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Undergraduate Course Descriptions
SUMMER I 2014
Introduction to Journalism
This course will teach you about the craft of journalism and what it’s like to be a journalist. It is a very hands-on course. You will work outside of the classroom, on campus and in your community to learn new things, speak to new people and develop compelling news stories. While the course is rooted in print journalism, you will also learn the basic multimedia skills required of a 21st-century journalist. In addition, you’ll learn the importance of deadlines, accuracy, newswriting style and ethical practice.
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. e-text: Johnson-Sheehan, Technical Communication Today. 4th ed with free access to MyTechCommLab.
Introduction to Literary Studies
Having patiently copied every word in the prison library’s dictionary and read every book in the library’s collections, Malcolm X realized, “I had never been so truly free in my life. . . . [A] new world opened to me, of being able to read and understand.” Indeed, literature is more than words etched on a page; it is and can be a source of personal, political, social, and cultural liberation. In this course, we will study a mixture of genres and narratives with an eye toward shaping our responses to a particular text and constructing meaning in a collaborative setting. Assignments may include several critical essays and a presentation.
British Literature to 1800
As a survey of English literature to 1800, our course will consider the enduring literary and cultural legacy of such major figures as Geoffrey Chaucer, Sir Thomas More, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, John Milton, Richard Steele, Joseph Addison, and Samuel Johnson and less familiar, though nonetheless significant, figures as Eliza Haywood, Frances Burney, Mary Astell, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (all of whom, you might note, are women) in relation to such topical and thematic concerns as power, freedom, social order, conformity and rebellion, life choices, happiness, the problem of evil, happiness, life choices, gender roles, romantic love, marriage, sexual commerce, and sexual exploitation. Over the upcoming weeks, we will encounter major barnyard mayhem, diabolical contracts gone bad, demonic delinquents on a tear, and, for better or worse, the full simmering broth of human emotion. Throughout the course, we will further consider strategies of interpretation, literary devices and conventions, and matters of literary form and genre.
Beyond the general focus of the course as a survey of English literature to 1800, I can think of a number of further concerns that should characterize our collective, and your individual, enterprise over the coming weeks.
First of all, since literature doesn’t originate in a vacuum, we will be concerned throughout the course with the informing intellectual, cultural, and historical context for the assigned readings and will be similarly concerned with recurring emphases, ideas, and topical issues—e.g., art and nature, reason and faith, ideals of conduct, the role of women in society.
We will also be concerned with establishing complementary relations between our assigned readings and
- other works of literature you have read, either independently or in other courses;
- the current arena of local, national, and international affairs;
- contemporary popular culture (television, film, popular music, etc.); and
- other academic courses you have taken—e.g., English history, psychology, philosophy and religion, sociology, anthropology, women’s studies—the supposition being that, beyond the usual platitudinous lip service, a real liberal arts education should be consciously and purposefully interdisciplinary and thereby should encourage a sensitivity to the interconnectedness of both major and non-major courses.
Perhaps most importantly, we will be concerned with an ongoing attempt “to come to terms,” both individually and collaboratively, with each of the assigned readings. Such a “coming to terms” will require a thoughtful interaction on your part with the assigned texts—i.e., determining the values and beliefs that condition and inform a particular text and then measuring those values and beliefs against your own. Such thoughtful interaction may lead, in some cases, to a clarification or confirmation of your own values and beliefs or, in other cases, may lead to a delayed judgment. At any rate, whatever judgment you come up with should be based upon deliberative and reflective negotiation on your part. Beyond recreational pleasure, emotional engagement, and intellectual stimulation, one of the most compelling arguments for reading literature is the simple fact that the “thoughtful interaction” I’ve been talking about can lead to a greater sense of self-insight and self-understanding (the very destination, interestingly enough, of many of the characters we encounter in literature).
African American Literature
This online survey course introduces students to major writers and themes in African American fiction from 1890-1990. Requirements: weekly critical responses, regular participation in class discussions on Blackboard, and a final essay. Text: Black Like Us, 2nd ed.
Writing for Business
Professional writing is not just crossing the T's and dotting the I's. Writing on the job requires knowing the types of documents that are familiar to our bosses and co-workers, 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 in groups on projects that range 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. Text: Meyer, Sebranek, and Van Rhys, Write for Business/A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.
Writing and Technology
This course will be taught online through summer I. Students should have access to Blackboard and have basic technology skills (adept with email, blackboard, etc.). The course will focus on design, Web 2.0 tools, as well as information helpful for professional writers who will use various technologies (including social media) to complete tasks related to business and professional communication
Shakespeare is Early Plays and 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 (Titus Andronicus), history (Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3, and Richard III), and comedy ( The Comedy of Errors); selected sonnets; and possibly a narrative poem like Venus and Adonis or The Rape of Lucrece. We will give attention to matters like cultural context, gender, and genre. There will be special emphasis on various aspects of performance. Reading quizzes, informal response papers, oral presentation and reading, critical paper of 2000 words, midterm and final exams. Text: Bevington, ed., The Complete Works of Shakespeare, 7th ed.
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.
SUMMER II 2014
Introduction to Professional Writing
This course introduces students to professional writing as a field of study while providing instruction in organizational research and writing skills beneficial to students from any discipline. Students will learn to analyze writing situations and produce both print and electronic texts, such as memos, email, documentation, and websites, for use in organizational contexts. Course work includes writing projects and presentations and involves service learning.
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. They will also explore how mythological narratives affect our own culture and can inform our reading of literature.
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.
In this writing course, students will study and practice the art of the essay through daily online assignments. The course is taught exclusively through Blackboard, UNCW’s online learning system, and is organized into Weekly Units. Each unit begins with information about the focus for the week, the week's learning objectives, a list of tasks for the week, and the daily assignments with due dates and point values. It is imperative that students read and follow all instructions carefully. Failure to use Blackboard, email, and/or Microsoft Word correctly will result in poor performance. Before signing up for this course, I suggest that students go through the orientation at http://www.uncw.edu/OEL/students.html.
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 Ernest
Hemingway “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.
Written Requirements: Two critical-analytical essays, each of which should be 4-5 double-spaced pages in length. A take-home final essay exam. Texts (arranged in order of presentation): Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio (1919); Steinbeck, Pastures of Heaven (1932); O’Brien, The Things They Carried (1990); Butler, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992); Pollock, Knockemstiff (2008); Day, The Circus in Winter (2004); Strout, Olive Kitteridge (2010); Heathcock, Volt.
Young Adult Literature
In June 2011, The Wall Street Journal published an article that argued that children’s and young adult literature was “too dark.” This set off a firestorm of debates in Young Adult literature, education, library, and parenting circles. Our course will participate in this conversation as we explore constructions of both young adult literature and the young adult. We will look at the history of young adult literature from the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century conduct books, to the post-war phenomenon of the American teenager, to current young adult literature and authors. We will consider issues of genre, publication, marketing, and, of course, censorship. We will discuss the goals of young adult literature, especially when it comes to identity formation, and will pay special attention to how young adult literature handles issues of “otherness,” particularly in depictions of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, and age. Ultimately, we will focus on the various boundaries against which young adult literature pushes, and consider content from the tame to the taboo.