ENGL 103 Spring 2014 Themes
ENGL 103, the third in the FWP course sequence, invites students into an in-depth textual and rhetorical exploration of themes across genres. Each FWP instructor offers a unique theme. Below is a list of the courses offered for Spring 2014.
Download a list of Eng 103 courses for Spring 2014 [pdf]
(Looking for last year's themes? Download the pdf.)
The Rhetoric of Bob Dylan
In this course, we will examine the rhetorical influence of Bob Dylan, an artist considered by many to be one of the most important songwriters in American history. While his songs are the primary body of work we will examine, we will also explore his poetry, painting, acting, and soundtrack writing. Using Understanding Bob Dylan: Making Sense of the Songs That Changed Modern Music (2011) by Tony Beck and Who Is That Man?: In Search of the Real Bob Dylan (2012) by David Dalton, we will analyze writing about Dylan, his work, his message, and his meaning.
The Irish Short Story, 1914 & 2012
Jan Armon, Ph.D.
Writing enables you to read creatively. This course moves between stories from James Joyce's 1914 classic collection, Dubliners, and stories from a new anthology, Silver Threads of Hope, edited by Sinéad Gleeson. What you write about those stories will not be traditional schoolkid essays. For example, in an assignment consistent with the then-&-now nature of the readings, you will be writing a reading journal from the viewpoint of one of the characters in a story from Silver Threads. That character will be reading a story from Dubliners. The character's reading journal will develop an interpretation consistent with his or her experiences.
Heading Towards Orwell's Dystopian Future (ESL)
“Liberty is telling people what they do not want to hear.” From the preface of Animal Farm, George Orwell knew that, too often, he did not have the liberty to speak or write as he wished, especially regarding the imperialism and its injustices against which he fought. In this course, designed for non-native English speakers (ESL), Orwell’s most famous works, Animal Farm and 1984 will be examined in order to understand the development of the man’s political ideology. We will also read selected essays and view parts of films that fall under the direct and indirect influence of his work. Finally, we will compare and contrast the (some would say prophetic) dystopian scenarios that his satire paints with the world of the new millennium.
The Magic World of Orson Welles
Best known as the director of Citizen Kane, widely hailed as the greatest film ever created, and for his radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, which caused a nationwide panic, Orson Welles’ left a legacy as an actor, writer, director and producer of film, theater, radio and television. Welles remains one of the most visionary and adventurous American artists to have ever graced the entertainment industry. This course will look at his early work in radio, his landmark theater productions and of course the films that still have a great deal to teach us not only as artists, but as a people in our society.
E = mc2 = Lit
Valerie Booth, Ph.D.
"The moment you use science as a framework for your fiction, you enter a moral universe." This course explores the ways that literature grounded in science and technology can lead to a deeper understanding of how the complexity of humanity reflects the complexity of the larger world around us. We will read novels, poetry and drama, and consider ethical questions raised by nuclear bombs and natural science, discuss how robots and avatars shape our humanity, and explore the uncertainties of human motivation and subatomic particles. Authors will include Vonnegut, Asimov, Frayn, Vinge and Lightman.
Appearance and Reality
The question “what is real?” is an old theme in literature. One way we explore what is real and what only appears to be real is to pursue philosophical questions pertaining to materialism and idealism. Does reality exist in the material world? Or does reality exist in a spiritual or ideal realm? Can the real exist in both places at the same time? In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Phil K. Dick explores questions surrounding what makes something human as opposed to artificial. The poetry of Rumi has been interpreted by critics as suggesting that the material world might be best understood as a metaphor for truer spiritual reality. In this class we will explore what these and other works suggest about the nature of appearance and reality and what the various answers to these questions says about ourselves and how we understand our lives.
Surrealism and the Arts
Sharon Brubaker (Section 420)
Surrealism is a term many use, but few understand. This class will discuss surrealism as presented to the world in the 1920’s. Andre’ Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto and novel Nadja, along with poetry by various surrealist writers will be read. "Un Chien Andalo", a film by Spanish director Luis Buñuel and Maya Deren’s film "Meshes of the Afternoon" will be studied. An overview of the painting, plastic art, and music the time will also be included. A trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art is planned to coincide with the discussion of surrealist painting.
