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2021 FIYS Courses

FIYS Courses for Fall 2021

FIYS 102: Knowing Yourself and Others (Professor Scott Edgar)

Do you want to be happy and successful at Lake Forest College? We will be investigating the construct of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and how that maps on to skills needed to be successful in college. You will take on a “detective” perspective as researchers to observe social and emotional occurrences on campus while engaging in self-reflection to become more socially and emotionally competent, yourselves. Assignments will include summaries of research articles, observation logs, research protocol development, self-narrative construction, and a culminating assignment having the students investigating a specific element within SEL (self-awareness/management, social-awareness/relationship management, or responsible decision making), how it presents itself on campus, how it is presented in today’s society and in popular culture, and strategies for teaching improvement in this area.

FIYS 110: Examining Educational Opportunity (Professor Dawn Abt-Perkins)

This course examines equity issues in public education in America today. We focus this semester on one major school reform issue: how schools can work to address inequality in educational outcomes among African American, LatinX, and White student populations. What facets of school structure, curriculum, school culture, or resources are related to this problem? We investigate urban educational environments, but also consider broader issues of segregation/integration and the distribution of resources in rural and suburban environments. The course considers the importance of racial identity formation, family relationships, cultural beliefs, and traditions in building perspectives on learning and the schooling process. Ultimately, the course tackles the questions: What do Americans believe about the quality of and problems in public education today? What are promising practices in reform to create public schools that give all students the opportunity to fulfill the American Dream?

FIYS 114: From Now On: Art, Society, and Technology (Professor David Sanchez Burr)

Digital media, technology, and the arts have become potent forces creating changes in aesthetics, communication, social engagement, political movements, and economic conditions. From social media to Virtual Reality, the lines between reality and artifice blur. As these forces combine, reconfigure, and create innovations, how will these changes impact our everyday experience? What we should expect in the world of work? Mass access to design software allows everyone to be a maker capable of creating shifts in cultural and social trends. How can one thrive in a such a dynamic world? Artists have played an important role as a counterpoint to mass-media by creating work that articulates important questions and examines such changes. Through discussions, readings, exercises and projects the course examines the impact of new fields in art and technology. This course helps students to identify, learn about, and potentially create tools to navigate a technologically dense future. 

FIYS 115: Climate Change Across Disciplines (Professor Todd Beer)

This course explores arguably the most pressing issue of our time: climate change. While we examine the fundamental physical science of global warming, the focus is on the social, cultural, political, economic, ethical, and psychological perspectives of climate change. Through this variety of disciplinary lenses, we critically examine the predicted and current consequences of climate change and how it impacts groups of people here and around the world. Our analysis includes the global, national, and local political efforts made to address and, for some, deny the problem. The class examines how our society is generating the problem and if technological advancement is enough to solve it or if greater social/political change is necessary. 

FIYS 123: Global Epidemics: From AIDS to Zika (Professor Karen Kirk)

What makes an infectious disease become an epidemic, such as the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in west Africa, or that of Zika in Brazil in 2015? Moreover, how did COVID, which appeared in 2019, so quickly become a pandemic? Why does it take so long for pharmaceutical companies to construct a vaccine that protects against disease-causing organisms? In this course, we explore the medical, biological, and molecular complexities of a variety of infectious diseases that plague the world, such as malaria, Dengue fever, and COVID. We study the viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause the diseases, how they are transmitted, and the chemical and biological challenges of making and distributing vaccines in less developed countries. In addition to class discussions, writing assignments, and oral presentations, students investigate microbial morphology through a high-powered laboratory microscope—and even make bacterial art.

FIYS 130: The Science of Cooking (Professor Elizabeth Fischer)

Since 1992, the term molecular gastronomy has become part of understanding the world’s cuisine. This course examines the chemistry and physics of cooking, and the physiology of taste and flavor. We explore such questions as what is the science behind making a foam or gel; how do you prevent food bacteria from forming; and what does it mean to temper chocolate?  The science of cooking includes the important works of Hervé This, Heston Blumenthal, Ferran Adria, José Andrés, and Grant Achatz, among others.  We read their work and not only become familiar with the latest materials and methods of the world’s most innovative cuisine, but also learn how these methods may be part of the solution to ending world hunger.  We work with a chef to perform experiments to elucidate the theory we will be studying. 

