Getting library help is often your first step in any writing assignment. This set of links will help you get started.
This free, one-on-one tutoring center will help you focus and revise your compositions. Here are some resources.
This free, one-on-one tutoring center will help you focus and revise your compositions. Here are some online handouts to get you started.
Click on the link to bring up the current Writing Center hours.
navigating the center
Don't know how to schedule an appointment? Confused as to what you should bring to your Writing Center consultation? Everything is answered here.
How to study
If deadlines make you tear out your hair, here is a nice place to start. Check out the study guides, sample timetables, handouts and links at this Writing Center page.
Undergraduate Course Descriptions
202-001 TR 3:30-4:45
202-003 TR 2:00-3:15
Introduction to Journalism
Introduction to news values, style, and writing. Focus is on writing leads, nut grafs and basic news stories under deadline pressure. Also included: note taking, interviewing, radio and broadcast journalism, online journalism, and an introduction to feature writing.
Introduction to Journalism
This class is an introduction to the world and skills of a working journalist. Through 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.
204-001 MWF 8:00-8:50 MO 204
204-002 MWF 9:00-9:50 MO 204
Introduction to Professional Writing
This web-enhanced course introduces students to the basic concepts involved in professional writing environments and provides guided practice in drafting business documents, such as resumes, memos, proposals and reports. Both individual and group writing projects will be assigned; however, collaborative assignments will be emphasized. Most importantly, the class is framed in a service-learning context, which means that students will act as writing consultants for an area non-profit agency or UNCW entity, completing a project that targets real world audiences. By the course’s end, students will produce writing artifacts suitable for inclusion in their professional portfolios.
Introduction to Professional Writing
Students in this course will engage core professional writing concepts including audience analysis, research, document design, usability, and ethical composing practices. Students will produce works including technical instructions, usability tests, and public relations documents in both print and multimedia formats. Individual and group projects are a feature of this course, as is directed service-learning with community partners. Text: Johnson-Sheehan, Technical Communication Today, 4th ed.
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.
Introduction to Professional Writing
Students will be exposed to reading, writing, composing, and designing a variety of professional and technical texts. Students will gain experience with writing traditional texts like memos and proposals, but also gain experience with design, social media, and video editing. Students will work with a variety of technologies like photoshop, camtasisa studio, adobe indesign, and various Web 2.0 tools and applications. Basic technology skills are required, but no extensive technology experience is necessary.
Students will also work off campus for a service learning and applied learning component. Students will work both individually and collaboratively within a group setting.
Introduction to Literary Studies
As English majors (or “would-be” English majors), you like to read and write, and you are probably good at both, but when faced with the assignment: “Analyze the following poem, or play, or novel,” how should you begin? This class will give you the practical steps to take when confronted with just such an assignment. Primarily a writing class, you will produce four carefully revised papers all of which demonstrate a particular critical approach to literature. Together we will read and apply contemporary theory and learn useful interpretive strategies so that you will have the analytical skills to compose informed and insightful essays in your future upper division English courses. Texts: Tyson, Critical Theory Today, 2nd ed.; Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Clifford and Schilb, Making Literature Matter, 5th ed.
Introduction to Literary Studies
Together we will explore some methods and theories of literary criticism—some ways of reading and some invention strategies for developing essays about literature. We’ll apply these to fiction, poetry, and drama. We’ll also consider why literary criticism matters. My aim is to develop a comfortable community of readers and writers as we analyze poems by Oliver, Clifton, Yau, Suarez, Pastan, and others in Schakel & Ridl’s 250 Poems: A Portable Anthology; Terrence McNally’s “Andre’s Mother”; Ann Hood’s novel, The Red Thread; Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; and Peter Shaffer’s prize-winning play, Equus. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers will also be required, as will Steven Lynn’s Text and Context: Writing about Literature with Critical Theory. Our class will also look into some strategies of literary research and will have instruction with an expert librarian in Randall Library. Students will write four or five essays during the semester and additional informal exercises in class.
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. In understanding how texts generate their (often contradictory) meanings, we’ll also see how those approaching texts are themselves “written” by both the texts before them and the cultural contexts in which they are themselves inscribed. In traditional literature classes, one often finds oneself in discussions of “what a text means,” but in this class we’ll shift our exploration of texts, focusing more on “how a text means” and “how we as readers are constructed to read in certain ways.” Through the analysis of poetry, of fiction, and of non-fiction, and through the methodical study of critical essays on those primary texts, we’ll learn the intricacies involved in negotiating the world through language. Students will produce a variety of essays, including research essays.
Introduction to Literary Studies
This course is an introduction to literary studies and will thus offer you the opportunity to develop your knowledge of how to read, interpret and write about literature. The course has four primary objectives: (1) to introduce you to the field of English studies, including discussions of what you can do with an English degree; (2) to provide you with instruction on how to do research and how to write as a literary scholar; (3) to expose you to general overviews of some prominent approaches to the study of literature; and (4) to enable you to critically examine your own approaches to literature through engagement with primary literary texts.
Because this is a writing intensive course, you will be asked to write and submit several formal response essays, argumentative research essays, and to keep an informal reading response journal. You will also be responsible for the readings and class discussions and to take occasional reading quizzes. As this will be a discussion based class, attendance, participation, and attention to the readings will of course be required.
This course partially fulfills the University Studies writing intensive and the information literacy requirements.
