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.
Constructing Haiti, Constructing America
Since Haiti established its independence from the French in 1804, Haiti has had multiple and divergent meanings and significances in United States discourse. For example, Thomas Jefferson viewed the Haitian Revolution as a terrifying omen of what Black autonomy and nationhood could mean for the United States: formerly enslaved Blacks revolting violently against White Americans. Conversely, 19th century intellectual Frederick Douglass proclaimed that Haiti was “the original, pioneer emancipator of the nineteenth century.” Jefferson and Douglass’ comments illustrate that Haiti could invoke panic, fear and terror as well as admiration, hope and reverence not just within the United States but throughout the world.
Through critically engaging with speeches, travel narratives, ethnographies and novels, this course will explore how American writers have constructed and assigned meaning to Haiti and to what ends. The course will ask students to consider how defining Haiti and “Haitianess” in literature allows American writers to define America and “Americanness” in the context of literary works about the Haitian Revolution, the US Occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934, Haitian tourism and Voodoo. The course will include texts by William Seabrook, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and Edwidge Danticat.
Students will learn and develop close reading and literary analysis skills in periodic 2-3 page response papers. Students will have class time to outline, draft and workshop writing assignments individually and in writing groups. All writing assignments will lead to an annotated bibliography and a longer final paper.
Times: M W F 7
Reading Empire: U.S. Imperialism and Literature
In this course we will read American literature that discusses or reflects U.S. imperialism from the early 19th and into the 21st centuries. We will address the following questions: How has literature been used to reinforce or reject imperialist initiatives? How have writers adopted imperialist narratives into their own writings, and/or subverted these narratives in order to write against the imperial state? More importantly, what are the implications of reading the United States as an imperial power, or of neglecting to read it as such?
In order to narrow the scope of our course, we will begin by focusing our study to a few keys issues and/or territories, and will read critical works that discuss U.S. expansion to Hawai’i, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, as well as the colonization of indigenous people within the continental nation-state. Through this critical framework, we will then read literary texts that speak to issues central to US imperialism, and likewise will re-read canonical writers through the lens of postcolonial theory. Our course will cover concepts such as postcoloniality, settler colonialism, Manifest Destiny, the frontier, borderlands, indigeneity, and U.S. imperialism.
We will read novels, short stories and poems by writers such as James Fenimore Cooper, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Margery Fee, Leslie Marmon Silko, Sherman Alexie, Carlos Bulosan, Lois Ann Yamanaka, Toni Morrison, and R. Linmark Zamora. We will supplement these readings with critical works, turn of the century political cartoons, government documents, and potentially a film. Writing assignments will include short reading responses, three essays, and three revisions.
Times: M W F 3
Issues in American Literature & Culture: The Contemporary and Its Artists
Mitch R. Murray
In this course we will explore the increasingly significant role of the artist, and the status of art more generally, in American literature and culture. The past 15 years have indeed witnessed an upsurge in the novel of the artist (or Künstlerroman) in “literary” fiction, and the genre’s influence can also be seen in recent comics and film. This prevalence suggests that the role of the artist, art’s social and political functions, our overall conceptions of what art is and can do, and how art is produced in our particular historical-material conditions, are undergoing serious questioning and reevaluation. After all, our contemporary global situation is far different from that of even 15 years ago. What changes—cultural, socio-political, economic—since the turn of the millennium have prompted this reconsideration of art(ists)? We will begin with the rise of what Mark McGurl calls “The Program Era,” a postwar period, continuing into the present, of unparalleled production of American literature. Then, reading young authors who grew up in “The Program Era,” we will see a break as the artist novel becomes attached to popular genres like the superhero genre, apocalypse, the historical novel, and science fiction. Exploring this new era, we will answer questions like: What are the conditions of the production of contemporary art? How do various genres respond to high/low cultural divides at different historical moments? Is art timeless, and, if so, what then does it mean then to be a “contemporary” artist? What are the cultural, sexual, and racial politics of contemporary art? Possible texts include: novels/stories from the height of the MFA in creative writing (e.g. John Barth), key selections from the contemporary moment (Junot Díaz, Ben Lerner, Emily St. John Mandel, Ruth Ozeki, Kim Stanley Robinson, Charles Yu), graphic narratives (Alison Bechdel), as well as film (Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman or Jim Jarmusch’s vampire flic Only Lovers Left Alive).
