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LST 100 and ENG 100 Themes

LST 100: Seminar in Academic Inquiry (Current Themes)

Note: Seminar in Academic Inquiry (LST100) is part of Endicott’s Core Curriculum and is a required course. It is designed to provide the foundation to your four years of undergraduate study. Through the topics below, you will think critically, read texts perceptively, develop and defend positions on issues, and find and use information to solve problems and deepen understanding. In addition, LST100 is not a Writing Designated course, but students in every section are expected to produce a minimum of 10 “final draft” pages in various writing assignments throughout the semester.

Slavery in Historical Perspective - The institution of slavery extends back beyond recorded history and continues today. It knows no racial, gender, ethnic or religious boundaries; it does not discriminate among its victims. We will explore slavery from antiquity to the current day – the many forms it has taken, how it has been justified on political, social, economic, philosophical, legal, and pseudo-scientific grounds, and efforts to abolish it over time. – Colleen Shaughnessy Zeena

Viewing Film With a Critical Eye - Looking carefully into an art form that delves into the vast arena of thoughts and emotions, films can be artful, entertaining, insightful, and emotive. But what are the elements of film that gently persuade viewers of feelings, thoughts, and beliefs? How do films subtly lead viewers to particular conclusions? We will critically examine several film genres and explore and discuss how various techniques are used to develop a film's ideas, content, and meaning. - Brian Fitzpatrick

Law in Literature and Film – We will examine how the law is portrayed in various literary and artistic forms. Bring your curiosity and moral compass as we embark on a search-and-explore mission to discover what law is and how it is portrayed in our cultural touchstones. Using films, books, selected articles, essays, plays and guest speakers we will investigate legal themes of truth and justice. Through discussion, debate, analysis and research, we'll develop our reasoning and analytical skills. – Ken Riaf

Banned Books Censorship is nothing new; books have been banned, burned, and bowdlerized for generations. We will study some of those books and work toward an understanding of what lies beneath the impulse to censor. Are some ideas simply so unpleasant that they need to be kept from the citizenry? We will read texts that have been banned for political or religious reasons, texts that have faced obscenity charges, and texts that have been challenged as inappropriate for schools and public libraries. Our overarching concern will be to contemplate what place censorship has in a free society. – Sharon Paradiso


Revolutions – We will consider a variety of revolutions in politics, culture, music, science and literature. We will examine works such as Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, the “Declaration of Independence,” Gray’s Elegy, Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, as well as classical texts by writers such as Copernicus, Darwin and Freud. What are the conditions of possibility for revolution? How is revolution different from incremental change? Students can expect to acquire and exercise skills in critical thinking, in library research, public speaking and the crafting of an argument. – Michael Deneen


Italian Culture through the Ages – We will explore the rich traditions of Italian literature, art, and cinema. From Dante’s Inferno to Collodi’s Pinocchio, Italian literature has produced works that have influenced artists and entertained readers for centuries. We will examine these and other classics along with masterpieces of Italian art and cinema. Using articles, literary excerpts, film clips and images, we will reflect upon the evolution and impact of Italian culture over time. – Catherine Freddo


Friendship, from Shakespeare to Facebook – In contemporary society, the anthropologist Robert Brain has written, “We are friends with everyone.” Relationships of all kinds – between co-workers, spouses, even parents and their children – are increasingly modeled on friendship. We will examine the ways in which friendship has been defined in literature, film, philosophy, and social commentary. What distinguishes friendship from love? What are the different kinds of friendship? How is friendship related to the family, and to larger patterns of social organization? Students will reflect on these and other questions in papers, short journal entries, and in other assignments. – Sam Alexander


American Leadership in the New World Order – We will critically examine America’s challenges and choices on the contemporary global stage. While the international community copes with a lingering world economic crisis and a condition of “world disorder,” America is attempting to reclaim its leadership status in the world. What is and should be America’s role in international affairs? Has the “American Century” ended, as many commentators allege? How has the balance of world power shifted recently? How do the rise of China, revolutions in the Middle East, and faltering economies (e.g. in Europe) present obstacles and opportunities for the United States? We will try to answer these and other questions in this section. – Vitaly Kozyrev


