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Undergraduate Course Descriptions
202-001 MWF 0900-9:50
202-002 MWF 10:00-10:50
Introduction to Journalism
Go beyond the mundane "who, what, where, when and why" of journalism and, over the semester, discover the fact that remains as true today as when the Founding Fathers raised Freedom of Speech as a fundamental right: One person telling the truth can indeed change the world. Extensive practice in the basics of writing news stories, instruction in how a newsroom works, training in how to look for stories and the importance of accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. Roll up your sleeves, put on your good shoes and prepare to walk in the footsteps of giants. Texts include Melvin Mencher’s News Reporting and Writing and The Associated Press Stylebook.
Introduction to Journalism
Discussion, and more importantly, lots of practice, you will develop the tools that you will need to identify, gather, and report the news. While many of the practices you will learn in this course were developed by reporters working for large urban newspapers, you will apply these same core principles and practices (lede writing, story structure, how to cover news events, and conducting interviews) to reporting for any kind of outlet: print, broadcast, or the internet. We will also examine the differences between news stories and feature stories, and cover the basics of journalism ethics.
Introduction to Professional Writing
Students in this course will learn the rhetorical, ethical, and design considerations that inform effective professional and technical communication. Working in both print and multi-media contexts, they will develop strategies for conducting workplace research, performing audience analysis, and evaluating document usability. Students will produce a range of documents, including memos, proposals, instructions, and public relations materials. Much of their work will be conducted in a service-learning context in which their efforts will engage a wider public beyond the classroom. Text: Gurak and Lannon, Strategies for Technical Communication in the Workplace.
204-001 MW 12:00-12:50 R Online
204-003 MW 1:00-1:50 R Online
Introduction to Professional Writing
This course prepares you to face workplace challenges that require professional communication skills in terms of writing and presentation. It will enable you to develop critical appreciation for core technical concepts including audience, context, persuasion, and purpose in writing situations with an emphasis on ethics in communication. You will be exposed to writing a variety of business collaterals, such as resumes, memos, proposals and reports in different contexts and for different purposes. Additionally, this course puts a huge emphasis on information design from a visual communication framework and challenges students to create technical documents from a defined visual perspective. Most importantly, you will find opportunities to collaborate with peers to share expertise, knowledge, and experience in a service-learning framework. By the end of this course, you will learn to design effective technical documents to solve problems with attention to text, visuals, format, usability, and citation. We will meet face-to-face twice a week and online (asynchronous) once a week.
Introduction to Professional Writing
R 9:30-10:45 - BR 202
In this class, you will reflect on how rhetoric and visual design can inform effective communication in collaborative and technologically diverse contexts. Using print and online tools, you will explore the composing process through invention, collaboration, audience analysis, and revision. Besides composing traditional professional genres, like memos, proposals, instructions, and public relations materials, you will also reflect on how these can be redesigned and delivered in digital and networked contexts. Consequently, you will be required to experiment with various emerging Web 2.0 technologies, culminating in a major design project purposed for a specific professional audience. This course will enhance your ability to compose well-designed, persuasive, and purposeful texts in a variety of professional and academic contexts.
Introduction to Professional Writing
Students should have access to the internet and Blackboard. Students should have basic technology skills (adept with email, attachments, blackboard, etc.). The course will introduce students to strands of Professional Writing like design, resume writing, and multimedia. Students will also review and evaluate a number of online and traditional texts ranging from websites to professional reports. Students will also learn multiple theories of professional writing. While students will work with traditional documents, they will also address the integration of multimedia.
Access to Blackboard and the internet for the full semester is required.
Introduction to Professional Writing
T 9:30-10:45 - BR 202
Students in this course will engage core professional writing concepts such as audience analysis, document design, usability, and ethical composing practices. Students will produce material including public relations documents and technical instructions in both print and electronic formats. Individual and group projects are a feature of this course, as is directed service-learning with community partners.
This is a hybrid course. During most weeks, students will meet once in a classroom and have one online instruction session. Students must be comfortable with sustained, independent online interaction to succeed in this course.
Introduction to Literary Studies
Why do you want to study approaches to literature? That question you will mull and eventually answer in detail. You will develop a rich relationship with literature, learning and applying vocabularies and methods of literary theory and criticism, performing close readings and analyses of primary texts and secondary source materials, developing a writerly voice and understanding conventions of literary criticism and research. Phew. Texts: Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice, 4th edition. Others will be added, either posted online or to be purchased.
Introduction to Literary Studies
Introduction to Literary Studies: In this course we’ll refine our critical reading skills, sharpen our research, writing, and speaking skills, and learn major theoretical approaches to the study of written texts, including psychoanalysis, feminism, new historicism, deconstruction, and post-colonialism. Through the analysis of poetry, of fiction, of non-fiction, of film and popular culture media, and through the study of critical essays on primary texts, we’ll learn the intricacies involved in research and in negotiating the world around us through language. Students will produce a variety of essays, including research essays.