Introduction to Literary Studies
How does one find something interesting and informative to say about a work of literature? And how does one convey that interpretation effectively in writing? This course seeks to answer those two questions by introducing students to the theories and methods of literary criticism and by providing an opportunity for detailed attention to the process of writing and revision. We will begin by examining a variety of interpretive strategies for reading literature; and then we will write a series of papers applying what we have learned to several literary works. Texts: Gibaldi, The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.; Lynn, Texts and Contexts, 6th ed.; Treadwell, Machinal; Alger, Ragged Dick.
Classical Literature in Translation
Love and sexuality. Vengeance. Unwavering grief, accidental incest, and epic war. This course samples literature from the beginnings: the influential Greek and Roman authors who have shaped our understanding of the world from centuries in the past. We start with the Homeric epic and the calamitous adventures of Odysseus. Then we move on to three seminal Greek playwrights: Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus. In the Roman world, we read Virgil’s Aeneid and Ovid’s Metamorphosis, concluding with elegiac works of Latin poetry. All the while we compare ancient themes to current themes, classical symbols to present-day symbols, and lend our attentiveness to the recurrent role of narrative and mythology in governing our social experiences.
Ashley Bissette Sumerel
In this course, students will become familiar with Greek, Roman, and Norse Mythology, as well myths from many other cultures. We’ll explore several types of myths, such as Creation Myths, Trickster Myths, and the Female Divine. In addition to critical analysis of the myths, students will explore how they affect our own culture and can inform our reading of literature.
This is a fully online course. Assignments may include weekly discussion boardparticipation, essays, and exams.
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. Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. 1, 8th ed.
211-002 TR 11:00-12:15
211-003 TR 12:30-1:45
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 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, Keats, Austen, Browning, Rossetti, Yeats, Eliot, Ford, Mansfield, Joyce, Beckett, and Smith. We will engage with canonical and non-canonical texts in a wide variety of modes, genres, and media, including lyric and narrative poetry, stage and closet drama, the literary and graphic novel, the essay and manifesto, genre fiction (e.g., detective fiction and the gothic), as well as cinema, television, and music. 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, nationalism and colonialism, shifting gender roles, the emergence of “popular culture”, World Wars I and II, the decline of the British Empire, postmodernism, and globalism.
Readings will include selections from The Norton Anthology of British Literature – Volume 2; Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, vol. 1; Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier; The Clash, London Calling (selected songs); The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks (selected songs); Zadie Smith, White Teeth; John Cleese’s Fawlty Towers (selected episodes); and acclaimed Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges (film). Students are expected to attend supplementary film screenings throughout the term (i.e., Jane Campion’s John Keats biopic, Bright Star; Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; and Atom Egoyan’s adaptation of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape). Attendance and participation are essential to success in the course.
American Literature to 1870
The course surveys major authors in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from the colonial period to 1870.
Every student keeps a reading journal and writes two analytical essays, each of which comprises 20% of the semester grade. Final exam and a series of reading quizzes each account for 20%. Text: McQuade, Donald, et al. The Harper American Literature. vol 1.
American Literature to 1870
Professor Lee Schweninger
This course will offer you an overview of American literature from the era of European contact through the late Romantics in the nineteenth century. We will read this literature in its literary, political, historical, and social contexts.As such, we will look at literature of the European Explorers, at some American Indian responses to encounters with Europeans, at the colonial period including Puritan poets and historians, at the writings of some of the founding fathers and mothers, and at the Romantic era writers such as Poe, Irving, Hawthorne, Stowe, Dickinson, and Whitman, as well as Emerson and Throreau, lynchpins of the American literary renaissance, as it has been called.
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. As this will be a discussion based class, attendance, participation, and attention to the readings will of course be required.
This course partially fulfills the University Studies writing intensive requirement.
224-001 TR 9:30-10:45
224-003 TR 12:30-1:45
American Literature since 1870
In this course we will read representative short fiction, plays, and poems in American literature from the late 1900s to the present. We will discover how and why each story “works”—how it captures the reader’s interest, the aesthetic methods the authors use to tell their story. We will also look at the political, social, and cultural context; and we will discuss such issues as emerging feminism, critical responses to racism, the literature of propaganda, alienation and literary experiment, and why some writers get represented in anthologies and others do not. At times reading selections will be lengthy, so be forewarned. This section will also emphasize critical discussion and writing. Texts: Cain, American Literature, vol. 2; Faulkner, As I Lay Dyin.
World Literature since 1600
This course explores representative works of world literature from Asian, African, European, and South American traditions since 1600. Featured authors include Cao Xueqin, Voltaire, Basho, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Ellison, Tolstoy, Tagore, Kafka, Borowski, García Márquez, and Achebe.
We will look at common themes, the techniques of storytelling, the use of metaphoric language, how literature relates to the other arts and to political, social, philosophical, or religious ideas. You will learn to trace a chronology of world literature from the 1600 to the present, while making comparative explorations between national literatures.
World Anglophone Literatures
Anglophone is defined as: “An English-speaking person, especially one in a country where two or more languages are spoken.” This theme based Literature course will examine various fiction and non-fiction pieces written in English from a range of Caribbean Islands. We will explore the cultural nuances associated with the works and their relationships to individual and collective identity.
Women in Literature
By primarily exploring texts by modern women authors, this course investigates the roles, expectations, and representations of women while critically engaging with women’s issues. In a discussion-based setting, this course interrogates how women internalize, resist, negotiate, and/or perform their social, cultural, and gendered positioning within the context of writing. Work will include discussion, response papers, and a final analytical project.
