Session 1 (May 22 to June 28)
English 104-10 Love in the Time of Tinder: Relationships, Identity, and Technology (4)
This 100-level, online, cross-listed English/ WGSS/ Africana studies course will introduce students to a 6-week long discussion of how various kinds of digital, electronic, and social technologies have affected the many ways in which humans engage in relationships with one another and with their devices. We will consider the way in which literature is ideally positioned to communicate cultural beliefs and social norms involving technology use to a large audience, while speculative and science fiction in particular warn us of the future dangers of relying too heavily on technological devices as a substitute for human contact. Through a series of readings, films, short videos, and podcasts, students will be able to not only analyze the role of technology in characters’ lives, but also extend their explications in order to consider the farther-reaching social justice and global issues concerning the production, use, and reliance upon technologies to navigate our relationships with others, and at times, with ourselves. We will specifically consider the gendered and racialized components that affect how individuals interact with various kinds of technologies, and in turn, how certain technologies are calibratedto benefit selected portion of the population. Cross-listed with WGSS 104-10 (21269) and AAS
English 119-10 Why Horror Films Matter (4)
When the modern horror film emerged—with Psycho in 1960 and Night of the Living Dead in 1968—so did furious debate about whether the genre was simply useless (at best) or immoral (at worst). This course will explore why, despite all its critics, the horror film matters, looking at the films that have made up the horror film canon. We’ll move from the inaugural films of the 1960s to the emergence of the slasher film in the 70s and 80s (Halloween), the self-reflexive, ironic horror of the 90s (Scream), the “found-footage” subgenre that began at the end of the century (Blair Witch Project), the “torture Porn” of post 9/11 (Hostel), and the new “possession” film (Paranormal Activity). We will end by considering why the horror film seems to be enjoying a huge surge in popularity in the current decade (e.g., Get Out). Can we learn anything from horror’s current boom about why horror matters?
English 187-10 The Rock and Roll Film (4)
The dawn of the music video in the early 1980s created a new relationship between rock and roll music and the image, but film had long recognized the potential power of rock music. This online class will consider seven prominent examples of the Rock and Roll Film—i.e. films that explicitly employ rock music and rock musicians as narrative subject matter. We will begin the class with A Hard Day’s Night (Dir. Lester, 1964) and Don’t Look Back (Dir. Pennebaker, 1967), the classic documentary of Bob Dylan’s 1962 tour of England; we will also consider the Maysles brothers’ treatment of the infamous Rolling Stones’ concert at Altamont Speedway, Gimme Shelter (Dir. Maysles, 1970), before turning our attention to the rise of the festival films such as Woodstock (Dir. Wadleigh, 1970). We will, likewise, study Jimmy Cliff’s performance in the Reggae-infused film, The Harder they Come (Dir. Henzell, 1972). With the dawn of MTV, we will turn our attention to the rise of the 1980s music star and consider David Byrne’s True Stories (Dir. Byrne, 1986) and Madonna’s Truth or Dare (Dir. Keshishian, 1991). Our central questions in the course will be (1) why rock and roll has enjoyed (and continues to enjoy) a central role in film, (2) how rock and roll functions within film, especially in terms of the promotion of the rock star and the rock legacy, and (3) how the use of rock music within film affects our understanding of the rise of MTV and the progression of music with film.
English 189-12 How to Watch Movies Like A Hollywood Screenwriter (4)
In this online course we will learn the formula of Hollywood screenwriting--including the three- act structure, character arcs, beat sheets, genres, MacGuffins, and other mainstays of blockbuster films--and then ask what that formula tells us about our national culture. We will study Hollywood adaptations of foreign films as well as adaptations of American hits in Hong Kong cinema to see how different film-making traditions reflect different cultural values. Coursework will include multiple short writing assignments as well as active participation in the online course discussion board.
English 195-10 What’s so Funny: The Rhetoric of Humor (4)
“The causes of laughter are those that do not pain or injure us; the comic mask, for instance, is deformed and distorted but not painfully so.”
“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.”
Humor is a fundamentally rhetorical act. Not only can it be incredibly persuasive, but it also implicates the humorist and the audience in a complex (and potentially risky) social relationship. With this power in mind, this course has two primary aims: 1.) to examine what makes funny things funny; and, 2.) to explore the rhetorical force of humor and the real effects that humor produces in the world. We’ll accomplish these goals, in part, by reading theories of humor from Plato to the present day and then applying them to humorous texts of all kinds: stand-up comedy; TV shows, films, and YouTube videos; and humorous essays.
Much of what we read and most of what you compose in this course will involve humor in some way. And no, you don’t have to be funny to take this class, although a sense of humor is always welcome.
This course will be delivered fully online (with recorded mini-lectures, online clips of humorous texts, opportunities for group discussions in online forums, video consultations with the professor, etc.) with optional opportunities for in-person meetings during office hours. Assignments will include short analytical papers of humorous artifacts, forum discussion posts, and a presentation—delivered online—in which you introduce a comedic text of your choosing, while explaining the source of its humor and its larger rhetorical force. Contact Professor Rollins (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions about the class.
