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Academic Bulletin Freshman Tutorials - Course Descriptions - 2012-13

Currently viewing 2012-13 bulletin

FT 012-S Archaeostronomy: Heaven and Hell, Heroes and Demons in the Ancient World

V. Daniel Rogers, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Mythology and Cosmology are deeply compelling subjects. When I set up one of the college telescopes on the mall at night, it draws students like moths to a flame. Even with modern science fiction films and jaw dropping special effects, nothing beats the real thing. When one of my students sees the moons of Jupiter or Saturn’s rings for the first time through a telescope, they start asking very interesting questions about the nature of the universe and our place in it.
When our oldest ancestors looked up at the night sky, they saw not just points of light in the dark, but a portal or threshold for understanding the most basic questions of human existence. Their cosmologies (and what we now, perhaps too easily, call mythologies) point us in two very different directions. On the one hand, our modern understanding universe is rooted in texts, monuments and pyramids of these ancient astronomers. But these same texts, monuments and pyramids also point toward deeply religious and existential questions. Our course is predicated on this fundamental tension between scientific and religious/mythological world-views. The formal name for this kind of study is Archaeoastronomy — the study of ancient material artifacts to better understand the ways ancient cultures responded to the movements of stars, planets, the sun, and other astronomical phenomena. Our Freshman Tutorial on ancient astronomy and mythology will give us the opportunity to explore the specific ways ancient civilizations responded to the Cosmos. Our approach will contrast the modern mind with that of the ancient astronomer. Although we will begin the course mastering the modern, scientific perspective, when we turn our attention to the past, we will need to approach the Maya, Inca, Celts and others on their own terms. It is easy, probably too easy, to feel superior to ancient peoples when we contrast our modern scientific understanding of natural phenomena with theirs. This course will have been successful, however, when you appreciate how much more aware the ancients were of the heavens than modern folk such as ourselves. The course will not have been successful if you leave it feeling like “we” are right and “they” were wrong. “We” are, in fact, quite complacent and more than willing to let modern experts tell us what to understand about sky. If we had to do so without the Discovery Channel or Nova, you will quickly realize how difficult the task is.

Rogers, V. Daniel
Credits: 1

FT 012-R Dark Satanic Mills: The Industrial Revolution in England through a Literary Lens

Kay Widdows, Department of Economics
What is progress? Is progress always and everywhere a good thing? This tutorial will examine some of the economic and social consequences of the Industrial Revolution through the lens of the Victorian “industrial novel.” These texts help us understand how the Industrial Revolution affected different classes of people in 19th-century England and how these different classes viewed each other during this time. We will also explore the broader context of these novels through various non-literary lenses by analyzing economic data, reading government documents, and investigating the physics of the early steam engines that revolutionized production processes. An important component of this tutorial is an immersion trip to northern England over the week-long Thanksgiving break, during which we will visit important industrial museums, Victorian textile factories, and other sites connected to the material we will read during the semester. To enroll in this Freshman Tutorial, the student MUST be able to participate in the immersion trip to England over the Thanksgiving Break (November 16-25). Students will be responsible for paying for most of their own meals and any incidental expenditures. All travel, lodging, and museum admission fees will be paid for by Wabash College. Students planning to participate in intercollegiate sports must check with their coach before registering for this tutorial to determine how being absent for these dates will affect their position with the team. Students enrolled in this tutorial must be in good standing with the Business Office before departing on the immersion trip. All students enrolled must hold a valid passport and be eligible to travel outside of the United States. This immersion trip is generously funded by John C. and Diane Schroeder.

Widdows, Kealoha L.
Credits: 1

FT 012-N We are the World: Multiethnic America

Tim Lake, Department of English
This course will introduce students to the field of ethnic studies. We will survey American history with a focus on the many peoples, groups, and cultures that comprise the U.S. population. Attention will also be given to contemporary issues we face as a diverse society and how that diversity both strengthens and threatens our democratic ambitions.