205-003 TR 9:30-10:45 MO 201
205-004 TR 2:00-3:15 MO 102
Introduction to Literary Studies
Through the analysis of poetry, of fiction, and of non-fiction, and the study of critical essays on those primary texts, we will refine critical reading skills, practice research, writing, and speaking skills, and learn major theoretical approaches to the study of written texts, including psychoanalysis, feminism, new historicism, deconstruction, and post-colonialism. Students will produce a variety of essays, including research essays.
In this course, students will become familiar with Greek, Roman, and Norse Mythology, as well as myths from other cultures. In addition to critical analysis of the myths, students will learn different approaches to the study of mythology, and explore how mythological narratives affect our own culture and can inform our reading of literature.
This is a fully online course. Assignments may include weekly discussion boardparticipation, writing activities, quizzes, essays, and exams.
British Literature to 1800
As a survey of British literature from Beowulf (first recited in the eighth century) to the death of Samuel Johnson (1784), the course will consider such major authors as Geoffrey Chaucer, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, John Milton, Jonathan Swift, and Samuel Johnson; a broad variety of genres, including narrative poetry, utopian fiction, tragedy, comedy, Christian epic, travel narrative, biography, and the periodical essay; topical and thematic concerns such as wit, imagination, art and nature, reason and passion, life choices, happiness, gender roles, marriage, and crime and punishment; such concerns as the value and purpose of literature, strategies of interpretation, and various factors that figure into the enduring permanence of our featured writers; and the relevance of selected works to other works of literature students have read, the current arena of local, national and international affairs, contemporary popular culture, and other academic courses students have taken. In addition to such standard canonical texts as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Ben Jonson’s Volpone, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost, we will also be reading and discussing a number of texts with which you are most likely familiar such as Mary Astell’s “Some Reflections upon Marriage,” Daniel Defoe’s “The Cons of Marriage,” Aphra Behn’s prose novella Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave, Eliza Haywood’s prose novella Fantomima; or, Love in a Maze, Jonathan Swift’s “The Lady’s Dressing Room,” and Samuel Johnson’s prose novella The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. Required texts: Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (translated into modern English by Nevill Coghill); The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 1B: The Sixteenth Century and the Early Seventeenth Century; The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol C: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century.
British Literature to 1800
Mist-walking monsters, rolling heads and flimsy gowns, farts and polyandry, a sympathetic Satan, love poems, the joys and anguishes of the modern world-- we’ll meet them all, reading carefully, discussing thoroughly, writing several short essays and having a final exam. Texts: To be emailed to you in time for you to get them inexpensively.
212-001 MWF 9:00-9:50
212-002 MWF 10:00-10:50
British Literature since 1800
This course is a survey of British literature from the Romantic period through to the early twenty-first century. By the course’s end, students will be familiar with major authors such as Wordsworth, Shelley, E.B. Browning, E. Bronte, Eliot, and Greene. We will engage with canonical and non-canonical texts in a wide variety of modes, genres, and media, including lyric and dramatic poetry, the personal essay, the literary novel, as well as music and cinema. Throughout the semester, we will make a point of always considering how aesthetic value, literary form, representational strategies, and language practices develop in dynamic relation to historical, political, and material contexts of production and reception— for example, the Industrial Revolution, the rise of the modern city, nationalism and colonialism, shifting gender roles, the emergence of “popular culture”, World Wars I and II, postmodernism, and globalism. Potential texts include George Meredith’s Modern Love, Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier, T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, and Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Broadie; recordings by The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Joy Division, The Smiths, Pulp, Oasis, Sade, Massive Attack, and FKA Twigs; and Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s “Cornetto” Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End). Attendance and participation are essential to success in the course.
American Literature to1870
This course will offer you an overview of American literature from its very beginnings through the late Romantics in the nineteenth century. We will read this literature in its literary, historical, political, and social contexts. As such, we will look at literature of the European Explorers, at American Indian responses to encounters with Europeans, at the colonial era including Puritan poets and historians, at the writings of some of the founding fathers and mothers, and into the Romantic era with writers such as Poe, Irving, Stowe, Hawthorne, Dickinson, and Whitman—writers of the American literary renaissance, as it has been called.
You will be asked to keep an informal reading response journal, to write formal and informal short response essays, to be responsible for the readings and class discussions, to take occasional reading quizzes and mid-semester and a final essay exams. As this will be a discussion-based class, attendance and attention to the readings will of course be required.
224-002 TR 9:30-10:45
224-004 TR 11:00-12:15
American Literature since 1870
The course surveys major authors in fiction, poetry, and drama from 1865 to the present.
Every student keeps a reading journal and writes two critical essays, each of which comprises 25% of the semester grade. The average of reading-quiz scores accounts for the remaining 25%. Text: McQuade, et al. The Harper American Literature, 3rd ed.
