First-year seminars introduce entering students to the rigors and rewards of college courses in the liberal arts. Limited to a maximum of 18 students, each seminar offers students the opportunity to explore a particular issue, interest or problem in depth and to develop or refine critical academic skills and habits of mind necessary for success in college.
First-year seminars are designed to: a) provide courses exclusively for first-year students in a cooperative environment that encourages active participation in the learning process; b) enhance student writing skills; c) strengthen abilities of students to read and think critically, to express themselves cogently, and to use library resources effectively; and d) generate intellectual excitement through sustained engagement with a chosen topic.
All First-Year seminars provide opportunities to develop skills in written expression. Giving close attention to the process of writing and revision, the courses enable both gifted writers and those with more fundamental needs to improve upon the rhetorical skills they bring to the class. The courses focus on those features of writing that are shared by all fields: writing that is significant, clear, unified, developed, economical and thoughtfully presented. However, because writers in different fields necessarily write in different ways, students are strongly urged to seek further guidance specific to the field in which they later specialize.
To begin this process, all First-Year seminars provide opportunities for students to analyze texts; to find, assess, use and cite information from published and electronic sources; to design manageable and significant topics; to plan, structure and compose drafts; and to revise and edit their work.
First-Year seminars often serve additional purposes as well. They may serve as an introduction to Denison, to college life in general, and to faculty expectations of student work. The courses may be linked with academic advising or with local events, exhibits and performances. The seminars, therefore, serve many important purposes on our campus. But the complex and interrelated processes of writing, thinking and revision are the primary focus of all sections of the First-Year Seminar.
Each student is required to take two seminars during the first year: one section of FYS 101 and one section of FYS 102. The courses may be taken in any order or simultaneously. All sections of FYS 101 fulfill the Writing requirement in the General Education program. All sections of FYS 102 fulfill other requirements within the General Education program.
Words and Ideas (FYS-101). Each seminar provides an opportunity for first-year students to study the inter-relationship between language and thinking and to develop talents in writing nonfiction essays. Instructors design a wide range of topics for individual classes. Students are strongly advised to choose a topic that interests them. Some recent FYS 101 classes have had the following topical emphases: Explorations of Identity in Science Fiction and Fantasy; Coming of Age in America; Mystery and Crime Fiction; Writing About Poetry; Partnerships and Politics; and Toni Morrison's Novels: Texts and Contexts. Descriptions of current offerings of FYS 101 are available in the Office of the First-Year Program, the English Department, and on these offices' web pages. 4
First Year Topical Seminar (FYS-102). These courses are designed to enhance student research and writing skills in the context of topics in the Arts, Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as Denison's interdisciplinary programs. Recent seminars have included Children in Crisis: Studies in Nonfiction, The Mandate of Heaven in Classical China, The Idea of the Self in Ethics, Art and Politics, Black Women's Lives: Autobiography as Protest, and From Sands to Stars. Descriptions of current offerings are available in the Office of the First-Year Program or on its web page. 4