Undergraduate Courses, Summer 2017
Upper-Division (3000–4000) Courses, Summer Sessions A & B
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:
Advanced Argumentative Writing: Applications in Multimodal and Multimedia Forms
Exposition is a discursive mode authors use to communicate information to readers effectively. This advanced writing course teaches students how to write in distinct expository forms, including identification, classification, analysis, and evaluation. Through engaging with these types of exposition, students will refine their academic and professional writing skills. While effective exposition does rely, in part, on authorial proficiencies, it also demands an attentiveness to the writing context--specifically how factors such as audience, object, medium, and distribution shape communication.
The recent proliferation of visual and digital technologies, however, complicates these seemingly neat categories in ways that have changed how we address writing and exposition. Thus, in addition to learning about expository forms, students will also study principles of textual, visual, and procedural style, applying them in specific digital genres and contexts. To this end, course readings include texts about multimedia writing, such as Kristen L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl E. Ball’s Writer/Designer and Kristen L. Arola and Anny Wysocki’s Composing(Media) = Composing(Embodiment). Readings will also include works that provide examples of effective exposition, such as Joseph M. Williams and Joseph Bizup’s Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace. In addition to engaging with the course literature during class discussions, students will be assigned two essays and a multimedia project.
Theory and Practice of Modern Criticism
19th-Century English Novel
This course explores the 19th-century novel from the revolutionary politics of the Romantic period through the decadence of late-century Aesthetes. Together we will examine novels by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Oscar Wilde, focusing especially on depictions of romance, marriage, gender roles, and other socio-cultural contexts. How are lives impacted as cultural definitions of “masculine,” “feminine,” and “British” continue to shift? How do ideas about empire, colonization, science, and industry both empower and disenfranchise the various peoples subject to English rule? Moreover, how does art—specifically the novel form—respond, work through, and even critique aspects of British life? Course assignments are a short paper, a term paper, and a creative project. Lively participation in class discussion is vital to your success in this course. I look forward to delving into these texts with you!
Black Women, Literature, and Travel
This course analyzes tropes of travel and travel metaphors in Black women’s literature and literary criticism. Students will critically engage a range of literary representations of traveling Black women—including enslaved women “traveling” to freedom, Blues women performers, Great Migration migrants, tourists and first-generation Caribbean Americans returning to the Caribbean region. Through interrogating these texts, students will consider the ways in which Black women’s literature reveals the gendered and racialized contours of travel—thus challenging the idea that travel (and mobility writ large) is inherently liberatory. Authors we will discuss in the course include Harriet Jacobs, Audre Lorde, Paule Marshall and Zora Neale Hurston.
A Labor of Love: Class, Work, and Labor in 19th-Century American Literature
After the most recent U.S. presidential election, newspaper headlines from The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, The Washington Post, and Vanity Fair, proclaimed that the white working-class won the White House. Given this new attention, we will explore the roots of working-class identities in 19th-century American literature beyond a partisan and economic explanation. We will explore the formation of a working-class identity amidst industrialization, slavery, and the civil war. We will also explore the impacts of race, gender, nationality, individualism, and professionalism on working-class values reflected in a variety of genres (including novels, short stories, poetry, personal narratives, and archival ephemera). Ultimately, we will read towards understanding the cultural significance of class, work, and labor—and how they contribute to contemporary attitudes towards the “labor of love” that is nation building.
Issues in American Literature and Culture: See it; Say it: The Poetics of Capturing Experience in Contemporary America
What does it mean to be American? While that question is complicated enough, this course will ask a different question: How does it feel to experience America? This question makes certain assumptions about place and identity, namely that the subject in the throes of experiencing America exists outside, along the margins and around the periphery of those subjects busy being American. This course will look at how invisible communities—or those communities that are problematically visible—articulate their experience. Our task will not necessarily be to find the connectedness of these experiences, but rather to let these experiences exist as is within the larger tapestry of what it means to be American. We will read poetry and literature from Indigenous Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Black Americans (including Black Americans from the Continent and Caribbean). Course assignments will include journal entries, panel discussions, a monologue, and one final essay.
Race and Ethnicity: “Native Narratives”
From explorers’ journals by Bartolemé de las Casas (1542) and Captain Cook (1779), to Walt Disney’s Pocahontas (1995) and Moana (2016), Euro-American audiences have long consumed narratives about native peoples. In 2016, J.K. Rowling revealed a history of “Native American Wizards” on Pottermore and Disneyland Paris unveiled their “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show…with Mickey and Friends.” These representations occur globally across literature, film and television, merchandising, videogames, and comic books. However, native peoples also use these mediums to counter dominant narratives in videogames like Never Alone, film and television like Smoke Signals and Viceland’s RISE (2017), and collections such as Hope Nicholson’s Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection (2016).
This course examines literature and media that represent native peoples globally, and likewise, views native self-representations in literature, film, animation, comics, and videogames. We will consider how these narratives have been used to construct tropes such as the Indian Princess, the Indian Warrior, and the Noble Savage. We will likewise interrogate how these tropes are carried across contexts, borders, and oceans to represent native peoples globally. Finally, we will assess how various forms of media highlight Native rights to: resources and territories (RISE, #NoDAPL, #IdleNoMore), native histories (Never Alone, Choctalking, Trickster), and native narratives (The West Was Lost). Writing assignments will include two papers on course materials in addition to a final blog post. Students will also present a text, film, videogame, comic, or artwork of their choosing to share with the class as we expand our definitions of native narratives.
We use expository writing techniques on a daily basis: we compare and contrast different ideas, we link causes to effects, and we describe problems and offer solutions. Such organizational choices are rhetorical; we choose certain expository frameworks over others in order to persuade our audiences to view a situation or concept in a particular way.
However, the media and genres of expository writing are beginning to evolve alongside new digital technologies such as smartphones and tablets. This course explores the impact of “aural media” (podcasts, location-based audio tours, etc.) on expository writing. Our course readings (and listenings) discuss the rhetorical affordances of aural media; they also offer us models of effective exposition. Course assignments provide students with opportunities to demonstrate expository writing techniques through both print and aural media.
Interdisciplinary Topics: Portraits of Modernity
Scientific imaging of the human body, political propaganda, impressionist paintings and sculptures, the modern novel—these unique nineteenth and twentieth century discursive formations came to address larger questions modernity posed through the genre of the portrait. Thus this interdisciplinary course considers the portrait as a means of addressing larger questions posed by modernity. While portraiture is an ages-old tradition, modernity shaded the practice with new and interesting implications. We will consider the ways portraits come to bear upon modernity’s greatest and most tragic developments. To better understand the portrait’s proliferation across art, science, politics, and literature, our course readings will include an array of interdisciplinary texts.
Texts for this course will include nineteenth and twentieth century novels such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, W. Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence, and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. In addition, we will read short literary works by such authors as Stein, Poe, Balzac, James, Camus, Kafka, and essays by Baudelaire, Loy, and Barnes. We will also study the works of early biologists and anthropologists and read early human anatomy, phrenology, and photography as technologies of portraiture aimed to scientifically represent the human. We will read works of political theory in an attempt to understand portraiture’s impact on nation-building. And lastly, students will review—both through digital representation and actual museum visits—painted portraits and sculptures from the many avant-garde waves of art from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.