World Literature to 1600
Our readings will include the Gilgamesh epic; selections from Ancient Egyptian poetry and the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament); selections from Homer’s Iliad (another epic); Oedipus the King by Sophocles (a tragedy); selections from ancient Chinese literature (The Classic of Poetry) and the Analects of Confucius; selections from ancient India (the Bhagavad-Gita); selections from Roman poetry (Catullus, Virgil, and Ovid); selections from the Christian Bible (the New Testament); selections from Islam’s Golden Age (The Qur’an and The Thousand and One Nights); Dante’s Inferno; and selections from the Italian Renaissance (Machiavelli). Reading quizzes, written responses, midterm and final exams. Text: The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Shorter Third Edition, Vol. 1. Ed. Martin Puchner.
Women in Literature
In this section of Women in Literature, we will investigate the ways in which contemporary female writers resist, disturb, and subvert traditional literary conventions. Our critical explorations will not only situate these texts alongside canonical material, but also evaluate how stylistic rebellions may reflect, inform, and/or complicate discourse on gender, age, class, sexuality, and race.
Our texts will be daring, the authors diverse. We will work in all genres and, sometimes, between genres. Reading—which may include work by Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine, Anne Carson, Janet Frame, Roxanne Gay—will be both dynamic and resistant. We will be in the company of exciting, new minds that may inspire, surprise, or beguile us in turn. Above all, though, we will read women who defy us to walk away unchanged.
Themes in Literature: Writers in Exile
In this course we will explore the rich literature of contemporary exiled writers such as Salman Rushdie, Bharati Mukherjee, Marjane Satrapi,Wole Soyinka, and Elie Weisel, among others. We will seek to understand the racial, ethnic, political, and cultural aspects of immigration and exile, but our primary focus will be to examine how each writer conveys the conditions of uprootedness from home, the construction of cultural and bi-cultural identity and revolutions in literary form and theme.
Themes in Literature
In this class, we will be working to make sense of one of the more misunderstood/maligned genres in literature and film studies: science fiction. In order to accomplish this, we will be reading/watching widely in the genre, confronting SF as an historical, critical, and political force that offers us a better understanding of theherethat might just end upthere(or beyond).
Themes in Literature
Gothic Rising: This course will follow the development of the Gothic in literature from its inception to the present. The genre characteristically deals with such things as the supernatural, sexual ambiguity, violence, perversion, and myriad marginalized social human practices and beliefs, and the works belonging to this genre follow well-developed and highly complex structures. Using psychoanalytic and genre theory, we’ll analyze the Gothic as both literary and social phenomenon in order to reveal, among other things, how this genre of deviance, which is more pervasive today than ever, functions to define less “deviant” genres, from children’s tales to romance novels and historical fiction.
Reading and Writing Arguments
This course is a part of a small cluster of courses that satisfy the “writing and text” component in the Professional Writing Option (and the Professional Writing Certificate) at UNC Wilmington.
In this course, we will explore argument structures and methods of persuasion in both traditional and digital reading and writing environments, focusing not only on difficult topics but topics related to Professional Writing. Students will compose arguments and work with new media to examine, analyze, and articulate their own arguments and the arguments of others, considering the rhetorical principles associated with document design and the use of new media. We will investigate the differences between persuasion and argument from a historical context. Students will be exposed to writing, drafting, researching and presenting information in a variety of writing and reading spaces. Students will be required to make claims, take positions, and construct arguments that are both in print and online. Students will focus on composing using digital technologies in professional and business contexts while understanding the ethical use of images, video, and sound.
Writing for Teachers
This course will introduce theoretical foundations and instructional strategies for teaching writing in secondary schools. We will begin by examining skills such as vocabulary, grammar, brainstorming, prewriting, and basic paragraph structures. We will then address the most frequently encountered/tested writing in secondary schools: narrative, expository/informational, argumentative, and research papers. Techniques such as scaffolding instruction, peer editing/review, alternative forms of assessment, and culturally relevant instruction will play a critical role in this course. We will also examine requirements for on demand standardized writing assessment and discuss how the Common Core State Standards and the new trend in using End of Course tests may impact future writing instruction.
Professional Review Writing
In digital spaces many of us often act as reviewers. We “share” and “like” the photographs posted by friends and acquaintances. We might write book reviews on sites like Amazon.com or review restaurants for Yelp. Almost anyone online can offer reviews on anything from vacation destinations to sneakers. But what makes some reviews more valuable than others? What determines the success of a reviewer in an age when anyone can review? In this class you will review movies, books, and a live performance. You will compose a review for a local product, and write reviews of local restaurants and tourist attractions. During the second half of the course, you will create your own website to post a series of reviews on a subject of your choosing. By the end of the semester you will not only have a better understanding of how reviews function in our broader culture, but you will have gained a repertoire of composing strategies for writing successful reviews. Required text: Camilla Vasquez, The Discourse of Online Consumer Reviews
A writing course focusing on the genre of the essay. The text book, which provides a selection of works from contemporary essayists, will serve as the focus of class discussion and as the springboard for the essays students will write. Required will be four original essays, a reflective reading journal, and participation in both peer reviews of written work and in individual conferences. Text: Atwan. The Best American Essays, 7th College edit.