Drexel, Diversity, and You (ESL)
Sharon Brubaker (Section 315)
This class will explore diversity, using as a focus Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work and Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic. Supplemental texts/readings will come from: Native American Sherman Alexie, Dominican Juno Diaz, African American Suzan-Lori Parks, Irish playwright Martin McDouagh, and lesbian Paula Vogel. Exploration and discussion of diversity will include race and ethnicity, but will in addition look at gender, family, geography, religion, and other issues as they arise from class discussion. Drexel prides itself on being culturally diverse, has this always been the case?
Self, Gender, Power, Sexuality
This course will look at the complex interrelationships that impact the shaping of personal and social identity with respect to the interaction of gender, sexuality and power in the formation of the self and its position in the larger community. Our study will span works of short fiction, poetry, and drama with a goal of finding larger connections while exercising critical thinking and reading skills through close examination of texts, motifs, and literary elements. Major works will include Antigone, A Doll’s House, "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver, and "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner.
Heroes and Villains
This course will study the dynamic of the hero and villain across a variety of graphic novels. What makes a character a hero or a villain? And when do they cross that invisible line into the murky gray area of moral ambiguity? How do they coexist? What exactly is an antihero anyway? Texts in this class will include Irredeemable, Lazarus, Ghost, Moving Pictures, Harbinger, Batman: The Long Halloween, and Uncanny X-Force: The Apocalpyse Sollution, along with readings and films made available by the professor.
Life in the Moment
Is an examination of cross-cultural ideas about improving the Spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological well-being of individuals. Central to reading and discussion is the idea that all things are connected to all other things. Special emphasis will be placed on living in the moment – where all life exists. We will also examine the “Jedi Path” and the role of the “Force” in daily life. “As a Man (or Woman) Thinketh” is the primary text, but we will also analyze similar concepts in essays and Star Wars films.
Mortality and the Human Spirit in Literature
Hazel Cooper-Watts, Ph.D.
The thematic focus will be on the literary interpretations of the death of man through the centuries. Excerpts of plays, essays, short stories and poetry will be read. Sophocles’ Antigone and Oedipus Rex will serve as a foundation. The death of the tragic hero Beowulf; the tragedies of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth; the Victorian era; Hawthorne and Poe will be represented.
Exploring Humor Across Genres
Why do we laugh? What do we laugh about? We will analyze collaboratively a wide variety of humorous expressions ranging from traditional narratives, poems, and comedies to digital cartoons, comics, videos, films, and social media. Students will also create their own humor to amuse classmates. We will focus particularly on the rhetoric of pranksters in folktales, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Dream, and contemporary digital media. Do their pranks aim to hurt or heal? Can authors be pranksters?
Tolkien: Books and Movies
Bilbo Baggins cordially invites you to celebrate the tales of his glorious adventures and thrilling misadventures. Come and visit the beautiful Shire! Travel the world of Middle-Earth and meet its most curious, dangerous, and alluring creatures! Help Frodo as he journeys to save the world. Do you have the makings of an adventurer? Let Gollum be your guide through selections from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series.
This course allows the students to determine their own themes from the readings and to make any thematic connections among them that become apparent through discussion and study. We will read Shakespeare's The Tempest and invariably talk about "nature versus nurture," the use and abuse of power, and colonialism. We'll read some Faulkner, some Hemingway, some Whitman, Ambrose Bierce, Katherine Mansfield, Jack London, Stephen Crane, Salinger, among others, and talk about war, the individual in opposition to society, self-interest versus responsibility to a greater good, and other topics that come up through the works.
Soundtracks and Background Music
Maybe you’re listening to music as you read this – or someone in the next room is and you can hear it through the walls. Maybe you’re in a quiet library and everybody around you is plugged into earbuds… In this course, we will examine music in literature and in your life, exploring how music functions as atmosphere and captures the spirit of a time or situation. Texts will include Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad as well as short fiction and essays from authors such as Thom Jones, Rick Moody, and Zadie Smith.
The Construction of Gender in Children’s Literature
A child’s first exposure to literature is often a fairy tale, frequently a derivative of one of the classics by the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault. Through fiction, essays, articles, and film, this course will explore how representations of gender roles, stereotypes, and identities are shaped as early as childhood through text, narration, and images in books and film. From the archetypal Mother Goose fairytales to the beloved Walt Disney film franchise we will explore how our views on gender roles have been indoctrinated in us since childhood through text and visual mediums. Finally, we will look at more modern and progressive children’s literature – books and film -- which are trying to redefine and challenge these antiquated notions of traditional gender roles. Our text for the class is The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence.
