Lower Division (1000–2000) Special Content Courses
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AML 2410 The Objects & Material Cultures of American Literature
French philosopher Andre Breton had memorably declared “Nothing that surrounds us is object, all is subject,” reminding us that the animate and inanimate worlds are often more connected than what meets the eye. Literature is conventionally believed to be governed by characters and ideas rather than objects. But what happens to the way we understand literary texts and histories when we interpret them through the material objects represented in them? This course aims to introduce students to key works of American Literature where we find objects not as incidental components of narratives, but as rich signifiers of socioeconomic and cultural phenomena. Tracing the social history of things in the U.S. is an intellectually rewarding exercise since material cultures have always been central to American social life and literary production. For example, we shall study the expropriation of indigenous resources and lives in colonial America, the commodification of people in chattel slavery, industrial production defining American national character during the Gilded Age and the Cold War eras, the affective value of objects in diasporic cultures, and the impact of virtual reality on material cultures. Our attempt would be to understand how things have a social life of their own and often come to define individuals and cultural epochs.
Assignments will include an in-class presentation, 5 short reading responses, and 2 critical thinking papers. The course texts include:
Mary Rowlandson, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God
Henry Brown, Narrative of the Life of Henry “Box” Brown
Herman Melville, Selected sections from Moby Dick
Henry James, The American Scene
Flannery O’ Connor, “Good Country People,” “The Lame Shall Enter First,” “The Life You Save May Be Our Own,” “Parker’s Back”
Louise Erdrich, Selections from The Red Convertible
Octavia Butler, Kindred
Ernesto Quinonez, Bodega Dreams
Selected episodes from the HBO television series Westworld
Times: M W F 8
Room: DAU 0342
AML 2410 Southern Gothic
“Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.”
Merging elements of mystery, dread, and the supernatural from European Gothic traditions with the strange and turbulent landscape of the Southeastern U.S., Southern Gothic writers of the early 20th century crafted a world of crumbling plantations, looming church steeples, urban decay, and treacherous swamps. Re-scripting romanticized depictions of the antebellum South, Southern Gothic uses both magic and mayhem to focus in on the South’s systemic poverty, violence, racism, and ostracizing of any and all who do not easily fit into traditional Southern culture.
Through reading a selection of Southern Gothic texts, this course will interrogate the ghosts that occupy the American South’s swamps and cotton field—from the specter of slavery and morally bankrupt aristocracy to the darker aspects of religious oppression. By the end of this course, students will arrive at a better understanding and appreciation of the sociopolitical work that Southern Gothic performs by engaging with Southern Gothic texts from both Southern and Northern perspectives. Readings may include works by Edgar Allan Poe, Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Harriet Jacobs, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, Toni Morrison, and Karen Russell. We will also examine Gothic representations of the South in film, photographs, and music.
Assignments will include a close-reading analysis, a comparative analysis, a multimedia research group presentation (including annotated bibliography), and a final traditional research paper. In addition, there will be a number of in-class writings and other activities designed to help students flex the composition and analysis skills needed for completing essays in the course.
Times: T 2-3, R 3
Room: TUR 2354
AML 2410 Photo-Graphic American Literature
This course examines the interrelationships between literature and the photo-graphic, particularly photography, film and graphic novels. We will engage in close and contextualized readings of our course texts, considering key historical, social, political, cultural, racial, gendered and personal contexts to understand how the literary and the photo-graphic construct national identity. Entering ongoing conversations about literature, the photo-graphic and memory, we will attend to questions regarding how photo-graphic discourse has informed literature—and how literature influences the way we read photo-graphic forms.
We will survey selections from: W.J.T. Mitchell, Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, John Berger, Mieke Bal and David Marriott; Walt Whitman, Hilda Dolittle, John Steinbeck, Richard Wright, W.H. Auden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank O’Hara, Octavia Butler, Michael Ondaatje, Aaron McGruder, James Agee and Walker Evans, Te-Nehisi Coates, and Claudia Rankine.
The writing assignments will include: (1) five short analytical papers which will ask students to write about how visual culture shapes a specific text, (2) a close reading assignment on any one of the course texts, (3) a midterm paper based on a visual analysis, (4) A research paper which will ask students to apply the critical readings to an argument on the representations of visual culture in a work of American literature.
