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Academic Bulletin Freshman Tutorials - Course Descriptions - 2010-11

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Freshman Tutorial

General Description of Freshman Tutorials

During the fall semester of his freshman year, every Wabash student enrolls in a Freshman Tutorial. This class, limited to fifteen members, introduces you to academic experiences characteristic of the liberal arts at Wabash College and emphasizes academic skills basic to your Wabash education. Instructors (note: your tutorial instructor may also be your academic advisor) select topics of importance to them and ones they judge to be of interest to students.

You need not have had previous experience with the topic in order to enroll in a particular tutorial. Although the topics, often interdisciplinary and non-traditional, vary among the tutorials, all students engage in common intellectual experiences and practice both written and oral self-expression. Reading, speaking, research, and writing assignments, of course, will vary with individual instructors, but the goals of every tutorial remain the same: to read texts with sensitivity, to think with clarity, and to express one's thoughts (orally and in writing) with precision and persuasion—all in terms of each tutorial's particular subject.

Seventeen tutorials will be offered in the Fall Semester, and all tutorials will meet on Tuesday-Thursday at 9:45 a.m. The schedule of your other classes will be set so as not to conflict with the tutorial. Tutorial Assignments are determined in the order of electronic selection (first respond-first assigned).

Tutorial Selection

Read the following list of available Tutorial Titles and Instructors. Click on a title to read a full description of the tutorial’s content, readings, and class activities. Click here for a printable list of all tutorials with course descriptions.

Select a tutorial that is interesting to you, regardless of your concerns about possible majors. Once assigned to a tutorial, you will not be able to register for another tutorial, so before making your final decision, read the course descriptions for several of the tutorials whose titles interest you. SELECT CAREFULLY AND RESPOND PROMPTLY! IF YOU DO NOT REGISTER FOR A TUTORIAL, YOU WILL BE RANDOMLY ASSIGNED TO ONE. As each tutorial is filled, the title and description will be removed from the following list.

To select a tutorial, click on the tutorial’s name, read the description, and click on “Sign Up For This Course.” If you get into the course or the course fills up, you will be notified immediately.

Tutorial Titles and Descriptions

FT 010-A In the Future We Will Play: The Art and History of Interactive Media

Professor Michael Abbott, Department of Theater, 9:45 TTh
In 1903, anthropologist W.H. Holmes reported: "The popular notion that games are trivial in nature and of no particular significance as a subject has given way to an adequate appreciation of their importance as an integral part of human culture." Playing is not reading. Yet, increasingly, video games and other forms of interactive media are challenging us to reassess the ways we think about storytelling, authorship, and representation. Aside from their obvious popular appeal, games such as “The Sims,” “Fallout 3,” and “Today I Die’ test our current ways of understanding semiotics and engagement with the reader/player. Increasingly, gaming can be seen as a convergence point where media as diverse as film, literature, art, music, and design meet and coalesce to form a new, unique art form that fits squarely and comfortably within the Humanities.

We must develop a methodology for "reading" videogames that affords this new medium the scrutiny it richly deserves. This tutorial will explore a variety of ways to accomplish this - borrowing, adapting, and revising familiar methodologies and proposing new strategies for seeing and critically comprehending video games. To this end, we will play, analyze, discuss, research, and write about videogames as a modern emerging art form.