FIYS 135: Watchmen and Society

In 1986, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons publishedWatchmen, a groundbreaking twelve-issue limited comics series that imagined an alternate history in which comic-book superheroes were real, while exploring the moral ambiguities of the vigilantism and messianic fantasies that characterize the genre. Three decades later, the television writer and producer Damon Lindelof created the Watchmen TV series for HBO, a kind of sequel to the original comic that re-centered the story on America's history of racist violence, beginning with a vivid recreation of the 1921 massacre of Black Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma and moving into a story about racism and policing in 2019 Tulsa. Lindelof's widely acclaimed "remix" goes under the hood of Moore and Gibbons' original story to explore and ramify its complex themes, while placing an all-too-timely focus on issues of racialized violence. In this course, students read and discuss the original Watchmen with an eye to how Moore and Gibbons use the techniques unique to comics to tell their story; they then shift to watching and discussing the nine-episode series, examining the ways in which it deconstructs the already deconstructive original comic, reimagining its characters and situations to address the meanings of superheroes in the era of Black Lives Matter.

FIYS 138: Art in Chicago (Professor Lia Alexopoulos)

While Chicago’s extensive contributions to modern architecture are known throughout the world, it’s been a critical center of visual art in all media since its earliest years. This course explores the rich and dynamic history of art-making in Chicago from before the Great Fire of 1871 to the present, as well as the city’s role as a center for experimentation and learning in the visual arts. Throughout its history, Chicago has been home to an art community that has always charted its own path, free from the constraints of more commercial centers like New York, and in so doing has had great impact on visual art and our broader visual culture. The city itself is a critical resource for this class, as course content — in the form of readings, discussion, and various activities — is augmented by visits to diverse art institutions and meetings with influential art-makers.

FIYS 144: Sacred Spaces in Chicago (Professor Ben Zeller)

What do high-steeple churches, personal shrines, Japanese gardens, and monumental temples all have in common? All are examples of the creation, maintenance, and use of sacred spaces. Individuals and groups representing nearly every religious tradition make use of specially-designated buildings, grounds, and natural features. In this course, we study several examples of such sacred spaces, and ask how and why they are made and used as they are. We ask questions about architecture and design, but also focus on how the spaces are used. We look to what sort of spiritual practices take place inside them—everything from worship, ritual, and meditation to eating and drinking.

FIYS 146: BFFs, “Besties,” and Female Friendship (Professor Catherine Reedy)

“Besties” are found everywhere in contemporary fiction, television, and film. Usually placed behind romantic relationships, female friendship is now understood to be a powerful and even transformative dynamic, one that is central to female identity. Men and lovers take a back seat: A “Coldplay song plays in my heart” whenever Hannah Horvath sees her two closest friends in “Girls.” Are BFFs taking over the usual unions of romantic or erotic love? How much are girlfriends the focus of these stories? In this course, we examine these contemporary representations of female friendship, from television programs such as “Girls” to the erotic and dangerous “besties” of Emma Cline’s The Girls. Throughout, we discover the many sides of this complex, and contradictory, relationship.

FIYS 148: Fashion, Culture, and Communication (Professor Rachel Whidden)

Fashion is more than simply how we dress. Among other things, it is a means of personal expression, a reflection of an historical moment, and an international industry. In this course we explore what fashion means at various points in history by considering how the political and social climate of the time period produces expectations for what should/should not be worn, by whom, and for what purpose. The course therefore situates fashion in terms of both its production and consumption, exploring its role in relation to identity and body politics (race, gender, sexuality, class), art and status, nationhood and the global economy, and celebrity and popular culture.

FIYS 150: Entrepreneurship in Action (Professor John Pappas)

Entrepreneurship involves more than merely starting a new business that addresses a problem worth solving or innovating within an existing organization; it is a life skill that contributes to success in any field.  This course explores the history of entrepreneurship through case studies, articles, and other activities. Students investigate the evolution of entrepreneurial best practices and pitfalls throughout the years.  We dissect recent successes and failures in the world of entrepreneurship, and examine the role of technology in the future of the field.

FIYS 152: The Politics of Population (Professor Danielle Cohen)

When you were born, you joined about 6 billion other humans on this planet, but by 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion. What are we going to do with everyone? In this course, we explore the intersections between population growth and its impact on security, economics, and the environment. We explore a range of national efforts to manage population growth, from China’s infamous “One Child Policy” to measures implemented in Japan and Singapore to encourage childbearing. We investigate how the international community shifted from a population control approach to one that prioritizes reproductive health, with accompanying debates surrounding reproductive choice; whether imbalanced sex ratios in a society lead to increased violence, including sex trafficking; and how sustainable development goals inform demographic policies, with particular attention to the impact on both women worldwide and on citizens of the Global South.