Women in Literature
Ashley Bissette Sumerel
In this course, we will analyze and discuss classic and contemporary women’s literature, including the works of Bradstreet, Dickinson, Plath, Sexton, and Chopin. As we read these texts, we will also explore topics such as women’s rights, female sexuality, and traditional and non-traditional gender roles.
The Bible as Literature
This course examines the Bible as a literary work, or, more accurately, as a collection of literary works. Through readings in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Apocrypha, we will consider matters such as genre (for example, narrative, poetry, history, letter, parable); style (for example, diction, metaphor, simile, symbol); historical and geographical context, authors, and organization; literary and cultural influences on the Bible; and the canon. Written work includes brief responses; reading quizzes; two tests; and a longer paper of 1500-2000 words. Oral participation is expected. It is absolutely essential that everyone who enrolls in the course acquire both of the assigned texts. The only acceptable version of the Bible for class use is The New Jerusalem Bible (the hardback edition with full footnotes—not the paperback version and not any other Bible). Texts: Gabel, Wheeler, and Citino, The Bible as Literature. 5th ed; Wansbrough, ed.,The New Jerusalem Bible.
Themes in Literature: Science Fiction
Through a variety of stories, novels, and films, we will explore popular themes in Science fiction, including Alien Encounters, Artificial Life, Time, Dystopias and Apocalypses. We will read classic writers: Bradbury, Le Guin, Asimov, Dick, Heinlein ad well as such recent masters as Octavia Butler and Cormac McCarthy. Two short papers and two exams.
Themes in Literature: Evolution of the Vampire
Ashley Bissette Sumerel
Vampires. From the ghastly, ruthless monster to the sympathetic version with a conscience, these mythological creatures have fascinated readers for centuries. In this course, we will explore the ways in which the vampire myth has evolved, as well as the common themes that seem to occur throughout every vampire story. Required texts may include: Polidori’s “The Vampyre,” Le Fanu’s “Carmilla,” Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, and Graham-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Assignments will include essays, exams, and short response papers.
Themes in Literature—Stories of Food, Family, and Culture
“You are what you eat.” We explore literary depictions of this notion: narratives of family life and growing up; depictions of relationships between the generations; food as a metaphor and a symbol representing history, culture, and individual identity; explorations of cultural beliefs and folklore connected to food. We’ll discuss memoirs, a couple of essays, and a novel centered on food. You will, in addition, get a deeper appreciation of the texts by doing an analysis of one book enriched through research on the culture depicted in the text and by penning your own brief food memoir. We may even sample some of the recipes in the books! You will begin the process of writing your brief food memoir by selecting and writing down a recipe that is important to your family, or to a close group of friends, then creating an introduction to the recipe. Readings include: Pepin’s The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen; Reichl’s Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table; Hamilton’s Blood, Bones, and Butter; Samuelsson’s Yes, Chef; a food essay or two by Ann Hood; Mones’s The Last Chinese Chef; and Abu Jaber’s The Language of Baklava.
Themes in Literature
Grab your love beads, peace signs, and 45s! Join this class for a look at three movements of the decade that forever changed the social and legal foundation of America. Through fiction, nonfiction, and music, we will explore the civil rights/black power movement, the counterculture/ antiwar movement, and the second feminist movement. We will look at works by Gloria Steinem, Martin Luther King, Richard Brautigan and yes, The Beatles, among others. Imagine!
Themes in Literature: White Vinegar and Chicken Coops: The Narratives of Homesteading and Self-Sustainability
Since the economic collapse in 2007, many people have reevaluated their role as a consumer. People that once purchased goods such as processed food and commercial products have begun to question if manufactured goods are necessary. As a result, there has been a shift away from consumerism and toward the idea of do-it-yourself (DIY). Consequently, this DIY mindset has rapidly evolved into a new subculture of people resisting the mass market and relying on self-sustainability. One of the most radical and dramatic movements in the DIY culture is homesteading—going back to the land, living a simple life, and maintaining self-sufficiency. Closely reading the narratives of homesteaders from America and abroad, we will explore the new movement to re-embrace farming and home economics. We will investigate not only the non-fiction, narrative literatures of homesteading but also how self-sustainability possibly acts as a method of resistance, control, and healing. Various forms of material will be used to supplement our readings including sources such as Pinterest, Etsy, and other popular DIY media. Students should expect a required service learning component.
Continuation of ENG 202, this course focuses on advanced reporting and writing skills for online and print media. Students will produce a series of related news and feature stories, while critically reading the work of professionals and peers, in part to prepare for graduate study or a career in the field. Students will produce stories in other journalistic forms, genres and media (such as op/ed., reviews, and a long-form feature), while honing their journalistic craft.
Reading and Writing Arguments
A course in critical reading and writing exploring such concepts as "argument," "persuasion," and "rhetoric." We will study readings from popular periodicals which focus mainly on contemporary social and political issues, and we will critique these readings for the argumentative strategies the authors make use of. Students will enjoy a better understanding of the structure of well-argued essays and of the support required to gain an audience’s assent. Required will be a portfolio of five polished essays, the last of which will require significant research.
304-001 TR 12:30-1:45
304-002 TR 2:00-3:15
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 writing instruction in the future.
306-001 MWF 9:00-9:50 MO 202
306-003 TR 9:30-10:45 MO 106
“A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out,” says Virginia Woolf.
Dynamic discussions of the texts will not only generate a shared critical lexicon, but shape readers into writers. Workshops and drafting will evolve students into editors. And, in the end, through research and a variety of exercises on form, students will produce their own portfolio of powerful personal essays.
“You are going after wisdom,” Phillip Lopate reminds us.
