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Fall 2020 Courses

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Poetry from Page to Stage

Instructor: Nick LoLordo

Section 001 MW 5:30-6:45 PSC 0416

Section 002 MW 7:45-9:00 BL 0102

In “Poetry from Page to Stage” we’ll move from classical bards to beat poets, from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe to the Instagram poets of today, from orality to print and back again. Considering the relationships between page and stage, speech and music, poem and oratory, and tracing a history of poetry’s connection to the human voice and body, we’ll explore the past to inform our thinking about how and why poetry matters now.

From Spirituals to Hip-Hop

Instructor: Timothy Bradford

Section 012 T/R 11:15-12:30 in SEC P0201

Section 013 (Honors) 3:15-4:30 in BL 0102

African Americans have created some of the richest, most vibrant musical genres in the world as evinced by spirituals, gospel, work songs, blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, funk, and hip-hop. How did a relatively small group of people, who started in such difficult circumstances, survive, innovate, and even thrive in a country that was, and in ways remains, indifferent if not openly hostile? And what can we learn about African American and American history and culture by examining these music forms? With these questions in mind, we will explore this music from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century with an emphasis on its roles in survival, identity, pride, innovation, and leadership. Amiri Baraka’s Blues People, Kevin Young’s The Grey Album, Tricia Rose’s Black Noise, selections from The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, a Spotify playlist, and various documentaries will serve as the main texts for the course and as inspiration for asking great questions that we will attempt to answer while developing critical reading, thinking, researching, and writing skills.

Migration and the World

Instructor:  Al Harahap

Section 019 TR 1:15-2:30 AH 0101

What does it mean to move from place to place or community to community? Do we distinguish between "moving" and "migrating"? How so? How do the concepts of nation-states and borders complicate the idea of moving around in our world? What are the reasons people purposefully choose to migrate? What are the reasons people do so because they are forced to? In this course, we will begin by first trying to define the ideas of migration, emigration, immigration as it has occured throughout different geographical regions and time periods. We will then look at how language in pop culture and mass/online media portrays migration, the causes, the effects it has on those who move and the areas to which they move, and the interplay between various socio-economic and sociopolitical current events happening both at locations of origin and destinations that impact this human flow around the world. The final project of the course will ask students to focus on a specific issue within the larger umbrella of migration to assess, analyze, and argue.

Texts: Anderson's Imagined Communities, Robinson's Introducing Political Philosophy, Sardar's Introducing Foucault, online articles, and documentaries, movies, novels to be determined by class.

Politics In Everyday Life

Instructor:  Al Harahap

Section 018 TR 11:15-12:30 PHSC 0363

What is "politics"? Is it just limited to issues that politicians and the media speak about once every two or four election years? Why do we create moments where and when we deem politics as appropriate or inappropriate? Can we just turn it on and off? How do we integrate it beyond civic duty into different situations such in our personal and professional lives in meaningful ways? In this course, we will begin by first trying to define what "politics" is from the ways it has been defined and practiced differently throughout different geographical regions/cultures and time periods. We will then look at how language in pop culture and mass/online media covering this year's political campaigns conveys the political that in some cases may be overt and in others may be more subtle for audiences to uncover. The final project of the course will ask students to choose a specific political issue situated in their major or profession to analyze, assess, and argue.

Texts: De Certeau's The Practice of Everyday Life, Robinson's Introducing Political Philosophy, Sardar's Introducing Foucault, online articles, and documentaries, movies, novels to be determined by class.

Political Satire

Instructor: Eric Bosse

Section 015 MW 5:45-7:00 Bizzell 0102

According to the columnist Molly Ivins, “Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful.”  Writers, cartoonists, and filmmakers often employ satire to provoke or prevent change by ridiculing the powers that be; and those powers occasionally strike back.  In this course we will examine the traditional and contemporary roles of satire in cultural and political discourse.  Has satire proven an effective political weapon? Can satire change the hearts and minds of audiences?  Where do we draw the lines between funny and offensive, between satire and irony, between satire and reality? And should certain topics be “out of bounds” for satirists? Course texts will include Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer,” George Saunders’ short stories, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, Issa Rae’s Insecure, Donald Glover’s Atlanta, and recent articles from the Onion.  

Violence and the Sacred

Instructor: Robert Scafe 

Section 005 MWF 9:30-10:20 SEC P0207

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 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.

Doppelgängers & Doubles

Instructor: Catherine R. Mintler

Section 004 TR 3:00-4:15 AH 0352

Section 900 TR 7:15-8:30 BL 0102

This course explores the mysterious, eerie, and uncanny doppelgänger, or “double walker,” that has haunted western culture, in particular folklore, fiction, horror, science fiction, film, for more than two centuries. In literary texts, the doppelgänger functions as a device used to articulate the experience of self-division, providing a ghostly double for a living person that appears as a twin, shadow, or mirror image, and often represents evil or misfortune. In consumer capitalism, it evolves from the automaton, an early form of robot that approximates human form and function, into a reproducible and, more importantly, commodifiable form of the “self as other,” that is refigured in the clone and department store mannequin. 

We will read, discuss, debate, research and write about the doppelgänger in a variety of its doubling guises—as shadow self, automaton, replicant, mannequin, clone, and avatar—as it has been described and theorized from disciplinary genres like psychoanalytic theory, philosophy, painting, fiction, opera, cinema, and computer games. 

Course texts may include: Sigmund Freud’s essay “The Uncanny,” E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Sandman” (Freud's inspiration), Jacques Offenbach’s nineteenth century opera The Tales of Hoffman, Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, Edgar Allen Poe’s “Ligeia,” Jean Rhys’ “Mannequin,” episodes from the original Twilight Zone, and films such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis,  Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Michael Crichton’s Looker, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique, David Fincher’s Fight Club, and Jordan Peele’s Us.

Popular Science

Lecturer: Robert Scafe

Section 007 MWF 2:15-3:05 BL 0102 

This course invites students explore the relationship between science and democracy by writing about moments in recent history when science informed—or conflicted with—citizen participation. Topics include the “climategate” controversy, scientific literacy in education, and the new wave of “citizen science” initiatives in academic research. Students will participate in local citizen science projects such as the Bishop Creek Restoration Project (Norman, OK), and the Blue Thumb stream monitoring initiative.

Truth to Power

 Lecturer: Eric Bosse

Section 014 MW 3:45-5:00 Bizzell 0102

This course focuses on intersectional identity, representation in higher education, and contemporary justice issues. In particular, students will explore human rights, social identities and systems of oppression, the deconstruction of masculinity, the roles of allies, and the implications of protest and dissent. Through a sequence of essays, students will move beyond initial thoughts toward more fully developed arguments that examine the power of taking a stance and making a stand for justice.