Grant and Proposal Writing
In this economic and political climate, government funding for important initiatives is scarce, meaning that more and more non-profit organizations are turning to grants for vital financial support. Important work in areas ranging from the environment to the arts often relies heavily on the abilities of grant writers, making grant writing a highly marketable skill for students of all majors and career aspirations.
This course will introduce students to the mechanics of proposal writing, including assessing needs, identifying and evaluating potential funding sources, and tailoring proposals to address specific audience interests. Additionally, students will develop an understanding of the political and social aspects of grant seeking as it shapes initiatives to promote various kinds of social change. During a semester-long partnership with a local non-profit organization, students will work in teams to develop actual grants for the organization’s use.
Students in this course develop strategies to improve documents and to clearly express their plans for revisions orally and in writing. Along the way, they will acquire an interest in and appreciation for the conventions of English grammar, punctuation, and usage. Students work on the fundamentals of effective writing, organization, and design in order to develop the language and proficiencies necessary to edit technical documents, which include forms, manuals, policy handbooks, websites, and other texts used in organizations, and to argue successfully for the changes they make or recommend. Projects prompt students to edit documents comprehensively, addressing everything from the sentences to the overall structure and visual design.
Theory and Practice of Editing
W 1:00-1:50 BR 160
Meets face-to-face on Wednesdays; other two classes are online. Instruction in strengthening the backbone of writing with an emphasis on learning state-of-the-industry layout software. Course work includes extensive practice in the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar, editing, copyediting and rewriting, all done with an eye to preparing work for publication. Privacy and libel law are examined. Texts include: Media Writer's Handbook and The Associated Press Stylebook.
Writing for Business
In thiscompletely onlinewriting class, we will explore the various genres common throughout most business environments, including memos, letters, proposals, reports, and resumes. Additionally we will explore how to adapt these genres for online environments and improve your online presence. Since this class is completely online, we will be exploring how businesses create a professional presence online through social media. Consequently, you will be required to explore various Web 2.0 environments through collaborative, individual, and public work. This course is suitable for anyone interested in improving business communication skills and expanding career options during and after university life. By the end of the course, you will have several texts that you can use in professional portfolios and for self-promotion online.
Writing for Sciences
This course critically examines the current state of science communication for various audiences and explores multiple practical strategies by which technical communicators can accommodate science for specific audiences, including non-experts. The course also applies perspectives from rhetoric of science, technical communication, and science and technology studies (STS) in order to evaluate and propose best practices for such accommodations of specialized knowledge. Extra attention is paid to scientific processes of knowledge-making rather than science as product.
Writing and Technology
In this course, we will explore how using information and communication technologies contributes to shaping writing practices in communities and organizations. We will work with numerous technologies, including the software used to develop computer-based training, web-authoring applications, and graphics and video design applications. Students will complete individual and group projects and presentations that allow them to analyze and critique specific uses of technologies for writing and design while learning to select and employ technologies to produce their own texts for paper and electronic dissemination.
Topics in Writing: Technical Writing in the Sciences
This course critically examines the current state of science writing in professional academic contexts and explores the multiple practical strategies scientists use to communicate in professional settings. The course applies perspectives from rhetoric of science, technical communication, and science and technology studies(STS) in order to evaluate and propose best practices for texts in academic contexts such as peer-reviewed journals and professional conferences. Extra attention is paid to how writing and texts act as tools of knowledge-making rather than simple “products” of science. Students exit the course with a base of knowledge that will allow them to develop and strengthen their own professional science writing practices.
Writing about Film
This course concentrates on analyzing and writing about film. We will practice and perfect writing a selection of film-based genres including reviews, critical essays, and personal responses. This particular course iteration will focus on adaptation. To put it another way, what does it mean to change a particular work from one genre to another? What does “fidelity” mean in adaption? To whom/what must the filmmaker be “faithful”? Is “fidelity” or faithfulness to the original desirable? To this end, we will read a subset of popular works of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and examine their cinematic transformations.
Writing and Activism
This course considers the rhetorical power of a wide variety of forms of writing done in the name of social change. We will examine the genres most widely adopted for activist writing; the ways in which context influences and constrains writing, and the impact of technologies; motives and audiences upon activist writing. Our primary goal is to discern and analyze rhetorical principles and practices at work in activist writing. Text include: Stewart, Smith, and Denton, Jr. Persuasion and Social Movements, 5th ed.