In ENG 306, we will explore the contemporary essay. We will read and discuss model essays but focus mainly on the writing our own essays (expect memoir, profiles, lyric essays, segmented essays and more). All writers are researchers, so be ready for a creative approach to research as well. In addition, we will work on developing critical skills through reading, small peer group critiques, and larger group workshops. The end result will be a portfolio of work that illustrates your understanding of the literary essay.
Students in this course develop strategies to improve documents and 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.
310-001 MWF 10:00-10:50
310-002 MWF 11:00-11:50
Theory and Practice of Editing
Instruction in strengthening the backbone of writing. 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: Creative Editing; Media Writer's Handbook, and The Associated Press Stylebook.
Professional Magazine Writing
Nothing tells the whole story the way a magazine piece does, and, in this course, students will have hands-on experience in this long-form style: developing story ideas, interviewing sources, reporting far-ranging topics, shaping their writing and creating a point of view. This course is designed to take a student to the next level of writing and reporting, where the superficial is peeled back, and the deeper reporting begins. No formal textbook is required.
312-001 MWF 12:00-12:50
312-002 MWF 1:00-1:50
Writing for Business
Professional writing is not just about crossing all our T's and dotting all our I's properly. Writing on the job requires knowing the types of documents that are familiar to our bosses and coworkers, so they can find information quickly. Each of these documents has certain conventions and requirements we need to master to communicate effectively - and efficiently - in the workplace. In this course, we will focus on analyzing and producing rhetorically effective workplace writing with an eye to audience awareness, using different genres, and developing a professional tone throughout. Students will work individually and collaboratively on projects ranging from letters and resumes to reports and proposals. The course is suitable for students of any major who want to improve their professional writing skills and thus their career potential. By the course’s end, students will produce writing artifacts suitable for inclusion in their professional portfolios and will participate in the English in Action Showcase held at the end of the semester.
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.
Writing about Film
In this class we will explore what it means to write about film from a critical and analytical perspective. We will begin the course with a review of writing mechanics and film terminology and then turn to a number of feature (and short) films that will serve as focal points for our excursions into academic and journalistic writing. While we will spend some time considering the review, we will concentrate most of our efforts on the critical/analytical essay.
Although much of this class concerns itself with film studies and history, it is at heart (and in practice) a writing course, and therefore a writing intensive course. Information on course readings will be available on Blackboard once the course begins.
317-002 TR 11:00-12:15 MO 207
317-003 TR 12:30-1:45 MO 102
Writing about Film
Primarily a writing course but we focus seriously on 9 documentary films and their narrative and imaginative practices as well as cinematic concerns such as point of view, camera angles, etc. Films include Grizzly Man, The Cove, Exit through the Gift Shop, and Catfish, and more recent films like Queen of Versailles. Assignments are reviews and critical essays.
Writing and Activism
Why be active? Why work for change? What change? How? What part does writing play in answering these questions? Those and many more vexations will provide our gravitational hub this semester. But one answer is plain: we will be writing (and revising) constantly. Texts: Some to be announced; others to be determined by class.
In this course, students will identify, practice, and critique principles of document design. They will reflect on the rhetorical impact of their decisions regarding typography, color, images, and space, as they draft and revise both print and electronic documents. In addition, they will develop strategies for assessing and improving a document’s usability, and they will apply their skills to a service-learning project. Texts: Kimball and Hawkins, Document Design: A Guide for Technical Communicators; Williams, The Non-Designers’ Design Book.
321-001 TR 9:30-10:45 MO 207
321-002 TR 11:00-12:15 MO 210
Structure of English Language
In this course you will become an expert in themetalanguage of the structures of English, particularly the syntactic ones. You have been a master of most of those structures since early childhood; we need to concentrate on making this knowledge conscious, giving you the ability to describe what you know, and making predictions based on that knowledge. In addition, some of the structures that we deal with in here may be new to you. This deeper understanding of your language should carry over into several related areas, and learning how to apply syntax to your own interests is one of your responsibilities. You need no special linguistic training to succeed. Text: Börjars and Burridge,Introducing English Grammar. 2nd ed.
325-001 MWF 12:00-12:50
325-002 MWF 1:00-1:50
Studies in Sociolinguistics
Language is a primary way we indicate aspects of our social identity. Beyond the semantic content of our utterances, speech communicates who we are, where we come from, and what social experience we have had. In this introductory course on sociolinguistics, we study this relationship between language and social identity through a variety of key topics in sociolinguistics: language choice in multilingual speech communities; linguistics varieties and multilingual nations; national language and language planning; regional and ethnic dialects; language, gender, and sexuality; and register, genre, and style. We ask questions such as why do people speak differently in different social contexts, what are the diverse ways speakers use language to signal aspects of their social identity, and what does language reveal about social relationships within a community?
Shakespeare: Early Play/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.”
---Robert GravesThe 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-wide 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 eight 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 across 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, who recently passed away in Murrell’s Inlet, SC, 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
Shakespeare’s Later Plays
This course will cover seven plays selected from the second half of Shakespeare’s career, including representative comedies (Twelfth Night, All’s Well That Ends Well), tragedies (Othello, Macbeth), classical plays (Timon of Athens), and romances (The Winter’s Tale). Among other things, we will consider issues of genre, gender, historicity, and power. Reading quizzes, informal response papers, midterm and final exams, oral presentation, and critical paper of 2000 words. Text: Bevington, ed., The Complete Works of Shakespeare. 6th ed.
