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Choosing a College Seminar


Instructor(s): Thomas Gaubatz


Overview of Course:  How do video games tell stories, and what kind of stories do they tell? What are the formal elements and techniques that games use to tell stories, and how do individual games deploy them to give shape to the player’s experience? How do these questions of game form relate to larger humanistic topics—what larger insight can we gain from the study of games, and what perspectives might enhance our understanding? In this course, we explore these questions through a study of the Japanese Role-Playing Game—the JRPG. Though our focus is on this genre, the skills and modes of thinking that we develop—formal description and analysis, theoretical framing, critical evaluation—form the basis of humanistic study and scholarly knowledge production broadly at the university level. The course instructs students in how scholars approach everyday objects and conceptual categories—the JRPG—and produce knowledge about them.

Learning Objectives:   By the end of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Summarize and discuss major theoretical questions and scholarly debates surrounding video games and the methods for studying them
  • Describe formal qualities of cultural genres (the JRPG) and the particular forms they take in individual works.
  • Analyze works in a given genre in relation to relevant conceptual and theoretical frameworks
  • Situate digital games (or tropes, techniques, genres, and styles of the same) in relation to relevant social, cultural, and historical contexts
  • Understand, apply, and critically evaluate scholarly writing, including scholarship on games as well as theoretical writing on other topics
  • Use writing to develop and communicate humanistic knowledge

Evaluation Method Attendance, participation, game journal, reading questions, writing assignments, final paper

Class Materials (required) All materials available on CANVAS

Japanese Role-Playing Game
TTh 3:30pm-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Mary Pattillo


Writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) 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 College 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, friends, and high schools to enter a new context, one with new forms of diversity, hierarchy, division, and opportunity for connections. Even though she was writing nearly 100 years ago, Hurston is still an awesome guide as you navigate issues of race, gender, class, and academic belonging at Northwestern. The goal of the class is to give you the tools to manages the surges of college while maintaining yourself, even as you also change. Some topics we will explore include: privilege, politics, love, friendship, curiosity, perseverance, work, and community. Hurston’s vast body of work will be the basis for your reflections, analysis, and writing.

A Dark Rock Surged Upon': Navigating Race, Class,
TTh 2-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Ryan Platte

Description: In this course we will examine, and learn how to write about, the role of Ancient Greece and Rome in American film and culture. Preliminary steps in this study will involve introductions to various historic eras of the ancient Greco-Roman world as well as important elements of ancient culture. Our emphasis will, however, not be analysis of antiquity itself but rather of recent American engagement with that antiquity, particularly in film. We will examine not just how antiquity perseveres in American culture, but how popular art creatively and critically engages with inherited Classical traditions. We will also consider engagement with Classical antiquity in some non-cinematic media as well, such as the graphic novel and even the architecture of the city of Chicago.

In addition to the scholarly elements of this course, it will also serve as an introduction to college life itself. We will learn about specific resources on campus that exist to enable student success as well as discuss student well-being and personal success strategies. Your instructor will be your academic advisor this term and this will incorporate advising related activities to help students succeed not only in this class but at the university generally."

American Classics: Ancient Greece and Rome in Modern Culture and Film
TTh 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Will Reno


Overview of class
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.

Learning Objectives
At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Have the capacity to distinguish among different war fighting strategies in their analysis of any conflict that they encounter.
  • Evaluate the relative efficacy of different strategies in armed conflicts and understand why various actors in conflicts adopt specific strategies.
  • Understand and explain why actors in some conflicts are more prone to certain kinds of violence against noncombatants.
  • Understand and explain the role official policies (i.e., counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, et al.) play in contemporary conflicts.
  • Make informed judgements about the efficacy of policies and tradeoffs that policy choices entail.
  • Think about and discuss plausible directions in which US military strategy might evolve to address new challenges.
  • Critically evaluate how social science theories can inform the public and government officials about the nature of warfighting generally and about specific contemporary conflicts.
In addition, College Seminars are designed to enable students to: Set and evaluate academic goals; communicate effectively, both orally and in writing; study effectively; think critically; understand and meet Northwestern's standards of academic integrity; know when and how to ask for help"

American Way of War
TTh 9am-10:20am

Instructor(s): Tracy Hodgson

Description: Do animals think? Are they self-aware? How can we humans ever hope to find out? Topics for exploration and discussion include: The evolution of cognition; the history and current state of research on animal thinking; how studies of animal thinking may help us better understand human cognition.