R 12:30-1:45 BR 202
Students in this course will explore rhetorical principles of document design through critical analysis and practical application. Students will generate multimedia documents through iterative drafting and revision cycles. Course readings will explore design theory and practice, focusing particularly on the various perspectives and affordances embedded in commercial and open-source design software.
320-001 TR 9:00-9:15
320-002 TR 12:30-1:45
Introduction to Linguistics
What can language tell us about ourselves and our communities? In this introductory linguistics course we will address how language reveals important aspects of our social identities. As a member of this class you will conduct original research and produce a language podcast. You might choose to explore sociolinguistic topics such as language and gender; language and sexuality; code-switching; language shift; language variation; ethnic and regional dialects; and bilingual and multilingual education. Through reading about a range of approaches to studying language in the field, you will gain the necessary foundation for analyzing contemporary social issues that matter to you. Required text: Finegan’s Language: Its Structure and Use, 6th ed.
History of the English Language
This course, an introduction to the history of the English language, will focus primarily, though not exclusively, on the Old English period, the one most remote to us now, in order to gain a better understanding of the internal (sounds and structures) and external (social, political and military) manifestations of that history. Our first task is to acquire the abilities necessary to describe and discuss English. This class will demand a great deal of you in time, energy and intellectual curiosity. In return, you'll see English in a new light. This subject is my favorite and surprisingly fun to study. Fulfills departmental language requirement. Text:A Guide to Old English.
Shakespeare: Early Plays/Poems
This course covers six plays chosen from those written in the first part of Shakespeare’s career to represent the major genres of tragedy (Romeo and Juliet), history (Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1), and comedy (A Midsummer Night’s Dream); and selected sonnets. We will give attention to matters like cultural context, gender, genre, and performance. Reading quizzes, informal responses, oral presentation, critical paper of 2000 words, midterm, and final. Text: The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Ed. David Bevington. 7th ed.
Shakespeare: Early Plays/Poems
William Shakespeare: The Reviews Are In
“The answer to the question ‘Why Shakespeare?’ must be ‘Who else is there?’”
“With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise as entirely as I despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his. It would be a positive relief to dig him up and throw stones at him.”
---George Bernard Shaw
“I know not whether Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare, but if he did not it seems to me that he missed the opportunity of his life.”
“He was not of an age, but for all time!”
“Shakespeare was the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. He was naturally learned; he needed not the spectacles of books to read nature; he looked inwards, and found her there.”
“To know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare; to see the insignificance of human learning, we may study his commentators.”
“The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.”
The above compilation is but a random sampling of testimonials to Shakespeare’s genius, achievement, and enduring influence over the ages. One of the truly amazing aspects of Shakespeare’s reputation and popularity is that he has both literally and figuratively “held the stage” during his own career as a professional dramatist and over succeeding centuries up to the present. In terms of the established literary canon, and no disparagement intended, Shakespeare is probably the ultimate “dead white guy,” and like the “energizer bunny,” he just keeps on going and going and going with no end in sight. Not bad for a small-town kid from the provinces who, without the benefit of a college education, left Stratford-upon-Avon (a village of approximately 1500) to try his luck as an aspiring playwright in London. So how do we account for Shakespeare’s enduring status as one of the most prominent figures in world literature and his complementary status as the most famous and the most widely read playwright in the English language whose plays are still performed on a regular basis throughout the world?
That’s where our course, the focus of which is Shakespeare’s early dramatic and poetic career through 1600 (admittedly, a rather arbitrary date), comes into play. Through a careful reading and discussion of seven of Shakespeare’s “early” plays, we will attempt to explore and identify the basis for Shakespeare’s enduring legacy, influence, and pervasive iconographical status across cultures and continents. At the same time, and more importantly, our course will provide us (and I include myself in your good company) with the opportunity to negotiate and transact our own personal and critical response to each of the assigned plays and, quite aside from the authoritative assessments of Ben Jonson, John Dryden, William Hazlitt, Robert Graves, and others, to arrive at our own measured assessment of Shakespeare’s “greatness.” In terms of the written texts, this can be a daunting enterprise for the modern reader, who may feel challenged by Shakespeare’s language, versification, and a likely unfamiliarity with the many topical, mythological, Biblical, historical, and political allusions in his plays. However daunting, such challenges shouldn’t interfere with our enjoyment, appreciation, and larger, “holistic” understanding of the plays themselves. It is worth noting, in this regard, that whatever his eye toward posterity, Shakespeare was a professional dramatist whose livelihood and income depended upon his productivity and the popular reception of his plays on stage. Thus, Peggy O’Brien (the Head of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.) has observed: “Shakespeare’s plays were written to be performed—acted and seen on a stage. About half of Shakespeare’s plays weren’t even published until after his death. . . . Shakespeare wrote his sonnets to be applauded and remembered as a writer. He wrote his plays to make money. And he made lots of it.” It is also important to recognize that the popular theater was one of the primary venues of entertainment on every social level and across class lines during Shakespeare’s career as a dramatist. As O’Brien further observes,
Everyone—all levels of society—went to see Shakespeare’s plays. There weren’t many other forms of entertainment: no TV; no cable; no DVDs; no videos, hand-held electronic game players, or personal CD players; no CDs; no movies; and only the rudiments of a newspaper. People went to the bear-baiting or bull-baiting ring for a thrill, they went to a public execution or two—and they went to the theater. Experiencing a play in the Globe Theatre in 1603 was sort of a cross between going to an Oscar de la Hoya fight and an ‘N Sync concert.
