FIYS Courses for Fall 2023
FIYS 101: Forested Ecosystems of the Great Lakes (Professor Glenn Adelson)
This course studies the trees of the Great Lakes Region in the context of the ecosystems they both create and are created by. Students learn the morphology, chemistry, phenology, and interspecies interactions of individual tree species and the communities and ecosystems of which they are a part. We take up important environmental issues such as global and local deforestation and restoration, the role of trees in carbon sequestration in the fight against climate change, and the change in forest use as a result of the displacement of Indigenous Peoples by European colonists. In this interdisciplinary course, students explore the history, literature, sociology, economics, as well as the biology of trees and forests, and they learn to respond to the course material through writing across the disciplines. Identification of about 100 species of trees and other ecologically important plants of the region is central to this course. Most class sessions take place out of doors, even into November and December, when students learn to identify tree species in their leafless condition. There is one Saturday field trip to local forested ecosystems.
FIYS 103: Fantasies, Feminism, and Foibles in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Professor Anya Golovkova)
Do you like reading for pleasure? Have you ever been lost in an imaginary world of a novel? Are you interested in history, humor, feminism, social mores and their disruption, and complex family dynamics? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then consider enrolling in this semester-long exploration of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In this class, we read a beautifully annotated edition of this masterful and witty novel throughout the semester, savoring its multilayered meanings and uncovering its historical and literary contexts. We reflect on its reception and the role in popular culture since its publication in 1813. Independently, you also research elaboration, expansion, and appropriation of Austen’s fiction for the stage and the screen from early amateur theatricals to queer interpretations, from BBC to Hollywood, contemporary London to Austenland, and Bollywood to zombies. Learning about research and writing in college, you investigate the changing status of a novel, the characterization of women, and the debate about impediments then and now to women’s full flourishing
FIYS 104: Pizza & the World: A History (Professor Noah Blan)
Throughout time and across borders, humans have consumed food for nourishment, pleasure, prestige, and commensality, among a host of other reasons. Practices of growing, gathering, processing, cooking, transporting, and exchanging foods and food commodities have helped bind individuals and communities together even while serving to draw distinctions between groups, nation-states, empires, and even modern corporations. This course uses a specific food, pizza, to examine the global interactions, conflicts, migrations, economic integrations, and confluences of power, culture, technologies, and tastes that have connected and divided humans across the major cultural regions of the world. We cover the historical introduction and spread of new foods like grain, dairy, and tomatoes – the basic food ingredients of pizza – and the transformation of communities, cultures, technologies, and ecosystems that followed. Additionally, we gain hands-on experience working with these three ingredients in different physical settings.
FIYS 108: Separating Fact from Fiction: Critical Thinking in a Post-truth World (Professor David Boden)
In this class the student investigate information, truth, and facts as cultural products shaped by social forces. The student cultivate critical thinking skills while investigating topics including propaganda, disinformation, statistical assertions, research and publication methodologies, rumor, gossip, myth, internet veracity, and folk belief.
FIYS 113: Music and Math (Professor Nick Wallin)
In this course, students will investigate the connections between the fields of music and mathematics. Commonalities to be explored will include the musical concepts of rhythm, meter, scales, tuning, and temperament, and the mathematical concepts of geometric series, rational and irrational numbers, modular arithmetic, and symmetries of the square. No previous knowledge of music theory is required, only a desire to use critical and analytical skills to understand and appreciate music. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )
FIYS 122: Visual art and poetry (Professor Dustin Mengelkoch)
The poet Horace once proclaimed that "as is painting, so is poetry” (ut pictura poesis). In context he was saying that, like paintings, some poems are interesting up close, others only from far away. But what happens when we consider the creative relationship between a poem inspired by and written about some form of visual art like sculpture, painting, sketching, architecture, etc.? Is the poem just a vivid description of the work of art (ekphrasis), or does the poet make conclusions about what is seen? While reading the poem, can you remake the object without physically seeing it? When viewed, what features are left out? What is emphasized? Many more questions follow. Yet, giving visual art a voice – its voice – via poetry is daring. Done well, it is captivating. By reading poems and viewing works from different eras and places, we explore an evolving relationship between poetry and the visual arts.