Times: T 8-9, R 9
Issues in American Literature & Culture: (Re)Writing American History: Historical Fiction and Its Place in the Classroom
This course will investigate how American history is (re)written for children and adolescents through historical fiction, focusing on texts published during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as public education formalized and expanded in the United States. As Sara Schwebel explains in Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms, historical fiction is often perceived “as being like the history textbooks it replaces; the novels, like the textbooks, are understood to capture ‘truth’” (134). Schwebel argues that fiction and textbook alike “are always products of a particular historical context” (3). Thus, we must closely examine these works to understand both the history they depict and the context of their production.
We will read historical fiction, ranging from texts published specifically for children and young adults to those originally “for adults” that have been adopted as children’s literature in classroom curricula. We will approach historical fiction as supplementary educational materials to examine, and perhaps reconsider, how such works function both within and outside of the classroom. We will consider: How do questions of audience and appropriateness, particularly for children, influence the transmission of a complex, often contested American past? How does the approach toward a particular audience impact the telling of historical narratives and how, in turn, do these narratives influence broader cultural (mis)understandings of the past? How do these texts resist or reinforce dominant historical narratives? Ultimately, how is the nation’s past (re)written through these depictions?
Writing assignments will include an in-class presentation, short response papers, and three critical papers.
Times: M W F 6
We will discuss two short stories and a revision by each student, with emphasis on different narrative strategies. The workshops will focus on matching form and content to produce the most powerful effects in a reader. A course-pack of contemporary stories and narrative poems will be required, and students will usually be expected to read two stories and a poem each week. Students will choose which of their two stories to revise, and though the revisions will not be discussed in class, they will be circulated to the entire class.
Times: M 9-11
This is a beginner poetry workshop, focussing on student writing, taught by a prizewinning contemporary poet.
Times: M 3-5
Writing About Tourism
Tourism exploded in economic and cultural importance during the last century, becoming the world’s largest industry since the end of the Second World War and now responsible, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, for roughly one tenth of the global workforce. Corporate advertising and government propaganda successfully formatted, for example, the tropical getaway into an attainable commodity for the expanding middle class of booming postwar economies. But what functions as a site of escape and leisure can at the same time function as one of deprivation and exploitation. A farm in the rural south can be both an aspect of the everyday and site of return and personal fulfillment.
“Writing about Tourism” will explore how forms of media since 1945 have captured, commoditized and politicized the concept of tourism. Students will examine the function of brochures, print ads and certain films (such as Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii) in packaging and marketing tourism as a product. They will also explore how writers such as Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua), Luis Rafael Sanchez (Puerto Rico) and Georgia Ka’apuni (Hawai’i) confront and reframe the paradisal myths of their respective nation or state. We will also investigate how the non-fiction works of contemporary American writers such as David Sedaris, David Foster-Wallace and Emily Raboteau challenge notions of who is a tourist and where counts as a tourist site. The aim of the course is to examine how writing articulates the tensions inherent in the tourist/tourist site dyad and how the re-configuration of visitor, purpose and destination may alter them.
Times: M W F 6
Writing About Disability: “Extraordinary Bodies” in Print and Visual Culture
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this year, it is imperative that we critically analyze the state of accessibility, identity, and representation of differently-abled citizens in American life and culture. In 1997, only seven years after the ADA was voted into law, Disability Studies’ founding mother Rosemarie Garland-Thomson wrote in her seminal text Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature a call to “reframe ‘disability’ as another culture-bound, physically justified difference to consider along with race, gender, class, ethnicity, and sexuality […] to unravel the complexities of identity production within social narratives of bodily differences.”
