Additional First-Year Seminars

“My first-year seminar provided me with an absolutely invaluable experience. This opportunity allowed me to expand my knowledge both within the scope of the rich coursework and on a larger scale with regards to the interaction of cultures throughout the world. Not only was I able to grow my academic perspectives in this seminar, but I was also provided with a safe space to interact with other first years who were getting accustomed to the college experience.”
– Luke Ronayne, C‘26

These additional First-Year Seminars don’t fit neatly into a single program or category. They share many of the same attributes as Ignatius Seminars – small class sizes, strong faculty mentorship, experiential learning elements – but with a little something extra in their design, format, or focus:

Additional First-Year Seminars for 2023

Requirements Fulfilled:
HIST-1410 will fulfill the History Focus (HIST-1099) portion of the core requirement in History. Students who place out of the History Focus requirement with advanced placement or other types of pre-college credit may still take this course and count it for the College core.

ENGL-1320 fulfills the HALC: Humanities: Arts, Literature, and Culture core requirement. It also counts as an elective course in the English major or minor, and it fulfills the pre-1800 literatures requirement of the English major.

Tommaso Astarita and Patrick O’Malley

Course IDs and Meeting Times:
HIST-1410-01: TThF 2:00 pm -2:50 pm
ENGL-1320-01: TThF 3:00 pm – 3:50 pm

This team-taught interdisciplinary seminar focuses on the cultural and historical developments of Europe and its colonies in the eighteenth century, the era of the Enlightenment. Through literary and historical analysis, we will consider how political, scientific, economic, social, and religious developments interacted with literary, intellectual, and artistic movements and expressions. Specific themes include the relationship between religion and the state; the emergence of representative government and of a global consumer economy; the rise of new literary genres such as the novel; debates about race and gender; and the philosophical intertwining of reason and sentiment. Careful reading of texts, active class discussion, and close attention to writing will be central to our work. We also hope to visit George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon, attend a relevant stage performance, and visit the National Gallery of Art.

About Tommaso Astarita

Professor Astarita

I grew up in Naples, Italy. My mother was a teacher and art historian and my father taught engineering at the University: from them I learned that teaching was both fun and challenging, and to love art and the history of culture. I came to the United States for graduate school and have been teaching ever since. I continue to enjoy interacting with smart young people, helping them develop their skills and interests, and learning from and with them. My own main interest is the culture and history of western Europe between the Renaissance and the eighteenth century.

About Patrick O’Malley

Professor O’Malley

I was born in New York City and grew up in both the American Southwest and Northeast. My mother studied art education in college and my father taught mathematics. With that background, I was attracted to both the humanities and the sciences; as an undergraduate, I initially majored in comparative religion, then switched to organic chemistry, and I later entered a graduate program in English. I’m enthusiastic about working with students who are continuing to develop their passions and goals. My own research and teaching primarily focus on British and Irish literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Requirements Fulfilled:
AMST-1101 fulfills both the HALC: Humanities: Arts, Literature, and Cultures and Engaging Diversity: Domestic core requirements.

Sherry Linkon

Course IDs and Meeting Times:
AMST-1101 (3 credits): MW 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm
AMST-1051 (1 credit): W 5:00 pm – 5:50 pm

We often think of Washington, DC as the home of the Federal government, museums and monuments, and a wide range of political institutions and organizations. But it is also home to more than 700,000 people. The city has varied neighborhoods, a complex history, and a vibrant cultural scene. DC also offers a useful case study for thinking critically about the intersection of race and class – as concepts but also as factors that shape everyday lives, social issues, policy debates, and arts and culture in the city. 

Fifty years ago, DC was a predominantly Black “Chocolate City” with limited economic opportunities and deteriorating neighborhoods. Today, one sociologist has dubbed it “Cappuccino City” because of its mix of younger, highly-educated professionals, white and Black, as well as immigrants, Latinx, and Asian-American people. Gentrification has reshaped the physical and social landscape, but the city is still wrestling with racial and economic inequality. To understand these changes, we need to consider two intersections — between race and class and between culture and the social forces of economics and politics. To do that, we’ll work across academic disciplines, considering history, literature, arts, media, sociology, and more.

In the 3-credit seminar, AMST 1101: Race and Class in DC, we’ll read and discuss critical sources and fiction, listen to music, examine maps and photographs, and develop projects that bring together varied materials and perspectives. In the accompanying 1-credit lab, AMST-1051: Exploring DC, you’ll venture off the Hilltop and into the city’s neighborhoods to explore how the ideas we encounter in the classroom play out on the streets.

About Sherry Linkon

Sherry Linkon

Professor Linkon

As a Professor of English and American Studies, I use interdisciplinary approaches to explore the intersections of race, class, and place. I’m interested in how economic changes influence how people live, think, interact, and express themselves — especially in cities. I explore these issues by reading literature, media, and the arts in dialogue with social history.

Louise Hipwell

Requirements Fulfilled:
This is the first course toward completion of the core requirement in foreign language in Italian. To complete the requirement, students will need to take Intensive Intermediate Italian in a subsequent semester.

One foundational course in the Italian major or minor

Course ID: ITAL-1011-03

Course Meeting Times: MTWTh 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

This seminar is addressed to students with no prior knowledge of Italian and will provide a solid foundation in speaking, understanding, reading, and writing, as well as the opportunity to explore Italy’s vast cultural heritage. As students take this first step towards gaining proficiency in the language and culture, they will also engage in experiential learning activities such as a private tour of the Italian Embassy, visits to Italian cultural institutions in D.C., and a cooking class by a local Italian chef.

During the course, students will learn how to use the Italian language for basic interactions of everyday life such as informal conversations, transactions in shops or tourist facilities, and in writing, through the composition of simple texts such as letters, messages, and brief essays on cultural topics. Beyond acquiring this practical knowledge of the language, students will engage with the country’s culture on a deeper level by exploring the many facets that constitute the idea of italianness. Italian culture is far from monolithic and considering its relatively small geographic area, the country is unique in its wealth of traditions, dialects, products, and culinary traditions. 

Our explorations will take us on a journey through Italy’s regions and their rich heritage focusing on topics ranging from geography to demography and from history to gastronomy. This will be accomplished through a series of specifically tailored intercultural activities, readings and films in English, as well as conversations with experts in these areas from both Italy and the US.

About Louise Hipwell

Louise Hipwell

Professor Hipwell

I was born in Wales but grew up in a small town in the south of Ireland so my journey to the Department of Italian at Georgetown has taken me far from home. Growing up, I always loved languages and after studying Gaelic and French in school I finally had the chance to branch out and try something new when I got to college. I soon became fascinated with all things Italian and had the opportunity to study at the University of Bologna which was a truly life-changing experience, and one that began years dedicated to the study of Italian language, literature and culture. Studying a new language has a transformative power and it is always thrilling to help my students begin their own personal language-learning journey.

stone inscribed with the first amendment wording

Requirements Fulfilled:
Social Science (one of two in government)
One foundational course in the Government major or minor

Taught by: Joseph Hartman

Course ID: GOVT-1210-01

Course Meeting Times: TTh 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm

What do we mean when we refer to “free” speech? Does it include hate speech? What about offensive symbols? Commercial advertisements? Verbal threats? And even if we can begin to answer those questions, we might further ask: under what conditions can we even consider speech “free” in the first place? These urgent problems occupy the heart of the U.S. Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence, which determines the extent to which the law requires protection of, inter alia, fighting words, obscenity, incitement, symbolic speech, commercial speech and hate speech. This course provides students with a solid grounding in that jurisprudence. In so doing we will assess and examine the evolving tests, standards and approaches found in the decisions of the United States Supreme Court as well as the philosophical and theoretical foundations upon which these legal doctrines rest and upon which they are challenged. 

About Joseph Hartman

Joseph Hartman

Professor Hartman

More than a decade ago I initiated a significant career transition, leaving a full-time litigation practice to pursue an academic career. I arrived on the Hilltop as a first-year Ph.D. student in 2009–and I never left!  My teaching now focuses on constitutional law and the history of political thought, interests I see as complementary; one might think of constitutional law as political theory put into legal terminology. That said, I recognize that many students may find the study of law unfamiliar, challenging, and even intimidating. I work to change that—and this shapes the course material, how I present it, and the educational climate I seek to foster—one of collaboration, trust, and active, engaged exploration.