Times: M W F 2
Room: TUR 2336
AML 2410 Literature of Resistance: From Nat Turner to Black Panther
From the moment it hit theaters, Black Panther was a movement. Scholars and novices alike have speculated on how Black Panther can incite a revolution. But long before the glitz of the red carpet, the film and even the comic series, the literature of Black peoples have relied on resisting oppressive powers. From Slave Rebellions to Suffrage, and from the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter, Black Americans have fought for freedoms denied them. This course will examine the literature that intends to invoke resistance, defy propaganda and create dissent, while examining the different types of resistance within Black feminist and Womanist theory. We will attempt to answer the question: Is resistance literature a useful tool for freedom? Our key figures and texts will include Nat Turner, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin and portions of the comic series Black Panther.
Writing assignments for this course will include short critical analysis essays, a historical analysis paper, a presentation, mid-term and final. Students will address the role resistance plays not only in literature, but also on contemporary issues such as Black Lives Matter and Black Girl Magic.
Times: T 8-9, R 9
ENC 1145 Writing about Summer
Adventure! Freedom! Self-Discovery! No School! These are only a few reasons why the summer season has become mythic in North American culture—especially for adolescents and young adults. Free of the limitations and strictures of the traditional school year, they openly gain knowledge of the world, the self, and, perhaps most importantly, love. For the better part of a century, media images of summer correlated these forms of knowledge with boundless optimism. Summer was when budding adults could define themselves as they confidently transitioned into adulthood.
But do these myths of summer match reality? And does this optimism apply equally to children in disadvantaged or marginalized communities? Literary and media representations of summer began addressing such questions overtly, shifting toward the tumultuousness of growing up in marginalized communities. While these media artifacts often end on an upbeat note, creators temper that optimism with uncertainty, fear, and disappointment. Hope burns at the end of summer, but that hope must now be earned through emotional and physical trials and tribulations. This course seeks to address the significance of this shift in summer-centric media, and to explore its broader cultural implications and revelations.
Our writing assignments include various long (a researched argument, a textual analysis, and a synthesis argument) and short-form (weekly critical reading responses) modes of argumentative writing, as well as in-class discussions and activities. To complete these assignments, students will engage texts with plots occurring over a single summer—in multiple forms, including prose (Dandelion Wine, The Body, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh), comics (This One Summer, Lumberjanes), television (Gravity Falls), and film (Meatballs, Friday the 13th, Stand by Me, Wet Hot American Summer).
Times: M W F 9
Room: MAT 0010
ENC 1145 Character Spaces in British & Irish Literature
We are surrounded by different spaces, which contribute to our individual and social development: physical spaces, such as architectural buildings, corner spaces of shelter and solitude, spaces within nature, and our metaphysical environments. In this class we will apply Yi-Fu Tuan’s idea that “Place is security, space is freedom” to novels, short stories, poetry, and plays by British and Irish Writers. Throughout the course we will compare literary works with film adaptations, in addition to viewing digital archives and listening to audio recordings. We will consider spaces in terms of a character’s gender, class, and education, applying spatial theory to literary texts and media.
Our primary questions will be: What is space and how is it constructed? Who possesses control over specific environments and why? How do particular key figures in novels shape the spaces? What does that entail for the other characters? Can these spaces shape a character’s development and agency? Do the adaptations misconstrue the author’s original concept of space? How do the archives depict space in comparison to the original work? The class will study both physical and metaphysical (psychological) spaces within literature, film, and digital archives.
Students will receive short readings from key theoretical ideas by Gaston Bachelard, Yi-Fu Tuan, and Gillian Rose. Possible literary texts include Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, Austen’s Mansfield Park and Pride and Prejudice, Blake’s poetry, Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Edgeworth’s The Absentee, Agatha Christie’s Curtain, Seamus Heaney’s poetry, Barry’s The Secret Scripture, and Brian Friel’s Translations. Writing assignments will include analysis papers, online discussion posts, and a final term paper.
Times: M W F 3
Room: MAT 0105
ENC 1145 Writing Journeys: Travel, Tourism and Tales
This course will examine different aspects and purposes of travel narratives. Travel allows us to reimagine our identities through cultural and socio-political encounters. Physical or spiritual journeys allow individuals to interrogate the familiar and make new discoveries about it. Unfamiliar and hostile terrains allow people to reformulate their relationships with each other to conceive new forms of community. Large scale immigration of communities builds diaspora which change the socio-political dynamics in a particular geographical space. This course will examine the forms and dynamics of travel narratives. More specifically, the course will examine how travel, immigration, tourism and diaspora affect gender roles and identities. To what extent does gender affect commercial tourism? For instance, how do men and women negotiate issues of migration and displacement, in terms of their gender roles? To what extent does gender affect commercial tourism? What role does gender play in the perception of immigrant or diasporic communities?