Abbott, Michael S.
Credits: 1

FT 010-B Indiana Writers and Literature

Professor Jonathan Baer, Department of Religion, 9:45 TTh
In the decades around the turn of the twentieth century, the Hoosier State produced a remarkable set of writers whose works achieved popular renown and critical attention. This so-called the Golden Age of Indiana Literature lasted from roughly 1880-1920, and it included fiction and poetry from what were then some of the country’s most acclaimed authors. In this course we will read works from several of them, including Lew Wallace, Booth Tarkington, James Whitcomb Riley, and Theodore Dreiser. Crawfordsville’s own Lew Wallace, for instance, wrote the enormously popular novel Ben-Hur (1880), often regarded as the best-selling novel of the nineteenth century and the inspiration for several theater productions and movies. The proximity of the Lew Wallace Study & Museum, located a few blocks from campus, will enable us to learn about Wallace’s fascinating life and the circumstances that informed his writing. Likewise, the nationally beloved “Hoosier Poet” James Whitcomb Riley, author of Little Orphan Annie (1885) and other classics, grew up in Greenfield, Indiana, and lived most of his life in Indianapolis. Visits to his boyhood and adult homes will enrich our understanding of Riley and the wide appeal of his poetry. We also will view several films based on our readings. Many of the works we will examine are set in Indiana, and all of them reflect the Hoosier roots of their authors. In each case, we will ask what our authors might tell us about the history and character of Indiana and its people, along with the nature and causes of its literary efflorescence of a century past.

Baer, Jonathan
Credits: 1

FT 010-C American Values and American Sports

Professor Thomas Bambrey, Departments of English and Athletics, 9:45 TTh
Most people would have a hard time listing the values Americans live by. They would perhaps have a harder time connecting a list of these values to American high school, collegiate, and professional sports. In this tutorial we will try to do both—define "American Values” as best we can and discuss how these values are embedded in our sports’ cultures.

Our readings and conversations will focus on 1) the complexity of American values, given our nation's rich multiplicity of cultures, races, and religions, etc.); 2) our country's love affair with sports and the ways values reveal themselves in athletics (or do not reveal themselves); 3) how each student's developing or already developed personal values lead him to participate in, be a fan of, appreciate, be curious about, or ignore sports. So, what are the values we live by? How do we acquire them? How do those values differ among peoples and individuals? How do they affect our behavior? How (and why) do sports play such a big role in American society? Do athletes live by the same or a different set of values than the so-called “average" person? Because of the attention, adulation, and perks they sometimes receive, do athletes’ values change? These, and other, questions will occupy our time. Readings for the tutorial will include the following: Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger; The Bleachers, John Grisham; Bang the Drum Slowly, Mark Harris; A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean; Once a Runner, John Parker; Heaven is a Playground, Rick Telander.

Bambrey, Thomas E.
Credits: 1

FT 010-D The Automobile: Blessings and Curses

Professor Preston Bost, Department of Psychology, 9:45 TTh
In September 1893 brothers Charles and Frank Duryea tested what was to become America’s first commercially produced gasoline-powered automobile, the Duryea Motor Wagon. The Motor Wagon was not fast, or agile, or commercially successful, but the Duryea Motor Car company presaged what was to come. Within ten years, over one hundred companies were producing automobiles, racing competitions were popular events, and the fate of the horse-drawn carriage was sealed. One hundred years later, Americans’ infatuation with the automobile is undiminished; this course is about how America and the automobile have grown together and how the “horseless carriage” has tapped into our humanity and shaped the character of our society.

In addition to learning about automobile design, engineering and production, we will explore the role of competition and status in automobile marketing and consumption; the place of the automobile in labor/management relations; the suburbanization of America; and the centrality of the automobile in modern debates about the environment, economic boom and bust, and government regulation. We will also consider Indiana’s prominence in early automobile production. Students can expect a wide variety of texts and video, guest lecturers, and regular discussion and small group work.

Bost, Preston
Credits: 1

FT 010-E Baseball: America and the World

Professor Melissa Butler, Department of Political Science, 9:45 TTh
In 1903 the Boston Americans defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team from under 600 miles away and claimed the title of World Champion. Last spring, Japan outlasted fifteen other national teams from around the globe to repeat as winner of the World Baseball Classic. Baseball, once called “America’s national pastime,” has been part of US culture from the earliest days of the country, and some think the sport embodies critical features of the American character. But, today, baseball is global. What happens when this “quintessentially American game” is exported to Asia and the Caribbean? What happens when the US is no longer dominant?

This tutorial will explore various aspects of the sport—its history, literature, economics, aesthetics, rules, rites and rituals—in the US and around the world. In addition to reading excellent books about baseball— such as Moneyball, Men at Work, The Natural, The Samurai Way of Baseball: The Impact of Ichiro and the New Wave from Japan, Baseball without Borders: The International Pastime—and viewing documentaries (e.g., Ken Burns’ series, Baseball) and other films (e.g., Field of Dreams), we will attend a major league game in Cincinnati in September.

