skip to main content
Menu

First-Year Seminars

First-Year seminars are designed to introduce you to a field of study by way of a special topic, issue, or problem of interest to you. You will have the challenge of exploring the course material in depth with a faculty member and a small group of peers. These topics are accessible to all students either with no prerequisites or with prerequisites first-years should have completed, such as the writing requirement. Limited to 15 students, these seminars will be reading and discussion-based with an emphasis on papers, projects, studio work, or hands-on field experience rather than exams. All of the first-year seminars are regular courses, worth either 3 or 4 credits, and most fulfill an FDR requirement. In some cases, these seminars may serve as a prerequisite or satisfy a requirement in a major.

More than three-quarters of first-year students at Washington and Lee fulfill their FDR FW requirement in WRIT 100, Writing Seminar for First Years. 24-26 sections taught by professors of Classics, English, Journalism, History, Religion, and Philosophy are offered annually in fall and winter. These Writing Seminars for First-Years emphasize the development of argumentative writing skills in topical courses  on a variety of subjects, from "Faith and Doubt" to "I See Dead People." See the course offerings for more information.

First-Year students who have been exempted from FDR FW because they have an AP Literature or Language score of 5 or an IBE score in specific areas of 6 or 7 should still consider taking a First-Year Seminar (though they should not take WRIT 100).  These FYS courses nearly always qualify for FDR credit (check the 5th column in the Course Listings).

First-year students may take both the Writing Seminar for First-Years (WRIT 100) and a First-Year Seminar, unless they have already fulfilled FDR FW as described above.

Please take this opportunity to review these exciting course offerings. For full descriptions of the seminars follow the links.

Spring 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

FS: First-Year Seminar

LIT 180 - Pinto-Bailey

.

Spring 2014 topic:

LlT 180: First-year Seminar: The Female Self and Society: Latin American Women Writers (4). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing. A historical overview of Latin American women's writings, from the early 1900s to the present day. Students read, discuss and analyze literary works by some of the most important Latin American female authors, among them Victoria Ocampo (Argentina), Maria Luisa Bombal (Chile), Clarice Lispector (Brazil), Elena Poniatowska (Mexico), and Julia Alvarez (Dominican Republic and U.S.). All literary genres are studied: poetry, narrative fiction, essay, and drama. (HL) Pinto-Bailey.


Winter 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

FS: First-Year Seminar

JOUR 180 - Brisbane

Winter 2014 Topic:

JOUR 180: FS: Revolution and the Written Word (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing. This seminar builds an understanding of how written works, transmitted by evolving technologies, can catalyze revolutionary change and also shape outsiders' understanding of revolutions in progress. Through study of the works themselves, students explore the animating ideas and historical conditions that produced these revolutions, helping to establish a general literacy in modern political development. Class discussion concentrates on the role of the writer, the character of the writing itself, and the impact on intended audiences and others. (HU) Brisbane. Winter 2014 only

Fall 2013 Topic:

JOUR 180: FS: Politics, the Press and the Public (3). First-year seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. The news media have been intertwined with elections since our country's founding. In the 21st century, though, media messages bombard us around the clock from myriad new devices and sources. In this highly interactive seminar, first-year students examine these messages through real-time monitoring of advertising and campaign coverage of the 2013 Virginia's governor's race (and other fall races) and, after Election Day, close analysis of the outcomes. (HU) Finch

FS: First-Year Seminar

PHIL 180 - Renault-Steele

A seminar for first-year students.

Winter 2014 Topic:

PHIL 180: FS: Philosophers, Sophists and Other Liars (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing. Plato targets Sophistry as classical philosophy's most sinister adversary. Our course begins at the crux of this bitter dispute: the problem of the nature of reality and its relationship to appearance. We track this debate as it manifests in pre-Socratic and classical Greek philosophy, right up to its resurgence in contemporary French thought. Throughout, we ask how this problem of reality and appearance might matter for the political, cultural and aesthetic dimensions of our own time? Given that our world is shaped by continually developing virtual possibilities, Plato and the Sophists have laid the groundwork for a discussion that is all the more pressing today. (HU) Renault-Steele. Winter 2014


Fall 2013

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

FS: First-Year Seminar

ANTH 180 - Gaylord

Topical description when offered.

Fall 2013 Topic:

ANTH 180: FS: Discovering the Origins of Washington and Lee Using Historical Archaeology (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing. This seminar introduces students to the practice of historical archaeology using Liberty Hall Academy and recent excavations on the main Washington and Lee campus as case studies. Students work on collaborative projects which present the findings of our research to a broader local and visiting public. Using archaeological excavation, documentary research, artifact analysis, and computer mapping, we explore the range of questions and answers that these sources make possible. Students work together to produce public interpretations about the University's early history using their hands-on experience with the archaeological data. (SS4) Gaylord. Fall 2013

FS: First-Year Seminar

CLAS 180 - Elliott

Topic varies by term.

Fall 2013 topic:

CLAS 180: FS: Empires Without End: Ancient Empires and Modern Perspectives (3). First-Year seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. May be used toward a major in classics or history. "Empire" is a complex and easily misunderstood concept. The study of ancient empires can shed light on debates over modern imperialism. The first half of this seminar explores the impact of Classical Athens and the Roman Principate from the perspective of ancient contemporaries, with special focus on the cultural, social and economic distinctions of these empires. In the second half, we look at some modern empires in light of the ancient examples--among them, the British Empire, Nazi Germany, and the United States during the Cold War. We also consider the uses of comparative history, and the ways modern states use ancient history. (HU) Elliott. Fall 2013

General Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100A - Greer

The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered, with special emphasis on field study in the region near Lexington. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101. Offered on occasion as a First-Year Seminar. Contact the instructor for additional information. Laboratory course.