Credits: 1

FT 012-M Heroes of Ancient Greece and Rome: Plutarch's Parallel Lives

David Kubiak, Department of Classical Languages and Literatures
Pericles, Alexander the Great, Cicero, Julius Caesar – these names have lived on as powerful reminders of the debt western civilization owes to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Despite shifts in historical approach, we continue to be fascinated by the “great man” and his impact on the events that have been crucial to the development of our own culture. Even popular media appreciate the attraction, with movies like Alexander and the HBO television series Rome. One of our chief sources of knowledge about important men of antiquity is Plutarch, a Greek writer living in the Roman Empire (A.D. 46-120). He composed a series of biographies known as the Parallel Lives, in which he pairs a Greek and Roman leader who he thinks are in some way connected. We have extant 23 such pairs, as well as four single lives. As Plutarch himself says at the beginning of his life of Alexander, his main concern is not so much historical as ethical. He wants to present to readers models of great-hearted men for imitation in their own lives, and for this reason Plutarch’s biographies have had a great influence on the personal formation of the educated classes in European and American history. Ralph Waldo Emerson called Plutarch’s Lives “a bible for heroes,” and before him they were read by the American Founding Fathers, who discovered in these texts many ethical concepts that were to inform their ideas about the creation of a free republic. In this tutorial we will use Plutarch’s Lives as a means to learn about ancient history and various approaches to studying it. Our texts will also provide much material that will aid students in acquiring basic skills in close reading, correct and imaginative writing, and effective speaking, the general goals of the freshman tutorial program. Did Julius Caesar really say “Et tu, Brute?” Read Plutarch, and find out the answer.

Kubiak, David P.
Credits: 1

FT 012-O Baseball and American Identity

Todd McDorman, Department of Rhetoric
In the classic baseball film Field of Dreams, Terrence Mann (played by James Earl Jones) reflects, “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.” “Baseball and American Identity” focuses on this very issue: how baseball tells the story of America. To that end, the course underscores how “America’s Pastime” has been an integral part of the social and political fabric of the United States and a microcosm of the concerns and issues facing the country. For instance, baseball has played a vital role in times of national and international crisis. It also has provided a means for addressing and exposing sensitive social issues, including the struggles of African-Americans, immigrants, women, homosexuals, and the disabled to achieve inclusion in baseball and society at large. However, the course is not only concerned with what baseball “is” but what it has been constructed as being—how it has been held up as vital to the American experience. Central to this element of the course will be an immersion trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY. There we will see an “official” effort to construct the meaning of baseball, one that offers various articulations of public memory and promotes a sense of nostalgia for baseball and the nation. Thus through readings, films, immersion, and discussion and debate, this course will examine the role of baseball in America while considering its role in American identity, its reflection on and construction of American values, and its centrality to myths and memories of what the nation and the sport stands for. To enroll in this Freshman Tutorial, the student MUST be able to participate in the immersion trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum over Fall Break (October 10-13). Students will be responsible for paying for two evening meals, four lunches, and any incidental expenditures. All travel, lodging, and museum admission fees will be paid for by Wabash College. Students planning to participate in fall intercollegiate sports—football, soccer, cross country—must check with their coach before registering for this tutorial to determine how being absent for these dates will affect their position with the team. Students enrolled in this tutorial will be required to be in good standing with the Business Office before departing on the immersion trip.

McDorman, Todd F.
Credits: 1

FT 012-P Zap, Bang, Pow

Tracey Salisbury, Department of History
From the childhood tradition of devotedly watching Saturday morning cartoon shows, to the mad dash to throw down hard-earned cash for the latest issue of the Todd McFarlane’s Spawn or Alan Moore’s From Hell, to admiring the latest artistic innovations in the most recent Hollywood blockbuster produced by Disney or Pixar studios, animated films, cartoons, comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels have evolved from an industry principally directed at children to a multi-million dollar artistic enterprise impacting large segments of American society and culture. Animation has often served as an artistic and fanciful representation of American life, yet also has served as a critical and often biting reflection of America’s history, politics, culture, and social norms, commenting on broad issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, racism, socio-economic divisions, and discrimination. This course will give students a well-rounded context for understanding the rich, unique history and groundbreaking influences of animation and anime in American history and society. In addition to learning important milestones, major figures, and technological advances in the fields of animation and anime, students will develop their own critical perspective of, and aesthetic appreciation for, this form of artistic expression. This course will study the history and theory of Hollywood studio animation, the influence of world animation, and contemporary independent animation. This course will also provide an understanding of the fundamental historical and cultural narratives found in animation and anime.

Credits: 1

In the fall, every freshman enrolls in a tutorial. This class, limited to about fifteen members, encourages your participation in small-group discussions that will challenge you intellectually and suggest the kind and quality of educational experiences characteristic of the liberal arts at Wabash College. Instructors select topics of importance to them and ones they judge to be pertinent to student interests. You need not have had previous experience with the topic in order to sign up for 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, an

Tutorial Titles and 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.