Thus, though his plays may present any number of challenges for the modern reader, Shakespeare didn’t write his plays to be difficult; he wrote his plays to make money and, as Peggy O’Brien notes, he clearly succeeded. Thus, while our course will involve an assiduous, thoughtful, and creative attention to the written texts, we need to recall, once again, that for Shakespeare the written text was secondary to the dramatic presentation and live enactment of the text on stage—which, rather than the written text, served as the primary “rate of exchange” between Shakespeare and his audience, a considerable percentage of whom were uneducated and illiterate. It might be appropriate to conclude, in this regard, with a number of illuminating quotes, the spirit of which should inform our approach to and experience of the assigned plays:
“In Shakespeare’s plays, you find drunks, ghosts, teenagers running away from home, boy who gets girl, boy who loses girl, king who loses everything, woman caressing her lover’s body which is minus its head, woman caressing her lover’s head which is minus its body, weddings and celebrations, murder by stabbing, suffocation, decapitation, and drowning in a vat of malmsey wine.”
“There are some parts of the play you’ll never understand. But excuse me, I thought that’s what great art was supposed to be about. Don’t freak out over it. Keep reading.”
“I went to see a Shakespeare play when I was 15, and it changed my life.”
“If the public likes you, you’re good. Shakespeare was a common down-to-earth writer in his day.”
Note: Mickey Spillane was a legendary pulp fiction writer, whose hard-boiled detective series (featuring Mike Hammer) enjoyed such immense popularity in the 1950s that Spillane was the most widely read and best-selling author in the U.S. Hence, the implied, and admittedly self-flattering connection with Shakespeare.
“Children trust Shakespeare because they can still see the plays as play, with all the joy and wonder of discovery that this truly entails.”
---Janet Field-Pickering, The Folger Shakespeare Library
One final note regarding the choice of assigned plays. There is a common pedagogical practice in courses dealing with Shakespeare’s “early career” to chart his development as a dramatist by beginning with his very first or very early comedies, tragedies, and history plays as an introductory point of reference. While there is something to be said for such an approach, the downside is that such an approach—given the restricted time frame for the course—necessarily eliminates any number of Shakespeare’s more mature achievements within various dramatic genres. Thus, the reading syllabus for our course will focus on five of Shakespeare’s major comedies from the 1590s two of his major history plays. As a matter of variety, the assigned comedies and history plays will be arranged in alternating order. Though the greater number of Shakespeare’s tragedies, including Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and King Lear, were written beyond the time frame of our course, Shakespeare did write two notable tragedies (Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet) before 1600; but since both tragedies are often taught in the secondary English classroom, they haven’t been included in our reading syllabus. So welcome aboard and I look forward to an enjoyable, invigorating semester.
The nineteenth century was marked by radical change in many arenas, including science and technology, politics, and class. What began as a time period with gas lamps, horse-drawn carriages, and quill pens, a life we will see in an episode of BBC’s historical reality series Regency House Party, ended with electricity, a subway system, and the typewriter. The literature of this century, of course, also changed. We will begin with the industrial/social problem novel, and end with the “New Woman” writer and character, and explore literary movements such as realism and pre-Raphaelitism along the way. The nineteenth-century Briton was breaking new ground, and yet along with this pioneering spirit and confidence, according to Walter E. Houghton, came an anxiety that pervaded many aspects of life. While on one hand, the Victorian era became one of opportunity, particularly social mobility, this opportunity was met with fear, doubt, and nostalgia for the past. We will examine these complexities and much more.
This course will offer you an in-depth look at American literature of the Romantic era, roughly 1790s through the 1860s and beyond. We will read the literature by writers of the American literary renaissance, as it has been called, in its literary, historical, political, and social contexts. Possible texts include Dickinson’s Final Harvest collection of poetry, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Thoreau’s Walden, Melville’s Moby-Dick, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Other authors will include Poe, Irving, Stowe, and Emerson, to name a few.
You will be asked to keep an informal reading response journal, to write formal short response essays, to be responsible for the readings and class discussions, to take occasional reading quizzes and mid-semester and a final essay exams. You will also be asked to lead at least one class discussion.As this will be a discussion-based class, attendance and attention to the readings will of course be required.