Butler, Melissa A.
Credits: 1

FT 010-F Crime and Punishment

Professor Marc Brouwer, Department of Philosophy, 9:45 TTh
Feodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is the story of a murderer trying to escape his own guilty conscience; it may also be the greatest novel ever written. Every character embodies some aspect of the human condition: lust, violence, stupidity, cunning, bravery, loyalty, wisdom and the quest for redemption; these eternal themes are brought to life with carnal detail. We will read a few shorter works before devoting most of the semester to Crime and Punishment. You will develop your abilities to read, think and express yourself by exploring the complexities and confusions of moral error.

Credits: 1

FT 010-G We are what we Speak: The Life and Death of Languages

Professor Jane Hardy, Department of Modern Languages, 9:45 TTh
Approximately 6,900 distinct languages are spoken in the world today, but only half of those are expected to survive into the next century. In fact, some linguists estimate that one language dies somewhere in the world every two weeks. Is this merely part of an inevitable process of linguistic natural selection? Or is it a tragedy that should concern us? We will consider these questions by exploring the inextricable link between language and culture and by reading the personal narratives of people who speak a minority language and function in two different linguistic and cultural worlds. We will then study how languages die and how language death can be brought about by government policy. Students will read a variety of essays and excerpts from K. David Harrison’s 2007 book When Languages Die. We will also observe the phenomenon of language death and attempts to document dying languages in the 2008 documentary film The Linguists.

Hardy, Jane
Credits: 1

FT 010-H The Reality & Art of War Memoirs: Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan

Professor Tobey C. Herzog, Department of English, 9:45 TTh
Paul Fussell (WWII veteran, author, critic) defines the war memoir in the following way: “the memoir is a kind of fiction, differing from the ‘first novel’ [crucial youthful experience told in the first person] only by continuous implicit attestations of veracity or appeals to documented historical fact.” Such a definition raises some interesting questions about this genre. How is a memoir different from an autobiography? What can readers of war memoirs learn about the character and life experiences of the writer? What can readers learn about the hearts, minds, and souls of other war participants—battlefield and home front? What can readers learn about the strategies of warfare, historical events of specific wars, and the similarities and differences among wars? What elements of style, structure, theme, and literary conventions does the memoirist borrow from the novelist to heighten the book’s dramatic effect? Is “story truth” truer than “happening truth?” And finally, how does a war experience inevitably change all involved—even readers of a war memoir?

These are a few of the questions we will consider as we read four war memoirs from different conflicts involving American combatants—Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan. Two of the books are written by journalists who reported on the wars: Michael Herr’s classic Vietnam memoir, Dispatches (1977), and Dexter Filkins’ prize-winning Iraq/Afghanistan memoir, The Forever War (2008). Two of the books are written by soldier-authors who commanded Marine rifle platoons: Philip Caputo’s Vietnam memoir, A Rumor of War (1977), and Donovan Campbell’s Iraq memoir, Joker One (2009). In addition, our sources of information will be documentaries and films (Platoon and The Hurt Locker) about the wars. Class activities will include oral reports, class discussions, student panels, research projects, videos, in-class written responses to the movies and books, out-of-class papers examining themes in the books and films, and a final project chosen by the student.

Herzog, Tobey C.
Credits: 1

FT 010-I Founding Brothers & Revolutionary Characters

Professor Scott D. Himsel, Department of Political Science, 9:45 TTh
Aaron Burr shot and killed his arch-rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr loved conflict. Thomas Jefferson hated conflict. Indeed, he settled a dispute over the national debt and the location of our national capitol during a dinner party. James Madison was so gentle and shy that he often achieved amazing feats without offending anyone. John Adams was so talkative and blunt that he offended almost everyone and sometimes defeated his own purposes. We often worship our Founders, forgetting that they were real people with gifts and faults like our own. By treating the Founders as real people and drawing on their dramatic experiences, we will seek help in answering questions that still challenge us today. How should we deal with people whose values or personalities differ from our own? Should we collaborate to get the benefit of differing views? Or should we fight because our principles demand no less? We will also ask whether this entire enterprise makes any sense. Can the wisdom of the Founders of the Eighteenth Century help us resolve our battles in the Twenty-First Century over the growing size of the federal government, our intense partisanship in Washington, our wars in foreign lands, or the separation of church and state? Should our past guide—or even control—our future? We will search for answers in the Founders’ own words, the words of their critics, portrayals of them in film and television, and with the help of their very best biographers. Their answers may surprise you.

