FYP Faculty and Courses

The professors teaching FYP courses represent an interdisciplinary collection of leading Sewanee faculty. Each professor brings his/her unique perspective on what it means to be of a place, from a place, and how to find your place. Students will be able to take part in panel discussions with each of these faculty members, and also choose a more specific section for more immersive study.   

Richard Apgar:  Place, Memory, and Preserving Traditions(FYRP 102)

This course explores the history of German-speaking communities in the area. What brought these communities to the plateau? What elements of the “home” culture are maintained? How are memories and connections preserved across generations? In this course, we will explore these questions as part of the historical record and in conversation with community members. We will also reflect on the practices of cultural preservation as a means of place-making.  G4


Sid Brown: Practicing Place (FYRP 113)

What do rituals do in relation to space and relationships? How do people map out their territory through ritual and what can we understand of those maps? Students examine place-making rituals at nearby Buddhist temples such as alms-rounds and circumambulation, and analyze the rituals they experience at Sewanee that sacralize places here—from signing the Honor Code to walking the perimeter trail. G3


Daniel Carter: Community Narratives of the South Cumberland Plateau (FYRP 117)

This course will introduce students to people, places, and events that helped shape the history, culture, and environment of the South Cumberland Plateau.  Students will explore multiple cultural, historical, and political narratives that tell the story of the region.  We will focus on the role of historical and current land-use in shaping local environmental attitudes and perceptions.  G4


Kristen Cecala: Water is Life (FYRP 108)

Water is essential for human life and critical for supporting biodiversity and natural ecosystems. What systems ensure the quantity and quality of water for both and how should this critically important resource be managed to promote coexistence? How are these conflicts emerging in one of the most biodiverse watersheds in the country? Students will explore the history, conflicts, and progress in watersheds to which Sewanee contributes. G5E


Russell Fielding:  Place and Life (FYRP 109)

Place is defined in many ways but perhaps most of all by geography. The physical features of a place—its geology, hydrology, and biota—influence the social and cultural activities of human life superimposed on the landscape. This class examines geographical features on Sewanee’s Domain and further afield to see what lessons they can teach us about the earth and about ourselves.  G5E


John Gatta:  Making a Place for Literary Imagination (FYRP 111)

In this course, we’ll reflect on forms of literary expression—stories, poems, and nonfictional accounts--that most vividly color and capture humanity’s sense of place.   How we imagine and write about sites that matter to us not only records them but truly helps to create them—as storied places, not just spaces on the map.  Our reading will focus on American texts, those evocative of scenes close to home in Sewanee as well as farther away.    G1


Shelley MacLaren:  Building Place: The Architecture and Art of Sewanee (FYRP 110) 

The campus of the University of the South has a distinctive architecture that regularly earns it a place on various “must see” lists. The appearance of this campus and its buildings is the result of hopes, dreams, accidents as well as deliberate planning and place-making. This course will examine the art and architecture of Sewanee with a focus on getting to know the region, its artists, and how specific building styles and art objects have made their way to The Mountain.  We will also trace the history of building policy and art commissions at Sewanee.


Jennifer Matthews:  Clothing, Textiles and Identity of Place (FYRP 110)

Clothing and textiles are a necessary part of our everyday lives.  They are a way to communicate meaning, belonging, and tradition.  Relating to the study of material culture, these textile items speak as the physical artifacts of the cultures that create them.  Beyond the study of the unique traditions in Sewanee, students will also explore current textile and clothing usage and industry, as well as the impact of textile waste, in the local community.  G2


Deborah McGrath: Ecology of Place (FYRP 104)

Ecology is the study of interactions between organisms and their environment.  In this course, we will explore how the natural and physical environment have influenced human interactions, past and present, and how these interactions have shaped ecosystems on the Cumberland Plateau as well as the economy, culture and health of communities in this region.  G5E