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: Tiny Terrors and Miniature Monsters: Evil Children in American Literature
This course examines the popular trope of the evil child in American literature and film and interrogates its enduring popularity and cultural significance. What is the appeal of the evil child? What types of cultural work does the evil child perform? We will seek to answer these questions and others throughout the semester. Both “evil” and “child” are ambiguous terms that have shifted throughout the past century, so we will explore how child and evil are culturally-constructed concepts and pay close attention to historical context. This course offers students a chance to think critically about a popular subject and join existing conversations within the fields of literary analysis, cultural studies, American history, and childhood studies.
Students will learn to read critically and write persuasively about literature. We will read American texts that feature evil children and engage with relevant scholarship to deepen our understanding of the texts. Class participation will be a vital component of student success. Writing assignments will build towards a final argumentative paper. Students will write four brief reading responses that engage in a literary or cultural analysis of a single text. These papers allow students to practice writing conventions, work on organization, develop arguments, and get valuable feedback. Students will then write a proposal, annotated bibliography, and original argumentative paper.
Times: M W F 7
Issues in American Literature & Culture: Americans Abroad
We will examine literature by American authors who wrote and resided outside the nation’s borders. While early American writers frequently defined themselves against European writers and suggested that American literature was inherently different, the 20th century saw many poets, novelists, playwrights, and journalists relocating to Europe. The 20th century was marked by the rise of America’s position as both a global and imperial power in the midst of both World Wars and American Pacific expansionism, even as the century witnessed the solidification of a uniquely and quintessentially American literary canon.
Our class will interrogate the complexities of an American literary canon that is conceptualized, produced, and published on foreign soil and consumed by American and European readers. We will explore concepts such as motherland/homeland, nationalism, imperialism, transnational literacy, and Euro-American relations.
Writing assignments will include weekly reading responses, a midterm paper, and a longer final paper.
Times: M W F 3
Issues in American Literature & Culture: Being Latin@
According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2012, Hispanics and Latinos make up about 17% of the total U.S. population, making this group the largest minority in the U.S. But who exactly constitutes this group? In this course, students will examine the nuances amongst the two terms, along with others that are often used interchangeably, and often imprecisely or incorrectly, to refer to what is seen as a homogenous group of people, and which often ignore differences in nationality, race, social class, and politics.
Hence, the main inquiry raised by this course is whether a collective Latin@ identity actually exists, or if the term is nothing more than a demonym that serves as a political and marketing term. To help them answer this question, students will engage with various literary and critical texts that discuss this issue and feature the various communities Latin American immigrants and their descendants belong to. Possible course texts include, but are not limited to, the works of authors like Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros, and Junot Diaz; along with critical readings from scholars such as Marta Caminero-Santangelo, Arlene Davila, and Juan Flores. As they read these texts, students will be asked to note the ways in which individuals simultaneously identify (or are identified) as part of a local community, as representatives of a particular nationality, and as U.S. residents or citizens.
Through various writing assignments that feature their critical insights and original arguments, students will attempt to answer what it means to be identified or identify as Latin@ and whether this is a desired identification. These assignments include periodic reading responses, as well as a close reading/analysis of a primary text and longer literary analyses, all culminating in a major paper in which students will determine what it “means” to be Latin@.
Times: T 8-9, R 9
Issues in American Literature & Culture: Reading the South
Using canonical and noncanonical novels and short stories traditionally classified as “southern literature,” this course will develop a working definition of the South and what it means to be southern through categories of author, character, genre, setting, and writing style. The majority of class discussion will center on readings from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and will consider issues such as race and gender in the American south; additionally, the course will explore the ways texts function as specific modes of writing in the genre, including the Southern Gothic. Tentative units and readings for the course will include a range of novels, short stories, young adult, and children’s texts. The first unit, The Southern Novel, will focus on a text by William Faulkner, such as The Sound and the Fury or Absalom! Absalom! The second unit, The Short Story, will use a selection of works by Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Katherine Ann Porter, Reynolds Price, and Fred Chappell. The final unit, Southern Childhood, will consider the implications of “growing up in the south.” Readings will include texts such as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
Times: M W F 6
Honors Fiction Writing
We will aim to amplify the idea of what a story can be, employing a range of narrative strategies, and reading stories and poems from contemporary writers who sound like no one else. Emphasis on use of place, work, logic, and, always, language. Short assignments in the beginning will spotlight ways to listen for stories, as Eudora Welty put it. We will talk about writing at the sentence level, and finding personal ways into the largest concerns. Students will write two stories and submit a revision of one of them.
