Love and Lust in America | First Year Seminar

Course: Love and Lust in America (Dr. Denise Bartell)


  • First year seminar course in human development; thirty freshmen students per semester
  • Students considered the topics of romantic love and sexuality through a historical lens by primarily studying courtship letters, divorce records, and LGBTQ oral history interviews across a variety of time spans.


  • Students were so engaged in the process they became reflective about studying the same social history topics in the future digital age. As a result, students supported a second assignment in which they wrote grant proposals seeking funding for an archival project to gather documentation about dating and relationships in the year 2050.
  • Many students shared they were inspired to set goals for themselves to write letters to loved ones rather than rely on social media.

“…my [first year] seminar students often report finding the archival project the highlight of the course. In fact, it has been such a success that I have recommended all First Year Seminar instructors, across every program on campus, find ways to incorporate archival projects in their courses…I believe it is highly unusual to see this high level of engagement between a university Archives and such a diverse array of courses and academic programs. But it is a testament to the experimental and innovative mindset of our Archives….”