Studies in Postcolonial Literature: Pakistani Literature
ENG 343 fulfills the Living in a Global Society University Studies requirement and counts toward the South Asia Thematic Transdisciplinary Cluster.
As of mid-September 2012, the US State Department re-issued its travel warning to American citizens interested in going to Pakistan. That warning reads, in part, “Threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, and outdoor recreation events. Terrorists have disguised themselves as Pakistani security personnel to gain access to targeted areas. Some media reports have falsely identified U.S. diplomats – and to a lesser extent U.S. and other Western journalists and non-governmental organization workers – as being intelligence operatives or private security personnel.” Such framings of Pakistan-as-threatening pervade many of the representations of this nation with which you may already be familiar.
Compare the thrust of the State Department’s stance to this description of Pakistan, penned by Mohsin Hamid, one of the nation’s most celebrated young novelists: “We have transvestite talk-show hosts, advocates for ‘eunuch rights’, burqa-wearers, turbaned men with beards, outstanding fast bowlers, mediocre opening batsmen, tribal chieftans, bhang-drinking farmers, semi-nomadic shepherds, and at least one champion female sprinter.” The differences between these two representations of Pakistan define the project of this course: without diminishing or dismissing the real violence occurring in Pakistan, we will examine our own cultural references to this nation alongside the vibrant and varied literary imaginaries created by Pakistani writers who number among the finest authors working in postcolonial/South Asian/global literatures today.
Through our exploration of Pakistani literature, we’ll examine how literature engages with historical events and narratives; conjures that nation’s linguistic, ethnic, and geographical diversity; represents the status of minority communities; and intervenes in two-dimensional framings of “Muslim” or “Pakistan” so frequently propagated by non-Pakistani sources. We’ll read works by Mohsin Hamid, Mohammad Hanif, Uzma Aslam Khan, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Jamil Ahmed, Sorayya Khan, Kamila Shamsie, Bapsi Sidhwa, and others. Students will participate actively, moderate class discussion, write in a variety of formats, and come away with more questions than answers.
U.S. Latino Literature
U.S. Latino/a writers with cultural and ancestral ties to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Peru, and Cuba are changing the landscape of American literature with their imaginative and energetic writing. We read closely poetry, fiction, plays, and memoirs by Sandra Cisneros, Junot Diaz, Julia Alvarez, José Rivera, Carlos Eire, Marie Arana, Virgil Suarez, and Cristina Garcia, using the guidance of feminist theory, reader-response criticism, and cultural studies. Machismo's influence on gender roles and Gloria Anzaldua's work on the New Mestiza enrich our discussion, as does recent scholarship on Latin literature. Themes of multicultural identity in tension with the mainstream American culture are a prominent thread of class discussions. History in fiction is another theme. Students write two essays: one is analytical (on poetry or play), and the other asks students to research the cultural community of one Latin author as framework for the discussion of the novel or memoir. Readings include: Woman Hollering Creek (Cisneros), This Is How You Lose Her (Diaz), Learning to Die in Miami (Eire), American Chica (Arana), Marisol and Other Plays (Rivera), 90 Miles: New and Selected Poems (Suarez), Saving the World (Alvarez) and The Lady Matador’s Hotel (Garcia).
American Indian Literature
This course will offer you an in-depth look at several American Indian writers from the 20th- and 21st centuries. We will look at a couple earlier writers such as William Apess (Pequot), Luther Standing Bear (Sioux), and Charles Eastman (Sioux) and at writers of the so-called American Indian Renaissance: Momaday (Kiowa), Welch (Blackfeet/Gros Ventre), Vizenor (Anishinaabe), and Erdrich (Anishinaabe). We will also read some of the younger, more recent writers such as Susan Power (Dakota), Sherman Alexie (Coeur d'Alene), Aaron Carr (Navajo), Sarah Vowell (Cherokee), and Toni Jensen (Métis). We will consider the very important historical and political contexts of the writings and also look at the other arts, especially American Indian painting of the same era.
For this class, you will be asked to keep an informal reading response journal, to write formal short response essays, be responsible for the readings and class discussions, and to take occasional reading quizzes and mid-semester and a final essay exams. You will also be asked to lead class discussion at least once during the semester. As this will be a discussion-based class, your contributions are critical and thus attendance, participation, and attention to the readings will be required.
This course fulfills the University Studies Living in a Diverse Nation requirement.
African American Literature to 1945
Through the theme “Flight Patterns,” this course examines various depictions of migration, escape, and flight imagery in the African American literary tradition, from the oldest texts in the oral tradition through the post-war era. We will consider the role of such depictions as storytelling devices, as well as the ways they illuminate notions of family, sexuality, racial and regional identities, and class status. Students will locate, summarize and interpret one course-related critical essay in an oral presentation, produce response essays throughout the semester, and take a final exam. Text: McKay and Gates, Norton Anthology of African American Literature 2nd ed.
Studies in Short Fiction
A discussion oriented class focused on an analysis of short fiction written since 1945. We begin with an anthology of classic American stories by such masters as Cheever, Ellison, Updike, Carver, Le Guin and Oates. In the second half we will read O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and the O’Henry Prize Stories from 2012. Two short papers and two exams.
Studies in the Novel
Fought on two fronts—domestic and corporate—the battle for the American Dream escalated into an existential crisis in the 1950s. The home, once treasured as a sanctuary, weighed heavily like an albatross around the necks of postwar husbands and wives: a money pit for him, a prison for her. More painful than mortgages for suburbanites, however, was the realization that they—unlike their country, which believed completely in its “exceptionalism”—were not special. They were average, conducting lives as prefab and unoriginal as William Levitt’s tract houses.