FT 012-A In the Future We Will Play: The Art and History of Video Games

Michael Abbott, Department of Theater
In 1903, anthropologist W.H. Holmes reported: “The popular notion that games are trivial in nature 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 “L.A. Noire,” “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim,” and “Journey” test our current ways of understanding semiotics and engagement with the reader/player. Increasingly, gaming can be seen a convergence point where media as diverse as film, literature, art, music, and design meet and coalesce to form a new, unique art that fits squarely and comfortably within the Humanities. We must develop a methodology for “reading” video games 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 video games as a modern emerging art form.

Abbott, Michael S.
Credits: 1

FT 012-H Advertisers & Advertising: Creating the Ad, Selling the Product, Changing the World?

Tobey Herzog, Department of English
In this tutorial, through books, articles, films, YouTube, and visits with Ad-Men and Ad-Women, we will explore the multi-billion dollar industry of advertising—both commercial and political. During the semester, we will investigate the following topics: the history and basic components of advertising production—developing ads and ad campaigns for diverse target audiences using traditional and new media; the economics of advertising in terms of marketing, branding, and selling; the deconstruction of ads—the rhetorical/persuasive techniques (words, images, sounds, action, layout) of selling a product, a person, a concept, a feeling, etc.; the psychology of ads (“ads don’t sell a product; they sell psychological satisfaction”); the mirroring and shaping influences of advertising on our country and its target audiences—”who we are and who we want to be”; a comparison of commercial advertising with advertising for the 2012 presidential election (“selling a political candidate is no different from selling a bar of soap”). Class activities will include reading books on the topics (Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign; Hey Whipple, Squeeze This; and Brandwashed); viewing numerous documentaries related to advertising (Killing Us Softly, The Persuaders, POM Wonderful Presents); evaluating individual commercial and political ads, including the Super Bowl ads; visiting Young & Laramore Ad Agency in Indianapolis and Leo Burnett Ad Agency in Chicago; discussing what we read, view, and hear; constructing our own ads; and writing several papers related to our topic. No background in advertising is necessary—just a strong interest in understanding the creative, powerful, all-pervasive, and sometimes wacky world of advertising and its consumers.

Herzog, Tobey C.
Credits: 1

FT 012-I Founding Brothers and Revolutionary Characters

Scott Himsel, Department of Political Science
In election years, people often wish that the candidates were as great as our Founding Fathers. But were our Founders really that great? We often worship them, forgetting that they were real people with both gifts and faults. For example, George Washington lost far more battles than he won as a general, but he set a lasting example of how a President should treat others. John Adams was so blunt and opinionated that he offended almost everyone, but by sticking to his principles he kept us out of a war that could have destroyed our young nation. And Thomas Jefferson’s willingness to exert his power allowed America to make the greatest deal in history (the Louisiana Purchase), but that deal contradicted his own belief in limited government. By treating the Founders as real people and drawing on their dramatic experiences, we will seek help in dealing with issues that confounded them and that still confound us today, including: our crippling national debt, the nasty character of our politics, the proper role of religion in our government, and our extreme difficulties with certain other nations. 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. The answers may surprise you.

Himsel, Scott
Credits: 1

FT 012-J “Hemingway and Casanova walk into Harry’s Bar...” The City of Venice in Art, Literature and Film

Alexandra Hoerl, Department of Political Science.
“If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you’ve imagined. Venice is—Venice is better.”
–Fran Leibowitz, American humorist

“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.”
–Truman Capote, American author

“A realist, in Venice, would become a romantic by mere faithfulness to what he saw before him.”
–Arthur Symons, Welsh poet

“And silent rows the songless gondolier/Her palaces are crumbling to the shore”
–Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

“Men are we, and must grieve when even the Shade/Of that which once was great is pass’d away”
–William Wordsworth, On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic

The city of Venice, Italy has been in dire straits for a very long time—Byron and Wordsworth made their observations about the crumbling city about 200 years ago! The city is sinking into the sea, raising questions about whether or not it should be saved, or allowed to die a lingering death. Despite this doom—or perhaps because of it—Venice has spent the last two centuries suspended in beautiful decadence while managing to hold off ugly decay. The city has always been exotic and seductive, and Venice has played host to a stunning array of intellectuals and artists like Hemingway, Proust, Wagner, and Voltaire, while nurturing native talents like the composer Vivaldi, the artists Titian and Tintoretto, and the notorious intellectual and lover Casanova.
Venice’s residents have adorned her public places with gold and marble; enshrined her in timeless art; and used her winding canals, elaborate churches, glittering palaces, and tight, dark streets as inspiration for works of literature and film that engage the central topics of humanity: the experiences of birth and death; the passions that drive us toward sex or crime; and the nature of existence and reality. In this tutorial we will become better acquainted with this mysterious fantasy of a city and think critically about these eternal topics of death, sex, and existence from a variety of perspectives by engaging some of the major books, works of art and films that Venice herself has inspired. Your summer reading will be Daphne DuMaurier’s supernatural novella Don’t Look Now, which is set in Venice and concerns two parents in mourning for their dead daughter and their encounter with unsettling, possibly psychic twins. You will also receive a map and city guide to help you navigate the story! Other authors we will encounter during the semester include (but are not limited to!) Hemingway, Casanova, and Thomas Mann. This tutorial engages important authors and works in order to spur students to engage in the flexible, critical and interdisciplinary thinking that is at the heart of a top-notch liberal arts education. However, these important works ask students to seriously and maturely grapple with themes of violence, sexuality and death. Students who are not comfortable confronting content with explicit depictions of sex and violence should not enroll in this tutorial.

Credits: 1

FT 012-K Bugs

Ethan Hollander, Department of Political Science
Bugs can be beautiful or ugly, great or small. In formal terminology, bugs are a specific type of insect – a sizeable order that includes aphids, bedbugs and cicadas. But in common parlance, bugs can be everything from scorpions to shrimp, computer glitches to listening devices, sophisticated weapons of war or people who annoy us. Bugs get in our hair and under our skin. Like a fly on the wall, they can hear what we are saying. In some places, people live in fear that bugs will eat their food. In other places, bugs are the food they eat. Bugs are simultaneously the most deadly and the most essential creatures in our environment. True to the liberal arts mission of the Freshman Tutorial and Wabash College, this course puts bugs under the lens of every conceivable microscope. Our perspective will sometimes be scientific or biological; however, we will also see bugs from the perspective of poets, priests, historians, cartoonists, and cooks. We will examine them, write about them, handle them, dissect them, and even eat them. Most of all, we will try to understand them. You don’t have to be a budding biologist or even an eager entomologist to enjoy this course. Just be the curious kind of person who thinks that bugs are cool. And be prepared to get your hands dirty.

Hollander, Ethan
Credits: 1

FT 012-L Confronting the Mysterious

Dennis Krause, Department of Physics
Every day we encounter claims of extra-scientific phenomena such as ghosts, ESP, UFOs, astrology, strange creatures (e.g., Big Foot), dowsing, etc. Are they real? Should you invest money in cold fusion research or a device which 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 examine how a scientist investigates claims of phenomena that lie on or beyond the present boundaries of science. Readings and videos will explore a wide range of extraordinary claims and the works of people who investigate them. Students will then carry out and present the results of their own investigations.

Krause, Dennis
Credits: 1

Jonathan Baer, Department of Religion
Some people speak of their work, their families, or some other important facet of their lives as a “calling” or “vocation.” Others have a job in which they “punch the clock” or simply work for the pay, while their families may not be integral parts of their identities and sense of purpose. Beyond work and family, some folks find their calling through religious commitments and organizations like churches or synagogues, while others may identify volunteer activities, community organizations, or some sort of larger cause as critical to the meaningfulness of their lives. In this tutorial, we will explore the meaning and nature of callings. What is a calling or vocation? How do I seek my calling or callings? The college experience, and particularly a liberal arts education, provides an outstanding opportunity to grow in your knowledge of the world about you as well as yourself, with an eye toward finding the places where your passions, interests, and talents intersect with the world’s needs. You will learn many details of chemistry, political science, and English in college, but you can also begin to shape a vision of your future informed by a sense of calling or vocation that offers rich meaning, direction, and integrity. As we examine the concept and experience of callings, we will draw upon religious (particularly Christian) and secular writings, stories, films, and personal accounts.

Baer, Jonathan
Credits: 1

FT 012-C American Values and American Sports

Tom Bambrey, Department of English
Many people would have a hard time listing the values Americans live by. They would perhaps have a harder time connecting those American 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 (or not) in our sports’ cultures. Our readings and discussions will focus on 1) the complexity of American values, given our nations’ rich multiplicity of cultures, races, and religions (etc., etc.), 2) our nation’s love affair with sports, and how values reveal themselves, are discovered (or disappear) in athletics, and 3) how each student’s developing or already internalized 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 values differ among peoples and individuals? How do they affect our behavior? How (and why) do sports play such a big part in American society? Do athletes live by the same or different values than the so-called “average” American or non-athlete? Because of the attention, adulation, and benefits they sometimes receive, do athletes’ values change? These, and other, questions will occupy our time. Readings for the tutorial: Bleachers by John Grisham; Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris; Heaven Is a Playground by Rick Telander; Once a Runner by John Parker; A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean; and North Dallas Forty by Peter Gent.

Bambrey, Thomas E.
Credits: 1

FT 012-D The Automobile and American Culture

Preston Bost, Department of Psychology
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 brothers understood that much bigger achievements were just over the horizon. Within ten years, over 100 companies were producing automobiles, racing competitions were popular events, and the era of the horse-drawn carriage was effectively over. Now over one hundred years later, Americans’ infatuation with the automobile is as intense as ever; this course is about how nearly every facet of daily life—work, relationships, finances, and popular culture, to name a few—is shaped by our collective relationship with cars. Over the course of the semester, we will look at the automobile from a wide variety of angles. How are cars designed, produced, marketed, and consumed? What effect has the automobile had on the shape of cities and their architecture? What is the role of automobile production in the nation’s economy and the lives of its workers? How has the automobile impacted the lives of women? How are automobiles portrayed in popular culture? Why does driving get so many people killed? What questions does the automobile raise about the role of governmental regulation? We will also consider Indiana’s prominence in early automobile production. Students can expect a wide variety of texts and video, guest lecturers from several departments at the College, and regular discussion and small group work.

Bost, Preston
Credits: 1

FT 012-E Everyone Suddenly Burst Out Singing: The American Musical

Richard Bowen, Department of Music
American audiences have an ongoing love affair with musical theater. During a recent season in New York City, for example, more than 12 million tickets were purchased for Broadway shows at a total price of almost one billion dollars. Musicals are regularly included in the offerings of professional theater companies, colleges, universities, high schools, and community organizations. It is, in fact, difficult to find a place in America where, at any given time, a musical is not being produced nearby. In this tutorial, we will explore the world of the American musical, from its infancy and development, through its “golden age,” and into the present. We will take in the glitz and glamour, we will enjoy the diversion and extravagant entertainment, we will revel in the spectacle of some of the most successful musicals that conquered Broadway. At the same time, we will look beneath the fluff, beyond the footlights, in order to discover more substantial connections between the musical and American history, politics, and culture. We may even discover a bit more about ourselves along the way. Grab your program; take your seat—the curtain’s about to rise.

Bowen, Richard
Credits: 1

FT 012-F Campaign 2012: Politics and Persuasion

Sara Drury, Department of Rhetoric
If you study political communication, every fall is filled with excitement as you turn on your television, open your newspaper, refresh your news feed, and check your Facebook or Twitter account. In this tutorial, we will explore, analyze, and evaluate the political rhetoric of the 2012 campaign at the local, state, and national levels. We will consider a variety of questions, including: How might we characterize the rhetoric of a particular candidate? What are the persuasive strategies of a candidate? Was a particular candidate’s message or advertisement effective? What are the effects of political debates on campaigns? Has the rhetoric of political campaigns changed in the new millennium? How do news-comedy shows, such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, impact national presidential campaigns? How much impact do the “talking heads” on CNN, Fox News, and other news networks have on national campaigns? What about the effects of social media? Students will address these questions and more, and have the opportunity to create their own political rhetoric on Campaign 2012 through writing assignments, including course papers, a course blog, and social media. Over the semester, as a class we will follow the 2012 Presidential campaign and students will each select a local or congressional campaign and serve as a reporter on that campaign to the class.

Drury, Sara A. Mehltretter
Credits: 1

FT 012-G Girl Power

Eric Freeze, Department of English
Mean Girls. Lady Gaga. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Xena: Warrior Princess. Dark Angel. Kill Bill. This course will explore the phenomenon of girl power, starting in the 90s with musical groups such as the Spice Girls, laying a historical and theoretical groundwork for identifying key elements of girl power in various pop culture media. It will examine some of the movement’s core philosophies as extensions of third-wave feminism. It will also address current criticism of the movement as regressive consumerism. Is Girl Power enhancing women’s equality or limiting it? Can a movement so closely linked to consumer culture still effect positive social change? We will seek answers to these questions by reading heaps of interesting theory, watching movies and TV shows, and analyzing marketing and ad campaigns.

Freeze, Eric
Credits: 1