Animal Thinking
MWF 1pm-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Sara Monoson


This seminar introduces students to recent research on the cultural problems that have wittingly and unwittingly arisen from the prevalence of digital technologies in multiple spheres of life today (e.g., internet, AI, generative AI, social media, cloud computing, internet of things, big data). We will focus on their political implications.

Some researchers are deeply worried while others are optimistic. Some researchers call for the development of ethical standards for data scientists. Some call for policies and regulations of the relevant industries to protect “users.” Some call for rethinking the demands of freedom, equality, autonomy and democracy in light of these new technologies. Overall, our learning objective is for students to gain a facility with some conceptual material of value for thinking critically about the political dimension of this moment in the history of technology. No tech background will be assumed or needed.

The title of the seminar is a nod to a book we read to start our critical inquiry, You Are Not a Gadget, by visionary computer scientist Jaron Lanier. Other researchers whose work we will consult include technology ethicist Tristan Harris (Center for Humane Technology), economist Shoshanah Zuboff (The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the Frontier of Power), mathematician Cathy O’Neil (Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy), tech writer Nicholas Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains), journalist Max Fisher (The Outrage Machine: The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired our Minds and Our Worlds), “poet of code” and AI researcher Joy Buolamwini (The Algorithmic Justice League). Documentary films also feature in our sampling of recent research. Frequent short student oral presentations."

Are You a Gadget?
TTh 12pm-1:20pm

Instructor(s): Averill Curdy

Description: In this creative looking and creative writing class, we will learn to look deeply and closely at visual art, artifacts, objects, and nature, then translate that looking into our creative writing, making connections between our exterior and interior worlds. Attention, the art of noticing, is important not only for artists and writers, but also for scientists, entrepeneurs, or anyone whose work depends on seeing and making connections that others don’t. In following the lines of inquiry that we discover, we can learn more about what we want to pay attention to. Field work will include trips to the Block Museum and Deering Library’s Special Collections, as well as other important campus and community resources. Weekly writing prompts inspired by our readings and field work will lead to a portfolio of finished creative work in poetry and prose.

Teaching Method:
Interactive lectures, writing workshops, small group discussions

Evaluations 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
Class participation, weekly Canvas postings, peer critiques
No final exam

Class Materials:
Readings posted on Canvas"

Art of Noticing
MW 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Ji-Yeon Yuh

Description: Asian American Lives This course uses memoirs (both written and in film) to examine key issues in Asian American studies, including causes and consequences of migration, community building and the construction of identity and memory. We will discuss each memoir in its historical context - how and why did it get written or filmed, what is the purpose of the author/filmmaker—and outline how each contributes to the ongoing construction of Asian American identity.

Asian American Lives and Memories
TTh 2pm-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Sean Hanretta

Description: On June 30, 1960, Patrice Lumumba became Prime Minister of the independent Republic of the Congo. 201 days later, he was assassinated by Belgian soldiers with the support of the US and mining interests. Ever since, Lumumba has been a martyr and hero for many who work for the liberation and advancement of African peoples. This course examines the life, death, and legacy of Lumumba as a window into the last 100 years of African history. Topics include colonialism, decolonization, the Cold War, neocolonialism, civil and regional wars, the extraction of precious minerals, and the repatriation of art and artifacts.

Assassinating Lumumba: The Deaths and Afterlives of an African Hero
TTh 3:30pm-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Michael Maltenfort

Description: Who is a mathematician? Who teaches mathematics? Who learns mathematics, and why are U.S. mathematicians disproportionately male and white? How do race, gender, and other identities affect mathematics, mathematics education, and more generally STEM and society at large? Using academic writings, articles, movies, and other media, in this class students explore racism, sexism, and other systems of power, with particular attention on anti-Black racism. We collaboratively create an anti-racist framework, and we use this framework to understand how privilege has shaped society, academia, and mathematics. Can mathematics become a field that is equally open to anyone? If so, how?

Balancing the Equation: Inclusion and Equity in Mathematics
TTh 9:30am-10:20am

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
MW 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Marcelo Vinces


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 a non-fiction book (The Fever, by Sonia Shah).