Times: T 9-11
Honors Poetry Writing
This is a poetry workshop designed to expand the poet’s understanding of what it’s possible to accomplish in a poem. We will be closely studying and explicating poems and then imitating their rhetorical, formal, vocal, and imagistic strategies. Students will be exposed to a wide variety of models. Each student will be expected to lead the class discussion in an explication of one of the model poems and to turn in an analysis of the poem. Students will write one poem a week and will participate in constructive criticism of each other’s poems and the weekly reading assignments.
Topics for Composition: Writing About Monsters
In this course, we will investigate representations of teenage “monsters” in literary texts, graphic novels, web series, and other cultural materials produced for young adult audiences. Both monstrosity and adolescence are often characterized by unexpected physical changes and uncontrollable behavior, in addition to feelings of alienation, rejection, and insatiability. In this way, monstrosity can come to represent the “normal” adolescent experience. However, monsters can also represent aberrant or unacceptable teenage behavior, often in the form of tropes such as the teenage outcast, the brute, and the criminal, among others. Exploring depictions of teenage monsters, ranging from the grotesque to the misunderstood to the tragic anti-hero, will allow us to examine, and perhaps reconsider, how adolescence is imagined in American cultural materials meant for young adults. To better question the alignment of monstrosity and adolescence, the course will also interrogate depictions of class, race, gender, and/or sexual identity that are often rendered as “aberrant.” In particular, we will consider various representations of monstrous teenagers in order to question how the American cultural imaginary configures “normal” teens in contrast to these figures.
ENC1145 fulfills 6000 words of the University Writing Requirement. Writing assignments will include class discussion prompts, short response papers (500 words each), and three critical papers (1200–1500 words each). With each assignment, students will use close reading and analysis skills to develop critical arguments and engage with the class theme.
Times: M W F 6
Topics for Composition: Writing About Interface: Digital Games, Hypertext, and Life on the Scroll
This course develops from Nick Montfort‘s claim that although digital interface studies has been attentive to operators‘ “life on the screen, ” less work has been done to “better understand the ‘life on the scroll’ that the users of print terminals had—as recently as the early 1980s—and to also understand how punchcard and paper tape interfaces were important to computer creativity. ” This course, therefore, engages the cultural and literary dimensions of computing by tracing the resonances between paper and digital interface through a variety of textual surfaces that allude to the past, present, and future of the page. Students will engage the material history of interface and explore its communicative potential by writing about, writing with, and writing their own digital and non-digital interfaces, which will students will demo and screen during class. Readings will include an assortment of books, hypertexts, and digital games including Howling Dogs, Loom, N. Katherine Hayles‘ Writing Machines, Okami, Espen Aarseth‘s Cybertext, Adventure, Terry Harpold‘s Ex-Foliations, House of Leaves, Afternoon, and Mary Flanagan‘s Critical Play.
Times: M W F 3
Topics for Composition: Writing About Screens (Inside and Out)
This course focuses on the role of the “screen” as a material artifact vital to the rhetorical complexity of 21st-century writing. Drawing from theorists such as Kenneth Burke, N. Katherine Hayles, Marshall McLuhan, and Mark C. Taylor, we will analyze the role of a variety of digital technologies within our culture, including augmented reality software, natural/kinetic user interfaces, and mobile/ubiquitous computing, among others.
In addition to these “inside” components of the screen (software, apps, websites, etc.) we will also focus on its “outside” effects by looking at its socio-biological impact on areas such as the human brain, education, foreign labor, the mainstream media, protests, and revolutions.
Although we will spend time reading, viewing, and talking about screens, the course assignments, daily activities, and homework all focus on enhancing students’ ability to craft rhetorically effective writing. Moreover, due to the constantly shifting definitions of what constitutes “writing” in our screen saturated culture, we will be analyzing and producing within the new modes and genres of “writing” that have emerged alongside the proliferation of the screen such as tweets, vines, texts, memes, blogs, etc. In so doing, students will not only gain greater acuity in operating within a variety of rhetorical situations but also gain greater understanding of the strategic and dispersed nature of 21st-century writing.
Times: M W F 7
Topics for Composition: Writing About Fraud
Confidence tricks, counterfeit, Ponzi schemes, identity theft—we are both fascinated and threated by fraud and its manifestations. Print culture, in particular, reflects our obsession with sensationalist cases of fraudulence across several genres: fiction, non-fiction, and journalism. In this course, students will read works of fiction about fraud as well as learn about real-life cases of literary fraud in which popular works of non-fiction were subsequently exposed as fictitious. These texts might include Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Clifford Irving’s The Autobiography of Howard Hughes, and Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Fragments. In addition to analyzing and writing critically about fraudulent literature, students will get a chance to practice in several literary strategies that embrace fraud in creative and productive ways. Ultimately, we will attempt to answer questions about how fraudulent writing practices shape our worldviews, what the difference is between real-life and fictional fraud, and how our fascination with fraud is connected to the insecurities about our own authenticity and origins.