Leadership: Theory and Practice – While exploring what has been discovered about leadership theory and practice, students will research the traits, values and actions of their own leader-heroes and identify how their leader-heroes have demonstrated principles of leadership to gain success. The seminar is rich in activities and assignments that engage students in a process of thinking deeply about the following questions: What is leadership? What is a leader? Who am I as a leader? How will I exercise leadership to achieve success in my career/life? – Thomas Harvey


The Tastemakers Who shapes the way we eat, listen, drink and dress, defining our American culture today? Do hip-hop artists, filmmakers and chefs create for themselves, large corporations or for the masses? Do critics write to flatter their friends, sell copy or interpret important/difficult work for a diffuse audience? Taking an interdisciplinary approach, and by studying reviews, critiques, essays, and films, and hearing about the work of guest artists, curators and cultural critics, we will deepen our understanding of contemporary culture and learn how to consume it critically. Students will examine a variety of art forms and acquire skills in research, writing, debating, and public speaking. – Dinah Cardin


Marketing to the Masses - When does an unknown artist become a force to be reckoned with? How do creative Prophets become Profiteers? Is financial success a viable goal, or should it be a by-product of commercial acceptance? We will consider contemporary arts, examining the lives and purpose of creators working outside the mainstream who subsequently become the mainstream. Students will examine the effects of focused marketing strategies; the concept of “selling out”; how markets and consumers may be defined by geographic location, and by social and economic class; and their own experiences with art and music. Specific readings and case studies will be used, but students will also select their own works for assignments. – Hugo Burnham


The National Parks: America's Best Idea – Based on the Ken Burns documentary, the course will look at the history, people, politics, and science of America’s national parks, providing students with a variety of viewpoints. This course will involve reviewing the film series through discussions, presentations, and writing to examine how the national park system was created, the various uses and impacts that they have, and what the future is for these areas. - Gene Wong


The Ecology of Food - What do we eat, and why? What meanings do we give our food? What impact do food choices have on the environment, on our bodies, on our communities? An interdisciplinary approach to these questions will use investigative journalism, literary essays, films, and visits with some of the people who work getting food to our tables. We'll look at topics such as health, globalization, and agriculture from multiple perspectives. – Margaret Young


Privacy and Other Legal Issues – Current events and daily occurrences often raise interesting and provocative legal issues. Some examples include: can someone legally record or videotape a conversation or other encounter with you; is sexting a crime; is the use of Facebook or MySpace private; can the college search your dorm room or book bags. Other topics/issues include date rape; underage drinking; liability for hazing incidents; drug testing; legalization/decriminalization of drugs; sexual harassment; the death penalty; and issues relative to copyright infringement and illegal music downloading. We will critically analyze such legal issues through readings, class discussions, research and written assignments. – Robert Chwaliszewski


Race in American Culture & Society - Race has shaped American society and culture from colonial times to the present. In this course we will analyze the role of race in US society using images, movies, material culture, journalistic accounts, and readings in history, sociology, law, and political science. Students will develop reading, writing, discussion, and analytical skills. We will practice making connections between past and present, different theories and view points by asking questions like: What does it mean to be African American, Native American, Latino, white, or Asian American? Why is our society constructing these notions of race and how do they influence the lives of all these Americans? - Stephanie Kermes


World on Edge! We will investigate the past, current and extrapolated future state of the world’s ecosystems, natural resources and human populations. Students will exam the relationships between energy, politics, global warming and world poverty in order to develop an ecological consciousness that allows them to view and analyze world events and trends from an environmental and historical perspective. - Matt Staffier