In the hinterlands of suburbia, the pleasing belch of Tupperware, the glimmering linoleum, and the polished chrome of the latest Sunbeam appliance furnished these lives in opulent predictability. This course examines the rise of the suburban novel after World War II. As the low-grade discontentment that simmered beneath driveways and in living rooms finally broke through in the literature of the period, we will critique how authors like Sloan Wilson, Richard Yates, Rick Moody, A. M. Homes, and John Updike chronicled the phenomenon in a modern vernacular of aspiration and angst.
Studies in Drama: Eugene O’Neill and His Contemporaries
This course will study the rise of American theater in the 1920s and 1930s. Although Eugene O’Neill’s innovative plays will form the nucleus of the course, we will also examine representative works of his contemporaries to understand how the American theater transformed itself from a derivative art into a vibrant and exciting modernism. Some of the issues we will explore include the role of the little theater in educating audiences to appreciate more innovative fare; the obsession toward experiment with expressionistic and symbolistic staging techniques; the search for mythic representations of American history and its accompanying search for modern tragedy, and the role of depression-era theater and the issue of art vs. propaganda. Texts: O’Neill, Complete Plays, 1920-1931; Rice, Three Plays; Treadwell, Machinal; Odets, Waiting for Lefty and Other Plays; and others as PDFs.
European Literature to 1900
Prerequisite: ENG 103 or ENG 201. ENG 205 recommended but not required.
European Literature to 1900 emphasizes continental European narrative styles from the Early Renaissance to the mid-19th century. We will travel through Italy, Spain, France, and Germany to uncover some of the predominant themes of the times. Narrative techniques--such matters as point of view, plot construction, imagery, characterization, and that elusive quality we call style--will be stressed to the extent that they help us to understand the role of storytelling as a means of instruction and entertainment.
Works to be discussed include: Boccaccio’s Decameron, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Lafayette’s Princesse de Clèves, Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther, and Flaubert’s A Simple Heart.
Women’s Literary Tradition
For this class, we will read, discuss, and write about 18th, 19th, and 20th century novels in order to explore the ways women writers have made sense of their experiences in stories. Given that Austen, the Brontes, Eliot, Woolf, and Wharton lived and wrote under the sometimes protective but inevitably the oppressive authority of patriarchy, we will investigate how they reiterated, interrogated, and contested patriarchal expectations. We will pay close attention to the historical contexts of the novels, especially the social construction of gender, identity, femininity, masculinity, and sexual desire. Reading to include: Austen, Sense and Sensibility, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre; Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; Eliot, Mill on the Floss; Woolf, To the Lighthouse; Wharton, Age of Innocence; Oates, We Were the Mulvaneys. Work to include informal responses, 2 essay tests, 1 formal paper
American and British Poetry since 1945
This course will examine American and British poetry since 1945. By semester’s end, students will be familiar with popular figures of the period, including Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Larkin, Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood, Seamus Heaney, and Eavan Boland. However, a major emphasis throughout the semester will be avant-garde poetry that challenges the formal, social, political, and institutional parameters of poetry. Accordingly, students will engage with works by the likes of John Cage, Russell Atkins, Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka, Ed Dorn, Hannah Weiner, Maggie O’Sullivan, Aram Saroyan, Clark Coolidge, Christian Bok, and Caroline Bergvall. We will always be thinking reflexively about the following questions: what constitutes “a poem”? What kinds of materials and language(s) can a poem absorb? How and where are poems produced and consumed? What is the relationship between poetry and music, or poetry and the visual arts? What is the relationship between formal innovation and radical politics?
Students will alternate between reading selected anthology pieces— the “greatest hits” of post-1945 American and British poetry, if you will— and exciting full-length collections and book-length long poems. The latter allows for sustained and rigorous engagement with the work of single poets. Texts will include The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry – Vol. 2; Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos; Ed Dorn, Gunslinger; Leonard Cohen, Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs; Hannah Weiner, Hannah Weiner’s Open House; David Antin, i never knew what time it was; M. NourbeSe Philip, Zong!, as well as selections from the University of Utah’s ECLIPSE digital archive. Also, throughout the term (when possible), students will engage with poetry recordings, thus developing close listening skills as a complement to close reading skills. Finally, students are expected to attend supplementary film screenings related to the course (e.g., Polis is This: Charles Olson and the Persistance of Place; Ladies and Gentleman… Mr. Leonard Cohen; and the 2010 feature film, Howl, starring James Franco). Note: attendance and participation are essential to success in the class.
Literature for Children
In this course we will explore children’s literature across both time and genre, from centuries-old nursery rhymes to contemporary novels. Our close readings of texts and illustrations will apply different critical theories, and consider the role of children’s literature in both history and popular culture. We will, lastly, consider the relationship between the adults who write, illustrate, market, and choose children’s books, and the children who read and experience them. While this course is a selective survey of the history and genres of children’s literature, we will pay special attention to issues of labor, which are intimately connected to the history of what it means to be a child. In the Western world, the past few centuries have seen a move from agrarian cultures in which children were expected to share the family’s workload, to the development of a Romantic ideal of childhood as a state that required protection, and influenced some of the first child labor laws, to the economic necessities of child labor in the Great Depression and World War II, to the development of the 20th century idea of the teenager who worked for his or her own pocket money, to the policing of human rights violations regarding child labor worldwide. One of the functions of children’s literature is to instruct the reader on how the world works. What kinds of representations of childhood and labor (both children’s and adults’) do we find in children’s literature? This course will develop your critical understanding of children’s literature through analysis of children’s books not only as works of art, but also as powerful cultural influences.
Literature for Young Adults
In this course we will examine both classic and contemporary young adult literature as scholars, educators, and readers. From each standpoint we will apply various critical lenses such as Marxist/social class, feminist, queer theory, archetypal/genre, and postcolonial to readings in order to gain a deeper understanding of the various roles young adult literature plays in the lives of its readers both in and out of formal schooling. We will also consider how young adult literature can play a role in identity formation, in preventing bullying, in decreasing sexual violence, in reducing homophobia, and in addressing adolescent issues such as drug use, eating disorders, and self-mutilation. This course may include titles such as: Speak, Hunger Games, Monster, Geography Club, Black and White, Crank, 47, Luna, Shooter, The Outsiders, Holes, Go Ask Alice, Touching Spirit Bear, Hatchet, and Uglies.
Literature for Young Adults
Throughout the semester, we will examine a broad range of literature, including novels, memoirs, advice books, and graphic narratives about and for adolescents. We will read these texts sympathetically and critically, paying particular attention to the influence of youth culture and popular culture more broadly. What does it mean to be an adolescent in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? How (and why) are adolescents idealized/villainized/ portrayed "authentically" in YA texts and adult crossover texts, and what might "authentically" mean? We will pay particular attention to the ways YA literature confronts issues of otherness, constructs alternate worlds, and is marketed to its target audience.
Ways of Teaching Literature
The “I Don’t Like English” Literature Class: Although primarily designed for English Education majors who are working towards teacher licensure K-12, this class is open to all students interested in analyzing how literature is taught. Using an intertextual or “transactional” pedagogical approach to the study of literature, this course seeks strategies to engage even the most reluctant readers in the class by using dark themes as a way to entice resistant readers, especially male students who studies show lag significantly behind female readers. In addition to popular texts, students read challenged, banned or censored selections from all levels (elementary to high school) to reflect on their own individual responses and experiences to literature, to examine the underlying pedagogy of best practices, and then to create lessons incorporating those theories. We will learn the basics of connecting classics to contemporary texts, using more relatable, engaging, and even simpler texts to lead students to a deeper understanding of a more difficult text. By making connections to past texts they have encountered, examining strategies that past teachers have used, and connecting to others in their course community, students will learn how to use innovative and age-appropriate teaching methods.
This course will introduce you to some of the major critical and theoretical texts that have influenced our perception of literary and cultural studies since the late nineteenth century. Throughout the semester, we will explore notions of intertextuality, difference, hegemony, and ideology as we read authors like Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes, and Michel Foucault.
This is a challenging class, but it can also be a rewarding one if you are willing to immerse yourself in the material. We will be using the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, Second Edition as well as numerous online readings and you will be required to take close reading notes and keep up.
Rhetorical Theory since 1900
This course picks up just after the 19th century rhetoricians. Students will be exposed to 20th and 21st century rhetoricians and the history or rhetoric. While rhetoricians like Kenneth Burke and I.A. Richards are rhetoricians who make significant contributions to rhetorical theory, we will also view Donna Haraway and N. Kathryn Hales as twenty-first century rhetoricians.
Rhetoric, argument, and persuasion are intricately connected, and understanding the nature of how persuasion and rhetoric can enhance the impact of communication is necessary for critical thinking and critical analyses of culture, politics, and everyday social situations. The goal of the course is to give students a solid history of rhetoric in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. At the end of the course, we want to rethink what it means to be a twenty-first century rhetorician.
Studies in Literature: Holocaust Narrative
The purpose of this course is to engage students in the critical study of literature produced during and about the Holocaust. Among the most compelling literature of our day is that which records and seeks to interpret the Nazi war of genocide against the Jews. Our task will be a tough one: if, as generally agreed upon, the Holocaust cannot possibly be accurately represented, how, then, can we study it? We will consider issues of representation, voice, and genre, as well as study current events and controversies regarding Holocaust history and narrative. The scope of this course historically is from early twentieth-century European narrative through present-day global narrative. Literarily, the scope covers narratives across genre, from poetry to short story to drama to testimony to film to historical and art objects. We will seek to make connections to other literatures of marginalized groups, studies of oppressed peoples, human rights concerns, discussions of individual and communal responsibilities, and significant ethical questions from both the time period of the Holocaust to those that we face today. These kinds of connections are useful in enhancing an understanding of how the Holocaust was implemented, and also our individual responsibilities to each other today. This course can be taken as part of the Judaic Studies Cluster.
Studies in Literature: Beat Generation
Let’s play a little game called “Name that decade.” Ready? Based on the following clues, “Name that decade.”
Or how about the following notable quotations:
“If it feels good, do it.”
“Tune in, turn on, drop out.”
”Make love. Not war.”
“End it! And end it now!”
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
“Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last.”
“Now come on all of you big strong men
Uncle Sam needs your help again
Got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
Put down your books pick up your gun
Gonna have a whole lot of fun.”
“Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?”Or to provide an historical frame of reference, at the outset of the decade Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson won the national election over Republicans Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and, perhaps even more significantly, Elvis Presley completed his army tour of duty in Germany. By the end of the decade, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X had been assassinated, Dwight D. Eisenhower (one of the most notable icons of the previous decade) had died of natural causes, the U.S. was embroiled in the Vietnam War, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization was established under the leadership of Yasser Arafat.
