Lower Division (1000–2000) Special Content Courses
Note: Course numbers listed in the table below are linked to course descriptions. Descriptions will open in a new web page in this window. Use your browser’s “back” function to return to this page.
Issues in American Literature & Culture: Womanism, Black Feminism, and Feminism: Woman is the Word
During the press junket after the 2015 Academy Awards, actress and award winner Patricia Arquette observed the following about equal rights of women: “It’s time for all the women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and people of color we’ve fought for to fight for us now.” The backlash was immediate. Many argued that Arquette seemed to be prioritizing one kind of equality over others—that of heterosexual, probably white and probably class-secure women—while forgetting that people in the LGBQT community and people of color are also women who face intersectional discrimination.
Womanism is a term coined by author Alice Walker to describe the “specificity of Black Feminism and contrast it with what she sees as an ethnocentric and separatist white feminism.” It describes a political continuum of Black women and women of color whose experiences and struggles exists on multiple fonts in a non-exclusive manner. It is, according to Walker, “A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or non-sexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or non-sexually. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health. Traditionally Universalist…Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.”
Black Feminism on the other hand deals directly with the issues of traditional feminism but with a special focus on the concerns of black women. In other words, it acknowledges the intersectionality of race, class, and gender. Feminine discourse within the concerns of queer and transgender communities takes another, more complex, discursive challenge.
This class will examine the discursive landscape of feminism from the first wave to contemporary conversations. We will focus specifically on how Womanism, Black feminism, and Transfeminism’s challenge and/or rely on traditional feminism.
Times: M W F 3
Issues in American Literature & Culture: Protest and Resistance in the 1960s
This course introduces some of the major issues of American popular and political culture during a watershed decade in American history: the 1960s. While sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll played significant roles during this decade, the over-emphasis of retrospective narratives on drug use and civil disobedience often overshadows the counterculture’s key role in political and cultural protest. In reality, the young people who were part of the counterculture staged campus protests against racism and the Vietnam War, participated in civil– and equal-rights efforts such as Freedom Summer and the creation of the Gay Liberation front, and were at the forefront of Women’s Liberation and the nascent environmentalist movement. In many respects, these events laid the foundation for many of the civil rights and liberties we have today. Why, we will ask, is there a discrepancy between the perception and reality of 1960s counterculture? Is it even possible to speak of “a” or “the” counterculture? How exactly did the counterculture influence mainstream American society, anyway?
In an attempt to answer these questions, we will be reading fiction and nonfiction by writers such as Tom Wolfe and Joan Didion, as well as poetry by people such as Allen Ginsberg and Nikki Giovanni. We will also take a look at cultural theory that will help us frame our discussions. By examining a range of texts that reflect the changing nature of society in 1960s America, students in the course will learn to think critically about contradictions inherent in the notion of individual “freedom,” the differences and similarities between groups that are usually grouped within 1960s “counterculture,” the interplay between the counterculture and the so-called “silent majority,” and the increased commitment to diversity rather than uniformity in American culture.
Times: T 2-3, R 3
Issues in American Literature & Culture: Multicultural Graphic Novels
This course will discuss American multicultural graphic novels through a postcolonial critical perspective. It will introduce students to contemporary theory on comics (the work of scholars such as Scott McCloud and Thierry Groensteen) useful for understanding how comics texts and images function to produce narrative meaning. The course will train students in engaging with these elements of graphic novels, and in writing about them with attention to image-text dissonances and interplay. The novels we will read deal with issues of race, ethnicity, colonialism, neo-colonialism, war, gender and sexuality, and will be situated within the particular histories and socio-cultural contexts that inform them. The course will also deal with key concepts in postcolonial theory in order to equip students with a theoretical framework within which to analyse the growing literature of multicultural graphic novels.
