Announcement of Classes: Spring 2009

The Announcement of Classes is available one week before Tele-Bears begins every semester. Creative Writing and (for fall) Honors Course applications are available at the same time in the racks outside of 322 Wheeler Hall.


Reading and Composition: Beyond Good and Evil

English R1A

Section: 1
Instructor: Kerschen, Paul
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart; William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Henry James, The Turn of the Screw; James Joyce, Dubliners; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; a Course Reader containing poems, stories, essays and critical articles.

Description

This course takes its title from Friedrich Nietzsche’s book on the "philosophy of the future," in which he argues that traditional moral categories no longer apply to the modern world. In this course we will test that claim. After a brief look at good and evil as understood in Homer, Dante and Milton, we will turn to modern texts which seek to rework these moral categories for their own time. We will ask what is gained and what is lost along the way - as good and evil become more doubtful and provisional, to what extent can they be judged at all? This inquiry will give us a vantage point on some of the monumental changes in Western culture and society over the last two centuries.

In addition to reading and enjoying these works, we will work hard on skillful writing about literature. Students will learn to read closely and carefully, to construct solid theses and arguments, and to deploy the resources of the English language to express their insights with clarity, conviction, and verve. Course assignments will include at least 32 pages of writing divided among several short essays; peer editing and revision will be mainstays. This course fulfills the first half of the university's reading and composition requirement.


Reading and Composition: The Southernization of America

English R1A

Section: 5
Instructor: Pugh, Megan
Pugh, Megan
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Erskine Caldwell and Margaret Bourke-White, You Have Seen Their Faces; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find; a course reader, including works by James Agee, Langston Hughes, William Faulkner, and others.

Film list: Gone With the Wind; The Little Colonel; Cabin in the Sky.

Description

In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded some 27,000 square miles of American heartland, displacing hundreds of thousands of Southerners. Two years later, the stock market bottomed out and triggered the Great Depression. These national catastrophes provided a reason for the region to break with its agrarian past and explore progressive reforms. As rural Southerners moved to cities in record numbers, they brought their culture with them, a culture that was picked up by new neighbors and disseminated more broadly than ever before. Southern culture had become national culture.

This introduction to college writing and argument explores the Southernization of America from the 1930s to the 1950s. We’ll read a good deal of fiction and poetry alongside manifestos, documentary photography, music, and film. Our course material will help us ask questions about the relations between history and memory, race and nation, art and politics—themes you will explore in your papers. This is a writing-intensive course, so you will complete and revise four essays, and we’ll spend much of our time discussing how to improve your composition skills.


Reading and Composition: The Confessing Animal

English R1B

Section: 4
Instructor: Browning, Catherine Cronquist
Browning, Catherine
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Augustine, Confessions; De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater; Hacker, A Writer’s Reference (6th ed. 2007); Hogg, Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner; Rousseau, Confessions; and a Course Reader.

Description

Written and oral confessions are a mainstay of western culture, with manifestations as different as Augustine's fourth-century spiritual autobiography and Rousseau's shocking eighteenth-century tell-all memoir. Confession in a variety of forms is central to many religious faiths, to our criminal justice system, and to our popular culture.  Confessions play a part in psychoanalysis and in politics.  This course will explore the phenomenon of confession, asking such questions as:  What is confession? How and why do we value it?  What social, literary, and political conventions govern its performance?  How does confession both reinforce and destabilize the social order?

As part of the university’s Reading and Composition requirement, this course develops reading, writing, and research skills that are applicable across the curriculum.  We will focus on how to find, evaluate, and make effective use of research tools and resources for analytic writing.  The primary writing assignments for the course will be three progressively longer papers (2-3 pages, 6-8 pages, 8-10 pages), combining analysis of primary texts with research from secondary sources.  The first paper will be a personal essay in response to Augustine’s Confessions; the second, an argumentative essay supported by research and evidence; and the third, an expository research paper.  Strategies for revision will form another major focus of the course, and the second and third papers will include substantial work (and feedback) at the prewriting and draft stages of composition.


Reading and Composition: Plotting Suspicion

English R1B

Section: 6
Instructor: Ring, Joseph
Ring, Joseph
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

William S. Burroughs, Cities of the Red Night; Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four; Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams; Sigmund Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria; Jamyang Norbu, The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes; William Shakespeare, Hamlet; selected short stories by Jorge Luis Borges and Edgar Allan Poe.

Description

This course will inspect a lineup of “unusual suspects” plucked from what might be called a literature of suspicion. Although a motley generic arrangement encompassing revenge tragedy, psychoanalytic theory, detective fiction, and postmodern apocalypse, the texts that we will read nevertheless all, in different but related ways, assign a prime role to fiction in procedures of suspicion, detection, and evidence evaluation. This course will concentrate on close, careful reading of these works and their interpretive methods, placing them in historical and cultural context.

Above all, this course is designed to teach you how to work with principal modes of academic rhetoric: description, analysis, and argument. You will be required to write, in addition to a diagnostic essay and a number of short writing assignments, at least two formal essays, each of which you will substantially revise, and the last of which will include a research component. As each student will also workshop these essays with a peer-editing group, you must be prepared to write detailed comments on other students’ work.