The Impact of Technology on History – Students will examine the impact of technology on society from ancient times to the recent past. They will study how early technology, such as the wheel, the first clock, the thermometer, the telescope, the steam engine, and electricity affected world history. Students will also explore the societal impact of modern technology such as the jet engine, nuclear power, the microwave oven, the personal computer, the smart phone, and the internet. - Bonnie Arons-Polan


Theatre as Moral Imagination The philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues that moral imagination is developed by reading literature. In this course, we will read and discuss dramatic literature, focusing on how choices made by characters in plays can help us understand moral growth and development. We will read classic plays such as Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Shakespeare's Hamlet, & Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. - Steven Haley


The American Landscape Tradition - In On the Road, Jack Kerouac wrote, “...but I preferred reading the American landscape as we went along. Every bump, rise and stretch in it mystified my longing.” Through presentations, case studies and field trips, we will explore the evolution of the American landscape and the social, economic and environmental forces that have shaped its unique identity. From the western wilderness to contemporary issues in sustainable design and urbanism, the ideas, patterns and themes that shape human attitudes and activities in both the natural and built environment will be highlighted. Students will be encouraged to think creatively about individual landscapes, viewing them as cultural artifacts with specific meanings. We will examine parks and open spaces, suburban developments, gardens, campuses, cemeteries, theme parks, and shopping malls. - Patrice Todisco


The Immigrant Experience in the U.S. – The question, “What is it like to be an immigrant in America?” will guide our investigation of the contemporary immigrant experience. We will reflect on our own family stories, read, watch, and listen to first-hand accounts, and talk to community members in order to explore issues related to modern-day immigration. Through writing, group discussion, and class presentations we will critically analyze issues and respond to questions related to the immigrant experience, American identity, assimilation, and stereotypes. – Dana Monsein


Baseball in American History & Culture - Jacques Barzun once said that to understand America one must first understand baseball. Others contend that baseball epitomizes the best aspects of America. But have these notions ever been true? How has labor struggles and ideas about race and gender complicated our associations between baseball and life in the United States? How has the spread of the game overseas altered our view of the national pastime and what has been the impact of that process? Studying fiction, film, and historical documents, we will answer these and other questions. By examining baseball's history and mythology critically, we will better understand the game, but also American history and culture. - Matthew Pustz


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(Past Themes)

Competing Worldviews in a Global Age - The idea that there is a consistent difference between ways of thinking in the East and the West is a lasting one. Despite economic and political science theories that assume that all people and/or states think alike and will make similar decisions under similar circumstances, the notion that cultural differences affect ways of thinking about the world and lead to different actions persists. We will examine how world leaders view problems they face in the international arena; how they understand their counterparts, especially rival leaders; and how these understandings influence their decisions. Examples will be drawn from recent global events, but especially from the U.S.-China context, as this relationship key for both countries and the evolving world order. - Eryn MacDonald


The 1970s: Image and Reality - The 1970s are sometimes thought of as a decade when “nothing really happened.” The reality, though, is quite different. Filled with both lingering aftershocks of the Sixties’ counterculture and portents of what would come later, the 1970s offered contradictions and complex cultural artifacts. We will explore the history and culture of the 1970s to better understand that time period as well as our own. Students will examine the era’s film, television, music, advertising, and comics, with a focus on how they reflect their original contexts and helped shape American life during this period. We will also analyze how the 1970s have been remembered in contemporary culture. – Matthew Pustz


Revolutions – We will consider a variety of revolutions in politics, culture, science and literature. We will examine works such as Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, the “Declaration of Independence,” Gray’s Elegy, Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, as well as classical texts by writers such as Copernicus, Darwin and Freud. What are the conditions of possibility for revolution? How is revolution different from incremental change? Students can expect to acquire and exercise skills in critical thinking, in library research, public speaking and the crafting of an argument. – Michael Deneen


Genocide – We will examine some of the most disturbing events of the last century. Students will read accounts by survivors and explore the history of each historical episode. We will examine the stories of Armenia, the Holocaust, Nanking, Cambodia, Rwanda, and the Sudan. In class discussion we will look for patterns and explanations. Why did these atrocities occur? Can we predict where the next genocide will be? Why is it important to hear these stories? What does it mean to bear witness? What can we do to stop the tragedy in Darfur? Readings may include Peter Balakian, Iris Chang, and Philip Gourevitch. – Charlotte Gordon