Times: M W F 6
Issues in American Literature and Culture: The Immigrant Experience
Since the first European settlers landed in America, many waves of immigrants have arrived on American shores. Indeed, one of the foundational stories about America, alongside the “American Dream,” has been “America, a nation of immigrants.” This course introduces students to the key figure of the immigrant in American literature. Some of the questions we will take up in class include: What role did race, gender, and class play in crafting different representations of immigrant experiences? What were the legal, political, and cultural responses to immigrants in different time periods? What are the diverse visions of the American Dream that are made visible in these immigrant narratives? Through the figure of the immigrant in works by writers such as J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, Harriet Jacobs, Julie Otsuka, Bharati Mukherjee, and Edwidge Danticat, students will learn to think critically about concepts such as hybridity, diaspora, assimilation, multiculturalism, and globalization. This class will also illuminate current debates on immigration by tracing historical responses to immigration and diasporic groups in the American nation.
Times: T 8-9, R 9
Honors Poetry Workshop
“In naming colors, […] literate people said ‘dark blue’ or ‘light yellow,’ but illiterates used metaphorical names like ‘liver,’ ‘peach,’ ‘decayed teeth,’ and ‘cotton in bloom.’”
―Caleb Crain, “Twilight of the Books,” The New Yorker, December 24 & 31, 2007
“One thing was clear to me. If you want to win a girl, you have to have lots of beetles.”
―Heaven Can Wait (1943)
The University of Florida has one of the strongest creative writing programs in the country, whose graduate faculty often offer a beginning workshop to honors students. Poetry demands close attention to the meaning and music of language, to emotion and the structures of emotion, and to the burdens of the past. The best poetry has an understanding of psychology, botany, religion, philosophy, and how much French fries cost at the mall. No one can be a poet without reading. The beginning workshop is in part a course in poetic literature.
Poets will write one poem a week, which forms the basis of workshop discussion, along with poems of the past and present. No workshop can succeed without an inclination toward laughter and wry jokes (discussion will generally go from the sublime to the ridiculous, or vice versa). Field trips may be possible—no year in Gainesville is complete without a visit to the alligators. Students who complete this course may then take upper-division workshops in poetry.
Students are not expected to have written poetry before, but must have strong language skills (you can’t manipulate the language effectively without grammar and spelling). Please do not take this course if you aren’t interested in the difference between an adjective and an adverb, or the correct usage of it’s and its, lay and lie, and who and whom. Student who can’t write a complete sentence will be asked to drop the class. Numerous students who have taken this course have entered graduate programs at Columbia, Michigan, Johns Hopkins, and elsewhere. Others have gone into editing and publishing.
William Logan is the author of ten books of poems, most recently Madame X (2012). His criticism has been collected in six books, including The Undiscovered Country (2005), winner of the National Book Critics Circle award in criticism. He has also won the Randall Jarrell Award in Criticism, the Corrington Medal for Literary Excellence, the Allen Tate Prize, and the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry.
Times: M 9-11
Topics for Composition: Writing About the Gifted Child
The gifted child occupies an ambiguous and contentious place in American history and popular consciousness. Some argue that the gifted are invaluable national resources that must be protected and nurtured while others point out racist and classist assumptions inherent in the very definition of giftedness; still others suggest that giftedness is simply not a meaningful category. This course invites students to reexamine a familiar concept—the gifted child—through a critical lens. We will begin with Leslie Margolin’s argument that giftedness is not a concrete characteristic but rather a social construct. We will then look at how popular media have contributed to the construction of our images of the gifted child and ask what these images suggest about American ideologies of childhood and the nation.
Course readings will draw from educational discourse about the gifted child, secondary scholarship on giftedness, and popular films and books about children with unusual “gifts.” Students will learn to synthesize historical and scholarly perspectives with fictional portrayals of gifted children in texts and films like X-Men, Ender’s Game, and Graceling. ENC 1145 is a composition course that satisfies the 6,000-word requirement, so students will hone their literary, cultural, and rhetorical analysis skills by writing a series of papers. Over the course of the semester, students will write a rhetorical analysis (1000 words), close-reading analysis (750 words), and a synthesis essay (1000 words). Students will then work towards a final argumentative paper, which will include a proposal (250 words), annotated bibliography (1000 words), and the final essay (2000 words).
Times: M W F 5
Topics for Composition: Writing About Children’s Horror
Many children and young adults are powerfully attracted to the strange, dark, and terrifying. The question—or questions, really—is why? Is it because the things that frighten us as children are taboo, and we seek out what is forbidden to us? Are these things forbidden because they excite young curiosities? Why might younger readers and viewers want to be afraid?