Reading and Composition: “Native American Literature”

English R1B

Section: 11
Instructor: Hausman, Blake M.
Hausman, Blake
Time: MWF 3-4
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Sherman Alexie, Ten Little Indians; John Rollin Ridge,, the The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit: Louise Erdrich, Love Medicine. There will also be a course reader containing works by writers such as E. Pauline Johnson, Zitkala-Sa, D’arcy McNickle, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon Ortiz, Michael Dorris, Linda Hogan, Wendy Rose, Joy Harjo, Marilou Awiatkwa, and Thomas King.

Film List: The Business of Fancydancing

Description

As studies in “American literature” or “Literature in English” grow increasingly diverse and inclusive, several important questions arise in relation to “Native American literature.”  What is Native American literature, and how does it relate to the larger canons of American and Anglophone literature?  On one level, Native literature predates European settlement by thousands of years; on another level, Native literature in English is barely older than the United States itself.

This class will examine a wide range of word art produced in English during the last 160 years by writers of Indigenous American descent.  We will engage works of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and film.  Since the writers who create these texts come from such different backgrounds and employ great variations of style and substance, we will ultimately question what makes “Native American literature” what it is.  From the 19th century myth of Joaquin Murieta to the widely popular contemporary work of Sherman Alexie, how does Native American literature give readers some wonderfully entertaining stories while simultaneously pushing us to question the implications of living in “America” in the 21st century?


Reading and Composition: The Long and Short of It

English R1B

Section: 13
Instructor: Tsao, Tiffany
Time: Th 8-9:30
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Charles Dickens, Bleak House; James Joyce, Dubliners; Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies; Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance; Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight!; a course reader.

Description

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge it by its length?  Why is it that some of us love burying our noses in a large book, while others of us feel drowsy at the very sight of anything over 200 pages long?  Why don’t they sell books by the pound, like meat or produce?  Why are so many of the “timeless classics” we feel we should read sooooooooo darn long?  Was Yoda right when he told Luke in Empire Strikes Back, “Size matters not”?

In this class, we’ll explore the respective merits of wordiness and brevity by reading two long works over the course of the entire semester, alongside a series of short works.  For the long novels, we’ll start in post-independence New Delhi with Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, and travel back in time to Victorian London in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House.  The shorter works we’ll be reading include short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri and James Joyce, a short novel by Jean Rhys, and a variety of other stories, plays, excerpts, and essays included in a course-reader.

Students will be required to write three essays, respectively, 2-3 pages, 6-7 pages, and 8-10 pages in length. The last two essays will each undergo a substantial amount of revision (including peer-revision), and the 8-10 page writing assignment will be a research paper.


Reading and Composition: Googleable: Language, Politics and Mass Media

English R1B

Section: 14
Instructor: Ecke, Jeremy S
Ecke, Jeremy
Time: TTh 9:30-11
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Joseph Gibaldi,  MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers; George Orwell,  1984; Richard Marius,  A Writer's Companion; and a course reader containing selections from George Orwell, Don Watson, Frank Luntz, George Lakoff, Geoffrey Nunberg, J.L. Austin, Steven Pinker, and Robert Stockwell and Donka Minkova.

Description

George Orwell's 1984 envisions a world where language, thought, and information are controlled by the ruling Party. Reading 1984 as a primer of media and information control, we will examine the challenges that mass media and the internet present in the so-called information age. We will examine the democratization of information, the credibility of sources, issues of access, and the problems that arise when journalists, researchers, and students limit their information to that which is "googleable."

Your research project will span the semester.  You will propose a set of related research topics, compose a research prospectus, and compile bibliographies.  You will be required to attend office hours, prior to the submission of your prospectus, following the submission of your bibliography, and during one of your essay revisions.  Your research will culminate in a final expository essay of 7-10 pages, and you will revise your essay twice.  A strong emphasis will be placed on feedback and self-evaluation.


Reading and Composition: Dystopian Fiction and the Fate of the Body

English R1B

Section: 18
Instructor: Edwards, Erin E
Edwards, Erin
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 301 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale; William Gibson, Neuromancer; Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers; Aldous Huxley, Brave New World; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; Thomas More, Utopia; and a Course Reader.

Film List: Blade Runner (1982); Children of Men (2007)

Description

This course will examine the body as a site through which dystopian fiction enacts many of its central conflicts.  We will discuss ways in which dystopian fiction both speculates about the future of the body and registers anxiety about the loss of more traditional bodily forms.  Reading and viewing a range of novels and films, we will encounter topics such as gender, sexuality, reproduction, cloning, and cyborg bodies.  Despite the apparent exoticism of its worlds and bodies, dystopian fiction asks fundamental questions about what a body is, and how it is produced, controlled, or altered by outside forces.  The course will thus consider how dystopian fiction affords a critical distance through which contemporary political and social contexts are critiqued.

In class discussions and in short paper assignments, we will practice close readings skills, working toward developing arguments from initials questions and observations about the text.  The course will also introduce students to research skills and will culminate in a final paper that incorporates historical, theoretical, or critical sources into its argument.