This course is an interdisciplinary study of the representations of “extraordinary bodies” in print and visual culture that aims to trace how representations of physical difference, ability and normalcy in American culture intersect with dialogues in current feminist and queer theory. As an interdisciplinary study, we will read and watch a blend of literary, historical, theoretical, and media texts to understand the role of the disabled body in contemporary American culture. We will be reading the work of Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, including Extraordinary Bodies, in addition to writing from Nancy Mairs, Simi Linton, Robert McCruer, Tobin Siebers, Lennard Davis, Eli Clare, Audre Lorde, Judith Butler, et al. We will also be watching the 2013 documentary The Last Taboo: A Documentary (on Sexuality and Disability), select episodes from ABC’s hit show, Switched at Birth (a show about two teenaged girls and their families who navigate deaf culture), and watching an episode of Britain’s Missing Top Model (a reality show contest for disabled models). The culminating assignment for this course will be a comprehensive research study of a cultural phenomena/text that deals with any of the issues we discuss this semester.
Times: M W F 7
Topics for Composition: Writing About the Politics of Storytelling in Minority Literature
How do the stories we tell both reveal and create ideas about American society as a whole? Paying particular attention to minority literatures, we will examine “storytelling” in two senses of the word: storytelling as the literal writing of fiction and autobiography, and storytelling as a narration of the self through everyday conversations and personal style. In doing so, we will examine the political and social dimensions of telling a story.
What is “American” about so-called “American” stories? Does the language in which we tell these stories matter? Which stories have staying power (either on a personal or political level) and why? How do different aspects of our identity (race, gender, sexuality, disability) influence the extent to which we can(not) tell our own stories?
By thinking critically about writing and storytelling, students will learn the skills necessary to closely read and analyze a wide range of texts, while touching on themes such as ideology, privilege, and intersectionality. Readings may include, but are not limited to, short stories by writers such as Jennine Capó Crucet, Maxine Hong Kingston, James Baldwin, and Alice Walker. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to reflect on how their own stories or “self-narratives” are shaped by cultural and literary representations of American identities and differences.
Times: M W F 4
Topics for Composition: Writing About Work
Earlier this year, workers in the American fast food industry organized across the United States to demand an increase in the federal minimum wage. This lead to an extended national conversation about whether these employees deserved an increase in wages, based on the kind of work they do. To engage with this (and similar) discussions, in this course we will explore how “work” is defined, and valued, in the U.S. This involves identifying the kinds of labor, occupations, and activities which have been considered work, as well as contemplating how work continues to be redefined – keeping in mind that constructions of class, race, gender, etc., also shape society’s sense of what work looks like.
In addition, we will review the history of the American Labor Movement and how it has led to significant changes in national and state laws to protect workers’ rights. Finally, we will also consider the local relevance of our course by looking at movements like the Alachua Labor Commission’s Living Wage Campaign.
Our course readings will include literary works, news articles, and critical texts. Through various writing assignments featuring their critical insights and original arguments, students will explore how work has been defined, and might further be defined, in the U.S. These assignments, which serve to satisfy the University Writing Requirement, may include reading responses, short papers involving the analysis and synthesis of primary and secondary texts, an in-class presentation, and a final research paper.
Times: M W F 5
Writing About the Body in YA Literature
This course will examine, discuss, and write about the human body as it is represented in Young Adult (YA) texts. A close examination of the adolescent body in literature provides a framework for discussing and writing about broader cultural, historical, and social issues. We will work from the argument that literature can be read in a way that is comparable to our “reading” of the adolescent body; both are objects of focused attention that must “shift” or “change” in order to endure in culture and society. As a composition course that fulfills the University of Florida’s writing requirement, students will be graded based on critical and creative written responses; participation, homework, and quizzes; and a final course project and group presentation.
Written projects and units for this course will be based on a range of canonical and noncanonical novels, novellas, and plays. The first unit will look at texts such Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love (2002), in order to write about the ways the body has been historically presented as “other” through carnival sideshows. The second unit will provide opportunities for writing about the adolescent body through cultural and social issues of gender in Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999) or Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun (2014); race in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007) or Walter Dean Myers’s Monster (1999); and sexuality in Judy Blume’s Forever (1975) or Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project (2001).
The third unit will focus on written assignments about the abused body in Susan Shaw’s The Boy from the Basement (2006) or Emma Donoghue’s Room (2011); bodies that have experienced trauma in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (1999); bodies suffering from illness in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (2014) or Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2011); and the disabled body in Francisco X. Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World (2011) or Ron Koertge’s Stoner and Spaz (2011). The final unit will focus on the posthuman body in M.T. Anderson’s Feed(2002) or
Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies (2005).
Times: T 8-9, R 9
This course gives you instruction and practice in workplace writing. We will cover some of the typical forms and genres, but we will spend most of our time focusing on the elements of prose style that apply to every form of workplace writing.
This course is writing-intensive. There are few lectures or presentations, and these are very short. Instead, you will write and revise something almost every week. You will write and submit drafts of each assignment, and you will receive feedback on each draft before submitting it in final form. At the end of each course module, you will meet individually with the instructor via teleconference to evaluate your writing.
To generate material for writing, many technical writing courses use expensive textbooks that contain fictional cases describing workplace scenarios. We won’t do that. In this course, we will generate writing material from specific episodes of the TV show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” It is available through Hulu, so you will have to subscribe to that service for about four months, beginning in January.
You will need one small and relatively inexpensive textbook: Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace (5th edition), by Joseph M. Williams and Joseph Bizup.
This is a three credit-hour course with a prerequisite of ENC 1101 or “test score equivalency.” If you earn a final grade of C or better, the course provides 6000 words toward UF’s 24,000-word Writing Requirement. In addition, it offers C Credit, which means you will be instructed in the methods and conventions of standard written English (e.g., grammar, punctuation, usage) and in techniques that produce effective texts.
This is a UF Online course, and therefore restricted to students admitted to the UF Online degree program.
Writing Through Media: Affect
Love. Disgust. Happiness. Depression. Nostalgia. Shame. Pain. Failure. Fear…
Frederic Jameson has claimed that we live in postmodern times, characterized in part by a “waning of affect.” However, in recent years, many academic disciplines have witnessed a blossoming of interest in the study of affect, emotion, and feeling. This course will consider several questions related to the rise of affect theory: What is affect? How is it different from emotion and feeling? Are affects historicized, politicized, racialized, and gendered? If so, how? We will examine expressions of various affects in literature, theory, and visual texts, as well as their significance in a broader historical and cultural context. Each week, we will focus on one particular affect to tease out the ways in which it is imagined, evoked, felt, narrativized, visualized, and transmitted. By doing so, we come to understand the ways that the private experience of affect enables individuals to partake voluntarily in social and historical events. Through the lens of affect, we will also focus our attention on the debates surrounding issues like terrorism, vulnerability, sexuality, temporality, and precarity. As they are reading and learning about affect, students are expected to create their own media “archive of feelings,” an ongoing writing project that builds throughout the course. Each week, students will locate a primary, non-mainstream source (a performance, image, film, music video, podcast episode, or any other form of “media”) with a thematic focus on that week’s particular affect and archive it by writing a short introduction.
Times: M W F 6, M E1-E3
Writing Through Augmented Reality
Compelling applications of augmented reality (AR) technology continue to surface within a variety of contexts: museums are integrating AR content into their displays, marketing campaigns are promoting AR in lieu of print or even web-based catalogs, and digital activists are leveraging AR to turn physical objects, texts, and locations into sites of critique. This section of ENG 1131 will introduce students to the cultural, technical, and rhetorical characteristics of site-specific AR, or AR applications that can only be experienced with a particular physical location.
Specifically, we will focus on 1) the use of AR to provide supplementary information within a physical space and 2) the use of AR to subvert or critique aspects of a physical space. As such, our readings and viewings will focus not only on the social and cultural aspects of AR as an emerging medium, but also on the technical and rhetorical knowledge required to create our own site-specific AR applications.
All of the assignments for this class will operate under a project-based learning model; students will spend the semester designing, writing, testing, and promoting a site-specific augmented reality application to be used within an area in or around UF’s campus. Among other assignments, students will write emails to potential site contacts, craft project proposals, design posters and other promotional materials, and maintain a progress blog. Screening times will be used to scaffold students’ technical knowledge of AR so that they can create stand-alone and cloud-based mobile AR applications. No prior coding or software experience is required; however, students should display a sense self-motivated interest in developing their abilities to learn and operate new technologies.
Times: M W F 5, T E1-E3
Writing Through Media: Adapting the “Unfilmable”
In our culture of translatability, the novel lives to become the film adaptation. Narratives are mediated and remediated across multiple forms, to the point that the original textual artifact may be eclipsed. Standing apart, however, are those books said to “unfilmable”—the texts that inhabit the medium of print in such controversial and compositionally innovative ways that they cannot make the shift from page to screen. That is, until they do.
In this course, we will read and watch high profile examples from the tradition of “unfilmable” film adaptations, to consider what it is that is transformed when media is translated. Our somehow-adapted novels will include Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (adapted by Stanley Kubrick in 1962), William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (adapted by David Cronenberg in 1991), Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (adapted by Ridley Scott as Blade Runner in 1982) Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen (adapted by Zack Synder in 2009), and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (adapted by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis in 2012). In addition to these now adapted texts, we will contrast what cannot be replicated from print to film by reading S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst, a 2013 as-of-yet still “unfilmable” novel. We will also cover problems in adaptation theory such as elision, censorship, and medium-specific analysis. Critical readings will include scholarship by Seymour Chatman, Friedrich Kittler, Julia Kristeva, and Frederic Jameson, as well as film reviews by Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert.
Our screening times will be devoted to viewing the films and introducing the major “writing through media” projects we will be embarking on—from learning video production software for a group film project, to workshopping with analog and digital crafts as we adapt films into other media and even create our own “unfilmable” works. All in order to explore just how adaptable our transmedia culture really is.
Times: M W F 4, T E1-E3
Writing Through Media: Writing Through Comics
In 2015, Harvard University Press published Nick Sousanis’ dissertation Unflattening, the first dissertation at Columbia University to be written entirely as a comic book. Although in the popular mindset comics are thought to be solely the domain of funny animals and superheroes, the medium is in fact capable of a vast variety of fiction and non-fiction rhetoric, as the publication of Sousanis’ work shows. In this class, we will examine in detail the “language” of comics – how does a cartoonist use both text and image to present a narrative or make an argument? What impact do the unique aspects of comics (such as panel size, word balloons, and the gutter) have on the reader?
In order to accomplish this examination, we will deconstruct the multimodal nature of comics and examine the ways cartoonists have used the medium. Several different “genres” of comics, including political cartoons, gag strips, autobiographical narrative, comics journalism, and webcomics will be analyzed in order to discover how cartoonists can use the language of comics to achieve widely different goals. Readings will also include works that use the comics medium to create long-form non-fiction arguments (like Understanding Comics, Unflattening, and Japan Inc.) and works that examine the construction of comics themselves (like Will Eisner’s Sequential Art, “How to Read Donald Duck,” and “How to Read Nancy”).
Throughout the course, students will also create their own works of sequential art using both traditional means (pen and paper) and more modern means (websites and software for creating webcomics) in a variety of genres (including the gag strip, political cartoon, and autobio narrative). Student work will also be supplemented by explanatory and analytical papers, with a final project that creates a longer argumentative comics work in the spirit of McCloud and Sousanis.
Times: M W F 3, R 9-11
Special Topics: Climate Fiction
“Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us, the possible consequences, and the possible solutions.” —Isaac Asimov
As we move into an era of increased climate instability, scientific analysis of climate change is central to our understanding of physical systems of our planet and the impact of these systems on human life. Science fiction (sf), the distinctive literary form of our time, bridges elite and popular cultures and broadly engages enthusiasts and scholars alike in the work of imagining our possible futures. These areas of scientific, intellectual, and artistic inquiry—climate studies and sf—are converging in the new field of “climate fiction”: print and graphic fiction and film grounded in scientific realities of environmental change, and projecting the resulting transformations of our societies, politics, and cultures. In this course we will read major works in this emerging literary genre from the late 19th through the early 21st centuries.
This course coincides with an international colloquium at UF, on “Imagining Climate Change: Science and Fiction in Dialogue” (February 17–18, 2016). The instructor (Harpold) is one of the organizers of the colloquium, which is co-sponsored by The France-Florida Research Institute, ThebCenter for African Studies, The Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, the Department of English, the Florida Climate Institute at the University of Florida, the Science Fiction Working Group, the UF Smathers Libraries, and the UF Water Institute. Colloquium events are made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States. See http://imagining-climate.clas.ufl.edu for a complete schedule of events.
This course is a humanities (H) subject area course in UF’s General Education Program and carries “Cluster A” credit toward UF’s Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability Studies.
Times: T 7, R 7-8, R 9-11