In this course, we will survey “scary” texts (fairy tales and short fiction, long fiction, films, etc.) created for children and young adults or often consumed by these audiences. Themes of the works we will examine may include trauma, abuse, death, abandonment, sexual endangerment, monstrosity, and loss of identity. We will engage with these texts and themes by way of multiple historical and critical lenses, so as to better understand the social functions of children’s literature and horror, as well as grapple with important literary problems such as audience reception, censorship, and the flexibility of genres.
Writing assignments will be experimental and creative and will require students to engage with a variety of digital platforms and methods of production. Assignments will include a reflective blog, a class wiki, a film review, short response papers, and a final research paper.
Times: M W F 3
Topics for Composition: Writing About Graphic Narrative
Graphic literature has a rich history despite the fact that the medium has thus far eluded clear definition. In this course, we will examine American comics, comix, and graphic narratives through a discussion of genre and seek to better understand the nuances of this complex medium. Each section of the course will be dedicated to a popular genre of (graphic) literature, including: horror, autobiography/memoir, journalistic, historical (non)fiction, fantasy, and superhero. We will approach each text through the generic lens and focus on interpreting both distinctive aspects of graphic literature and how each text does or does not illuminate wider conventions of genre. By the end of the course, students will have had a thorough introduction to a variety of American graphic narratives, styles, and forms, and the critical and historical discourses of comics and graphic narrative studies, and be able to convey analyses through precise, structured writing.
This course fulfills the 6000-word University Writing Requirement. Assignments will include three major critical analysis papers, weekly close reading response papers, class discussion, and peer/group revision workshops.
Times: T 2-3, R 3
Topics for Composition: Writing About Strangeness
ENC 1145: Writing about Strangeness
In the introduction to Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, editors describe “slipstream, the genre that isn’t,” as “a canon [of] mist and wishful thinking” (vii). Slip-stream fantasy has long relied on the concept of “strangeness” to show the ways fantastic elements penetrate aspects of daily life. These strange slip-stream elements appear in all lengths of fiction, and each medium complicates the fantastic elements of what “strangeness” really means. In this course, we will engage with a variety of stories to create our own definitions of “strange” and “slip-stream” and attempt to understand why these categories have become so popular in contemporary fiction.
The course readings will examine the concept of “strangeness” through multiple contemporary short stories by writers from diverse backgrounds, including: selections from the anthology Feeling Very Strange, the collection Stranger Things Happen, and the magazine Strange Horizons.
To explore how authors use the longer novel format to expand upon and complicate the definition of “strange,” we will consider Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Strange Pilgrims and Leslye Walton’s The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. The course will also examine the history of “strangeness” in Robert Lewis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Assignments will include (but will not be limited to) reading response papers, an in-class presentation on the story of a student’s choice, and a series of academic essays, culminating in a final research paper. Students will also be expected to participate in daily discussions and in-class workshops.
Times: M W F 7
Topics for Composition: Writing About Queer Love
Trevor Weisong Gao
French philosopher Alain Badiou writes that love is a “truth procedure” that opens up possibilities for experiencing the world from the perspective of “two” rather than one. Echoing Badiou, Lauren Berlant argues, “rather than being isolating, love provides an image of an expanded self, the normative version of which is the two-as-one intimacy of the couple form.” Rightly so, when we think about love, we might first and foremost conjure up the romanticized image of the conventional and predominant form of the heterosexual couple. However, is Badiou aiming at anchoring love to such conventional-couple form or is he simply providing a foundational structure of love that allows open-ended interpretations? What sorts of “non-normative versions” of love might Berlant be thinking of when she suggests that the two-as-one couple form is the normative version?