Well, it probably didn’t take you long “to catch on.” We’re talking, of course, about the “60’s” in America, a decade you very well may have lived through yourself or heard about second hand from your parents and possibly even your grandparents. While the whole notion of “decades” is admittedly arbitrary and historically naïve, still certain decades in American life over the past century are foregrounded by key developments on the national scene or by a distinctive zeitgeist: “the roaring 20’s”; the Depression years (1930s); the World War II years (l940s); the 50s; and the focus of our course, the 1960s. Compared to the frequent, though oversimplified, characterization of the 50s as a decade of unprecedented prosperity and the accompanying materialistic pursuit of the “good life,” the 60s were marked by radical turbulence and social upheaval that manifested it- self in a broad spectrum of revolutionary movements, ranging from the Civil Rights Movement and the women’s movement—both of which were actually grounded in the 50s—to the anti-war movement, the free speech movement, the Black Arts movement, and the environmental movement. It would, of course, be impossible to amply cover all of the major social, political, and cultural aspects of the 60s over a fifteen-week period. As a result, “this time out” our course will focus on the development of a distinctive counterculture in the 60s and such ancillary topics as rock ‘n’ roll, poster art, underground “comix,” psychedelics, the “summer of love,” the sexual revolution, and alternative social experiments.I hope to make this class as casual and informal as possible. While I will provide a sense of guidance and structure, what matters most in the course is your thoughtful and meaningful interaction with and response to the assigned readings. The course will thus be slanted more toward informal discussion than formal lectures. To facilitate such discussion, I would emphasize the importance of reading critically; if you haven’t already developed the habit, learn to read with a pencil or pen—underlining key points/passages, raising questions, noting personal insights and perceptions, identifying illuminating cross-references with other texts, the current arena of local, national, and international affairs, other academic courses you have taken, and, as relevant, your own personal history.
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
--Hunter S. Thompson
“The answer is never the answer. The need for mystery is always greater than the need for answers.”
“When you don’t know where you’re going, you have to stick together just in case someone gets there.”
Texts: Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Kotzwinkle, The Fan Man; Ed McClanahan, ed., Spit in the Ocean: All about Kesey; Miles, Hippie; Ohle, Roger Martin, and Susan Brosseau, eds., Cows Are Freaky When They Look at You: An Oral History of the Kaw Valley Hemp Pickers; Roskind, Memoirs of an Ex-Hippie; Hunter Thompson, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream; Hunter Thompson,Gonzo Papers, volume 1: The Great Shark Hunt—Strange Tales from a Strange Time; Tom Wolfe, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
“Always stay in your own movie.”
Senior Seminar: A Literature of Insanity from Dracula to Dexter
This course will explore and chart the conceptual and aesthetic development of insanity, particularly as it relates to the construction of the Romantic ego and the gothic genre, itself a catch-all for texts dealing with such things as the supernatural, sexual ambiguity, violence, perversions, and myriad marginalized social human practices and beliefs. Using psychoanalytic and genre theory, we’ll chart an evolution of “the insane ego” from its beginnings until today and seek to discover not only how it has been historically constructed and what ends it has socially served, but why, at this particular moment in time does it today have such a tremendous presence in popular culture.
Reading Virginia Woolf
This course will follow 3 paths: We will read much of Woolf’s fiction in order to familiarize ourselves with her styles, themes, and efforts to both subvert and appropriate Western literary traditions. We will “visit” Bloomsbury in order to get inside her social and scholarly group. And, we will read some of her nonfiction in order to understand her life story on her own terms. With each step, we will come to know this legendary intellectual, extraordinary empathizer, and self-reflecting novelist. Finally, I hope our paths will converge as we imagine the lighthouse beam going round and hear the sound of the waves breaking on the shore. Reading to include: The Voyage Out; Jacob’s Room; Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse; Orlando; A Room of One’s Own; The Waves; Moments of Being. Work to include informal responses and 2 well-researched seminar papers.
Senior Seminar: Data lives: Revisioning digital and information literacies for professional writing
Our social and commercial activities in digital environments leave traces of our data lives and ensure that data about us lives in numerous electronic spaces. Professional writers working in organizations need to mine the data generated as the byproduct of digital interactions and transactions to answer questions important for advancing their endeavors. In this course, students will enhance their digital and information literacies by learning to develop research questions and deploy the appropriate tools needed for data driven research that will increasingly inform the activities of professional writers in the 21st century. Students will complete individual and collaborative projects and deliver presentations designed to aid them to move from generating data through their activities in electronic spaces to locating and using the available data to effectively and ethically achieve their professional goals.
Senior Seminar: Twisted Rhetorics: Interpreting and Responding to Texts that Transgress
So much of what we encounter seems, well, twisted. It may be an ancient form like satire or parody—Stephen Colbert’s shtick fits this category. It may be a contemporary (or contemporary-seeming) ploy like the gambits of the Westboro Baptist Church, seeking to offend with bold intention. It may be a mundane office communication that has gone awry, making you wonder, “What were they thinking?” This course will explore those instances in which messages defy expectations and cross the boundaries of typical, polite communication. Because we’ll always encounter these messages, in politics, in religion, in our social lives, at home and at work, we need a critical toolkit for understanding and handling them. Through theoretical readings and plenty of examples from Diogenes to the Dropkick Murphys, we’ll explore what it means to transgress—and what that transgression tells us about the unstated expectations being violated. You’ll have the opportunity to practice interpreting and responding to transgressive texts, argue about the purposes and value of transgressive texts, and research the transgressive texts that challenge you most. Texts: Foss, Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice.