Summer 2020 courses
ENGL 119-10 Introduction to the Horror Film (4) (20706)
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), to be the virulent renaissance of the genre in the post 9/11 world—“torture Porn” (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., It Follows, Get Out, Us, Black Christmas). Can we learn anything from horror’s current boom about why horror matters? Crosslisted with FILM 119-10 (21466).
ENGL 163-11 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, story genres, and other mainstays of blockbuster films--and then ask what that formula tells us about U.S. national culture. We will study Hollywood adaptations of foreign films as well as adaptations of U.S. 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. Crosslisted with Film 163-11(21468)
ENGL191-10 Disaster Film Ethics (4) (21542)
Disaster films have been an enduring genre, especially in the US. In this course, we’ll watch the most important disaster films from the 1940s to the present, exploring the ethical frameworks embedded in them. What kinds of causes do disaster films propose for catastrophe? Who or what is responsible? Who survives and why? Is ability or inherited privilege of some kind of most importance when it comes to survival? How can humanity outlast or even avert catastrophe? How have the disasters imagined by the film industry changed as global warming becomes an increasing reality? We’ll start with Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944) and then move on to such films as: The Poseidon Adventure (1972); The Towering Inferno (1974); Twister (1996); Armageddon (1998); The Perfect Storm (2000); The Day After Tomorrow (2004); Snakes on a Plane (2006); 2012 (2009); The Impossible (2012); Geostorm (2017); Crawl (2019); and Parasite (2019).We will analyze these films through various theories of “lifeboat ethics”, which will help us think about how these films decide who lives and who dies Crosslisted with Ethics 191-10 (21543)
ENGL 195-10 What's So Funny?: The Rhetoric of Humor (4) (21536)
“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.
ENGL 104-11 Good Girls and Bad Boys in the Age of Consent (4) (20636)
As the United States moves past questions about affirmative consent in high schools and college campuses, how do contemporary novels, some geared toward young adults, treat the topic? This course will give students the opportunity to think critically about the language--legal and otherwise--around consent and then consider how novels respond to that language and the concepts of consent, especially in the context of high school and college years. Students will engage in asynchronous conversations with one another around the topics and post blogs for each novel. Novels may include The Mockingbirds, Girl Made of Stars, and Beautiful Disaster. Crosslisted with WGSS 104-11 (21054)
ENGL 163-12 Sports in Film (4) (21469)
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 a variety of prominent sports films throughout this summer course, including Bull Durham (Dir. Shelton, 1988), Bend it like Beckham (Dir. Chadha, 2002), A League of their Own (Dir. Marshall, 1992), Hoops Dreams (Dir. James, 1994), Raging Bull (Dir. Scorsese, 1980), Hoosiers (Dir. Anspaugh, 1986), Any Given Sunday (Dir. Stone, 1999), The Natural (Dir. Levinson, 1984), and Miracle (Dir. O’Connor, 2004). 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 race, class, gender, sexuality, and political visions, and improve our abilities to analyze and write about film. Crosslisted with FILM 163-12 (21470)
ENGL 191-15 More Money, More Problems: Exploring Economic (in)Justice in Popular Fiction (4) (21566)
As the world faces the largest wealth inequalities in history, it is important to take stock of how we got here. This class will use a variety of popular film, short fiction, and poetry to investigate economic injustice from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Financial Crisis of 2008. We will engage in ethical discussions about historical models of capitalism with a particular focus on its financial and managerial systems, emphasizing the various ways in which money gains value and power. Much of the literature will focus on the human dimensions of the economy, but we will also learn about a variety of financial instruments and corporate technologies of power and control. We will identify specific strikebreaking techniques, analyze labor speed-up technologies, demystify stock-market manipulation strategies, and question the emerging legal recognition of corporate personhood, both as they appear in literature and as they operate in the real world.
With the aim of broadening our understanding about the inner workings of our current economic system, this class will introduce these deliberately obscure financial practices in ways that makes sense to students of any and all disciplines. Moreover, this class will provide crucial historical context concerning American capitalism by highlighting new economic systems as they emerge in the latter half of the twentieth century. Finally, as a humanities course, students will be asked to think about capitalism not only as an economic system, but a dynamic social and political project as well, constantly adapting its form in response to historical situations. By the end of the course, students will discover how the powerful legacy of 20th century capitalism has shaped our economic beliefs, and the impact this has on the ways we think about economic (in)justice today. Crosslisted with Ethics191-15 (21568)
ENGL 195-12 Pop (Cult)ure: American Cults and Popular Media (4) (21619) While cults are predominantly seen as fringe communities outside society’s norms, it’s hard to deny their role in contemporary media. In the midst of a politically fractured America rife with echo chambers and fanatic followers, we begin to understand why cults are powerful muses for pop culture today. From The Peoples Temple to American Horror Story, this course explores the history of American cults, unpacks their community dynamics, and interrogates their presence in television, film, literature, podcasts, and more. Together, we will pay particular attention to the ways that cults and their representations speak to the fantasies and paranoias of American life while considering how cult dynamics manifest themselves in various communities. Crosslisted with REL 195-11 (21620).
ENGL 391-12&13 Digital Humanities (4-3) (21057) (21058)
Digital technology has opened up new opportunities to create and 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 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.
ENGL 488 Supporting Multi-lingual Students in First Year English (3) (20987)
This course focuses on training university composition teachers to work with multilingual English speakers in their undergraduate classes. The course specifically addresses who exactly these students are, what cultural and linguistic resources they bring to the mainstream classroom, and what support or accommodations they may need to help them socialize effectively into the valued classroom practices of the university composition classroom.