Freshman Seminar Textbook
Freshman Seminar Syllabus
Introduction to the Course | Week 1: Overview
Learning, Wisdom, and The African World Experience
Fruitful learning experiences involve more than the acquisition of academic knowledge. They facilitate the gaining of wisdom, helping to build an enduring capacity to apply learning to meet communal challenges. This lecture examines the contribution to global traditions and innovations in teaching and learning from the classical, medieval and contemporary African experience.
"Omoluabi": Self Actualization and Communal Responsibility
Success in acquiring true learning requires a certain kind of personality. From an African cultural perspective, Omoluabi is the essence of the human person, a wellspring of good character, exemplified by an understanding of the self and its responsibilities to the community. This lecture analyzes the concept of Omoluabi and its relevance in the project of useful learning.
Abandonment and Dismemberment: "Something Torn and New"
Forced separation from their ancestral homelands due to enslavement threatened to dismember Africans, physically, emotionally and spiritually. These Africans—faced with deep trauma and accompanying feelings of abandonment in the unfamiliar, alien, and hostile colonial worlds of the Western Hemisphere—maintained and created memories, traditions, and communities from the rich and complex cultures of the African worlds they brought across the ocean. This lecture examines the trauma of enslavement and how Africans created, preserved, and extended their humanity as the foundation for the contemporary African world experience and the perpetual human quest for a better society.
Memory, Restoration, and African Renaissance: Social Consciousness and the Black Imagination
Ngugi wa Thiong’o has written that “the African eagle can fly only with his re-membered wings.” The process of “re-membering”—of reconnecting historical memory to modern social consciousness as a renaissance and flowering of imagination, innovation and problem solving--will lead to conscious contributions to what Ngugi calls “a common humanity of progress and achievement.” The central elements of this intellectual practice are translation and recovery, the use of academic research skill to connect ideas and information across generations and among cultural communities.
Research Methodology: Inscription as a Liberating Practice
One of the goals of this course is “to encourage every entering freshman to pursue a lifetime of independent discovery, including the appreciation of the importance of research.” Indeed, once the commitment to academic excellence is successfully cultivated, it becomes clear that there is nothing as intellectually liberating as conducting research with integrity. This lecture introduces students to the nuts and bolts of research.
Practices of Freedom and Justice: The Black Diaspora
The tradition of learning for service to the community and the world is rooted in the experience of the people of African descent, both on the home continent and in its vast Diaspora. The pursuit of freedom and justice has been a rallying cry of the educated in this oldest of traditions. This lecture identifies and analyzes the works of representative thinkers in this regard.
The Eloquence of the Scribes: Initiation, Expectations, and Mastery—Continuing the Legacy of Howard University
Generations of students and faculty have walked the paths, halls, classrooms, and laboratories of Howard University in pursuit of the mastery necessary to fulfill the institution’s mission to develop learning and wisdom to build the good society. They were initiated into the tradition of lifelong pursuit of learning for service to the local and global community. Current students in the Freshman Seminar course are heirs to this glorious tradition. This lecture aims at initiating them into a full awareness of this tradition, reminding them of the high expectations of this institution, their ancestors, and future generations that they continue the legacy.
The Presidential Address: A Charge to Keep
Common Text Essay Competition
The Office of the President and the Office of the Provost, in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences, invite and encourage students to submit essays to the Common Text Essay Competition. Authors of the highest rated essays devoted to themes and ideas emerging from Something Torn and New will present them at the Common Text Symposium on Friday, November 30. These essays will also be published as a part of the Common Text Symposium proceedings. Ngugi wa Thiongo will deliver the keynote address for the symposium and will respond to student papers.
Office Hours and Contact Information
Locke Hall, Room 100
[The Writing Center]
Dr. Dana A. Williams
Dr. Marcus Alfred
Dr. Linda G. Jones
Dr. Greg E. Carr
Bio sketch [YouTube] [MS Word]
Please note that students can visit any TA any day for general questions and assistance. For grading inquiries, however, you should see the TA for your day.