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Expository Writing Courses for Fall 2015

EXPO 1113 meets the GenEd Composition I requirement.

EXPO 1213 meets the GenEd Composition II requirement.

EXPO 1223 meets the GenEd Core IV Lower Division Western Civ. & Culture requirement.

Every Expository Writing course features:
    •      a guided investigation of a special topic (see course listing below)
    •      a seminar-sized class of no more than 16 students
    •      an emphasis on individual instruction with plenty of feedback
    •      a lecturer who is a seasoned teacher with an advanced degree
    •      an open, interactive classroom atmosphere

No Place Like Home

Section 001: MWF 9:30-10:20

Instructor: Jennifer Shaiman

This class fulfills the Composition I General Education Requirement

There is an intimate connection between the places we live and the people we become.  This course takes that connection as its starting point, investigating our homes from the most private spaces to those we share, sometimes unwillingly, with strangers. In addition to the traditionally domestic spaces, we will also consider our institutional and regional home as well. This class will serve as an introduction to college-level academic argument. Our readings will be interdisciplinary: fiction, theoretical, general audience, and professional texts.  

(De)Constructing Gender

Section 006: MW 1:30-2:45

Section 005: MW 3:00-4:15

Section 009: TR 9:00-10:15

Instructor: Eric Bosse

How does gender shape our lives? And how does gender intersect with race, class, ability, sexuality, religion, and other axes of identity? How does society define, interpret, manipulate, and regulate gender? How do we respond to those who do not conform to our culture’s traditional gender binary? Gender confers privilege and power on some and subjects others to subtle and not-so-subtle acts of oppression. This interdisciplinary course explores debates surrounding traditional gender roles, feminism, privilege, homophobia, sexism, misogyny, and intersectionality, through texts drawn from women’s studies, men’s studies, LGBT studies, psychology, neuroscience, journalism, legislation, public policy, literature, and popular culture.

Games People Play

Section 007: TR 9:00-10:15

Section 025: TR 10:30-11:45

LAB (both sections): W 4:30-6:45PM

Instructors: Jennifer Shaiman and George Cusack

Note: This course has weekly lab sessions, where we will play different types of games in order to examine key concepts in our readings.  Attendance at these sessions is a required part of the course.

Game theorist Jane McGonigal  argues that human beings devote billions of hours to games each is year because "reality is broken."  According to McGonigal, games give us a sense of purpose and accomplishment that most people find lacking in their everyday lives.  In this course, we’ll examine the ways that games can make us feel smarter, more powerful, and more capable.  We'll see how games can distract us from the "real world," but also how they can help us to learn, to collaborate, and to express ourselves more effectively.  From there, we'll think of ways to "gamify" the university experience in order to address specific problems faced by OU students.

Immigrant America

Section 008: MWF 1:30-2:20

Instructor: David Long

Richly historical yet aimed at current debates, this course measures the importance  of immigration in the history and practice of civic life in the United States, with a focus on the period from 1875 to the present.  We will learn what it means to regard America as a “nation of immigrants”; encounter a variety of perspectives on the fluid and dynamic process of Americanization (also known as assimilation); consider the ways in which U.S. immigration has often been viewed as more problematic than promising for the health of our democracy; and keep an eye on unresolved controversies over state and federal immigration policies—including a recent Supreme Court case regarding immigration law in Arizona.  Course texts include landmark legal documents, newspaper articles, a novella and a novel, poetry and music, three films, OU-archived photographs, and model essays from several academic fields. 

Modern Monsters

Section 011: MWF 10:30-11:20

Instructor: David Long

Our world and our minds have always been populated by monsters.  Not only do they both horrify and fascinate us, but monsters may be said to shape and express the lives we lead—socially, politically, and psychologically.  From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Nazi death camps to 70s horror films and beyond, this course will investigate the birth and career of the modern monster in the Western world.  What is a monster?  In what ways are the monsters of a scientific, technological age different than their ancestors?  What do those differences reveal about the times in which we live?  How does our sense of what’s monstrous change as we move from fictional narrative and to actual history?  Why are monsters indispensable to our culture?  And why, no matter how fast we run or how carefully we bolt the door, can we never really escape them? 

Myth and Hero

Section 001: MWF 12:30-1:20

Section 002: MWF 2:30-3:20

Instructor: Liz Locke

After discussing some of the ways in which scholars define and think about the word “myth,” we meet two classical heroes, Theseus and Luke Skywalker, leading us to discover the iconic American Cowboy Hero. We then explore the significance of comic book superheroes (especially Superman, Black Panther, and Hancock) in our popular, moral, and political cultures: How do “truth, justice, and the American Way” figure in our current narratives about American identity, power, law, vigilantism, masculinity, heroism, and race? Finally, we look at representations of women superheroes, still asking: How do both our new and traditional hero myths mold our thinking about power, leadership, individual autonomy, community, suffering, justice, violence, and virtue? How do they influence our behaviors and attitudes about gender, ethnicity, class, citizenship, conflict, and peace? In addition to regular class attendance, we’ll be viewing five films: Shane (1953), The Black Panther (2008),      Hancock (2008), Wonder Women! (2012), and Miss Representation (2012).

Paris through the Ages

Section 014: TR 12:00-1:15

Section 015: TR 3:00-4:15

Instructor: Sam Temple

In this course, students will explore the back alleys and boulevards of Paris, one of the world’s great capital cities. Best known as a tourist destination today, Paris played a key role in the forging of the modern era. Medieval kingship and absolutism met its end on the Place de la Concorde, just as modern mass democracy was taking its first steps at the gates of the Bastille. The origins of modern terrorism can be glimpsed in the rubble of cafés and concert halls blown up by anarchist bombs. It suffered the pains of foreign occupation and became a city of both resistance and collaboration, its trains helping deport thousands of French men, women and children to German death camps. But Paris also gave us some of the finer things in life—cuisine, fashion, and cabarets to name a few.  Through a selection of historical and contemporary sources, students will create their own “spatial histories” of this fascinating city, culminating with a collective digital “map” of Paris that highlights each student’s particular interest. 

Poets 2 Rockstars: The Creative Artist from Fame to Celebrity

Section 020: TR 3:00-4:15

Section 901: TR 4:30-5:45

Instructor: Nick LoLordo

Why do so many famous artists have famously difficult lives? Why do we hunger for every possible detail about those lives? And does our obsession help us understand their art?  Beginning with the Romantic poet Lord Byron (who was called "mad, bad, and dangerous to know"--by his own lover!), and ending with Tupac Shakur (who remains famous enough to need no further advertisement), we will explore these and related questions, seeking to better understand the co-dependent relationship between art and fame that characterizes modern cultural life.


Popular Science

Section 012: MW 1:30-2:45

Instructor: Robert Scafe

In his recent book, The Science of Liberty, Timothy Ferris contends that “the democratic revolution was sparked—caused is perhaps too strong a word—by the scientific revolution, and that science continues to foster political freedom today.” This course invites students to test this claim by writing about moments in American and European history when science informed—or conflicted with—citizen participation. Topics include science in the French and American revolutions, eugenics and totalitarian uses of science, controversies about the science of evolution and global warming, and the recent resurgence of “citizen science” in the United States.

Violence and the Sacred

Section 010: TR 10:30-11:45

Section 013: MW 3:00-4:15

Instructor: Robert Scafe

Beginning with Biblical human sacrifice and extending to the contemporary phenomenon of suicide bombing, this course examines how human communities have used symbolic violence to forge a common identity and to establish boundaries between themselves and others.  Why do cultures create "scapegoats" in times of crisis?  Why do religions of peace produce prophets of terror?  Why do secular states cloak their wars in sacred language?  We will address these questions by reading first-hand accounts and literary interpretations of violent episodes such as the medieval crusades, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and Jihadist terrorism.

Course texts include Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, the legend of Romulus and Remus in Livy’s History of Rome, the accounts of Cain & Abel and Abraham & Isaac from the Book of Genesis, and films such as Hotel Rwanda and Apocalypse Now.

What Is Work?

Section 016: TR 1:30-2:45

Section 900: TR  4:30-5:45

Instructor: Catherine Mintler

You know what work is—if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
—Phillip Levine, “What Work Is”

When you were young, how did you answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Did you equate aspirations with duties, knowledge or education, career titles, or salaries? Did you stop to think about the difficult mental or physical labor that different kinds of work involve? Why do we connect work, value, and identity?  

In this course, you will enter a conversation begun by these questions, examining the concept and practice of work within several contexts: Language of Work; Gender and Work, the Exploitation of Workers; and Utopian vs. Dystopian Futures of Work. Course texts will include “Bartleby the Scrivener,” Nickel and Dimed, The Myth of Sisyphus, The Jungle, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Brave New World, poems and songs about work, and excerpts from film and TV classics like Modern Times, Metropolis, Nine to Five, Clerks, Dirty Jobs, and The Office.

Women in the Muslim World

Section 003: TR 12:00-1:15

Section 004: TR 1:30-2:45

Instructor: Nyla Ali Khan

This course will examine and interrogate cultural formations of gender, with a particular focus on the experiences of Muslim women throughout the world. A broad range of Muslim women, some who identify as feminist, others who do not, consider Islam crucial to their gendered identity. There are also feminist women who were born Muslim, some of whom continue to practice Islam, others who do not, who consider Islam as oppressing their gendered identity. Whatever their positions, it is crucial that these women discuss their relationships, as women, to Islam. In this current historical and cultural moment, critics and proponents of Islam often speak on behalf of Muslim women, while Muslim women remain silent. In this class, we will read Muslim women writing, in their own words, about their religious practices, their feminist practices, and how these practices affect their lives and perspectives.