FIYS 124: Transatlantic Cinema: Aesthetics of Resistance (Professors Cynthia Hahn and Gizella Meneses)
This course examines visual representations of resistance across a wide range of cultural contexts, from Africa to Europe to the Americas. Many of the forms of resistance that we explore in this class stem from questions of identity association and discrimination, whether historical, cultural, political or gender-based. Students learn to analyze film and other visual representations as forms of social engagement, seen through characters' strategies of resistance for societal and personal transformation.
FIYS 125: Public Policy: Special Needs Students in the Classroom (Professor Christine Walker)
The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) in 1990 mandated a “free and appropriate education” to every child in the United States through the age of 18, regardless of disabilities. For the past 30 years, American schools have been required to provide support for medical conditions, learning differences, and other challenges to students who qualify. In this course, students learn how the law was created, how student supports are paid for, what regulations are in place to ensure family involvement in creating an Individual Education Plan (IEP), how mandates regarding the “least restrictive environment” possibly led to unintended and negative consequences, and how parents work with government officials on issues related to the IDEA. Students evaluate the effectiveness of the law, study the challenges in enforcing compliance (while the IDEA was enacted at the federal level, individual state boards of education are responsible for ensuring each school district complies), and contemplate legislative improvements for future special needs students.
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 136: Athena and Apollo (Professor Dustin Mengelkoch)
Early in the Iliad, the half-sibling gods Apollo and Athena descend on the walls of Troy as vultures to watch staged, single combat. This spectacle of slaughter is often used to point out the gods’ grim pleasure in abusing humans – their disguises as carrion birds being highly symbolic. Yet, both gods were revered for their influences on human lives and culture. Apollo, the dissolute god of oracles and disease, could reveal the future, then take it away. Athena, the chaste goddess of combat and intellect, was a skilled artisan, the advocate of cunning heroes and sophisticated city-states. Intriguingly, both gods were understood to be avatars of reason and justice. Yet, over millennia it will be Athena who widely comes to embody wisdom and reason, while Apollo comes to represent the fine arts, especially poetry and music. Why is this so? How did this happen? In this course, we dig into the seductive mythmaking surrounding each god and give account to the crude experience of human ambition which co-opted and altered their myths to explain fraught historical realities.
FIYS 137: Demonology (Professor Alex Mckinley)
Demonology—the systematic study of demons and other nefarious spirits—is not usually taken seriously as an academic pursuit. Demons are often derided as mere superstitions and depicted as an underbelly of religious belief that is not appropriate for orthodox practice or polite conversation. This course takes a different approach, suggesting that demonology provides an important language for naming and discussing various forces in the world that we find harmful or dangerous, whether seen or unseen, human or nonhuman. Demons can therefore help people describe various personal and social threats, including disease, violence, greed, prejudice, mental illness, and death itself. Different traditions of demonology from around the world are considered, including examples from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, and Zoroastrian religious traditions, as well as the uses of demons in popular culture, critiques of capitalism, and contemporary political discourse. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )
FIYS 138: Art in Chicago (Professor Lia Alexopolous)
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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )
FIYS 139: Stem & Soc: Power, Identity, Ethics (Professor Patty Buenrostro)
(Stem and Society: Power, Identity, and Ethics.) This course looks at alternative ways of thinking about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and the interconnections of STEM with society from a lens of identity, power, (in)equity, ethics, and justice. The course explores how, for example, bias and inequity are encoded in technological tools and platforms. We consider how, as perpetual consumers of data, we might interrogate data and claims based on data from a justice and equity lens. We ask questions such as: Do numbers speak for themselves? Is all science right or good? How can data account for multiple forms of knowledge and ways of knowing? (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )
FIYS 143: Public Art in Chicago (Professor Linda Horwitz)
This course is devoted to an examination of public art in Chicago and its suburbs, including mural painting and sculpture, among other genres. Using photographic documentation, background readings and research, lectures, group discussions, research-based and analytical writings, and select visits to see works of art, students gain insight into the factors involved in the rhetorical construction of cities through public art. The class tackles issues and assignments including: textual analysis, semiotic meaning, visual culture, the construction of public memory, and persuasive writing, all with the goal of gaining practical academic skills while learning about an important facet of the rich cultural experience that Chicago holds for residents, commuters, and tourists.
FIYS 144: Sacred Spaces in Chicago (Professor Ben Zeller)
What do high-steeple churches, personal shrines, pagan festivals, Japanese gardens, and Hindu temples have in common? All are examples of the creation, use, and maintenance of sacred spaces. Individuals and groups representing nearly every religious tradition employ specially designated buildings, grounds, and surrounding natural features. In this course we study several examples of sacred spaces, consider how they are formed, and why they are used as they are. We ask questions about architecture and design, and also focus on the employment of the spaces. We look to the spiritual practices that take place inside them: everything from worship, ritual, and meditation to eating and drinking. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )
FIYS 145: Home: An American Idea (Professor Siobhan Moroney)
Through literature, art, public policy, history, architecture and other disciplines, this course explores the idea and reality of home in America. Topics may include why military veterans and queer teenagers, in particular, lack housing; how home ownership cements a family's status as "middle-class;" the consequences of racial and ethnic restrictions on home ownership which impedes entry to that middle class; white homesteading in the American West and the displacement of indigenous people from their homes; the post-WWII housing boom; the growth of the American suburb and the consequential rise in urban and racial neighborhood poverty; the design of homes and their impact on familial relationships; how the recent pandemic turned homes into workplaces and schools. Students should expect some off-campus excursions. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )
FIYS 147: Government and Markets (Professor Kent Grote)
Why is the government involved in some aspects of our lives more than others? This question can be answered in many different ways, depending on one’s theoretical background. Different economists would provide different analyses of the government’s role, especially as it relates to business and markets. They would also base their arguments on fundamental economic theories. The primary goal of this course is to develop an understanding of economic markets and issues where governments have become important participants. Both in the United States and abroad, governments take an active role in the economics of education, the environment, health care, big business, poverty, and unemployment, among other issues. Although the course will be approached from an economic perspective, the topics relate to other fields of study as well, and particularly to the fields of politics and sociology.
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 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 184: Why College? A Chicago Story (Professor Tina Groeger)
Why go to college? Over time, students, families, teachers, employers, and politicians have answered this question in very different ways. In this course, we will explore the changing meaning and realities of college-going in Chicagoland from the 18th to the 21st centuries: from classical finishing school for white clergymen, to teacher-training for new cohorts of women and African Americans, to socialization into a radical youth culture, to "human capital" investment for a knowledge economy. We'll use a range of historical and contemporary sources to answer the questions: Why go to college? Who gets to go to college? Why is college so expensive? Through discussions, debates, and written reflection, we will dig into the past struggles and policy decisions that shape what college means for you here at Lake Forest College today. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )
FIYS 195: Public Policy: Governing the Global Commons (Professor Jim Marquardt)
The global commons are the domains throughout the world – and the resources found there – that are outside the jurisdiction of countries. They include the oceans, the atmosphere, and cyberspace, as well as Antarctica and outer space. This course studies the international politics of the global commons and the tensions between two competing dynamics around the use of global resources. The first is the effort to operate management structures that ensure the sustainable use of these resources for everyone's benefit. The second is the incentive among nations to use these resources for their individual benefit without regard for the common good of all users, which results in the depletion of these resources, to the world’s detriment. Case studies of climate change, ozone depletion, ocean biodiversity, and the militarization of outer space will be used to illustrate these tensions, and policy solutions that rely on global governance will be evaluated.
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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )
FIYS 199: The Past and Future of a Plague (Professor Anna Trumbore 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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )