Summer 2019 Course Descriptions

Summer Session 1       (May 21-June 27)

English 119                             Introduction to the American Horror Film                                   (4)   (23338)

This course examines the changing shape of the American horror film from the moment of modern horror’s emergence in 1960 with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Continually exploring the nature of “horror,” we will move through the game-changing Night of the Living Dead (1968) and The Exorcist (1973), 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 resurgence of the “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 OutHereditary). Can we learn anything from horror’s current boom about why horror matters?  Cross-listed with FILM 119-10 (24244).

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Keetley


English 163-10                                                The Rock and Roll Film                                              (4)   (24245)

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.  Cross-listed with FILM 163-10 (24246).

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Kramp


English 163-11                        How to Watch Movies Like A Hollywood Screenwriter                (4)   (24247)

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.  Cross-listed with FILM 163-11 (24248)

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Whitley


English 195-10                                    What’s so Funny:  The Rhetoric of Humor                           (4)   (23633)                                                                                                                                                    

 “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.”

                                                                                                            —Mel Brooks  

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 ( with questions about the class.

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Rollins            


English 196-10                        Ready Player One: Videogame as Narrative                                    (4)   (23785)

Videogames tell stories. They have plots, endearing characters, complex themes, rising and falling action, and resolutions. Yet, we are often hesitant to hold videogames as narrative objects on the same level with books, film, and television. This course seeks to find a space for the videogame within our cultural moment. Unlike other forms of narrative, the videogame begs its players for interaction—we are, within limitations, often controlling the action of how our pixelated characters make it through their chosen adventures. From RPGs to first-person shooters, videogames allow us to experiment and explore within the confines of a particular storyline. By playing and watching playthroughs of popular videogames like Horizon Zero Dawn, GTA 5, Red Dead Redemption, and, of course, Mario, we will challenge our assumption about who gets to play and why we play such games in the first place.

*Students do not need to have access to these games or systems to take the course.

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Brett


English 391-10            &11                 Shirley Jackson’s Hauntings                                                  (4-3)   10(22669) 11(22670)

In this course, we will explore Shirley Jackson’s major gothic / supernatural texts and their film and TV adaptations. We will read “The Lottery” (and some of her other short stories), The Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and we will watch “The Lottery” (Larry Yust, 1969), The Haunting (Robert Wise, 1963), The Haunting (Jan de Bont, 1999), We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Stacie Passon, 2018), and the Netflix TV series, The Haunting of Hill House (Mike Flanagan, 2018). Assignments will all explore the ways in which the adaptations render and diverge from the source fiction, asking: What aspects of Jackson’s fiction do these adaptations capture (and how) and where (and why) do they fail? 

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Keetley


Summer Session 2 (July 1 – August 8)

English 104-11                          Good Girls and Bad Boys in the Age of Consent                             (4)   (23261)                                                                     

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 MockingbirdsThe Luckiest Girl AliveBeautiful Disaster, and portions of the Twilight series, including recent mashups.  Cross-listed with WGSS 104-11 (23784)

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Jones


English 163-12                                                Sports in Film                                                              (4)   (24249)

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.   Cross-listed with FILM 163-12 (24250).

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Kramp


English 187-11                                                Taking Comedy Seriously                                          (4)   (23638)

Comedy is a growing force in American social and political life, and comedians are increasingly seen as serious participants in public discussion. This is true of live stand-up performances as well as various forms of recorded media (including late night shows, video specials for streaming services, YouTube, and podcasts). Here, we will focus specifically on how the new generation of comedians is shaping the public conversation about issues such as race, gender, mental health, and sexuality. We will look at the work of contemporary comedians such as Hannah Gadsby, Trevor Noah, Hasan Minhaj, Aparna Nancherla, and W. Kamau Bell in dialogue with earlier generations of comics, including Pete Rock, Richard Pryor, and Robin Williams. How is comedy changing in response to new social movements, including anti-racist activism, feminism, and LGBTQ activism? A unit of the course will also look closely at the social and cognitive architecture of a joke: what makes something funny? Why is stand-up comedy in particular such an effective medium for exploring issues of social identity? The course will be taught online. Students will write informal response papers, three short papers, and a final research paper. Most material will be ‘asynchronous’ (on CourseSite), but students will also be asked to check in via live video conference (Facetime or Zoom) twice a week.

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Singh


English 195-11                        Truth, Justice?, and the American Way:  Understanding Justice Through Superheroes   (4)   (23787)

This 100-level online English course will introduce students to six-week a discussion of how superhero narratives explore what justice means in America. Using popular graphic novels and films, we will explore American justice through questions including: is the American criminal justice system systemically racist or sexist? Is it ever acceptable to ‘take matters into our own hands’ when the criminal justice system fails? How can superheroes teach us to change the justice system for the better? Students will hone their analytical and critical thinking skills by developing close reading strategies and connecting popular icons (such as Captain America and Deadpool) to their own beliefs about justice. Studying a variety of textual mediums students will learn how arguments are made in many forms and connect these textual arguments to current issues in the American justice system.

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Bruening


English 391-(12&13)                           Digital Humanities                                                     (4)   12(23788) 13(23789)

For the past few decades, people have been using digital technology both to create and to analyze literature. Scholars and teachers are increasingly using digital tools--from text mining to information visualization--to interpret literary texts, just as creative writers are taking advantage of interactive multimedia to push the boundaries of what counts as literature in the digital age. Throughout this course, students will learn about various concepts and methods in the digital humanities, as well as explore the experimental realms of electronic literature. Students will also have the opportunity to create digital texts of their own. Highly recommended for students focused on careers in teaching, media, and journalism. This is primarily an online course, with options to meet with the professor one-on-one or in small groups both virtually and in person.

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Whitley


English 488         Supporting Multilingual Students on College Campuses             (1)   (23693) 

  • How do you support multilingual speakers of English in your class?
  • How do you get them to talk more?
  • How do you help them understand vocabulary and cultural information?
  • How do you address their grammar and pronunciation errors?

English 488 is a six-week, fully online course that is designed to help current and future teachers of undergraduate courses in university composition and rhetoric to develop the professional knowledge and skills required to meet the needs of “multilingual speakers of English” in their classrooms. Coursework involves watching video lectures and examples of teacher practices, writing and responding to reflective forum postings on pedagogical theory and practice, as well as implementing lesson plans. Students will be required to observe two English language classes and tutor a multilingual English speaker for a total of five hours.  For More Information: Contact

ONLINE                                                                                                                       Oullette