African American Literature Post 1945
This course focuses on the literary and cultural output of African American artists since the end of World War Two. Such titanic figures we will encounter include Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Duke Ellington, James Baldwin, Suzan-Lori Parks, C. L. Franklin, MLK, Jr., Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka, Miles Davis, Rita Dove, Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, Eric B. and Rakim, and President Barack Obama. Collectively, their work responds to the promises and paradoxes of American democracy. We will attend to this panoply of voices and perspectives for insights on complicated questions such as class, race, sexuality, and nationality.
Studies in Short Fiction
“As long as stories have been told, there have been storytellers who combined tales to create larger effects. . . . Throughout the history of literature, there are cycles or sequences of tales, stories, novellas, lyric poems, plays, and even novels. It is only human nature for writers (and readers) to want to perpetuate the single work and to resist its completion. In any historical period, many examples of different kinds of cycles coexist. Why a writer chooses once cyclical form over another—sonnet sequence, for example, instead of short-story cycle—is no doubt a complex matter. Certain subjects require or take advantage of certain forms. Furthermore, historical periods provide different options for writers: for example, the short story, and consequently, the short- story cycle did not develop until the nineteenth century. Finally, an individual writer’s abilities, preferences, and past performances influence his or her generic choices.”
(Susan Garland Mann, The Short Story Cycle: A Genre Companion and Reference Guide, 1)
“Probably the impulse to combine individual tales into larger wholes has its origin in the very nature of imagination itself, a ‘coadunating’power as Coleridge described it. Certainly many old story-clusters show that the impulse goes far back into oral tradition.”
(Ian Reid, The Short Story, 46).
“The concept of the ‘short-story cycle’ remains to be sufficiently defined in literary scholarship. Any attempt at a systematic definition, however provisional, ultimately encounters not only the concept of ‘story,’ differentiating this form of short fiction from other modulations, but of ‘cycle,’ distinguishing this model from loose collections of stories on one side and ‘novels’ on the other. Perhaps it is axiomatic in scholarship that the most common terms and concepts are the most difficult to define.”
(James Nagel, the Contemporary Short-Story Cycle: The Ethnic Resonance of Genre, 13)
“While there are various conventions associated with the genre . . . there is only one essential characteristic of the short-story cycle: the stories are both self-sufficient and interrelated. On the one hand, the stories work independently of one another: the reader is capable of understanding each of them without going beyond the limits of the individual story. On the other hand, however, the stories work together, creating something that could not be achieved in a single story.”
(Mann, The Short Story Cycle, 15)
While most of you are no doubt familiar with the short story as a genre, chances are, you are unfamiliar with the term “short-story cycle.” This is hardly surprising since, according to James Nagel in a recent study The Contemporary Short-Story Cycle: The Ethnic Resonance of a Genre,
The short-story cycle is the most neglected and the least well understood of the major genres in American literature. From the beginning, it has been without a place in literary history, and the individual works within the form have been greeted with misunderstanding and misinterpretation for well over a century.
Even in modern times, Edmund Wilson’s suggestion that In Our Time ErnestHemingway “has almost invented a form of his own” and Malcolm Cowley’s remark that in Knight’s Gambit William Faulkner developed a genre “peculiarly his own” illustrate that even the most sagacious of reviewers were innocent of the long tradition of interrelated short stories that could be arranged to form volumes with structural integrity and artistic congruence. (246)
Our course will attempt to allay the critical neglect and misunderstanding of the short-story cycle, whatever, as Nagel suggests, its prominence and significance in American literature through a thoughtful reading and discussion of ten American short-story cycles. Beyond the progressive and recursive incremental arrangement of stories in any given cycle, we will examine such elements as title, character, plot, chronology, setting, theme, point of view, myth, imagery, and framing devices in establishing organizing and unifying patterns within the cycle as a whole. Such considerations should lead to the identification of various conventions, devices, and techniques that characterize and define the short-story cycle as a genre and that differentiate the short-story cycle from a short story collection and from such related genres as the short story and the novel. Two critical-analytical essays, each of which should be 4-5 double-spaced pages in length. A take-home final essay exam. Texts include: Anderson, Winesburg; O’Brien ,The Things They Carried; Butler, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain;Pollock, Knockemstiff; Day, The Circus in Winter.
Study in Poetry: “The History of Rime from Thomas Campion & Samuel Daniel to MF Doom”
Modernity is not so much the end of the road for rhyme as the coming to an end of certain notions about rhyme, prose, language. Only according to one traditional vision is traditional rhyme dead.