Rather than mapping out entirely the genealogy of love, we will focus exclusively on non-conventional and non-normative love or, rather, “queer love” and its variegated types, including: gay and lesbian love, narcissism, celibacy, friendship, object love, masochism, inter-species love, and so on. By doing so, we will interrogate the ways in which love is construed through issues and debates of sexuality, colonialism, kinship, family diversity, and gay and lesbian parenthood. We will read literature that has a thematic focus of those issues, including such texts as: Samuel Delany’s Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Pauline Réage’s The Story of Oand selections of short stories and poems from Carson McCullers, D. H. Lawrence, Octavia Butler, and Edmund White. We will also read related theoretical work; such authors will likely include Michel Foucault, Judith Stacey, Donna Haraway, and Amber Jamilla Musser.
This course will fulfill the 6,000-word University Writing Requirement. Students will learn to read literature actively and theoretical texts critically and analytically, understand the ways in which an argument is constructed and supported, and know whether the supporting evidence is fully elaborated and developed. Students will exit the course with expository and argumentative writing skills, as well as a familiarity and engagement with the topic of queer love.
Times: T 8-9, R 9
Writing Through Media: Writing Through Games
This section of ENG 1131 is for students interested in writing, critical media theory, and digital games. Students will develop compositional skills in analysis, synthesis, and argumentation as they play, analyze, read, design, and write about digital games. In addition to developing writing skills, students will hone a critical vocabulary developed from contemporary and historical scholarship on the medium. By the end of the course, students will have a better understanding of how digital games communicate ideas, how digital games are rhetorical platforms, how games construct arguments about race, class, gender, economics, and society, and how to write about these issues.
Times: M W F 4, M 9-11
Writing Through Media: Gender-Bending the Gothic
This course will trace the evolution of the Gothic genre from its literary origins in short and long fiction about ghosts and vampires in the British tradition to revisions and extensions of Gothic themes of space and agency in contemporary films and interactive digital works. We will begin the course by reading canonical and non-canonical works of fiction and poetry, move into popular films on Gothic themes (such as the 1931 Dracula), and end with a study of augmented reality applications that appropriate gothic tropes. Students will explore the idea of “gender-bending” to describe and analyze the extent to which versions of the Gothic address the transformation of heteronormative gender roles. The final project of the course will entail students’ creation of a digital project (a film, a website, an application, a comic, a sequence of memes, etc.) that makes use of “gender-bending” of space and agency to show what traditional gothic tropes of concealment, repressed sexuality, and stalking may tell us about the state of current gender roles in society.
Times: M F 7, W 7, M E1-E3
Writing Through Media: Ergodic Literature
A work of ergodic literature, according to Espen J. Aarseth, is any work for which “nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text,” demanding responsibilities beyond just “eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages.” In this course, we will investigate important historical and more recent examples of ergodic works, paying particular attention to the ways they require us engage with and interact with the text. We will “play” novels like Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves and Marisha Pessl’s Night Filmand “read” computer games like Myst and Gone Home. We will also work with foundational works of hypertext fiction such as Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl, Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue, Judd Morrisey’s The Jew’s Daughter, and Emily Short’s classic interactive fiction Galatea. We will inform our theoretical consideration and participation with these interactive fictions by way of two important studies of ergodic literature: Aarseth’s Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature and N. Katherine Hayles’s Writing Machines. As we read and play these works, we will “write through media” by composing our own exercises of ergodic text through three assignments: one participatory print project, one interactive text created digitally through the hypertext editor Twine, and one traditional academic paper. Screening times will be dedicated to viewing games and films that test ergodic and interactive possibilities, traversing our texts of electronic literature as a class in group tutorials, and workshopping with print craft and required software for composition.
Times: M W F 6, W E1-E3
Writing Through Media: Subbing and Dubbing
This course focuses on audio-visual commentary strategies and tools in popular media. Students will explore what could be called “proper” audio-visual commentaries (film dubbing, opera subtitling, documentary voiceovers, sign language interpreting), as well as their irreverent and experimental counterparts (pop-up videos, memes, misheard lyrics, and improper translations of Hollywood films overseas). Assigned readings and class discussions will combine reading critical texts about audio-visual “translation” practices, viewing examples of successful and/or provocative uses of the medium, and learning technical skills that will prepare the students to complete their own audio-visual projects. In addition to creative assignments, students will also gain necessary skills in reviewing and writing critically about their own and others’ work.
Times: M W F 3, R 9-11