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Select Your Seminar
Fall 2014
View the list of available Fall 2014 seminars and descriptions below.

HONORS STUDENTS: Students who have been accepted into the College Honors Program will be placed into one of the three honors first-year seminars. You may write to Dr. Maria Vandergiff-Avery to express a preference for your section, and she will make every effort to honor your preference.


Creative Expression:  Oral, Written, Aural, and Otherwise… 
Prof. Linda Kesler                    
CRN 10251

“When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for better understanding.”   - Robert Henri in The Art Spirit

This interdisciplinary, multi-media, interactive section of First Year Seminar delves into the ways humans express themselves.  We’ll look into the stories of people who have changed the way others think and work as well as work on broadening and strengthening our own methods of expression.

To begin, we’ll examine writer Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood. Reading the primary source aloud, investigating others’ commentaries on it, watching the film, listening to the piece via streaming webcast or radio broadcast, attending a live production, writing our individual response to and creating our own expressions about this work offer us a basis for investigating creative expression from several different points of view.  Then, using psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work chronicling his most interesting people in the world, we’ll see how human expression is used for successful communication, collaboration, critical and creative thinking.  And adapting choreographer Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process, we will practice expressing ourselves effectively, whether through oral presentation, writing, scientific experimentation, the arts, or otherwise.  The core question is:  How can I study and practice creative expression to successfully engage my class, my community, my society, my world?

Theatre Arts Professor Linda Kesler earned her MFA at Virginia Tech and her BA in Drama and Business Administration at Catawba College.  She currently serves as coordinator of Theatre Education, teaching Theatre Arts Teaching Methods and Integrated Arts for Elementary Teachers and supervising student teachers and interns. Life experiences have included working professionally in theatres along the US eastern seaboard and leading the local Rowan Arts Council before joining Catawba’s staff in 2001.  Learning and teaching new topics, exploring existing boundaries, and creating environments for creative and educative folk to do their work continue to be her passions.

"Darwin Meets the Beatles"  — A course based upon Daniel Levitin's "The World in Six Songs"
Dr. Philip Burgess and Dr. Steve Etters
CRN 10252

Levitin (author of the best-seller "This is Your Brain on Music") has written another book that traces the evolution of the development of man's brain "in concert" with human culture (primarily in regards to music).  He states, "Music has been with humans since we first became humans. It has shaped the world through six kinds of songs: friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion, and love." The book then devotes a chapter to each song type, blending neuroscience, evolutionary biology, social anthropology, and musicology.  Interviews with artists such as Sting and Joni Mitchell are used to support his theory.  The course will blend the listening of many musical genres with recent advancements in brain and cultural research.

Dr. Steve Etters has served as Coordinator for Music Education and Director of Bands at Catawba College since the fall of 2000.   Instrumental ensembles at Catawba include the College Wind Ensemble, the Ceremonial Brass Ensemble, the College Percussion Ensemble, and the “NEW” Catawba PRIDE Marching Band, scheduled for its “grand debut” in Fall 2011.  Dr. Etters also serves as Coordinator for Student Recruitment for the Department of Music. In addition to his duties at Catawba, Dr. Etters is very active as a performer, guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator for concert and marching bands.

Dr. Burgess is the Director of Choral Music at Catawba, and also serves as the Organist/Choirmaster at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Salisbury, NC where he oversees a graded choir program of youth and adults.  In addition to his work at St. Luke's, he also directs the Salisbury Ecumenical Choir.  His work with this multi-cultural choir has led to several honors including the 2012 Mayor's Spirit Award and the Koontz Humanitarian of the Year Award. Prior to coming to Catawba, Dr. Burgess served on the faculty of Pfeiffer University and the University of Michigan. Dr. Burgess has been a Choral Conducting Scholar at Keenefest and at the Renee Clausen Summer Institutes.  He has written articles for The Diapason and  The American Organist Magazines, and is a contributing columnist for the Salisbury Post.

Geographies of Home
Prof. Sonia Alvarez
CRN 10242

What does home mean to you? For Iliana, a college freshman and the protagonist of the novel to which we owe the title of this course, it's complicated. Her Dominican family struggles to achieve the mythic American Dream. For Toni Morrison's Sula and Nel, home is friendship. This course views the meaning of home, the American Dream, and ultimately the idea of belonging through a multicultural lens. How do various cultures define what home is? Through a variety of genres, we will consider the following guiding questions:

What cultural factors influence one's concept of home?Does the idealized space of homeland allow for a sense of belonging in one's new home? Are generational concerns key?What role do race and ethnicity play in our understanding of community?

This course encourages an exploration of the multitude of meanings of home from diverse points of view, principally portrayed through the novel but also from other sources as well, such as essays, film, and short stories.

Sonia Alvarez Wilson earned her bachelor's degree in Spanish Literature from Mount Holyoke College and her master's degree in English Literature from Longwood College. She is currently completing a doctorate in American Literature at UNCG. Her areas of interest are post-1900 American, African American, and Latina literature. She has taught composition as well as Latino Literature classes at Catawba College.