Addressing questions of navigation, mobility, gender and class, we will read a variety of texts across cultures and countries including the Caribbean, Asia, Europe and the US. The course will include a range of authors like Elizabeth Gaskell, Frances Trollope, Pandita Ramabai, Jamaica Kincaid, Gaiutra Bahadur, Mohsin Hamid and V.S. Naipaul.
As a General Education course that fulfills 6,000 of the university’s writing requirement (WR), the course will provide instructions on effective academic writing such as developing an argument, using textual evidence and correct mechanics. Our assignments will include short analytical responses, a close reading paper, an annotated bibliography, a critical paper and a creative archival project.
Times: T 2-3, R 3
Room: MAEA 0327
ENC 1145 Writing about Toys
What is a toy? What is the purpose of playing with toys? How do the stories we tell about toys affect our relationship with them? Do toys represent a twisted marketing scheme designed to brainwash children into constant consumption and rigid gender norms? Or do they unlock imaginative worlds with limitless potential in the minds of blooming creators?
This course will tackle such questions by examining and performing writing about toys. Our course will consider documentary film (Netflix’s The Toys that Made Us), children’s picture books (Winnie the Pooh, The Elf on the Shelf), comic strips (Calvin and Hobbes), fiction (Rumer Godden’s The Doll’s House), stop-motion film and animation (Rankin-Bass productions, Toy Story), studies concerning sociological topics (Barbie and body image, Batman and criminology), and, finally, commercial narratives like Transformers.
To unravel the logic, violence, and love that exists between toy and player, our readings will also examine the nature of play itself (Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman’s Rules of Play) and the political roles of toys (Jonathan Alexandratos’ Articulating the Action Figure).
These readings will fuel various modes of composition as the course unfolds. Students will be responsible for composing a short analytical essay about the political work of toys and play at midterm, and a long-form final research project. Students are also accountable for a creative reflection essay, in which they articulate the significance of a toy from their own lives and harness their personal reflections for a rhetorical purpose. Finally, students will practice critical making alongside their critical thinking, creating their own toy or play-item and writing an accompanying reflective essay.
Times: M W F 7
Room: MAT 0117
ENC 1145 Writing About the “Other” Bloomsbury
Undoubtedly, Virginia Woolf is the most notable and recognized figure within the Bloomsbury Group, but its impact on art and culture extends further than Woolf alone. The other figures within and on the fringe of the Bloomsbury circle have immense value to the study of Modernism. In this course we will look at how this “lost” set of people came together to form an eccentric band of misfits that quickly rose to literary and artistic distinction. Students will consider how the Bloomsbury Group channeled WWI into their work, and how the Group’s resistance to rigid societal standards shaped their respective lifestyles and fragmented identities. Mapping this network of writers and artists, the course will challenge students to consider non-traditional as well as traditional works of art.
This class will include a variety of short and novel length works of fiction, as well as political and economic writings. The course will include readings from David Garnett, Vita Sackville-West, Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes. Visual art will also play a vital role in this class, including artists Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Dora Carrington, and Mark Gertler. We’ll take trips to view the Harn’s collection of post-impressionist paintings within the Modern Collection.
Potential assignments include creative projects that allow students to understand the Bloomsbury Group’s artistic processes as well as papers that expect students to discuss a selected piece of visual art in relation to a written text Students will also work with Modernist manifestos to mimic the writers’ and artists’ aesthetic theories and creative strategies. Through multi-media platforms such as Tumblr and WordPress, students will explore different modes of approaching texts through images, music, and video. These engagements with contemporary media will help us better understand writing, artistic criticism, and the Modernist movement.
Times: T 8-9, R 9
Room: MAEB 0238
|ENG 1131||13862||Writing through Media in the Age of Superheroes|
|ENG 1131||13863||Literary Adaptations on Television|
|ENG 1131||13864||(Re)Mediating Comicss|
|ENG 1131||13868||Horror and Adaptation|