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

Instructor(s): Akinwumi Ogundiran

Description: Climate change is a hot-button topic today. The cumulative effects of extreme weather patterns and their short- and long-term impact on contemporary communities and nations worldwide are topics of intense discussion and debate. Climate change is not a new thing. It has defined the earth and human history. We won't be here without mild and intense climate changes. So, what's different about this new phase of climate change? How did past societies manage and cope with climate change? What were the consequences of climate change on past societies, from subsistence farmers and transhumance pastoralists to city-states and empires? In seeking answers to these questions, students will read, present, discuss, analyze, and debate interdisciplinary literature dealing with the impacts of climate change on the cyclical rise and fall, stress and rejuvenation, and growth and decline of several civilizations. Food and water (in)security, conflict and cooperation, peace and war, invention and innovation, migration, state/empire formation and collapse, uprising and revolution, and disease and wellness are some of the events and outcomes linked to past climate changes. We will examine these topics across the globe, from the Roman Empire to French Revolution, Ancient Egypt to Great Zimbabwe, Yoruba Empires in West Africa to the Maya kingdoms in Central America, among others. The class will explore the sources of resilience and fragility in those societies and how and why they responded to climate change the way they did. What are the lessons for our contemporary world, including our very own Midwestern United States?

Climate Change and Civilizations
TTh 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Amy Partridge

Description: In this seminar, we explore a range of 1970s-era projects in Chicago and beyond that exemplify a coalitional feminist politics and consider the usefulness of this history in an increasingly polarized present. We will read histories of this period and memoirs by movement participants, but our focus will be on engaging in collective archival research into collaborative projects that exemplify successful coalition-building across movements to better understand the politics that informed and enabled these projects. This seminar will introduce students to the practice of archival research as well as the remarkable range of archival materials housed in Special Collections, which might form the basis for (funded!) research projects during your four years at Northwestern. We will work together to translate our findings into several final groups projects and each student will develop a final 2-page research project proposal over the course of the quarter.

Case Studies: Student, anti-war, and G.I. activism in Chicago and at Northwestern; Chicago’s first “Rainbow Coalition” (which included the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, and Young Patriots and Rising Up Angry); Black campus activism in Chicago and at Northwestern. Women’s and Gay Liberation Movement projects in Chicago and at Northwestern; The Chicago Women’s Liberation Union; Free Clinics, Abortion Referral Services and other health projects in Chicago.

Coalitional Politics: Case Studies from Chicago and Beyond
MW 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Charles 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
MWF 10am-10:50am

Instructor(s): Katy Breen


The English word monster is derived from Latin words meaning ‘to demonstrate’ and ‘to warn.’ Seen from this perspective, dragons, witches, vampires, zombies, and werewolves serve as giant warning signs, cautioning travelers not to enter spaces that are, nonetheless, persistently alluring. (As you have no doubt noticed, signs such as “No Swimming,” “No Ice Skating,” “No Loud Music” tend to prohibit activities that many people find enjoyable.) In this course, we will examine different kinds of monsters and the dangers they represent in works of literature, film, and art. How do monsters threaten, and how do they help to produce, the civilizing categories of nation, family, and self? How do they animate and help to enforce taboos relating to race, religion, gender, and sexuality? We will read a core group of theoretical texts together, but students will also have considerable latitude to research and analyze monsters of their choosing.

Texts, images, and videos for this course will be available on Canvas.

Confronting Monstrosity
TTh 9:30am-10:50am

Instructor(s): Paul Ramirez

Description: Conquest is one of the most pervasive metaphors in global history and especially so in Latin America. This course explores the meanings of conquest in Latin America through analysis of some of the major textual and non-textual sources for the history of Spanish colonization. We will look at letters and chronicles of early encounters (Columbus, Díaz del Castillo, Cabeza de Vaca); annals, pictographs, and maps that shed light on non-European perspectives; and more recent reinterpretations of Spanish colonization in art, literature, and film. How do we account for the remarkable endurance of the conquest framework, in the past and present? The aim is to attend to the range of actors who participated as interpreters, military allies, and chroniclers, with special emphasis on women and people of native American and African descent; to examine how visual art, literature, and film translate historical topics; and to provide a critical introduction to some of the major themes in the historical study of colonialism and Latin America.

Conquest Cultures
TTh 3:30pm-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Maxim 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
TTh 2pm-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Dotun Ayobade

Description: Skilled writers paint vivid images with their words, as do compelling thinkers. Description is a practice of carefully evoking the observable properties of a thing, event, text, or cultural phenomenon for a reader that may not share said experience. This course introduces students to the craft of thick descriptions of cultural artifacts and happenings that would serve them in a plethora of academic and creative pursuits at and beyond the university. Students will also learn to mobilize description as evidence in academic writing and as a means for forging persuasive arguments. Course exercises will include in a combination of ethnography assignments; close reading of objects, events and ephemera, classroom readings; peer feedback; and, crucially, the patient art of revising one’s writing. The craft of description should prepare students for work in a multitude of disciplines and intellectual curiosities.