The Suspense is Killing Me
Anne Erickson, Ph.D.
Crime, mystery, suspense, horror. Things that go bump in the night and keep you wide awake. Books that compel you to keep reading. An economy of words and careful use of writing techniques leads to the finer nuances of suspense. With readings by Poe, Gaiman, King, Christie and others, we will explore various forms of suspense. Through discussions about what compels us to read on, we will develop an awareness of literary aesthetics and writing strategies. Through various critical lenses, we will explore strategies for analysis.
Redemption and Rebuilding (ESL)
“For you, a thousand times over.” This phrase symbolizes love and loyalty. What happens, though, if the love is not returned or the loyalty is betrayed? In this section of English 103, we will explore the themes of redemption and rebuilding. We will attempt to answer the question: How does one redeem or forgive oneself after committing a variety of sins? Our texts will include the novel The Kite Runner and various short stories and poems.
Adversity and Resilience
Adversity means not getting what we want, or getting what we do not want, or getting what we want and then growing disenchanted with it. It covers everything from bee stings and traffic jams to tragic losses. In this course we’ll read texts that portray or evaluate a variety of responses to adversity and the depression that often accompanies it. We’ll focus on development of resilience as we survey the views of ancient philosophers, spiritual traditions, literary artists, and contemporary psychology. Franz Kafka, Herman Hesse, Arthur Miller, Gina Berriault and Sharon Salzberg are some of the authors we’ll be reading.
Examining the Creative Process
Recent research has shown similarities between the creative processes of artistic fields such music, visual arts and literature as well as engineering and economic theorists. Whether it be designers at 3M or writers such as Ernest Hemingway, or even the renowned electronic engineer Nikola Tesla, innovators in all fields experience moments of inspiration. This class explores these similarities with the hopes of becoming further acquainted with our own creative processes.
Journey Motifs and Sense of Place
Valerie Fox, Ph.D.
This course will explore journey motifs and sense of place in fiction and poetry. Goals include practicing literary analysis and writing an essay in the creative nonfiction genre. Major texts are The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice by Nathan Leslie (novel), Viral (poetry) by Suzanne Parker, and Local News from Someplace Else (poetry) by Marjorie Maddox. A subtopic: How and to what extent can a literary work (such as Viral--a series of connected poems that respond to the tragedy of Tyler Clementi) further a useful dialogue in our present time and place.
Conflict and Resolution
Fictional characters and situations are always surprising us as they mirror the comedy and drama of real life. They pose problems that need to be solved and individuals in search of answers to fulfill their lives---be it from love and acceptance or fear and loneliness. In this course, your own personal goals may become clearer and more reachable as you follow our characters in their search for viable answers to life's mysteries. As we read and study the dramas of Tennessee Williams and Henrik Ibsen, the stories of Shirley Jackson, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Franz Kafka, etc., and the poetry of William Blake, Thomas Hardy, Walt Whitman, and so many others, your possibilities are limitless.
Fractured Stories: Energy, Engineering, and the Environment
Ted Fristrom, Ph.D.
This course will investigate the explosive controversies of ‘fracking’ in fiction, non-fiction, and popular culture. The gas and oil industry estimates that this new drilling process will allow the U.S. to reach energy independence by 2040 and stave off fossil fuel depletion for a century or more. But at what cost to the environment and public health? We’ll dig beneath the surface with works such as Seamus McGraw’s journalistic End of Country, Alexandra Fuller’s lyrical novel The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, and the movie Promised Land. Students will be encouraged to use their own writing and research to help them weigh the promises against the perils.
Crazy Little Thing Called Love (ESL)
Love comes in all shapes and sizes, and so do its stories. Our course will explore all kinds of traditional and so-called non-traditional relationships across a variety of texts. We’ll read short stories by some of the finest contemporary authors (Tobias Wolff, Annie Proulx, & Ray Carver to name a few), spend some time with a few great poets (William Carlos Williams, Stephen Dunn, etc.), read some plays, listen to some music, and watch a movie or two. Get ready! Love’s a crazy little thing…
Women: Family, Love, and Loss
In this course, we will read the works of selected writers that explore the societal expectations of dutiful daughters, devoted mothers, supportive wives, and loyal lovers. We will discuss behavioral change in gender roles; dating and mate selection; love and intimacy; communication and conflict; and divorce and remarriage. Our course title, then, will also refer to the economics of love that prevent women from pursing independence, sexual freedom, true love, careers, and desired lifestyle. Selected authors include M. Gaitskill, C. Okparanta, M. Semple, L. Esquivel, and M. Gallant.
Coming of Age
In this course, we will explore the occasionally unbearable difficulty of growing up; its moments that render us euphoric and miserable in the same day. In Jonathan Lethem’s celebrated novel, Motherless Brooklyn, and the anthology, Writes of Passage-Coming of Age Stories, in supplemental short fiction and creative non-fiction by celebrated authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Joyce Carol Oates, and Lorrie Moore, we will delve into the drama and reflect. Through rhetorical analysis of the readings, you will learn the craft of fiction and creative non-fiction through emulation of devices and strategies these authors use.
Braving the Elements: The Rhetoric of Weather in Literature
Rebecca Ingalls, Ph.D.
Across works of literature, across centuries, weather works rhetorically to create chaos, bring people together and drive them apart, inspire communities to start again, and always, always remind us that there are larger forces at work that humans can only begin to understand. In this course, we will do literary and rhetorical analysis of weather in Junger’s The Perfect Storm, and in myriad other literary texts by heavy-hitters like Tolstoy, Chopin, Chekhov, Shelley, Pushkin, Hughes, and Longfellow. We will ask, how are these writers using the elements to persuade us to think, feel, act, and live?
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Why do most people save their most extreme behavior for those they love the most? In this class, we will turn our attention to short fiction and plays in order to explore the crazy, stupid things people do when they are in relationships. We will read about the extreme behavior of the lovesick through the works of authors such as T.C. Boyle, Mary Gaitskill, George Saunders, David Ives, Paula Vogel, and Edward Albee.
Our Relationship with Nature
This course will focus on our relationship with nature and the Earth. Using essayists, poets, novelists, and naturalists, the class will start by reading creation myths and stories, and look at human awareness towards nature both historically and thematically through contemporary times. Students will look at their own views in regard to their relationship with nature and the natural world. This course will cover writers such as early explorers of North America, William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, Annie Dillard, Gary Snyder, and Leslie Marmon Silko as well as other writers within this context.
U.S. Myth and the New Western
This course focuses on contemporary texts written in, on, or about the American west. We will use texts by Claire Vaye Watkins, Natalie Diaz, Keith Ekiss and Cormac MacCarthy as well as films to investigate what is meant by the term Western, how contemporary westerns have changed the genre, and how those changes affect the myth of America.
Civilization and Its Misfits
The Heroic Journey/Dangers of Adolescence; Life in the Midst of Death; Power and Powerlessness. We will be analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating short stories including "A & P" and "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"; poems including "Musee des Beaux Arts" and "The Waking"; plays including The Piano Lesson and A Doll's House; and excerpts from the graphic novels Old Father, Old Artificer and Here My Troubles Began.
Relationships Across Cultures (ESL)
How are loving relationships—both familial and romantic—impacted by changes in time and place? Do our own cultural perspectives free us, or blind us to others in some ways? This course looks at contexts and characters that cross cultural boundaries. In reading this literature, we seek to explore the “lens” other cultures provide to understand those around us. Key readings include short stories by Indian-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri, (Interpreter of Maladies) a novel by Japanese-American Julie Otsuka, (The Buddha in the Attic) and short essays by Haitian-born Edwidge Danticat (Create Dangerously).
Literary Magazines and the Now
We will look to literary magazines to take us on a tour of the latest in American short fiction and poetry. Our texts will be journals published in Philadelphia, showcasing the work of both regional and national writers. Our texts will include Drexel’s own Painted Bride Quarterly (PBQ), Cleaver, Press 1, Philadelphia Stories, and American Poetry Review (APR), plus one poetry collection. We will explore the themes and styles that make these works memorable. A special treat: class visits by several writers and editors. You will write two essays, an in-class exam, and participate in online and in-class discussions.
Crazy Ladies: Hysteria in Lit
Hysteria has been defined as a psychological disorder whose symptoms include conversion of psychological stress into physical symptoms such as volatile emotions, and overdramatic or attention-seeking behavior. The word comes from the Greek hystera (womb) from the notion that hysteria was peculiar to women and caused by uterine disturbances. Over time, the pathology of depression has changed to be less gender-specific; however, literature about women and mental illness is abundant. This course will look at the ways in which female mental illness is discussed in popular culture and how those notions inform feminism and our current understanding of women in society. Major Texts: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen, The Hours by Michael Cunningham (and other selected readings and articles).
College: What Is It For
College should be one of the most valuable experiences you will have. Occupying precious time between carefree childhood and adult responsibility (for most), it’s an experience that is a turning point in life. Right? We’ll examine, through books, films, novels, promotional materials and magazines, the cultural myths and realities of the college experience in an attempt to determine, individually, what value is to be wrought from your time in college. Major works to be studied include: DelBanco’s College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, Prose’s Blue Angel, Animal House, and The Social Network.
Literature of Conscience
Deirdre McMahon, Ph.D.
Because books can shock, terrify, amaze and bewilder us, they can make us reconsider or re-imagine our beliefs, even redefine who we are and the way we want the world to be. Our course looks at writing as sources of entertainment and forms of political activity. Analyzing across genres, we will investigate literary texts such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, and Athol Fugard's Master Harold... and the Boys as arguments that comment upon and influence the social and artistic controversies of their day.
In this course we will explore apocalyptic themes in classic and contemporary literature. We will compare Books, short stories, song lyrics, comics, video games and movies regarding: technology, science fiction, war, natural disasters, aliens, pandemics, and zombies. Texts include I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, World War Z by Max Brooks, and The Man Who Watched the World End by Chris Dietzel. Through analysis of these texts we will formulate our own definitions of apocalypse, examine the use of literature as a form of social interaction, and discuss the influence of the author’s life experiences on the stories they tell.
Personal Costs Of Social Resistance
While convictions of individual conscience are forces that can transform societies, often the early rebels can be ambivalent about the challenges and costs of resisting mainstream social values and norms. The costs of resistance may vary depending on a person's power and/or powerlessness --- perceived or real---within the cultural, economic or social structure. This power may be influenced by gender, age, class, skin color sexual orientation, religion or any other combination of social constructs. Analyzing across genres, we will examine works like Athol Fugard's Master Harold and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.
Marianallet Mendez, Ph.D.
This course aims to help you understand your inner self and the identities you embrace/reject. Definitions of culture, identity formation, language, race, gender, kinship, individual and group identity will be examined to help you analyze the whys behind your own self, and hopefully increase your awareness and understanding of those others around you. Readings include works by Edward Hall, Stuart Hall, bell hooks, Stephanie Lawler, Judith Martin & Thomas Nakayama, Gian Pagnucci & Nicholas Mauriello, Debby Phillips, Samovar et al., and Beverley Tatum, among others.
This course, which includes an optional one-week, one-credit trip to Haiti, will investigate the personal risks writers take to create art and the role of literature in society. We will use Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat's book, Create Dangerously as an anchor to study several of the authors she mentions in her book, some Haitian and some from other places in the Caribbean. "Create Dangerously" refers to the situation in which many writers find themselves when subject to despotic governments, but all writers who choose significant subject matter must take personal risks. Another text written by Haitian authors that we will read is How To Write An Earthquake, which is an anthology created in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. This text will help focus our investigation on the role of literature. A one-week, optional add-on trip to Haiti will occur at the end of the course, (during the break before Summer Term). On this trip we will meet many of the authors we have studied. You do not have to go on the trip to take this course.
Dystopian Landscapes (ESL)
Our course will look at the end of the world and at horrifying, fictional futures as we examine two brief novels and some short fiction. From a boy who must avoid roving gangs of cannibals in McCarthy’s The Road, to a man who is required to love his government against his will in Orwell’s 1984, we will encounter characters who are all coping with different, unpleasant versions of the future. In this course, we will also hone our abilities as critical thinkers who analyze the literary and rhetorical aspects of various works.
Adolescent Voices: Crossing Genres
How do we define a young adult novel? Does it have a simple language, plot, and structure geared to young people? Are there specific relatable themes such as coming of age, fitting in, young love, and adolescent angst? Or does a young adult novel take on the role of ushering the youthful reader into the world of more mature issues? We will examine the themes as well as the narrative form of the YA novel. We will read novels by Fleischman, Hesse,, Bechdel, and Chbosky--writers who chose to cross stylistic genres by using verse, letters, short stories or comics to tell a story.
War Induction then Destruction
Chris Nielson, Ph.D.
In 1970 during the Vietnam War, Edwin Starr released his hit single “War”. We’ll read and respond to war literature—from the eyes of soldiers and loved ones—in order to sensitize ourselves to war’s experience in both combat and its aftermath. Will we see war as eternal, unavoidable, heroic, economic—and therefore meaningful? Or will we see war as Starr claims: “good for absolutely nothing”? Will antiwar ideas ever lead to abolishing war forever? Or is that an illusion? Composition projects will derive from discussions on Water by the Spoonful, Slaughterhouse-Five, and assorted poems and short stories.
War Fiction (ESL)
What good are stories in the face of war? Can fiction help us with the extremes of human experience? In this class we'll endeavor to find out. We'll read novels and stories as a class and independently, watch films, record book discussion as podcasts, keep a journal of creative writing, and more. Titles will include The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, War Trash by Ha Jin, and others.
Identity, Immigration, and International Relocation (ESL)
Students will develop their skills in literary analysis, discussion, and written response as they compare and contrast the journey of immigrants assimilating to America and struggling with questions of personal and cultural identity to their own thoughts and feelings about identity and studying in America. Students will read about and discuss the different aspects found in Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration a collection of short stories and poems such as a) reception in the U.S. b) language acquisition c) reasons for coming to the U.S. d) struggles with identity. Students will also read the novel The Kite Runner and compare the immigrant experience depicted in film to the literature.
The End of the World
As we have all discovered over the past few months, any imagined global cataclysm is a window into humanity’s most primal fears and most important priorities. This course will explore a small sampling of the myriad ways that we as human beings have envisioned our own destruction, with an eye toward the larger philosophical, political, and psychological implications of these works. Readings range from speculative nonfiction by writers like Alan Weisman and Jared Diamond to fictional works by writers like Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood, as well as films, songs, graphic novels, and religious texts.
Don Riggs, Ph.D.
Words suggest details, on the basis of which readers imagine larger, more extensive realities. Writers like Raymond Carver, in "Cathedral", play with suggestion of far more “reality” than they actually show explicitly. Poets like Rita Dove, in her "Sonnet in Primary Colors," suggests the personality of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo through her paintings, evoked in the poem. Kafka’s "The Hunger Artist" is visualized by artist R. Crumb in comic-book form, showing one way of visualizing the story. Our goal is to see how words can suggest sensory images and the ways in which literature complements visual media.
Theater and Rhetoric (ESL)
Drawing upon Theater as Literature (Ancient Greek, Shakespearean, Modern German Theater), Theater as Live Performance (Philadelphia Theaters, Performance Events, Streetscene Theater), and Theater as Pedagogy (Dialogue Writing, Role Play, Improvisation) Eng 103 makes a case for the Theater paradigm as a powerful mechanism for rhetorical argument and persuasion. Popular themes such as justice, language, power, gender will be explored in a theatrical /rhetorical fashion through texts / performances such as Agamemnon, Parable of the Cave, Down Past Passyunk and the Matrix. Specially adapted for the ESL student, this course seeks to synthesize the pedagogical elements of 101 and 102.
From Parchment to Digital
Donna Rondolone, Ph.D.
In this course, we’ll explore how diversity and shared experience bridge the gap of centuries: people living during the European High Middle Ages shared our concerns about gender and sexuality, fate and free will, class and financial status, religion and spirituality, and how to have fun and achieve fulfillment in a world overwhelmed with uncertainty, war, and class struggle. We’ll explore how these themes connect several of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the gender-bending 12th century romance Silence to modern short stories by such authors as Alice Walker and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Power and Powerlessness
Gail Rosen, Ph.D.
Through short stories, and a few plays and/or films, this course will focus on the way power and lack of power affects our lives. We will read works that focus on lack of power due to gender, race, economic and social status. We will read works by Junot Diaz, Raymond Carver, James Baldwin, Joyce Carol Oates and others. We will also examine the way film and other adaptations of these works highlight their themes.
The Great War in Literature
Sheila Sandapen, Ph.D. (Section 138)
The “Great War” (1914-1918) set the stage for great social turmoil, political upheaval, and the advancement of technologies that defined the 20th century. We will examine the rhetoric of how this war was characterized then and now through speeches, film, newspaper articles, and literature. We will also analyze the rhetoric behind some of the myths that surround the “war to end all wars”. Primary text is the Longman Anthology of British Literature.
Short Shorts: Tell me a Story
Sheila Sandapen, Ph.D. (Sections 409 and 410)
“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” How many words do you need to create a story? In this class we will read and write about short fiction aka flash fiction. How do you tell a story in 500 words, 125 words, 25 words? Come explore how this exciting genre works. Books: New Sudden Fiction and Hint Fiction.