GEOL 100A: FS: General Geology with Field Emphasis (4): First-Year Seminar.

FS: First-Year Seminar

HIST 180 - McGee

Topics vary by term and instructor.

Fall 2013 Topics:

HIST 180-01: FS: The Great Depression (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. The focus of this seminar is one of the most tumultuous periods in American history -- the years surrounding the Great Depression. Through readings, period films, and in-class discussion students examine the political, economic, social, and cultural history of 1930s America while also exploring the legacy and effects of that period on the modern United States. This discussion-based seminar entails weekly readings. Students discuss primary documents that trace the origins and context of the stock market crash and economic crisis, the societal and humanitarian effects of the Depression, present the political and cultural responses by New Deal reformers and others to address the crisis, and place the transformation of the U.S. from 1929 to 1941 within a context of rising international tension. Class projects and writing assignments are designed to introduce students both to this complex period and the general practice of history as practiced at the college level. (HU) McGee. Fall 2013

HIST 180-02: FS: Paris in the 19th Century (3). This course investigates the political and cultural history of Paris in the 19th century, focusing on the construction of Paris as a city embodying modernity. We discuss the appeal of Paris in both the 19th and 21st centuries, as well as how Paris became the political and cultural capital of Europe in the period after the French Revolution. Topics include immigration, political unrest, the rebuilding of the city under Napoleon III, urban spectatorship and consumer culture, and the birth of the avant-garde. (HU) Horowitz. Fall 2013

FS: First-Year Seminar

HIST 180 - Horowitz

Topics vary by term and instructor.

Fall 2013 Topics:

HIST 180-01: FS: The Great Depression (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. The focus of this seminar is one of the most tumultuous periods in American history -- the years surrounding the Great Depression. Through readings, period films, and in-class discussion students examine the political, economic, social, and cultural history of 1930s America while also exploring the legacy and effects of that period on the modern United States. This discussion-based seminar entails weekly readings. Students discuss primary documents that trace the origins and context of the stock market crash and economic crisis, the societal and humanitarian effects of the Depression, present the political and cultural responses by New Deal reformers and others to address the crisis, and place the transformation of the U.S. from 1929 to 1941 within a context of rising international tension. Class projects and writing assignments are designed to introduce students both to this complex period and the general practice of history as practiced at the college level. (HU) McGee. Fall 2013

HIST 180-02: FS: Paris in the 19th Century (3). This course investigates the political and cultural history of Paris in the 19th century, focusing on the construction of Paris as a city embodying modernity. We discuss the appeal of Paris in both the 19th and 21st centuries, as well as how Paris became the political and cultural capital of Europe in the period after the French Revolution. Topics include immigration, political unrest, the rebuilding of the city under Napoleon III, urban spectatorship and consumer culture, and the birth of the avant-garde. (HU) Horowitz. Fall 2013

FS: First-Year Seminar

JOUR 180 - Finch

Winter 2014 Topic:

JOUR 180: FS: Revolution and the Written Word (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing. This seminar builds an understanding of how written works, transmitted by evolving technologies, can catalyze revolutionary change and also shape outsiders' understanding of revolutions in progress. Through study of the works themselves, students explore the animating ideas and historical conditions that produced these revolutions, helping to establish a general literacy in modern political development. Class discussion concentrates on the role of the writer, the character of the writing itself, and the impact on intended audiences and others. (HU) Brisbane. Winter 2014 only

Fall 2013 Topic:

JOUR 180: FS: Politics, the Press and the Public (3). First-year seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. The news media have been intertwined with elections since our country's founding. In the 21st century, though, media messages bombard us around the clock from myriad new devices and sources. In this highly interactive seminar, first-year students examine these messages through real-time monitoring of advertising and campaign coverage of the 2013 Virginia's governor's race (and other fall races) and, after Election Day, close analysis of the outcomes. (HU) Finch

FS: First-Year Seminar

MATH 180 - Abrams

. Fall 2013 topic:

MATH 180: FS:The Shape of Space (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. This course is an introduction to the mathematical field called topology. We explore the following questions: How can you tell if a knot is really knotted? How can you tell whether two knots are knotted the same way? What happens when you cut a Mobius strip in half? What is topology, and why do topologists think that a coffee cup is the same as a doughnut? What does topology have to say about the shape of the universe? (SC) Abrams.

Poverty and Human Capability: An Interdisciplinary Introduction

POV 101A - Beckley, Pickett (Multiple Sections)

An exploration of the nature, scope, causes, effects and possible remedies for poverty as a social, moral, political and policy, economic, legal, psychological, religious, and biological problem. The course focuses on domestic poverty but also considers poverty as a global problem.

Fall 2013:

POV 101A: FS: Poverty and Human Capability: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (3). First-Year seminar.

Brain and Behavior

PSYC 111A - Lorig

An introduction to behavioral neuroscience, including the physiological bases of sensation, learning and memory, motivation, cognition, and abnormal behavior.

Fall 2013:

PSYC 111A: FS: Brain and Behavior (3). First-Year seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year students only. Lorig

FS: First-Year Seminar

PSYC 180 - Carlson

Topical description when offered. Fall 2013 Topic: PSYC 180: FS: Close Relationships (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing. Do you ever wonder why people act the way they do in their relationships? Why are some people so anxious about everything? Why are some as cold as ice? Are you seen as more attractive by others if you wear the color red? Should you take your first date on a thrilling adventure or to a calm and soothing place? This seminar explores various issues in close relationships from a psychological science perspective. We explore initial attraction, relationship formation and break-ups, conflicts and how to resolve them, among other topics. (SS3) Carlson. Fall 2013