Times: M W F 6
Topics for Composition: Writing About LGBT YA Literature
The past year has seen the rise of media campaigns such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks that seek to bring attention to the lack of diversity within young adult (YA) literature. The numbers tell the tale: from 2003-2013, major commercial publishers released, on average, 15 YA books each year that could be classified as LGBT novels—that is, novels with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender themes or main characters (Lo). These statistics—combined with similarly dismal numbers for other forms of diversity—serve as a reminder that YA literature remains largely beholden to straight, white protagonists.
In this class, then, we will trace the arc of LGBT representation in YA literature—what little of it there is—from the mid-twentieth century into the twenty-first. We will consider landmark texts like Nancy Garden’s Annie on My Mind and David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy, as well as those that have received less critical attention, such as Malinda Lo’s Huntress and Scott Tracey’s Witch Eyes. Among our primary goals will be to learn how to critically read the representation of LGBT youth within these novels and to understand how those representations are products of and reactions to the political and cultural rhetoric of their time.
Assignments may include reading response papers, a series of brief academic essays, an in-class presentation on a text of the student’s choosing, and a final research paper. Students are expected to actively participate in writing workshops and to constructively add to class discussion each day.
Times: M W F 7
Topics for Composition: Writing About Animation
The creation of a word from scratch provides endless creative freedom and techniques to tell stories. Computer generated graphics, stop motion films, or 3d environment challenge our notion of fiction, of narration, and of cinema as a whole. For a generation of students that grew up with the films of Pixar, this topic offers an engaging vehicle to become better writers and critical thinkers. This course aims to provide students with writing and critical thinking skills while learning the bases of animation. Students will learn about audiovisual language, animation techniques, and audiovisual storytelling while becoming better writers and interacting with complex ideas.
As a writing course, creativity will play an important role in the class. We will work with an understanding of writing based on multimodality and multiliteracy and therefore, writing will not only be defined as composing with words.
Students will usually compose written texts and reviews, but in certain units, they will have the option of creating a video. In these cases, they will write a complementary art statement to satisfy the University’s Writing Requirements and practice their writing with words. The assignments of the class will all contribute to build the final assignment: A final research paper about animation or a short animated film.
Times: T 8-9, R 9
Writing Through Media: History (and Future) of the Book
“If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”
The last few decades have witnessed more technological advancements in terms of books than the last few centuries and, should this logarithmic progression continue, we could predict that we will see incredible transformations to our concept of “book” in the coming years. Therefore, this course is designed to trace the sociocultural history of the deceptively simple term, “book,” and imagine limitless possibilities for what it will mean in future contexts.
In the three units, Books: Past, Present, and Future, we will study the evolution of the book in the contexts of labor, technology, materiality, aesthetics, and more; explore the dynamics of new media including, but not limited to, digital collections, hypertexts, eBooks, electronic popables, augmented reality books, etc.; and infer potential future possibilities of the book: brain-computer interface technologies, a neural book transfer from the Matrix, or even modes we have not yet imagined.
Writing requirements include short in-class writing assignments, experimental bookmaking projects, a research report on historical texts, a visual rhetorical analysis of a contemporary form of a book, and a multimodal interpretation of the future of the book.
Screening times will be utilized to visit the Special & Area Studies Collections of Rare Books, Archives and Manuscripts, UF’s Conservation Unit, the UF Letterpress shop, and the A2 Fab Lab; view documentation of these new media forms; discuss the digital collections with digital humanities librarian, Laurie Taylor; screen fictional representations of the future of books; and collaborate on a creative final project.
Times: M W F 6, Screenings M E1-E3
Writing Through Media: Writing Through Big Data: Access, Analysis, and Visualization
Data science tools and techniques have moved far beyond academia and the discipline of computer science. Business analytics, sports metrics, education assessment, advertising and marketing, government surveillance, entertainment ratings, journalism, political polling, and many others have been drastically altered by popular applications of data mining (the collection, processing, analyzing, and visualization of various forms of data). This class will explore key topics and issues concerning data literacy and its popular misnomer &ldquoBig Data.&rdquo Starting with the concept of access, students will explore issues surrounding the private licensing of data/information from social networking sites and cloud applications, and the ongoing political issues concerning open access software development—including the growing concerns regarding privacy rights. Students will also consider popular uses of data analyses and visualizations in entertainment media, journalism, politics, and marketing. Students will be provided with contemporary readings/examples of these issues and will respond in the form of class discussion and with written responses to weekly writing prompts. Additionally, during the weekly &ldquoscreening time&rdquo meeting, students will work collaboratively towards the completion of a data mining project. Using MassMine, an open source software developed in partnership with UF and supported by Research Computing, students will collect and analyze their own data and will produce data visualizations (visual/rhetorical constructions) that will be presented to the class. The data mining project will provide an opportunity for students to understand the process of producing data visualizations, and provide them with the requisite terminology and technical context for their final critical essay. The final essay will have students respond to a particular social context in light of the course content, and consider the effects of particular data-intensive methods/tools.