Strangers in Strange Lands
This course will look at adventurers, cosmonauts, aliens, outsiders, immigrants, and time-travelers as we consider how tales of strangers in strange lands satirize or examine human behavior and society and help us to see the world with fresh eyes. We may explore Boulle’s Planet of the Apes, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Lem’s The Futurological Congress, Woody Allen’s Sleeper, as well as other stories, essays, excerpts, nonfiction, comic books, movies, and television.
Writing About Music
This course focuses on understanding the creative process, as we analyze stories, poems, and essays about music, as well as song lyrics. We will discuss form and content and explore how stories are told in different media. This course will help students to think and write critically about the art that inspires them. Texts will include excerpts from John Darnielle’s Master of Reality novella from the 33 1/3 series; lyrics by Bob Dylan, Ben Folds, and B.B. King; poems by Walt Whitman, Frank O’Hara, and T.S. Eliot; and stories by James Baldwin and Joyce Carol Oates.
Transformation, Adaptation, and Preservation (ESL)
In this section of ENGL 103 we will examine narratives, poetry, and drama related to various aspects of life of immigrants in America. We will discuss several topics, including identity shift, cultural adaptation, generation gap, food, traditions, and language preservation. Comparing your own experience of coming to America to the journey of immigrants depicted in two books, Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration and Simply Maria or The American Dream, you will continue to develop your critical thinking, active reading, and skills in rhetorical analysis.
Privacy and Culture
The private, the secret, the intimate, the public: where are the lines between these ideas? How are these lines constructed? How are these lines challenged? Where do they overlap? Can there be different types of privacy? This course will examine how understandings of privacy are constructed through the texts we read and watch. Using Garret Keizer’s new book Privacy, Molly Peacock’s book The Private I, and a selection of short works of literature across genres, we will develop a more nuanced understanding of privacy and be more prepared to enter ongoing conversations about privacy in our culture.
The Pain, Joy and Insight of Humor
In these sections of English 103 students will explore the close connection between comedy and human pain as well as comedy and drama. Students will explore the role of humor in everyday life with specific attention to the ways humor flirts with the taboo and the forbidden. We investigate the growing literature on the ways patients and providers use humor in healthcare and medicine. Texts include episodes of Seinfeld, The Wonder Years, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Sex and the City. We will read two Neil Simon plays: the farce, Rumors; and the coming-of-age-comedy, Brighton Beach Memoirs. Students will be able to use Simon’s work as a template for creating their own comedy projects.
This Must Be the Place
In this course we’ll explore the concept of home as a place/destination as well as an idea/feeling. Through reading and writing, you’ll examine your own shifting sense of home. Texts will include essays from Open House, the Graywolf Forum Five anthology edited by Mark Doty, as well as recorded music and podcasts.
Twice Told Tales
Robert Wetherill, J.D.
Good writing requires disciplined revision, but what happens when creative writers revise each other’s work, by retelling the same story or theme, or even reshaping a work from a secondary character’s point of view? In this class we will read stories that get told twice, first by their “original” author and then by a twentieth-century adaptor, asking how historical, political, national, gender factors influence the way each writer tells or retells that story. Readings will include: Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Shakespeare’s King Lear, and Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, as well as John Donne’s poetry and Margaret Edson’s Wit.
Race, Class, Urbanism & the Promise of ‘Clybourne Park'
Vincent Williams, Ph.D.
One of the more textured conflicts in Lorraine Hansberry’s seminal 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun was the debate over whether the African-American Younger family should integrate the all white Chicago enclave of Clybourne Park. Over fifty years later, as public schools close, crime soars and revitalization efforts often displace long time residents, the debate over access to the urban space continues. In this section, we will grapple with that issue, using Hansberry’s text, along with supporting work like Bruce Norris’ 2010 quasi-sequel, Clybourne Park and Mary Patillo-McCoy’s study of Chicago’s black middle class, Black Picket Fences.
Field Guides to Nature
This course examines the idea and practice of nature writing in the United States. We’ll cover a lot of terrain, so pack your gear. We’ll visit Thoreau at Walden Pond, explore Tinker Creek with Annie Dillard, climb Mt. Everest with Jon Krakauer, hang out in Arches National Park with Edward Abbey, hike the Pacific Crest Trail with Cheryl Strayed. To these mental excursions we’ll add our own physical ones, visiting Philadelphia’s urban landscapes and green spaces. Many of our readings will come from the anthology American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau.