As an upper-year student, the urge to redo the Foundation Year Programme (FYP) has followed me throughout my undergraduate degree.
The nagging feeling that I just didn’t get something, the desire to go back and spend more time with texts that intrigued me the first time around – and perhaps a bit of masochism on my part – has pulled me back to several FYP lectures over the past few years.
In that spirit, I’m looking ahead to this coming year with plans to indulge in nostalgia in a more organized fashion. Here are a few of the upcoming lectures that I am really looking forward to.
Thursday, September 14th: Eli Diamond on Sappho and the Song of Songs
Sappho was introduced to the FYP curriculum last year, after extensive work by students to bring greater diversity to the FYP curriculum.
Eli Diamond’s lecture promises to be full of insights about this poet, and Anne Carson’s translation is pretty great too.
Diamond will later lecture on Plato’s Symposium (September 22, 25 and 27). In the past, he has been known to dress up for his lectures on Plato. Will there be costumes? Who knows?
Thursday, November 2nd: Elizabeth Edwards on Late Medieval Politics and the “Women Question”
Edwards will be lecturing on Christine de Pisan’s Book of the City of Ladies; a compendium of women throughout history – at least up to that point.
Considered by many to be a proto-feminist text, the book upholds women and celebrates their achievements – a bit of a first.
Section 2 also brings us the first of the divine Jannette Vusich’s lectures on art, beginning with Christian Art in the Middle Ages on October 26th.
Monday, November 20th: Simon Kow on Machiavelli’s The Prince
Come for the questionable political advice, stay for the puns. Kow will lecture on Machiavelli’s famous work, The Prince, in what promises to be an entertaining lecture. Was Machiavelli giving serious advice, or trying to bring the Medicis down with his work dedicated to them? Kow’s lecture will surely leave deep imprince of wisdom in us.
Later in Section 3, I’m looking forward to hearing Yolana Wassersug’s lecture on Elizabeth I (Monday, November 27), as well as Laura Penny’s lecture on Montaigne (Friday, December 1).
Wednesday, November 29th, also promises to be an important day. In the morning, a lecture by Nicol on the Jamestown settlement in America, then a Night FYP lecture, “Storytelling on Unceded Mi’kmaq Territory.”
It’s really excellent to see FYP starting to include worldviews and voices from outside the European canon – especially the voices of those on whose land we learn.
Monday, January 29th: Chike Jeffers on The Debate over Slavery
The brilliant Jeffers will be lecturing on the Enlightenment debate over slavery – a debate with ramifications that are only too clear in our own day.
Like Sappho, the topic of slavery is a (shockingly) new addition to FYP. Come and get educated on a part of history that too much of America has ignored or wilfully distorted.
Other lectures I’m looking forward to include Kathryn Morris’s take on Margaret Cavendish (January 18) and Neil Robertson’s lecture on Elisabeth of Bohemia’s correspondence with Descartes.
Friday, February 9th: Sarah Clift on Capitalism – Workers vs. Owners
The witty and brilliant Clift will introduce us to the dynamic duo, Marx and Engels. Wear red and prepare to have your mind blown.
In literature this section, Susan Dodd will lecture on Frankenstein (February 7) and on Dostoevsky (February 12).
If that’s not an incentive to read some substantial literature before February, I don’t know what is.
Later on, Penny lectures on everyone’s favorite poet of modernity, Baudelaire (February 15), and Vusich returns to talk about Impressionism and Post-Impressionism (March 1). On March 8, Jeffers will return to discuss W.E.B Du Bois, an early civil rights activist and important figure in the fight for racial equality in the United States.
This is the point where I give myself away as a Contemporary Studies Program (CSP) student and admit that I am looking forward to practically every lecture in Section Six.
Will I skip all my other classes for the months of March and April just to come to these lectures? Quite possibly.
On Monday, March 12, Daniel Brandes will lecture on Kafka, followed by Kait Pindar on Virginia Woolf (again, a relatively new addition to FYP) the following week.
Eli Diamond will return to discuss Simone Weil on March 22 and Penny will lecture on Simone de Beauvoir on March 26.
Clift will return as well on March 29 – this time to discuss Hannah Arendt’s work on totalitarianism. There will even be animals (D. Brandes, April 9), environmentalists (Boos, April 5) and Suzan Lori-Park’s amazing but brutal Venus: A Play (D. T. Brandes, April 6).
In the words of Donnie Dumpfy, we’ll be having a time.
To the incoming FYPsters of 2017: a warm welcome and get ready for a wild ride. I’m so excited to follow along!