– Henri Meschonnic, “Rhyme and Life”
This class will examine the history of rime as a formal device, philosophical concept, and everyday practice (or, an ethics). We will begin with the earliest rhyming poems in the English literary tradition— Conybeare’s Riming Poem (1072) and The Rime of King William (1087)— and end with an excursis on rap music and hip-hop culture of the late twentieth century. How have hip-hop MCs from Rakim and KRS-One to MF Doom retrofit rime? How does rime function as a sign of personal style? Throughout the semester, we will consider historical texts and debates about the use and value of rime, including Gascoigne’s “Certayne Notes of Instruction in English Verse,” Puttenham’s The Arte of English Poesie, Campion’s Observations in the Art of English Poesie, Daniel’s Defence of Ryme, Milton’s “Preface” to Paradise Lost, Wordworth’s “Preface to Lyrical Ballads,” selected texts by Swedenborg and Emerson (“Merlin I,” “Merlin II,” “Friendship”), T.S. Eliot’s “Reflections on Vers Libre,” Charles Olson’s “Projective Verse,” and selected works by Jean-Luc Nancy, including Listening and “Shattered Love” (from The Inoperative Community). Along the way, students will become familiar with poetry from across periods that, alternately, accepts and rejects rime. We will also consider the long history of rhyme dictionaryes, which date back to the Renaissance. Finally, we will think about rime as an everyday practice that’s essential to thinking about the politics of love and community. Attendance and participation is essential to student success in this class.
Literature for Children
In this course, we will become acquainted/reacquainted with a variety of children¹s literature of different genres (fairy tales, picture books, mysteries, and more). By engaging with topics such as family strife, playfulness, and the monstrous, we will scrutinize not only our notions of children¹s literature but also our (often romanticized) notions of what it means to be a child. While the course can be useful for educators, it is intended for all those who are interested in a rigorous examination of literature and the cultures of childhood. Books may includeWhere the Wild Things Are,Inside Out and Back Again, Picture This.
This course will examine works of poetry, fiction, and drama that are commonly taught in high school English classes. During our interrogation of texts, we will utilize various critical lenses to reveal traditional and alternative interpretations. Moreover, we will question what constitutes a literary ‘classic,’ who labels classics, and how issues of race, gender, class, religion, and language influence what is commonly taught in high school English classes. Issues of censorship as well as the influence of the Common Core exemplar text list will also be addressed.
Critical Theory and Practice
This course will introduce you to some of the major intellectual developments of the last 150 years that have played a crucial part in our understanding of, and appreciation for literary and cultural texts. Our readings will come from the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, Second Edition and will include work from the New Critics, Marx, Freud, Lacan, Althusser, Barthes, Foucault, and many others. This is a challenging class to be sure, but it can also be a rewarding one if you are willing to immerse yourself in the questions and concepts these works explore.
Rhetorical Theory to 1900
This course covers the history of rhetorical theory from 430 BCE to 1900AD with discussion of culture, dialectic, argument, persuasion, as well as biographical profiles of rhetorical theorists. Rhetoric is alive, useful, and one of the most intriguing social phenomena that humans possess: the ability to persuade with words and language. Students will work collaboratively and independently conducting research and presenting research orally. Students will also work with multiple media to present readings and research. Students will also be exposed to material and visual rhetorics. This course also meets the guidelines for “ancient thought and culture,” a transdisciplinary cluster required by Basic Studies.
The Age of Chaucer
The poet John Dryden said of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, “Here is God’s plenty.” In the first half of the course, we will sample this plenty through extensive readings in the Tales. We will also read Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, one of the great poems about love. In the second half of the course, we will study several notable works from other medieval writers, including Piers Plowman (a dream vision that includes much religious and social commentary); Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (the quintessential chivalric romance) and Le Morte D’Arthur (a compendium of the stories that had accumulated around the character of Arthur by the 15th century). Informal responses, oral presentation, critical paper of 2000 words, midterm, and final. Texts are same as for English 504-001.
Senior Seminar: TransAtlantic Romanticism
This course will look at the early development of Romanticism in England and Europe and how the genre was adopted, developed, and changed in the Americas. Romantic subjectivity traditionally privileges the individual, most often masculine ego, alone in Nature considering a transcendent experience, but we’llexplorehow women, slaves, and soldiersinteract withlandscape and thesublimeimagination as well. We'll investigate how different landscapes, inhabitants, and political systems for these authorsshaped what it means to be human in a beautiful if terrifying world. We’ll read a number of canonical and non-canonical texts, including work by Wordsworth, Byron, the Shelleys, Whitman, Thoreau, Melville, and Dickinson.
Senior Seminar: World Rhetorics and Intercultural Communication
Throughout your course of study at UNCW, you have learned various literary and rhetorical approaches that offer theoretical guidance in studying human communication. Studies in western rhetorical traditions and literary theory often have cultural limitations when communicating and collaborating in intercultural contexts. This course will survey issues in comparative rhetoric and intercultural communications that will help you see human communication in new ways. You will engage scholarly discussions in comparative rhetoric and intercultural communications alongside classical texts from China, Greece, India, and other important global populations. This class will discuss how these perspectives can inform our own communication practices and prepare you for collaborating and communicating in intercultural contexts. You will have the opportunity to critically reflect on what it means to write and communicate as a global citizen while applying content knowledge and skills to real world situations through online interactions with international students and clients.