Orange Alert

Arts and Sciences announces First Year Seminars to fulfill first-year writing requirement

CAS 100 fulfills first-semester writing requirements

Dec. 3, 2010, by Rob Enslin

New students and transfers needing to fulfill first-semester writing requirements of the Liberal Arts Core are invited to register for First Year Seminars (CAS 100), offered this spring by Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Each course is led by a highly qualified Humanities Faculty Fellow, and is designed to teach academic writing that is embedded in a thematic framework.

For more information, contact the college’s office of curriculum, instruction, and programming at (315) 443-1414.

According to Gerald R. Greenberg, the college’s senior associate dean, each seminar has five objectives: 1. to focus on the subject area of the instructor’s academic expertise; 2. to provide a series of writing assignments, including sequential assignments and assignments based on rewriting; 3. to devote attention to the meaning and importance of academic integrity; 4. to teach a style of academic referencing that is specific to the course discipline; and 5. to examine criteria for determining appropriate and inappropriate sources.

This spring, the college will offer six First Year Seminars in the humanities and social sciences. Courses are divided into “critical reflections” and “non-critical reflections.”

“Critical reflection” courses are as follows:

“Documentary Poetics: The Art of Witness” focuses on poetry as documentary. “We will question poets’ impulses to render the ‘real,’ as they respond to social injustice, violence, dislocation, imprisonment, and war,” says instructor Jesse Nissim, who earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from San Francisco State University.

Nissim says her students will examine a wide range of texts and then discuss how they draw on evidentiary sources to create compelling literary art. “This course will provide models for how you might combine the critical and the creative, the artistic and the analytic, the real and the imagined, to better understand and engage the world,” says Nissim, author of the chapbook “Alphabet for M” (Dancing Girl Press, 2007).

“Melting Pot or Not?: American Multicultural Voices in Transition” is a literature-based course that explores contemporary ethnic American perspectives, including African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American, and Jewish American. The course is taught by Nancy Kang, a specialist in ethnic literatures whose research encompasses interracialism, hybridity, and vernacular culture.

“We will dissect the personal experiences, imaginative rigor, and political preoccupations of these various groups to shed light on the complex and changing American landscape,” says Kang, who earned a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Toronto and previously taught at the University of British Columbia.

“World Crises and the Possibility of World Justice” begins by looking at seemingly forgone problems, including climate change, socio-economic inequality, and violence, and then progresses to a philosophical examination of them at a global level.

“Among the questions we ask,” says instructor Aaron Vlasak, “are ‘What, if anything, do we owe others outside of our country?’ and ‘What institutions are needed to meet these demands?’” The course complements Vlasak’s interest in interpretations of outbursts of violence and in the possibility of peace in context of the post-enlightenment, world-historical condition. Vlasak earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from The New School of Social Research.
“Race in the Age of Obama” is taught by Dana Nichols, who recently came to SU from the faculty of St. John Fisher College in Rochester. “Some pundits claim that the election of President Obama has ushered in a new colorblind era,” she says. “We’ll consider this idea by examining current political debates, such as Arizona’s recent immigration law, and critical race theory.”

Nichols earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisville, where her dissertation work involved race, rhetoric, and conflict in the Academy.

“Non-critical reflection” courses are as follows:

“Madness, Mystery, Genius?: Examining Mythologies of the Artist” is taught by Kate Hanson, an accomplished painter and Italian Renaissance art historian. Her course explores canonical and non-canonical works of art, as well as the historiography that stirred the notoriety of certain artists, patrons, and works.

“From Michelangelo’s obsessions to Van Gogh’s ear, the popular history of art is dominated by tall tales focused on the eccentricities of artistic ‘genius’ and by the whims of wealthy collectors,” says Hanson, who earned a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Southern California. “My students will engage with themes including the constructions of gender and personality, institutional structures, and the culture of profession as it related to artists and craftsmen.”

“Consuming Culture,” also taught by Hanson, looks at the art of cooking in Renaissance Italy. “In the West, the art of cooking has enjoyed a recent renaissance, as evidenced by the proliferation of farmers’ markets, the popularity of the Food Network, and abundance of celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver.  These practices can be traced to Renaissance Italy, which regarded cooking as an art form and saw an influx of novel foodstuffs and spices from the New World,” says Hanson, who previously taught at Eastern Michigan University.

The course will cover such topics as health and diet, agricultural production, cooking and food taboos, medicine and the body, as well as private and public dining rituals.

“The College is very excited about these seminars. Rooted in the liberal arts, they are inherently interdisciplinary, and are a refreshing alternative to traditional composition-based writing courses,” says Greenberg, adding that students may chose to take a comparable course, such as WRT 105, from The Writing Program.

Media Contact

Rob Enslin