Times: M W F 5, Screenings: W E1-E3
Writing Through Media: Gaming Literature
“Literature is that neuter, that composite, that oblique into which every subject escapes, the trap where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the body that writes,” Roland Barthes (ironically) argues in his famous article “The Death of the Author.” Although it makes easy sense to think about the author’s loss of identity as she writes, it is often the disappearance (albeit also temporary) of the readers’ selves as they “get lost in a [good] book” that is more familiar to us.
In this class, I want us to think about when and why novels such as the “make-your-own-adventure” quests came into play. Moreover, the reclamation of the author and reader can be increasingly found in digital media—comics, graphic novels, e-books, games, and hyper-texts, to name a few. One of the major concepts associated with this type of “new writing and reading” is ergodic literature, a term coined by Espen J. Aarseth. “Work,” which he associated with ergodic reading practices, opposes the passivity present in nonergodic literature, where “the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no […] responsibilities placed on the reader except […] eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages.”
Our class will be a creative space where we will not only explore different examples of ergodic literature, but also create new ways where neither the author nor the reader have to metaphorically die. We will attempt what I am calling a double resurrection. To accomplish this feat, we will read, play, analyze, and create new footholds so that their and our identities can climb back up out of the tombs that have imprisoned us. Better yet, we will hopefully recognize ways in which authors and readers never even have to get lost in the first place by asking another question: Is there any way to reincarnate the authors and readers of nonergodic texts?
To satisfy the 6000-word requirements, composition assignments will include three major papers, close and distance reading of various “texts,” and participation in a mock-conference.
Times: M W F 4, Screenings: T E1-E3
Writing Through Media: Surveillance
Whether desired or resisted (or both), surveillance (broadly conceived) has been around since the formation of “subjects” (and “subjectivities”). The rapid advancement of digital technologies, however, has renewed a litany of questions concerning surveillance as a concept and as a practice. This course will use the concept and practice of surveillance as a means by which to teach writing through (new) media. Readings will recursively examine the intersections of ubiquitous computing, emerging modes of digital surveillance (State surveillance, dataveillance, social media), and writing/rhetoric within and through the digital institution. Screening periods will be used to show filmic representations of surveillance, as well as to think through the camera itself as a surveillance technology.
Assignments will be primarily experimental and inventive (heuretics), rather than traditional and interpretative/analytic (hermeneutics). As such, students will maintain a blog with weekly posts using both literate and electrate methods of composing (i.e., not just words, but also images, videos, links, memes, sound/music, etc.). They will also create/invent an original scholarly and digital persona/identity on Facebook, specific to this course, that will: experiment with genre when composing status updates, notes, and comments; seek an audience for the reception of, and interaction with, their compositions; and track/log their interactions, as well as the advertisements that appear on their persona/identity’s Facebook home. Students will also use their phones to track images/videos throughout the semester (following a “target” of concern), culminating in a final project. One formal paper will also be assigned.
Times: M W F 8, Screenings: T E1-E3
Writing Through Media: Afrofuturism
Afrofuturism proposes that visions of the futures and the media technologies that enable them are always profoundly marked by the experience of race. Lisa Yaszek provides our foundational definition of Afrofuturism: “an aesthetic mode that encompasses a diverse range of artists working in different genres and media who are united by their shared interest in projecting black futures derived from Afrodiasporic experiences.” Students in this course will investigate the way in which race has been constructed through multimedia texts and how these constructions have been transformed or remixed by artists working in the Afrofuturist tradition. For instance, how does Paul D. Miller/DJ Spooky’s film project Rebirth of Nation transform our understanding of film history by recutting and rescoring the hugely influential but undeniably racist 1915 film Birth of a Nation?
We will consider texts in a wide variety of mediums, including films such as Sankofa, Brother From Another Planet, and Born in Flames, television episodes of Star Trek and The X-Files, music videos by Janelle Monáe and Kanye West, music by Parliament-Funkadelic and Cybotron, and fiction by Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson. Students will also be asked to find YouTube videos, blog posts, and other online content relevant to the course.
Weekly screenings will be used to watch films, television episodes, and music videos relevant to the course. Assignments will include weekly contributions to a course discussion board, the production of a collective course blog, rhetorical analyses, and a final research essay with a multimedia component.
Times: M W F 7, Screenings: R E1-E3