FIYS 155: Chicago: Land of Hope (Professor Brian McCammack)

In the half-century following World War I, millions of African Americans left the American South in the Great Migration. Settling in northern cities like Chicago, which many called the “Land of Hope,” black migrants dramatically reshaped American life and culture. This course explores the connections between that history of northward movement and African American cultural production and experiences.  We do this through a special focus on Chicago, where the black population grew from just over 44,000 to more than 1.1 million. We read closely and contextualize a variety of texts, including novels, plays, photographs, maps, sociological surveys, oral histories, and correspondence.  We examine the historical significance of these texts from a variety of disciplinary perspectives—including history, literary and film criticism, sociology, critical race studies, and cultural studies.

FIYS 163: Independent Media in Chicago (Professor David Park)

This course focuses on the role played by independent media in the contemporary cultural landscape. Students become familiar with the workings of different independent media, as represented by the workings of film-makers, music venues, newspapers, zines, comic books, video games, and record labels that survive without direct connections to the large corporations that dominate the mass mediated culture in the U.S. At all times, readings concerning the role of the media in society contextualize the importance of the independent media. This class features several trips to the sites where these media outlets operate, with likely visits to: Quimby’s Queer Store, The Hideout, Kartemquin Films, and The Chicago Reader. Paper assignments find students applying these experiences to the broader meanings of independent media. Students get a first-hand look at what the production of culture looks like in the context of independent media in Chicago.

FIYS 173: Am I a “Normal” Kid? Analyzing Messages of Power and Cultural Hegemony in Youth Texts (Professor Jacquelynn Popp)

Every type of text that young people encounter, from books and cartoons to songs, movies, and magazines, contains underlying messages about what is deemed “normal,” valued, and expected in our society. Such texts reflect the worldviews of dominant cultural groups (i.e., white, middle class, heteronormative), which serve to legitimize these views and minimize and oppress the norms and values of non-dominant groups. This course addresses issues of culture, power, oppression, and social justice; critical literacy theories. such as critical race theory and queer theory; and content/text analysis research methods. Students analyze a variety of texts aimed at youth such as advertisements, songs, and fiction books to study how the texts indirectly send messages about what is “normal” in our society and how they perpetuate the systemic marginalization of non-dominant cultural groups. Students also read scholarly works about cultural hegemony and critical literacy to inform their analysis of the youth texts.

FIYS 177: “You Can’t Jail the Revolution:” Black Activism in Chicago (Professor Courtney Joseph)

Since its original non-native settlement in 1780 by Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, a Black man of Haitian descent, Chicago has been a space for Black people to make their presence felt. This visibility has often come with struggle and strife. From Ida B. Wells to Fred Hampton to Camesha Jones, Black women and men in Chicago have claimed space and freedom despite the institutions working against them. This course will look at the history of Black activism in the city, using a variety of sources, including newspaper articles, speeches, autobiographies, interviews, documentaries, and films. This course will also utilize our proximity to Chicago and engage in field trips to witness Black activism in Chicago in action. We will investigate what it means to be an activist, what issues are important to Black activists in and around the city, what strategies Black activists have used over time, and what the costs of activism are.

FIYS 178: Politics in Film, Politics of Film (Professor Ajar Chekirova)

In this course, we will discuss political questions as presented in American and foreign films, both classic (Dr. Strangelove [UK, 1964], The Cranes are Flying [USSR, 1957]) and modern (Thank You for Smoking [USA, 2005], Parasite [South Korea, 2020], The Lives of Others [Germany, 2006], I Saw the Sun [Turkey, 2009]). We will focus on five major themes: democracy and dictatorships, migration and citizenship, capitalism and inequality, social movements and revolutions, and international conflicts and wars.  We will investigate how and why these issues are depicted in films in different ways, depending on where and when the film was produced. Students will discuss the appeal of political films as entertainment; they will also read political science scholarship that critically examines political issues raised in films. Films will thus serve, in this course, as the medium through which to examine how and why political problems emerge and are resolved.  We will also ponder the question: do films shape the way we think about politics or does politics shape the way we view films?

FIYS 182: This, That, Here, and There: Borders and Boundaries (Professor Roshni Patel)

This is an uncontroversial claim: nouns are persons, places, things, and ideas. Yet, the precise lines separating a person, place, or thing—and thus delineating their purpose and nature—are more complex. Consider, for example, the type of existence that a historical artifact has in a museum. Labeled and placed within a glass case, it becomes an object of study and observation. However, in its original deployment, it may have been a tool to complete a task, a document that communicated information, or a good exchanged in trade. Whether as an object in a museum or as a thing in a world, its very being emerges from an intricate web of relations. What we determine the object to be is very much affected by where we find it. In different ways, the boundaries surrounding persons, groups (such as a group of citizens of a nation), and places also have hidden intricacies. This course is a study of these limits and the way that their openness or rigidity affects many features of the human and natural world. We will study philosophical sources from ancient India, the United States, and Europe, alongside material from the disciplines of history, robotics, film, and literature. Moreover, students will engage with case studies of boundaries claimed within the city of Chicago, the nation of the US, and groups around the world.