Himsel, Scott
Credits: 1

FT 010-J Doing Without Thinking: The Powerful Unconscious and What it Means for Free Will

Professor Robert Horton, Department of Psychology, 9:45 TTh
How much of what you do is a result of your CHOICES? A belief in free will (people’s freedom to choose and the power of those choices) is common and may even be an important foundation for societal development. On the other hand, scholars have long been fascinated by the possibility of an “unconscious” (i.e., some part of our understanding or knowledge that exists even though we don’t know it exists) that influences our behavior. If such an unconscious exists, does that mean that we are not as free as we thought? Is our behavior controlled by forces of which we are not aware? In this course we will explore what contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and other scholars say about the unconscious and its implications for the idea of free will. As we do so, we will consider written (e.g., Books such as Blink by Malcolm Gladwell) and audiovisual (e.g., contemporary TV shows, like Lie To Me) sources and will work to reconcile the contemporary view of the unconscious with our personal sense of choice and freedom.

Horton, Robert
Credits: 1

Professor Greg Huebner, Department of Art, 9:45 TTh
This course will examine American domestic architecture as a cultural statement from traditional Native American dwellings to present day “McMansions.” We will seek to answer the following questions: How does domestic architecture in America reflect individual and community identity, and how has the shifting nature of those identities been expressed in the changing styles of houses we have built? What impact have women had on the development of the American house? How has the development of materials and technology over the years affected the house’s design and function? What effect has the computer had on the traditional use of rooms, and what impact has it had on how families interact with each other within the home? What impact has the increasing ethnic diversity of America had on its domestic architecture? Class activities will include discussions of readings and research, journal entries, short essays and a research paper. We will also take walking tours of significant houses of Crawfordsville and Indianapolis. Readings will include Witold Rybczynski’s Home: A Short History of an Idea, Avi Friedman & David Krawitz’s Peeking Through the Keyhole: The Evolution of North American Homes, Winifred Gallagher’s House Thinking: A Room-by-Room Look at How We Live, and Gerald Foster’s American Houses.

Huebner, Gregory J.
Credits: 1

FT 010-L Confronting the Mysterious

Professor Dennis Krause, Department of Physics, 9:45 TTh
Every day we encounter claims of extra-scientific phenomena, such as ghosts, ESP, UFOs, astrology, faith healing, dowsing, etc. Are they real? Should someone invest money in cold fusion research or a device that liberates energy from the vacuum? Can one travel faster-than-light or backward in time? Can we really trust the way we perceive the world? How does one go about answering these types of questions? This tutorial will investigate the scientific methods used to access evidence for phenomena that extend beyond the present boundaries of science. Readings and videos will explore a wide range of extraordinary claims and the works of people, like James “the Amazing” Randi, who investigate them.

Krause, Dennis
Credits: 1

FT 010-M Homer's Iliad and the Meaning of Masculine Heroism

Professor David Kubiak, Department of Classics, 9:45 TTh
The Iliad is the first work of European literature we possess. It is a poem about men and war, and in this tutorial we will read it with special attention to masculine heroic values and the ways they are exemplified by the characters of the epic, chiefly Achilles. Identity, duty, loyalty, bravery, the nature of friendship – the narrative investigates the meaning of all these things, and invites readers to do the same in their own lives. At the end of the course we will see directly the continued relevance of the Iliad by reading the book Achilles in Vietnam, written by a psychiatrist who found in his patients who were veterans of the Vietnam War many of the same problems faced by the Homeric heroes. We will also look at the recent film Troy as a modern treatment of the epic. Through discussing and writing about the Iliad, students will both sharpen their critical skills and come to know well one of the central works of the Western canon.

Kubiak, David P.
Credits: 1

FT 010-N The Culture of Sports in America

Professor Michele Pittard, Department of Teacher Education, 9:45 TTh
In a society whose national, state, and community pride often comes from the success of our athletic teams, whose national history is largely based on the American competitive spirit, and who often considers athletes to be national heroes vying for the limelight with our most (in)famous celebrities, this class will examine the positive and negative ways in which sports shape American culture and national identity. What impact do sports have on our cultural values? What part do sports play in our K-16 educational system? What about the economics of sports, from youth athletics, to the college scene to the professional realm, what are the economical consequences and implications as a result of the dominant role sports have in our society? These and other questions will be considered as students and professor collaborate to examine the ways in which our culture is shaped by sports. In addition to having opportunities to write for a variety of purposes and audiences and relying on rich class discussions related to a wide range of texts, the class will also take advantage of small group work, guest speakers, and films as we pursue this topic together. The class will help students improve their written and oral communication skills as they begin to question and critically examine the complex and sometimes precarious position athletics hold in American society. Although a number of course readings will be determined by students’ inquiry topics, the class will use a variety of texts from the popular press, as well as from professional and academic research.

Pittard, Michele
Credits: 1

FT 010-O Men and Masculinities

Professor Warren Rosenberg, Department of English, 9:45 TTh
What does it mean to be a man in today’s world? Can men really be friends? Are sports overemphasized for boys? What makes a good father? Are men naturally violent or is violence learned? How do we know when we’ve found the right life partner? These are some of the questions we will consider as we study the array of cultural messages beamed at us from birth that have shaped our gendered identities. Our main purpose will be neither to celebrate nor to denigrate maleness (although both will occur), but rather to examine the conflicting definitions and demands of masculinity so that we can more freely choose the kind of men we wish to be. We will read books like A Separate Peace, A River Runs Through It, Shane, Things Fall Apart, and Black Boy, see films like A Bronx Tale, Fight Club, 3:10 to Yuma, Smoke Signals, Brokeback Mountain, and High Fidelity, consider the shaping role of television and music, and discuss and write about our shared experiences as men. I particularly encourage international students and students from a variety of American ethnic backgrounds to apply, as we will be looking at masculinities across cultures.

Rosenberg, Warren
Credits: 1

FT 010-P Immigration and Exile

Professor Agata Szczeszak-Brewer, Department of English, 9:45 TTh
Can a nation of migrants define itself clearly? If so, what do we gain or lose by arriving at a clear-cut definition of national identity? Why is immigration such a contentious issue? This tutorial will focus on legal and illegal immigration in the U.S., as well as global migration of people. We will research and discuss economically-motivated migration, political exile, a relatively new concept of eco-migration (caused by global warming and climate change), and other forms of resettlement. We will investigate problems faced by immigrant communities (e.g., racism, xenophobia, abuse of power in U.S. institutions, inhumane treatment in detention camps, attempts to maintain tradition on the one hand, and to assimilate on the other), problems within the immigrant communities, and issues raised by anti-immigrant movements and legislation. A part of the course will also be devoted to exploring immigration and exile in literature, film, and art. This fall, we will also discuss novels, journal and newspaper articles, documents, and documentaries. The course will include guest lectures and a service-learning component.

Szczeszak-Brewer, Agata
Credits: 1

FT 010-Q Theodore Roosevelt, Renaissance Man

Professor Paul Vasquez, Department of Political Science, 9:45 TTh
America’s twenty-sixth president was a Renaissance man. In addition to being a political leader at the local, state and national level, he also pursued various other interests. In addition to being a crusading reformer in the political realm, he was also an author, a soldier, an environmentalist and amateur scientist, and an avid sportsman. In this class, we will consider Theodore Roosevelt, his many interests, and the degree to which he was simultaneously ahead of his times in some respects, while also being very typical of his era in other regards.

Credits: 1