English 391 Twilight Zones and Black Mirrors: Visions of Who We Are (4-3)
The Twilight Zone ran on American broadcast TV from 1959 – 1964. Black Mirror is an ongoing British anthology series created first for the BBC in 2011 and, at present, for Netflix. Both series are set in a slightly altered reality: the world looks like our world but it isn’t quite. The stories that both series tell, though, are fundamentally about who we are—what choices we make and why. They are also frequently bleak and dystopian. This course will explore key episodes of The Twilight Zone and of Black Mirror (as well as scripts and stories) to identify the principal preoccupations of each. How is each series rooted in its time? What does human nature and ethical choice look like in The Twilight Zone and through the Black Mirror? How does each series, in particular, represent our relation to technology—to TV and robots in The Twilight Zone, to the internet, social media, and virtual reality in Black Mirror?
Summer II (July 2 to August 9)
English 104-11 Good Girls and Bad Boys in the Age of Consent (4)
Contemporary novels and fan fiction authors continue to use a similar trope: typically in her first year of college, the good, virginal girl meets and lusts after the bad, sexually-experienced boy. What happens when we take these narratives in the context of American colleges and universities that adopt policies of “affirmative consent”? This course will read a series of recent novels and pay specific attention to how desire and sex intersect with gender. The course will also incorporate contemporary college and university conversations around Greek Life and athletics. Questions students will be responding to include, do the novels respond to the changing policies and laws? How do the characters understand notions of consent? Do readers encounter heteronormative and hegemonic notions of "masculinity" and "femininity" in the books? What happens when the students lose faith in the campus conduct system and create their own? In addition to reading contextual material, we will read pieces of fiction including The Mockingbirds, The Luckiest Girl Alive, Beautiful Disaster, and portions of the Twilight series, including recent mashups. Cross-listed with WGSS 104-14 (21273)
English 104-12 Made to Kill: Female Violence in Popular Film (4)
Heroes. Monsters. Outlaws. Catsuits. This course will examine the stories that popular films tell about female perpetrators of violence. How do these representations construct, reinforce and/or challenge normative ideas about gender and violence? Films include The Hunger Games, Mad Max: Fury Road, Wonder Woman, Carrie, and The Silence of the Lambs. The course will also introduce you to the language of film and enable you to use this language to interpret the way films make meaning. Cross-listed with WGSS 104-12 (21279)
TR 4:00-6:50 Handler
English 119-11 Horror in the Digital Age (4)
This course will trace the monsters of weird-fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft as they evolve from the written word to newly released video game horror. While other horror-driven courses are focused on a single medium, this course asks students to explore horror's evolution across mediums, allowing them to see the rhetorical or stylistic changes inherent in a given text. We will ask why newer adaptations of Lovecraft's monsters--from South Park and the Resident Evil franchise to modern philosophical thought and the DC Comics universe—have come to overshadow their origin stories. Beginning with Lovecraft's most famous stories, this course will see what changes as they are rearticulated in other modes: fiction, video games, films, and popular role-playing games.
English 187-11 Graphic Novels: Identity, Culture, and Narrative (4)
Though comics used to be considered on the fringes of “art” and “literature,” they have now crossed over into the mainstream and one of the fastest-growing genres. This course investigates how graphic novels and comics, a fusion of text and image, explore narratives of identity formation. Together, the class will take a brief tour of some of the classics of the genre, looking at a few seminal titles that changed the game and continue to resonate today, as well as some of current classics-in-the-making. We will pay particular attention to the ways graphic novels have become a vital site for imagining identity development in terms of race, religion, gender, sexuality, and ability, all while examining how visual and textual rhetorics intersect to influence meaning.
English 189-13 Sports in Film (4)
As sport has become a major facet of American social, political, and economic life, film has continually documented this importance of team and individual athletics to the larger workings of American culture. This course will investigate various filmic depictions of amateur and professional sports, including the emergence of the young athlete, the fanaticism of supporters, the economic and political effects of sporting competitions, and the various ways in which sports films have been used to relate and recover history. We will consider up to ten prominent sports films throughout this summer course: Victory (Dir. Huston, 1981), Bull Durham (Dir. Shelton, 1988), Bend it like Beckham (Dir. Chadha, 2002), A League of their Own (Dir. Marshall, 1992), The Natural (1984; Dir. Levinson) Hoop Dreams (Dir. James, 1994), Hoosiers (Dir. Anspaugh, 1986), Miracle (2004; Dir. O’Connor), Raging Bull (1980; Dir. Scorsese), and The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh (Dir. Moses, 1979). Our goals in the class will be to heighten our understanding of the role of sport in modern culture, study the various ways in which sport influences and responds to changing conceptions of identity and political visions of community, and improve our abilities to analyze and write about film.
English 488-10 Supporting Multi-Lingual Students on College Campuses (1)
This course is designed to help current and future teachers of undergraduate composition and rhetoric courses address the needs of multilingual speakers of English in their classes. The course focuses on how to incorporate multilingual students into classroom interactions effectively while also ensuring that they understand and meet the demands and expectations of classroom reading and writing assignments.