First Year Seminar: Self, Community, and the
The First Year Seminar introduces all Butler students to an
engagement with ideas of seriousness that is characteristic of the
best university education.
"I can't imagine a better introduction to a life of ideas
than to engage the students with writers who have lived that life,"
Dr. Susan Neville explains. Her First Year Seminar on
Contemporary Writers focuses on those writers who come to the
campus each year as part of the Vivian S. Delbrook Writers
Series. The writers talk with students and, Neville remarks,
"the conversation will range, as it always does, from the work to
history to contemporary issues such as immigration and race, and
always always on how to live a life of passion and
Dr. Lisa Brooks' Seminar, La Musica!, also engages students
in grand disciplinary conversations. Brooks is a professional
musician, she notes, "fully engaged in the art of classical
music." But "once the students sense that the goal of the
course is NOT to make them symphony patrons, they realize that
their personal opinions about classical music and its relevance are
integral to the course content" and as they see themselves as
agents within culture.
In Michelle Stigter's course, students examine the complex,
and at times volatile, topic of immigration. Her Seminar,
Integration and Assimilation, posits challenging questions: "what
does the influx of 'the other' do to the composition of cultural
identity? Is it wrong to superimpose the norms and values of
the dominant culture on new citizens?" Stigter's students
work in the community with the Immigrant Welcome Center and create
a digital story that narrates the support and advocacy work the
Center provides to, and on behalf of, various communities.
Helping students "understand cultures and the impact of
multiculturalism on our world is an important part of figuring out
who we are," Stigter posits, "and who we want to
Course Structure: A two-semester sequence taken
in the first year.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES SHARED ACROSS ALL FYS SECTIONS AND
1. Listen and read critically - texts, speech, media and other
cultural productions - in order to examine, challenge and reshape
themselves and the world in which they live.
2. Express themselves clearly and persuasively in exposition and
in argument, in both written and oral forms.
3. Carry out research for the purpose of supplying evidence and
support for claims made in exposition and argument.
First Year Seminar - First Year Students
All incoming first year students must register for FYS 101 in
the fall semester and FYS102 in the spring semester. No exceptions.
As there is no AP course equivalent to FYS, advanced placement
credit does not apply towards First Year Seminar.
If possible, consider the student's entire first year plan when
choosing FYS, so that the student's year long experience in the
course can be maintained.
First year students who fail FYS 101 will take FYS 102 in the
spring and retake FYS101 in the fall. First year students who fail
FYS 102 will retake FYS 102 the following spring. Those students
should enroll in a FYS 102 that does not require the corresponding
FYS 101 as a prerequisite.
First Year Seminar - Mid Year Enrollees and Transfer
A first year student entering college for the first time in
spring semester or a first year transfer student will enroll
directly into a section of FYS 102 that does not require FYS 101 as
To fulfill the FYS 101 portion of the Core requirement, the
student can subsequently or concurrently enroll in an additional
Text and Ideas or humanities course.
These students will not enroll in FYS 101 the following semester
Transfer students who do not transfer in courses that replace
FYS may substitute two humanities courses and a speech course for
Some examples of current courses offered in the
First Year Seminar include:
Faith, Doubt and Reason
Reading and discussion of classic philosophical religious
and literary texts exploring the ways in which human beings have
reflected on their relationship to God, the world and their fellow
human beings. In the first semester ('The Search for God'), we will
focus on how human beings have sought to know and understand God
and the world and on how that search has shaped the way humans
define themselves. In the second semester ('The Search for
Community'), we will focus on how human beings have sought to
define themselves in terms of the various communities to which they
belong, including families and clans, ethnic communities, nations
and faith communities. The interaction and interconnections of
faith, doubt and reason will receive attention in both
The Heroic Temper
Homer lays the groundwork for an examination of the epic heroes,
with his very personal attention to the lives and characters of his
chosen heroes in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Central to our concern
in this seminar will be our own examination of these poems,
especially with an eye towards understanding what keeps generation
after generation not only reading these classic epics but reworking
the heroic form as well as the heroic themes. Besides our reading
the Homeric epics, we will study the modern applications of them in
film, such as Troy, Ulysses, and O Brother Where Art Thou? Semester
two will look at further reworking of the Homeric model, with Roman
works such as Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphoses, among
Travelers and Tourists
Why do people travel? How does tourism alter our
self-understanding and shape our perceptions of other people and
communities? What consequences does tourism have for host
communities, societies, and economies? This course will look at
tourism from the perspective of travelers, guests, advocates, and
critics, drawing from travel narratives, popular films, and
academic texts to examine the complex relationships between
tourists and toured, travel and development.
