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Spring 2022 Courses

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Expository Writing Courses for Spring 2022

The Great Gatsby: Myth to Meme

Section 001:  MW 0930-1020, BL 102 (F WEB)

Section 002:  MW 1130-1220, BL 102 (F WEB)

Instructor: Catherine Mintler

This course will follow the evolution of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, from its inception through its nearly century-long afterlife as one of the great American novels. 

Beginning prior to its publication on April 25, 1925 and ending with its entry into the public domain on January 1, 2021, our course will start by interrogating myths, i.e. about the American Dream and Gatsby himself, created by the novel’s unreliable narrator, by Fitzgerald as its author, and by nearly a century of critics, readers, teachers, students, and filmmakers. We will inquire whether and to what extent the novel’s popularity and resiliency are connected to the myths it perpetuates as we simultaneously attempt to demythologize them. Our journey will include road stops to consider where the novel’s story intersects with gender norms, social class conditions, race and race relations, and aesthetics, and their connections to dandyism, imposture, money, and organized crime, all of which remain important in varying yet similar ways to American society then and now. We will end by examining how these myths have influenced early forms of Gatsby fandom, and how they might continue to do so in our digital age.

In what way is The Great Gatsby a 20th-century novelization of an archetypal myth? Is Gatsby a mythic hero or is he, perhaps, a cypher? Why do we believe the same myths that created Gatsby, or that Gatsby and the novel’s unreliable narrator create about him? In what ways might the fandom and memeification of The Great Gatsby in the public domain perpetuate its and American society’s myths? In what ways might the novel’s entry into the public domain encourage and enable us to better understand the consequences of American myth? 

Science Fact, Science Fiction

Section 003:  TR 1030-1145, BL 102

Section 005:  TR 0900-1015, BL 102

Instructor: Al Harahap

Academia and science are under attack.  How and why is this happening? How do scientific ideas become accepted or rejected by society? Why have the ideas of climate change, round Earth, vaccinations, and the current pandemic (among many others) become so controversial? How does society negotiate science with other truth and belief systems such as religion and the American pioneering, do-it-yourself mentality? And what is the role of the academic/scientist in the public's understanding of these ideas and trust in the scientific process?

Inclusive of natural and social sciences, as well as the arts and humanities as cultural sciences, we will read and watch scientific studies and science fiction to look at the various ways the scientific imagination has been helped, doubted or outright denied by cultural, economic, political and other social forces, both throughout history and in current events. Using specific topics of their own choosing, students will learn how to communicate niche ideas both in academic/scientific communities as well as for public spheres.

American Writers in Paris

Section 007:  TR 1330-1445, BL 102

Instructor: Timothy Bradford

Paris, The City of Light, has long attracted crowds of American writers and artists hungry for artistic and other freedoms, inspiration, and camaraderie, as well as cheap food and lodging. This course will examine specific push and pull factors related to individual writers and artists, their experiences with the bourgeois and bohemian poles of the city, and the influence of Parisian society and culture on their work and identities. Mark Twain, Isadora Duncan, Gertrude Stein, Sidney Bechet, Eugene Bullard, Josephine Baker, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Beach, Man Ray, Langston Hughes, Djuna Barnes, James Baldwin, and Dorothea Tanning are some of the figures we will engage with through their work, and primary and secondary sources, including art monographs, maps, and films, will be used to explore the terrain and formulate great questions while developing critical reading, thinking, researching, and writing skills. 



Boom to Zoom: Generation Gaps

Section 009: MW 1030-1120, BL 102 (F WEB)

Section 010: MW 1230-1320, BL 102 (F WEB)

Instructor: V. Nicholas LoLordo

From mythologizing a “Lost Generation” after WW I, to mining data for the collective identity constructs of today, for more than a century the American media has imagined history in generational terms. Your cynical, flannel-clad “Gen X” professor (generational stereotype alert!) will guide our tour of cultural forms from fiction to pop music, movies to memes, sociology to journalism to advertising.  Throughout, we will examine how they how these various texts represent and theorize collective struggles over power, wealth and opportunity. What might the lens of generational analysis show us about the true nature of an increasingly unequal society—& what might it obscure?


Music, Sound & Noise

Section 012:  TR 1200-1315, BL 102

Instructor:  Robert Scafe

This course examines debates about music and the sonic environment. Students will tune into the music, sounds, and noises of their daily lives, and write about how their experience is shaped by the “soundscape” in ways that often go unnoticed. We will also examine the social meaning of music from its folk origins through classical and “popular” genres. Why do people identify so strongly with their musical tastes—and react so strongly to music they dislike? How has music informed social movements and regimes of oppression? Who owns the soundscape, and how should we negotiate disputes over “noise”?

Real Utopias

Section 013:  TR 1500-1615, BL 102

Instructor: Robert Scafe

In this course we will examine literary utopias in speculative and science fiction as well as real social experiments from 19th-century communes to 21st-century virtual communities. What motivates people to form alternative communities? Why do so many utopian communities fail? How have some succeeded? What can a world facing climate catastrophe learn from the radical hope of utopian thought and practice?

Truth to Power

Section 014: MW 1330-1445, BL 102

Section 015:  MW 1500-1615, BL 102

Instructor: Eric Bosse

This course focuses on intersectional identity, representation in higher education, and contemporary justice issues through the work and writings of civil rights leaders and social justice activists. In particular, students will explore issues related to human rights, overlapping social identities and systems of oppression (intersectionality), the deconstruction of "toxic masculinity," the role of allies in social movements, and the implications of protest and dissent for stakeholders within institutions and systems. Through a sequence of writing assignments, students will be challenged to move beyond initial thoughts toward more fully developed arguments, and to examine the power of taking a stance and making a stand for justice.

From Spirituals to Hip-Hop

Section 016:  TR 1630-1745

Instructor: Timothy Bradford

African Americans have created some of the richest, most vibrant musical genres in the world as evinced by spirituals, work songs, blues, gospel, 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 and related literature from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century with an emphasis on their roles in survival, innovation, identity, pride, leadership and innovation. Excerpts from Amiri Baraka’s Blues People, Kevin Young’s The Grey Album, and Tricia Rose's Black Noise, various documentaries, and our own Spotify playlists 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.