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2008 Spring

Spring 2008 First Year Seminar Courses include:

FYS 001 Deconstructing Gender
CRN 2463
TR 11:00 am - 12:15 pm
Beth Younger

In this seminar we will investigate how various cultural productions define, shape, categorize and construct the concept of gender. We will examine consumer products, magazines, short stories, advertisements and film (along with texts that interrogate the same issues) to help us answer questions such as: What is femininity? What is masculinity?

Who decided blue is for boys and pink is for girls? Why is it acceptable for a woman to wear men's clothing, but unacceptable for a man to wear a skirt? How much is being a woman or a man a result of upbringing, biology, social environment, and cultural influence? How does language itself inform our view of gender? How do the images we see and the products we buy influence our ideas of gender? Are we active participants in the manufacturing of gender, or simply passive recipients? By reading a wide variety of viewpoints on these issues, we will try to understand current and historical perspectives of gender. Our collective goal will be to name and question some of the fundamental cultural assumptions that have helped to shape our ideas of what men and women ?should? be like. Your personal task will be to utilize critical thinking as you read, analyze and write about various cultural productions in order to develop your own theory of gender and consumer culture.

FYS 002 Window on Violence in the Middle East
CRN 3149
TR 3:30-4:45 pm
Karen Bradway

What's the difference between Taliban jihadists in Afghanistan and modernist Islamists in Iran? Where does Pakistan stand in the U.S.'s War on Terror? Is the U.S. really -- as filmmaker Michael Moore suggests -- “in bed” with the Saudis? Is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- that “powder keg” in the Middle East --irresolvable due to fundamental longstanding differences between Arabs and Jews? Or are the origins of the conflict more recent, and largely political? What are the key factors to this multifaceted conflict? Who frames the debate?

Are Arab countries --with their tribal origins -- capable of governing by democratic means? Why are so many Arab leaders portrayed as corrupt? Is this depiction warranted? Why did Arab nationalism fail? What's behind the growth of Islamic fundamentalism? What’s behind the rise of al-Qaeda? Is al-Qaeda stoppable at this point? What is required to stop it?

The Middle East is a seeming quagmire of complex and interrelated conflicts. In this class, we'll isolate and explore a number of key conflicts, movements, and historical events. These include: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the growth-and subsequent failure of Arab nationalism; the emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan; the Iranian Revolution; the growth of Islamic fundamentalism; and the rise of Al-Qaeda. Students should gain an understanding of the events that shape current dialogues about the Middle East; they should also gain an understanding of U.S.- Arab relations/U.S. foreign policy in the modern Middle East.

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