Assessing the American Dream
This course will create a journey by which students address the
relevance of the "American Dream" as this ideal is situated from
the perspective of the experiences of black women. Through
exploration of various forms of writings, from political essays to
short stories, poems, and novels, all by black women, students will
develop an understanding of how the voice of black women offers a
unique opportunity from which to study this "land of opportunity,"
as the concept of the "American Dream" suggests. This is a
two-semester course, part of the "Collaborative for Critical
Inquiry into Issues of Gender, Race, and Sexuality/Gender
Sex & Politics: Helen of Troy
The story of Helen of Troy literally and figuratively
embodies the struggle between sex and politics and the human
propensity to forsake politics for war. In this course, we will
examine how the myth of Helen is intimately connected with
misogynistic attitudes, romantic and sexual fantasies, and notions
of political power that have been seen throughout twenty-eight
centuries of the telling and retelling of the story of the "face
that launched a thousand ships." Course readings include Bettany
Hughes' Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore; Euripides' Helen;
Aeschylus' Oresteia, among others.
Identity and Culture
What tells us who we are? How does one develop an image of self?
Students will use the lenses of literature, psychological theory,
art, and history to examine depictions of "coming of age" across
cultures and time periods. Aristotle wrote that "the aim of art is
to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward
significance"; through this seminar students will use "art" in its
broadest sense to explore the inward significance of "coming of
age." Semester I: Coming of Age in America. Semester II: Coming of
Age in Other Cultures and Other Times.
Spellbound:The Quest for Magic
Throughout the ages, the fascination with the otherworldly, the
supernatural, the magical element has been a great source of
inspiration for writers, choreographers, musicians, and other
artists. From the tales of 1001 Nights to A Mid-summer Night's
Dream, from The Lord of the Rings to contemporary fantasy
literature, magic is ever-present, sometimes for the good, now and
again in the purpose of evil. Similarly, the art of dance abounds
with tales of the fantastic; musicians have given a voice to many a
fairy tale; and artists have painted or sculpted countless
mythological figures. This course will explore the many faces of
this quest for magic in an inter-disciplinary way, with selected
readings from the genre of fantasy literature, viewings of
masterworks of ballet and modern dance, and musical examples from
great symphonic and operatic works.
Ireland and the Irish
What contribution does history or literature make in the
construction of self and nationhood? Is there such a thing as a
national character? How do history, literature, and the arts
contribute to or contradict these features? We will examine an
early Irish epic Tain Bo Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley),
Woodham-Smith's The Great Famine, as well as works by Yeats, Joyce,
O'Casey, and Synge.
Creativity: What does it mean to be creative? Creativity is too
often linked in our minds with artists, poets or people like
Picasso or Beethoven or Einstein. But any life can be lived more
creatively; any job can be done more creatively. Using selected
readings, discussions with creators and innovators, and a wide
variety of written and oral assignments and activities, we will
explore how each of you can begin to think of yourself as a
The Sound and the Funny
Comedy can be serious stuff, as rich and dark and heartbreaking a
path toward meaning as anything more sober. When it's done right,
the ridiculous is the sublime. In this course, we'll look at a
range of books and movies and stand-up performances, including
works by Diogenes, Nathanael West, Richard Pryor, and Lorrie Moore.
We'll talk about how humor can be a way to get at the truth of such
grim stuff as war and grief, how it can be a weapon for the
marginalized, and how that weapon can disarm not only others, but