Butler’s First-Year Seminar (FYS) offers an engaging array of over 40 topics, spanning from fairy tales to professional wrestling to the pursuit of a meaningful life. Designed to stimulate clear, critical, and creative thinking, these courses provide an ideal platform for students to explore and express their ideas. With smaller class sizes, the FYS fosters an intimate and supportive environment, facilitating self-discovery among a cohort of fellow first-year students. Throughout the academic year, students benefit from working closely with a dedicated faculty member from various disciplines across the University.

Natalie Carter
Senior Lecturer, English
Affiliate Faculty, Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Faculty Director, University Honors program

What First-Year Seminar course do you teach? 
I’ve taught several FYS topics over the years, but my favorite is Women Writing the World.  Students in this class study a wide variety of texts by women who represent diverse global cultures. We consider the ways that sexual politics intersect with race, class, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, socioeconomic status, and other markers of social position and difference. We analyze literature, film, journalistic projects, and other cultural materials as a means for understanding, working within, and changing the systems—political, social, economic, religious—that define women in our world.  

What are some interesting aspects of this course’s curriculum?
Perhaps the most unique aspect of this course is that I never teach it the same way. Equality and empowerment for women and girls is the great unfinished agenda of our times, and so this is a topic that is constantly evolving. I suspect that some students enroll in this class thinking that we will study only famous or prominent figures, but our approach is entirely centered on the role of the everyday citizen. Our class considers the lasting impact of women who have created their own world in some way: some through artistic works; some via historical records and journalism; and some simply by existing.  Although their approaches differ, all of these women are reshaping, recreating, and “re-writing” the world and narratives that surround them. It’s incredibly powerful, and I hope that my students leave this FYS with a newfound understanding of their own abilities to change their own worlds.    

How do Butler students benefit from the First-Year Seminar?
The two-semester FYS sequence at Butler is so unique, and incredibly beneficial to our students.  It offers our first-years a built-in group of friends that they’ll see at least two or three times a week as they start their college experiences, which is a time that some may struggle with finding “their people.” It also gives those students an introduction as to what kind of academic rigor college will demand of them. In many ways, FYS establishes the high expectations and good habits that set students up to be the intellectual superstars they will evolve into as they move through their college years.   

Mariah Richardson 
Marketing and Psychology, double major 
Plainfield, Indiana

What have you enjoyed most about the Women Writing the World course?
There are lots of unique features to this specific FYS course, but I feel that my favorite part has been the one-of-a-kind class dynamic. There are only eight students in the class, all female, and it is completely discussion based in the classroom. We do our assigned reading and papers outside of class, and in class we do a deep dive of each assigned reading through questions and games. I’ve loved that Dr. Carter has a way of making my thinking become more developed and critical without me even realizing it.  

How have you benefited from the First-Year Seminar? 
My FYS  has provided me with a safe space of people that I can always talk to and feel comfortable sitting with in class. Additionally, because the class is so small I have easy access to one-on-one discussions with Dr. Carter to help improve my writing skills. It’s been refreshing to know she is pouring just as much time into me and my work as I have poured into the class.  

Lilith Rengstorf
Biology major
Valparaiso, Indiana

Why did you take the Women Writing the World course?
I was raised in a very progressive household, with messages of women’s rights and feminism, and I wanted to take an academic course to broaden my understanding of that topic. Through the class, I have learned a lot about the world around me, and about my own preconceived ideas and how to better express myself.

How has the First-Year Seminar helped you feel more at home at Butler?
My FYS has given me a support network of other like-minded people in a very small class environment. It was also the first source of some friends, and an opportunity to engage more with Butler faculty.