Internet, Society, and Everyday Life - This section will consider the read-write web, known as Web 2.0, and its effect on society and everyday life. Services like Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, as well as blog sites like WordPress and TypePad, give people unprecedented ease in the ability to share parts of their lives with others known and unknown. As ordinary people now produce as well as consume the World Wide Web, we will consider the dimensions of public and private, and global and “hyperlocal.” As a class, we will produce a “wiki” documenting our findings, values and positions. Our goals in doing so include analysis of the social impact of Web 2.0 and learning to navigate these powerful and perilous technologies for work and pleasure. - Richard Hudak


American Presidents - In this section we will study the development of the office of the President, the criteria needed to fulfill the office, and how various Presidents have wielded their power. We will explore Presidential agendas before taking office and how those were altered by national and international developments. We will look at who thrived and who withered and why. - Arthur Burt


Music and Culture - Addresses the relationships between musical forms and cultural values as they have developed together over time. How does music both reflect and transform culture? How do forms of “noise” or non-music become accepted as legitimate musical expressions? We will focus primarily on Western classical and post-classical musical traditions (including jazz and electronic music), but we will also examine the role of music in popular culture and in non-Western cultures. Our work together as a group will emphasize critical listening and reading and will attempt to foster the research, writing, discussion and presentation skills of college-level liberal arts learning necessary for understanding and critical judgment of the arts and informed debate about cultural issues. - Rocco Gangle


American Dreams and Visions – We will critically engage with seminal texts that have both reflected and shaped what it means to be “an American” over time. Focusing on the social, political, and intellectual themes in The Federalist Papers, W.E.B. DuBois’s Souls of Black Folk, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, we will consider how American identity has been defined and contested at key points in United States history. - Stephen Squires


Cold War Culture and Politics: For almost half a century, from the end of World War II to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the world was polarized between the totalitarian communist “East” and the liberal-democratic-capitalist “West”. As the fate of the world hung in the balance, this confrontation came to define foreign and domestic policy; military strategy and technological development; culture, belief systems, and basic existential understanding. By examining the history, politics and culture of this period, this course will raise issues of more general and current relevance: the interaction of politics and culture; the role of ideology, media, and technology in defining our world; and strategies of understanding and resistance. A variety of texts and resources will provide the ground for the practice of historical, political, and sociological research methods. – Michael Kilburn


The Culture of Heroism - What do Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Aslan Coraline, and Roy Hobbs have in common? This course (with a significant reading component) will explore the ways that different cultures and time periods have personalized the hero myth. Students will examine the common threads--and the noteworthy exceptions--that traditionally define the hero. - Rich Nastasi


Perception vs. Reality - Have you ever noticed discrepancies between perception and reality? Such discrepancies can be intriguing when we think of photographs and what they truly depict, news reports and actual events, stereotypes of minorities and the lives they lead, political statements and realities, even people we think we may know such as neighbors. We will explore "perception and reality" in contemporary essays, novels and films. Class time will include debates, group presentations and multi-media critiques. – Jennifer Jean


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ENG 101: College Writing Seminar (Current Themes)

Note: College Writing Seminar (ENG 101) is part of Endicott’s Core Curriculum and is a required Writing Designated course. Focusing on a general theme, this course introduces 1st-year students to prewriting, composing, revising, and editing strategies. It emphasizes logical development of ideas in papers appropriate to purpose and audience. Students will hone their skills by practicing expository, analytical, argument-based, and persuasive writing. Current themes for ENG 101 include:

Alternative Americas; The North Shore; Modernism & Post-Modernism; American Stories; Social Issues; Epic Journeys; Narratives of Identity; American Urban Society; The New American; Relationships; & Literature of Disaster.

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