First-Year Seminar

Cool Places and Hot Spots

Are you ready to go on an exhilarating journey around the world in 16 weeks? If your answer is an enthusiastic "YES", then this one semester-hour course is custom-made for you! Join a group of internationally-minded first year students for an exciting romp through world cultures, customs, arts, and traditions, as well as discussions of the what, where, and why of specific global issues. This class will help you familiarize yourself with many of the international programs on campus (Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, International Writing Program, Translation Studies, University of Iowa Libraries and Special Collections, Study Abroad, University of Iowa Museum of Art, and others) and off campus (Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature). Find out about research, study abroad, and funding opportunities and learn how language acquisition can enrich your lives and lead to exciting career opportunities after graduation. Assignments include short readings, four short written reflections, and a presentation.

Book: Homer’s The Odyssey will be available through the Prairie Lights bookstore on Dubuque Street.

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Honors First-Year Seminar

Superheroes Unleashed:
3,000 Years of Heroes, Villains,
and a Mad Race for Immortality

With the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, and X-Men: Apocalypse, 2016 has been an exciting year for superhero fans! Superheroes Unleashed offers students an opportunity to examine not only the comic book roots of their favorite pop culture icons, but delve much deeper into the archetypal nature of all heroic narratives.

What do Gilgamesh, Achilles, Odysseus, Aeneas, Penthesilea, Hippolyta, Camilla, King Leonidas, and Beowulf have in common? In so many ways they are the superheroes of Western history, literature, and art from the past three thousand years! Their cultural impact is undiminished and permeates the pages of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Marvel Universe characters, Spiderman, X-Men, The Matrix, Watchmen, and Frank Miller’s 300. Students are required to read four graphic novels and a number of short excerpts (20-40 pages per week) that will help them explore the fabric of academic inquiry and delve into the nature of art and culture of the past and their relevance in today's world. Assignments include weekly readings, two short papers, and a presentation.

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Russian Lit in Translation 1860-1917

Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov

2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of one of the most thrilling and introspective Russian novels of the 19th century, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Students enrolled in this course will get the opportunity to attend a number of Crime and Punishment related events such as film screenings, a panel discussion, a concert at the Old Capitol Museum, as well as participate in the public reading of the entire novel during the UNESCO City of Literature Book Festival in October.

In addition to reading Crime and Punishment, the students will get a chance to visit the Russian countryside (“The Seagull” and “The Cherry Orchard” by Chekhov), explore the urban labyrinth of St. Petersburg, (“The Nose” and “Nevsky Prospect” by Gogol), meet hard-core Russian nihilists (Yevgeny Bazarov from Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons) and socialists (Ivan Karamazov from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov), contemplate the outpourings of Tolstoy’s soul (Confession and “The Kreutzer Sonata”), and eavesdrop on a conversation between Christ and Anti-Christ! Hey, why not, it’s RUSSIAN literature after all!

Knowledge of Russian is not required. Students are evaluated on the basis of attendance and class participation (20%), 10 1-page responses (20%), two tests (20% each), and a 10-page research paper (20%).


Books available through the Prairie Lights bookstore:

  • Pushkin, Boris Godunov (Penguin)
  • Gogol, The Collected Tales (Pevear/Volokhonsky translation)
  • Chekhov, Selected Plays (Norton)
  • Tolstoy, Confession (Dover)
  • Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories (Pevear/Volokhonsky translation)
  • Turgenev, Fathers and Sons (Edmonds/Penguin)
  • Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (Pevear/Volokhonsky translation)
  • Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (Pevear/Volokhonsky translation)
  • Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (Pevear/Volokhonsky translation)

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Comparative Literature Listing...

Slavic Languages Listing...