Undergraduate Courses, Spring 2006

Times and locations of class meetings are subject to change. Consult the UF Schedule of Courses for official class times and locations and an explanation of the class period abbreviations.

Lower Division (1000–2000) Special Content Courses

Note: Only course descriptions are listed below. For a comprehensive summary of course numbers, sections, times and locations, titles, and instructors, see the following web page:

AML 2410

Desiring the Body: American Narratives of Alchemy, Agency, Appetite and Consumption

Melindaf Cardozo

As chronicled in the biographies of 19th century “hysterics,” memoirs of 20th century depressives, 21st century plastic surgery teledramas and drag king pictographies, Americans are obsessed not only with modifying the body, but also with documenting this process. Anorexics, adolescents, people with AIDS, hipsters, debutantes, and cannibals alike walk the line between decadence and protest in their endeavors to present bodies that matter. Taking our lead from theorists ranging from Judith Butler and Michel Foucault to Roland Barthes and Dick Hebdige, fiction writers such as Lydia Davis, Francesca Lia Block and Jeffrey Eugenides, films scaling from Shallow Hal to Heathers, and nonfiction by the likes of Eve Ensler and Amy Sedaris, we will consider the ways in which texts depict and enact performative constructions of gender as well as social constructions of the natural.

This course will take an introductory approach to both cultural and gender studies as we investigate how bodies make meaning, question correlations between corporeality and desire, and address the limits not only of dieting and rationality, but also of the possibility of rendering these processes in language.

toptop

AML 2410

Looking for the Exotic: American Writers on Europe

James Royal

This course examines how American authors have looked for the exotic in their European subjects, in part by transforming Europe into a space of adventure for Americans. Starting with excerpts from Irving’s “Tales from the Alhambra” and ranging up to American writers such as Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Henry Miller, we’ll examine how the US has constructed and exoticized Europe. Using a close-reading approach, we’ll probe both the ways that the United States and Europe and their citizens are constructed as places and peoples, and the ends these representations serve. We’ll pursue this goal through short close-reading assignments that tackle individual passages, and through longer outside papers based on close reading and class discussions.

The course will also develop your prose through writing workshops, grammar/mechanics study, and discussions of elements of style.

toptop

AML 2410

Disorientations: Art and Expression in the 1960s

Joel Adams

We take our shape, it is true, within and against that cage of reality bequeathed us at our birth; and yet is precisely through our dependence on this reality that we are most endlessly betrayed. – James Baldwin

It was not a country in open revolution. It was not a country under enemy siege. It was the United States of America . . . . but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not. All that seemed clear was that at some point we had aborted ourselves and butchered the job. – Joan Didion

Being born is like being kidnapped. – Andy Warhol

As prisoners, kidnapped and locked in an abortive and butchered culture, a generation of American writers, journalists, artists, and activists decided to heed the Rimbaudian call for a derangement of all the senses and took their chances in a game of experiential and expressive excess. Claiming a stake of this strange inheritance, this course will turn to some of the documents they left behind. Offering more than sex, drugs, and rock and roll, these texts probed the critical intersection of gender, race, and sexuality with identity itself; positing that to become yourself first required becoming something different. By critically engaging these “technologies of the self,” we will seek not only to contextualize and historicize a number of these incarnations of the “60s” – but further, to question their continuing influence, applicability, and power for our present.

This class fulfills the Gordon Rule requirement of 6000 words graded with feedback. 

Readings will include:

toptop

AML 2410

Jewish American Literature: From Margin to Mainstream

Traci Klass

This course explores the representations and interpretations of Jews and Judaism throughout American literary history and culture, from the earliest Sephardic immigrants through present day. Readings will trace how Jewish writers negotiate Jewish and national identity as they use numerous genres in their attempt to define what it means to be Jewish in America, and thus what it means to be a Jewish American.

