free speech necessary for democracy and how far can it go?

What is Democracy?
MW10:30-11:50 am

Instructor(s): Katie Gesmundo

Description: Over the past 20 years, nanotechnology has been a booming area of research in chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, and medicine. Modern techniques have allowed scientists to better study small materials, and the nanotech we read about in science fiction novels can now become real products found in our world. In this seminar, we will discuss what is so special about the size range of 1-100 nm (the nanoscale) and why particles of this size have a such a unique niche in nature and technology. We will explore the properties of these materials and why quantum mechanical effects allow for this scale to be so important. Discussions of medicines, electronics, catalysts, additives, and imaging agents that include nanoparticles will allow us to explore the wide range of current directions of nanotechnology. As we look to future applications, we will debate the implications of these materials on the environment, human health, and safety. Regulatory bodies in the United States and around the globe have discussed the ethical and social impact of nanomaterials, and we will investigate their role is assuring the nanomaterials we use leave a positive impact on the world.

What's So Special About Nanomaterials?

Instructor(s): Geraldo Cadava

Description: The past decade has seen an explosion of Ancestry-DNA tests--all over the world, but particularly in the United States. This first-year seminar will explore the reasons for the recent explosion, but will also examine the long history of Ancestry-DNA testing and genealogical research broadly. Now and in the past, the inclination to want to learn more about our personal pasts has been full of cultural and political meaning. Writing assignments will require you to analyze the larger history of Ancestry-DNA testing, as well as your own personal history. Getting an Ancestry-DNA test is certainly not required, but is certainly permissible, if you're interested. We will discuss the other ways you can do genealogical research besides spitting in a tube!

Where Do You Come From

Instructor(s): Zachary Nissen


In 2005, leaders from around the globe met to discuss how, for the first time in human history, over half of the world’s population lives in cities (Crane and Kinzig 2005). In this class, we will explore what it is that cities offer their residents, from their origins over 6,000 years ago, to some of their historic and contemporary formulations. We will pay particular attention to recent claims, (see United Nations 2018 World Urbanization Prospectus) that if cities are to be successful over the long-term, they must be safe, inclusive, and equitable. Here, we will take up an archaeological and historical perspective on cities to assess what exactly draws diverse groups of people to settle and stay in the same place. For example, the covid-19 pandemic has taught us that cities are not the bastions of inclusivity we may want them to be and that inequalities can be dramatically intensified during periods of societal stress, yet urban populations continue to grow. Students will read an interdisciplinary collection (Anthropology; Archaeology; Geography; History; International Studies) of scholarship that considers the relationships between people and urban environments and how they vary cross-culturally. Together, we will examine how residents of cities throughout human history have negotiated urban life and the conditions that encourage or discourage urbanism over the long term. By the end of the term, students will develop critical thinking skills, learn how to investigate urbanism from multiple scales, and communicate their insights via written and oral homework assignments.

Why Cities?: An archaeology of cities throughout human history

Instructor(s): Sara Hernandez

Description: In this seminar, we will look into the many different facets of the economics of gender. We will learn about economic decisions that individuals and households face from a unique gender perspective and ask ourselves: do women and men behave differently in economic circumstances? The topics we will cover include, among others: the status of women around the world, education, marriage, fertility, labor supply, bargaining power, and discrimination. For each topic, we will study concrete examples emanating from all over the world. Students will learn to use a wide variety of academic resources (including empirical research articles, ethnographic descriptions, and popular press books) and write different papers, including policy recommendations, multimodal essays, argument essays, and research papers.

Why Gender Matters in Economics
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