FIYS 183: Law, Literature, and Logic (Professor Chad McCracken)

A lawyer arguing a case tries to shape that case into a coherent, persuasive story: a dry recitation of facts and law is not enough. So, law is a literary—a story-telling—enterprise. And a dramatic one: fiction writers and filmmakers use crimes, investigations, court proceedings, and punishments to generate interest in their works. And yet, we still tend to think of literary flourishes as deceptive—after all, one meaning of “to tell a story” is “to tell a lie.” Legal reasoning, moreover, often seems arcane or merely manipulative, aimed more at obscuring the truth than revealing it. In this course we look into the complex and often bewildering interplay among law, literature, and logic, with the hope of illuminating all three—and with the hope of improving your writing skills, your reasoning skills, your rhetorical skills, and your argumentative skills.

FIYS 194: Peace Studies (Professor James Marquardt)

This course explores the interdisciplinary field of scholarly inquiry and advocacy known as Peace Studies, which seeks paths to end violent conflict and build ethical and harmonious interpersonal, societal, and global relationships.  The course considers a range of peace-related topics, including peace concepts and disputes, peace networks, trends in violence, and gender and security.  Much of this course focuses on the peace advocacy of one of Chicago’s most famous social activists, Jane Addams (1860-1935).  Best known for her settlement work with poor immigrants in Chicago, Addams believed that pacifism would benefit marginalized populations, from poor immigrants in Chicago’s 19th Ward to industrial workers and farmers across the United States.  She passionately opposed World War I, believing strongly that people from different nations and cultures were capable of interacting peacefully to advance their shared interests, and that it was necessary to form international institutions that would resolve disputes diplomatically and ensure lasting international peace, security, prosperity, and justice.

FIYS 196: American Playwrights in Chicago (Professor Ben Goluboff)

Chicago is home to a vivid and diverse theater scene that includes everything from tiny stages in the back rooms of bars to glitzy Broadway-style productions.  This course examines a selection of American-authored plays from the Chicago season as the materials for an introduction to literary studies. As such, the course considers the plays we see and read as an occasion to develop skills in critical thinking, research, and writing.  A secondary objective is to connect the various plays to particular moments or themes in American history and culture. We proceed from the acquisition of a simple critical vocabulary for describing a play’s form and content, through character study, to more complex questions of the director’s decisions in taking a play from the page to the stage. 

FIYS 197: Tools of Science, Mysteries of Art (Professor Nilam Shah)

How are forged works of art detected?  Conversely, how is the authenticity of cultural heritage material determined?  How do museums identify colorants and use them to date artwork?  Can the identification of dyes and pigments help decipher trade routes?  Scientists have developed tools to help answer these and other questions posed by curators, art historians, and collectors.   In this course, students learn about the scientific tools used to study cultural heritage materials, including carbon dating, infrared spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy.  Students will read introductory material, newspaper articles, scholarly articles, and case studies to examine how scientific tools have been used to decipher an artist’s intent, date works of art, identify trade routes, authenticate artwork, and discover forgeries.  This course will include a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago.

FIYS 199: The Past and Future of a Plague (Professor Anna Jones)

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of a disease that has afflicted humanity for its entire history: tuberculosis (TB).  We begin by establishing a baseline understanding of the etiology, epidemiology, symptoms, and treatments (past and present) of tuberculosis.  We then turn to the unique history of this illness and its cultural, economic, and political impact.  TB may be the only epidemic disease closely equated with glamor and genius: idealized in the nineteenth century as a “beautiful death,” TB influenced understanding of beauty, fashion, and the creative process.  The reality of TB, however, is that of a terrible disease that particularly ravages marginalized groups, including the poor, industrial laborers, sex workers, migrants, the unhoused, and indigenous or enslaved peoples in European colonial empires.  Our study of TB thus illuminates the intersection of disease with systems of oppression based on race, class, and gender.  The course concludes with an examination of the recent history and possible futures of TB, including its deadly confluence with HIV/AIDS and the evolution of multi-drug resistant strains of the bacterium.