Texts may include:

All materials will be available at Goerings Bookstore.

toptop

AML 2410

American Gothic

Maisha Wester

Gothic fiction’s power to terrorize its audience stems from more than grotesque images and gloomy landscapes.  Indeed, were these the only things that frightened us, audiences would become so desensitized that these images would soon fail to elicit even a slight scream from the most sensitive viewers.  The root of the terror lies in the threat to order; horror often represents a transgression of the socially constructed boundaries that structure our lives, masquerading as norms, morals, and religious mandates and traditions.  In her groundbreaking work Playing in the Dark, Toni Morrison illustrates how the narratives of early gothic writers are marked by an “Africanist presence,” and thus by racial fear and strife.  In this class, we shall carry this theory a step or two further to show how fears of transgression and contamination by the sexual/ economic/ political/ subversive “other” also surface in American horror.  For our texts, we will start with the early American Gothic writers and move on to twentieth century novels, which will provide the majority of our texts.  Considering that Morrison notes an “Africanist presence” in the American gothic, we shall particularly consider African-American horror by African-American writers in a separate unit to search for a similar/ alternative presence.  Indeed, although Toni Morrison’s Beloved is rarely discussed as a horror story, we must not ignore the fact that it is principally a ghost story (even if Beloved’s nature is contested by theorists, other ghost stories surface throughout the text).  Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day likewise has disturbing supernatural elements that advance the personal narrative.

toptop

AML 2410

Film Noir and the Western

Craig Rinne

A tough guy with a gun walks the dark city streets or rides across searing deserts. The film genres are, of course, film noir and the Western, and this course will examine the stylistic, historic, and thematic interplay between these distinctly American genres. Through close readings of representative films, we will discuss and write about topics such as the frontier myth, masculinity and violence, film style, genre conventions, auteurism, cultural and historical contexts, and adaptation of fiction to film. Although most Westerns and noirs focus on a male hero, we will also consider feminist responses to the genres, particularly to the femmes fatales of film noir. Additionally, we will study both American Indian texts that deconstruct the Western’s racist stereotypes and Italian director Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti Westerns” that serve as an outsider critique of the genre. These critical approaches will serve as models for your own essays on the films.

No prior film studies experience is required; however, as the course depends on intensive discussion and analysis of the films, the Monday evening screenings are required. Films (and novels) may include:

toptop

AML 2410

Computers and American Literature

Aron Pease

In this course, we will look at American literature in the context of our media and technological environment, with special attention paid to the personal computer. How has the computer been represented in American literature? How has its influence on our perception been registered? How has its use transformed the writing of literature? How have other social, economic, and political forces shaped its development and use? We will consider literature that represents earlier writing and recording machines (such as the typewriter or tape recorder), which precede the invention of the personal computer, but our focus will be on the era dominated by software (beginning roughly in 1975). We will read both print and various forms of electronic literature.

Readings for the course may include writing by the following: Bolter & Grusin, Burroughs, Bush, Cadigan, Coupland, DJ Spooky, Gibson, Harris, Hayles, Jameson, Joyce, Manovich, McLuhan, Memmott, Moulthrop, Nelson, Powers, Stephenson, Strickland, Twain, and White.

toptop

AML 2410

Disorderly Emotions: Anxiety, Paranoia and Melancholy in 20th Century America

Erica Pittman

Taking as its starting point Sigmund Freud’s hypothesis, from Civilization and Its Discontents, that social stability requires the regulation of individual instinctive and emotional energies, this course explores the question of how individual emotional experience has alternately been translated and resisted translation by the historical, material and social forces of American life in the 20th century.  One of the primary issues we will be examining is the question of whether individual experiences of emotional turmoil or instability have come to be identified with medical pathology as a function of the same historical forces that produce them.  We will take these questions up through theoretical frameworks including Freudian psychoanalysis (and its subsequent reinterpretations by American pop culture and feminism), the Frankfurt School’s freudo-marxist analysis of authoritarian social psychology, Existentialism, and contemporary trends in cognitive science and biological psychiatry.

Texts may include:

toptop