Craft of Description: Thing, Event, Text
TTh 9:30am-10:50am

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.

Creating Inclusive Science
TTh 11:00am-12:20pm

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.

MWF 2pm-2:50pm

Instructor(s): Emra Yildiz


"As the era of digital currencies and Global Entry, one might assume that paper money, passports and visas—printed licenses to mobility—are fast becoming relics of an analog past. Yet for whom holds that assumption hold true? With border walls and offshored asylum processing centers troubling that rosy picture of borderless global mobility, this assumption seems begs a reexamination. In this course, we ask: who gets to assume and who is categorically denied the privileges of these mundane papers? How do papers serve that divide between the haves and have-nots of global mobility?

In probing these questions we will read across several different academic disciplines and investigative journalism to become familiar with key analytic concepts, methods, and historical phenomena, such as citizenship-for-investment schemes, the US Green Card lottery, emergency responders across US-Mexico borderlands, methodological nationalism, ethnography, and political economy. Our goal in the seminar is to critically assess how seemingly mundane papers make or break the possibilities of movement across modern state borders, differentiated along axes of ethnicity and race, class, gender, and geography."

Currencies, Passports and Visas

Instructor(s): Maayan Hilel

Description: 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 views 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, and immigrants. We will read memories, diaries, and autobiographies through which we will learn how major historical events were experienced and interpreted by various social groups in both Jewish and Arab societies during the formative years of the British Mandate over Palestine. 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.

This course is both an exploration of an important topic and, a forum for you to hone the skills and habits of mind you’ll need to succeed at Northwestern. Some of those—e.g., analyzing evidence, identifying, and evaluating arguments, and presenting ideas orally and in writing—may be fairly obvious. As Important, however, we’ll also spend time discussing how to navigate this very complicated place and how to keep your balance when things get tough—which they will!

Class participation: 15%
Discussion posts: 15%
Mid-term paper: 25%
Final project (presentation & paper): 45%"

Daily Life in Israel/Palestine
MW 2pm-3:20pm

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
TTh 9:30am-10:50am

Instructor(s): Peter Van Elswyk

Description: It is estimated that GenZers spend over 4 hours a day on social media with millennials like myself not far behind at 3.5 hours per day. That's almost a quarter of our waking hours. But should we be? A lot of that time is devoted to maintaining a digital identity: a curated collection of photos, or tweets and shares that signal and display our commitments. Does the cultivation of such a digital self make us better or worse off? In this course, we will explore such topics. Special attention will be given to the connection between social media and well-being, social media and freedom, and social media and polarization. Students should expect various written and practical assignments to guide their exploration of this topic.

digital self: freedom, truth, and well-being
MW 2pm-3:20pm

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
TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Lauren Jackson

Description: Emotions are fickle and difficult to discuss. The challenge of translating a personal feeling into something another person would understand has been a persistent quandary within philosophy and art for centuries. Nevertheless, writers and artists persist in trying. How an artwork makes us feel is often one our first insights into what we think about it, often leading us towards other, more studious observations about its content. This course, taking its cue from the musical monarch of feels, Carly Rae Jepson, focuses on matters of feeling in literature. We will read a diverse selection of short stories, poems, and essays and think about the importance of feelings, moods, and sensation in literature as a means of introduction to humanistic methods of inquiry, interpretation, reason, and argument. How do writers enact scenes of bliss, melancholy, dread, and hilarity. Possible readings include: Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickenson, Nella Larsen, Louise Glück, David Foster Wallace, Claudia Rankine, and Garth Greenwell.

E*MO*TION: Literary and Pop Culture
MW 2pm-3:20pm

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 2023
MW 9:30am-10:50am

Instructor(s): Jim Hodge

Description: This writing-intensive course focuses on the films of Jordan Peele: Get Out (2017), Us (2019), and Nope (2022). The main goal of the course is to introduce students to the conventions and rigors of humanistic forms of evidence-based argumentation and analysis. We will pursue this goal by studying film form and its significance for the expression and art of one of the most significant American filmmakers working today. Along the way we will consider the critical reception of Peele's films; Peele's broader career as an actor, writer, and producer; and related films addressing topics important to Peele's films, including genre, race, and film and cultural history.

Required Print Texts:
course reader

Method of Instruction:
Discussion, short lectures

Films of Jordan Peele
TTh 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Lydia Barnett

Description: This course takes a global and historical approach to the human-animal relationship. How has this relationship changed over time and how has it varied across different world cultures? How do people's attitudes towards animals change when they are classified (or re-classified) as pets, pests, predators, invaders, commodities, entertainment, a source of food, a member of the family? The very same animal - a rat, say - can be viewed as vermin, pets, or experimental test subjects depending on the individual, the culture, the time period, and the place. We will explore a range of topics together such as animal rights, animal breeding, hunting and fishing, vegetarianism, zoos, vivisection, "invasive" species, animals on trial, animals and capitalism, animals and colonialism. Ultimately, the ways that humans relate to (non-human) animals reveals just as much about ourselves as it does about them.

Food, Pets, Kin, and Threats: Animals in History
TTh 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Jeff Rice

Description: As you arrive at Northwestern for your first year, you are being confronted with massive publicity about free speech on campuses, erasure, wokeness, and many other key issues. In our seminar we will confront this directl; working out differences between free speech, hate speech, equality of access, the relationship between civility and offense, trigger warnings etc. We will even discuss whether these are central or peripheral to the educational mission and to the wider mission of justice. As we proceed through this class, the assignments will reflect investigations into what is a primary versus a secondary source, testimonial data versus a reasonable sample size, the structure of a university, and past battles to win free speech,. Each week students will be expected to debate their findings along civil and respectful lines and demonstrate that real learning can take place in this milieu.

Free Speech and Protest on College Campuses
TTh 10:30am-11:50am

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 transnational 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 and Globalization
MW 2pm-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Rebecca Ewert

Description: How does The Bachelor shed light on modern courtship rituals, and what can Dance Moms teach us about the social functions of the family? What messages can we learn about the gendered and racialized social constructions of health and illness from The Biggest Loser? Reality television shows may seem like silly “guilty pleasures,” but they are also illuminating cultural artifacts that reflect contemporary American behaviors, norms, and tastes. In this course—by reading sociological literature, paired with episodes of reality shows—we will learn to analyze these forms of entertainment through a social scientific lens. We will consider the following questions: What messages about race, class and gender do these shows promote? What kinds of citizens are viewers encouraged to become through this genre? How are social differences represented within these programs? What impact do these shows have on our society, if any?

This class is designed to hone your writing skills. You will develop technical writing skills - what counts as evidence, how do you connect relevant evidence to your claims, what is the difference between primary data and scholarly texts, how do you cite those who came before you; as well as intellectual skills - how do you refute counterclaims and how do you prove your claims, how do you evaluate your own argument to be clear about its limitations, how do you know if your claim is politically relevant; and you will also cultivate emotional skills - how do you cope the anxiety of distilling the complexities of reality down to a tidy argument, how do you deal with critical feedback, how do you cope with your self-doubts when you are trying to find evidence and write under time-pressure? This course will teach you to engage with real life issues in your writing and prepare you to orally present your written arguments to an audience.

Gender, Race, Class, and Reality Television
MW 12:30pm-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Mary Weismantel

Description: This class is for anyone who enjoys reading (or writing) about goddesses, witches, saints, heroines, and other powerful, larger-than-life feminine, genderqueer or womanly figures from myth, history and fiction. The first part of the course will introduce a few figures from Native and Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the African diaspora. Possible figures include Deer Woman; Coatlicue; the Virgen de Guadalupe; Joan of Arc; Yemanya; as well as fictional characters from contemporary writers such as Madeline Miller and N K Jemisin. Each week, we will explore the social and political dimensions of our goddesses: how have authors and artists used these figures to express critiques of gender, race, and social inequality; re-examine troubled histories; or re-imagine human/nonhuman relationships, and envision environmental futurities? In the classroom and outside it, we will use these explorations to learn, practice and hone a variety of writing skills. In the second part of the course, students will choose one goddess as their topic, and then learn the fundamentals of academic research by investigating the social and cultural history behind ‘their’ goddess, culminating in a final paper.

TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Aaron Miller

Description: Recently ideas about the “paleo-lifestyle” have begun to be spread in popular culture, often with prescriptions about how modern humans should conduct their lives in order to achieve better health and well-being. This course will survey some of these “paleo” recommendations and popular conceptions of our ancestors. These popular conceptions will be viewed critically against the evidence for what our ancestors actually did and what, if anything, it means for people living in the modern era. Some of the included topics will include dietary recommendations, exercise/barefoot running, childcare and feeding practices, and pathogen exposure/immune function.

Going Paleo: Ancestral lifeways and their modern implications
TTh 9:30am-10:50am

Instructor(s): David Shyovitz

Description: This course will survey the development of ideas about Heaven (and Hell!) in an array of cultures and historical eras, beginning in the Ancient Near East and extending to the present. As we shall see, debates over eschatology (the branch of theology concerned with death and other "last things") intersect with profound philosophical questions: What is the purpose of human life? What is a person? (An individual or a member of a collective? A body or a soul?) How (if at all) do humans differ from non-human animals? Can spiritual and scientific conceptions of the universe be reconciled? In order to consider these questions, we will explore the ways in which concepts of the afterlife, the apocalypse, the resurrection and final judgment, etc., have shaped religious traditions, works of art and literature, social and political developments, and scientific theories.

History of Heaven
TTh 11am-12:20pm

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: The Transition to College Life
TTh 9:30am-10:50am

Instructor(s): Abigail Barefoot

Description: This course broadly provides a cultural analysis of true crime and pop culture. In particular, we’ll uncover why true crime stories seem to go viral (and why certain folks enjoy devouring these narratives). We will think intersectionally, analyzing how race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and citizenship shape concepts of “victimhood” and “criminality,” as well as make certain true crime narratives more “popular” than others. Finally, we will develop a robust theoretical toolkit, combining an interdisciplinary range of perspectives from feminist anti-violence studies, critical criminology, literary criticism, and creative non-fiction journalism.

"Investigating Representations of True Crime"
MW 2pm-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Lisa Del Torto


This seminar will explore language as part of our social experience. We will examine the spoken and written language we use and observe in a variety of everyday situations, considering such questions as: Why do we call some language varieties "dialects" and others "languages?" Why do some people think you have an accent while others think you don't? Has your own language changed since you came to Northwestern? What patterns govern the conversations we have, and how do we create social relationships, communities, and identities in those conversations? Why do some people mix multiple languages when they speak and write? Is it, like, ok for me to, like, use like so much? What about um or ain't or ya know?

Students will formulate and consider their own questions about language and social life in papers and presentations.

Language & Everyday Experience
TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Elvia Mendoza

Description: How have Latina filmmakers, photographers, and creative writers used these mediums to represent the complexity of the lives of Latinas and other women of color? What do they contest and re/claim in the telling of these experiences? In this course, we will take a diasporic and transnational approach as we explore a collection of films, photographs, and short stories written and created by Latinas in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean, and in relationship with other women of color. We will engage with these visual and written texts to examine how these creative mediums expand our understanding and analysis on themes such as sexuality, gender, race, patriarchy, the body, liberation, representation, belonging, and displacement. As participants in this class, students will complete visual and written assignments as a means of putting theory into practice.

Latina Narratives: Film, Photography, and Short Story
TTh 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Shira Schwartz

Description: This is a College Seminar on the relationship between the body, space, and learning. While education and college are often presented as primarily intellectual activities, we will pay attention to the spatial and bodily dynamics that shape how we create, share and access knowledge. Using a range of creative assignments and multi-modal interdisciplinary sources, we will approach the body and space as places where learning happens, and therefore as categories through which we can analyze how learning happens, including in our very own classroom and on campus. Students will learn to ask how the body shapes and is shaped by its learning environment through categories like gender/sex and sexuality, race/ethnicity and religion, ability and access, and how fields like architecture, design, technology and media influence the enterprise of learning. Students will learn to re-examine their most basic assumptions about learning in a variety of expected and unexpected settings, like libraries and maker spaces, rabbinic bathrooms and football fields, science labs and ancient Greek life, in order to prepare for a range of learning experiences that they may encounter at Northwestern, and beyond. The course will guide students to be more attuned to the social and material dynamics that may otherwise go unrecognized in these experiences, teaching critical skills that will prepare them to be more conscious learners. It will appeal to students with a wide-range of academic interests across the humanities, arts and sciences, and to anyone interested in asking big questions about learning through different time periods and fields of study.

Learning Spaces, Learned Bodies
TTh 2pm-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Megan Geigner


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.

Legacy of Race in the United States
TTh 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Domenic DeSocio

Description: This course offers a study of Berlin, Germany's world-famous role as a major center of contemporary dance music (techno, house, disco) and nightclub culture. Beginning in the 1990s with the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Berlin, the city quickly became home to cutting edge DJs, party planners, club owners, and dancers, including notorious clubs like Tresor and Berghain. Coming together, they pioneered new ways to express oneself and connect with one another through music and dance.

This course examines many aspects of this culture, from the unique genres of music and how DJs create music to the technology of sound, the experience of dancing and of clubs as spaces, and the politics of belonging, representation, and identity on the dance floor, in particular its complicated exchanges with Black communities and music in Chicago and Detroit, the birthplaces of this music. We also will consider the social, cultural, and political implications of nightlife and dance music as a site of community-building, friendship, and love within contemporary Western society, especially for queer communities.

As a College Seminar, the course will introduce you to college life and the essential, but mostly unwritten, rules, expectations, resources, and habits for you to succeed as a student. This “hidden curriculum” will include topics such as time management, emotional health, academic integrity and the mechanics of citation, and how to seek help. Our assignments will include a variety of small, weekly writing assignments and short summative, comparative, and analytic essays to begin your
familiarization with college writing.

There will also be an experiential component to the course involving events with DJs in which you will talk about practical topics such as the work of DJing and making music and the politics and logistics of dance.

Life and Love on the Dance Floor: Berlin Dance Music and Club Culture
MWF 10am-10:50am

Instructor(s): Kathleen Carmichael


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
MW 2pm-3:20pm

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?
MWF 3pm-3:50pm

Instructor(s): Benjamin Gorvine

Description: 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.

Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment: Psychological and Economic Themes
TTh 9:30am-10:50am

Instructor(s): H. David Smith

Description: 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.

Music & the Mind
MW 3:30pm-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Liz Trubey

Description: "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
MWF 9am-9:50am

Instructor(s): Doug Kiel

Description: Native Americans in Film In 1893, Thomas Edison unveiled the kinetoscope and allowed audience members to glimpse the Hopi Snake Dance by peeking into the device's viewing window. Since the birth of the motion picture, films portraying Native Americans (often with non-Native actors in redface) have drawn upon earlier frontier mythology, art, literature, and Wild West performances. These depictions in film have embedded romanticized and stereotyped ideas about American Indians in the imaginations of audiences throughout the United States and around the world. In this course, we will critically examine representations of Native Americans in film, ranging from the origins of the motion picture industry to the works of contemporary Indigenous filmmakers. We will reflect upon revisionist narratives, the use of film as a form of activism, Indigenous aesthetics and storytelling techniques, reflexivity, and parody. Throughout the quarter, we will discuss ethnographic, documentary, and narrative films.

Native Americans in Film and TV
MW 9:30am-10:50am

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
TTh 9:30am-10:50am

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.

Press & The Political Process
TTh 1pm-2:20pm

Instructor(s): Ashley King

Description: 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.

Queer Religion
MW 2pm-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Brett Gadsden

Description: In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson signed into law legislation banning segregation, expanding voting rights, and establishing a suite of domestic programs designed to address the problem of poverty. This course thus explores Johnson's efforts to extend a rights revolution and expand the social safety net that we know as the Great Society. But what of Johnson's legacy? It then explores the efforts of successive presidents to extend or dismantle Johnsonian liberalism in a broader effort to assess the legacy of the 1960s in the contemporary moment.

Race and the American Presidency
TTh 2pm-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Anthony Chen

Description: Today, key aspects of American politics are characterized by the highest levels of polarization that have been witnessed for nearly a century. A similar statement can be made about the American economy. Income and wealth are more unequally distributed these days than they have been since the earliest decades of the twentieth century. We live in an age of extremes.

What happened? How and why did we get here?

This course draws on a selection of academic and popular readings as well as music, film, and television to explore idea that key dimensions of our unequal and polarized times can be traced to the social struggles, political conflicts, and economic dilemmas that played out during the period of time that goes under the aegis of "The Nineties.""

This course aims to help students develop their reading, writing, and oral communication skills. It also aims to introduce them to the ways that sociologists and other social scientists think about inequality and polarization. Lastly, it strives to help students develop some basic intuitions for thinking about how certain features of contemporary society may be rooted in the developments and events of the recent past.

Reality Bites: Politics, Culture, and Society in the 1990s
TTh 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Veronica Berns

Description: Science and the Scientist: How we communicate complex ideas, from comic books to journal articles: 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
MWF 10am-10:50am

Instructor(s): Ken Alder

Description: What role has a humanist education played in the lives of scientists and physicians, and how has training in science and medicine fit into a liberal arts curriculum? The chemist/novelist C. P. Snow once claimed that science and literature formed two antagonistic cultures. On one side were scientists who dismissed literature as so much fluff, irrelevant for our technological age. On the other were literary figures like Tolstoy, who condemned science for not answering the all-important question of moral values: "What shall we do and how shall we live?" This course, by contrast, examines at the dialogue between science and literature since World War II. We will read memoirs by scientists, like Primo Levi's "The Periodic Table" and Hope Jahren's "Lab Girl." We will also read fictional portrayals of scientists and physicians, like Bertolt Brecht's "Life of Galileo" and Allegra Goodman's "Intuition." Along the way we will consider how science and the humanities have approached the question of a good education, and how their answers can align—and differ.

Scientific Lives
TTh 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Raymond San Diego

Description: For many Asian Americans, the college journey can be riddled with anxiety over fulfilling very narrow definitions of intelligence and success. It can also be an opportunity to explore and form a sense of who you are and how you want (or don’t want) to relate to others. In this class, we will explore, evaluate, and question various expressions of love, intimacy, sexuality, friendship, and romance across interdisciplinary texts created by and/or featuring multiple spectrums of queer, heterosexual, and asexual Asian American experiences. Students will engage closely with a variety of written and visual texts from popular and academic sources to cultivate critical thinking, develop reading and writing strategies, and practice oral speaking skills on topics such as race and dating, boundaries, sexual health and wellness, “hook-up” culture, consent, dating apps, and beauty/image standards, ABGs and ABBs, and more.

Sex and Intimacy in Asian America
TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm

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 dare talk 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. Additionally, as a College Seminar, this course will help students develop the tools they need to help them transition to college life including creating healthy study habits, nurturing meaningful relationships, and gaining awareness of the so-called "hidden curriculum."

Sex in the Slavic World
MW 3:30pm-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Wendy Wall


Imagine a classic love story played out in a society of warring corporations where media saturates every thought, or the military hero Othello as a Black basketball player in a white high school in the American south, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the story of Victorian marriage in crisis: modern directors mobilize Shakespeare’s plays to speak to timely cultural issues, including race relations, insurrection, non-binary gender roles, teen angst, same-sex desire, gang warfare, and the alienation of technology. In this seminar, we will read Shakespearean plays (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and Othello) alongside film versions, including O, She’s The Man, and Shakespeare in Love. How, we will ask, do classic plays from 400 years ago offers tools for exploring love, betrayal, ambition, and identity crises in strikingly new contexts?

Students will be encouraged to develop skills in writing, argumentation, and creative adaptation. Required text: Norton Shakespeare 3rd edition, Stephen Greenblatt, editor (ISBN 978-0393249835)

Shakespeare Goes to the Movies
TTh 2pm-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Elizabeth Lenaghan


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.

Terror & Triumph of Youth
MWF 2pm-2:50pm

Instructor(s): Luke Flores

Description: In this 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.

This is Your Brain on College
MWF 5pm-5:50pm

Instructor(s): Michele Zugnoni


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
MW 11am-12:20pm

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
MW 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Cynthia Nazarian

Description: Knights, battles, monsters and marvels; these are the building blocks of adventure tales. This first-year seminar explores heroes and the tests they face, the journeys they pursue, and the ways in which adversity and accident shape them. What is a hero? Are heroes born, or must they be made? What are the lessons of failure and self-delusion that the quest teaches? Beginning with the Song of Roland, we will examine epic, Arthurian romance and comic parodies of knightly genres in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and then turn to contemporary film to trace the ways in which modern fantasy and superhero adventures raise old questions and provide new answers to the challenges of the hero’s self-defining mission

Trial and the Quest
TTh 9:30am-10:50pm

Instructor(s): Joseph Walsh

Description: One of the major challenges of our changing world is the loss of biological diversity. An overwhelming majority of people agree that we should work to save biodiversity, but their views are largely based on vague, positive feelings about nature rather than concrete justifications. This course investigates those concrete justifications. The first half of the course sketches out the argument for preserving biodiversity (i.e., "thinking globally"). The second half of the course focuses on the practice of ecological restoration in forest preserves a few miles from campus (i.e., "acting locally") not merely as a way to preserve biodiversity, but as a path to redefining a sustainable relationship between nature and culture. The readings for the course range from classics of environmental writing to recent research papers in the primary scientific literature. Biodiversity also needs to be experienced directly, so we will take a field trip to a local forest preserve where we will roll up our sleeves and help restore a native habitat and see how much biodiversity means to the people with whom we live and work.

Values of Biodiversity
TTh 3:30pm-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Axel Mueller


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?
MW 3:30pm-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Katherine 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?
TTh 9:30am-10:50am

Instructor(s): Sara Hernandez-Saborit

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
TTh 11am-12:20pm
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