Spring 2020 Course Descriptions

Below is a partial listing of English Department courses—both ENGL and WRTG—for the Spring 2020 semester. We'll continue updating this page as we receive more descriptions. You can find a complete listing of courses at the UAF Course Finder webpage. Registration for Spring 2020 opens November 11, 2019 for UAF degree students, and November 25 for all others, including nondegree students.


ENGL F200X, F01 – World Literature
Subtitle: Literature of Asia, Aftrica, and Latin America
T R 2:00pm-3:30pm
Instructor: Terry Reilly

In this course, we will be reading and discussing short selections—mainly short fiction, essays and poetry—from 20th and 21st century Asian, African, and Latin American authors. Authors will include Premchand, Lu Xun, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Octavio Paz, Yukio Mishima, Alejo Carpentier, Nazim Hikmet, Adonis, Amos Oz, Jorge Luis Borges, Naguib Mahfouz, Mahasweta Devi, Nadine Gordimer, Salman Rushdie, Ama Ata Aidoo, and others.

ENGL F375, F01 – Intermediate Creative Writing: Fiction
M W F 1:00pm-2:00pm
Instructor: Joseph Holt

In this class we’ll work toward sharpening our perception as readers, with the ultimate goal of improving as writers. During the first classes we’ll develop a vocabulary of fundamental storytelling terms (plot, conflict, characterization, setting, details). Then during the second half of the course, we’ll introduce our own stories in workshops, discussing how to effectively critique and how to utilize criticism. We’ll also discuss proper workshop etiquette and how we can benefit by belonging to a writing community.

ENGL/FLPA 427 – Topics in Film Studies
Subtitle: The Contemporary Sci-Fi Film
T 3:40pm-6:00pm & R 3:40pm-5:10pm
Instructor: Sara Johnson

While sometimes treated as lowbrow entertainment, cinematic science fiction is often pensive, philosophical, and intelligent. More than escapist fun or cartoonish aliens, the dramatic sci-fi film offers us an important critical lens through which to analyze the societal touchstones and structures of an era, and to consider how present conditions shape both our collective imaginations and visions of our future world, which are ever-changing and shifting. In this course, we will consider the hopes, dreams, and fears surrounding post-20th century technological development through a small representative sample of films, starting with 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey and concluding with 2018's Annihilation. 

ENGL F455, F01 – Studies in 20th and 21st Century American Lit
Subtitle: "Intelligent Lifeforms"
Instructor: Dr. Jen Schell

Explore the exciting world of nonhuman intelligence! In this course, we will read and examine various works of contemporary American fiction and nonfiction, which attempt to expand our understanding of intelligence to the more-than-human realm. Informed by recent scientific discoveries, our texts describe, among other things: plant worlds, cephalopod enthusiasts, talking ravens, fungal infections, and alien invasions. The readings take a variety of approaches toward their subject matter. Some focus on the beautiful and mysterious aspects of nonhuman intelligence, while some address their more terrifying qualities. All of them are fascinating! Authors include: Richard Powers, Sy Montgomery, Anna Tsing, and Nnedi Okorafor.

ENGL 471 – Undergraduate Writers' Workshop
T R 2:00pm-3:30pm
Instructor: Sara Johnson

This course is an advanced undergraduate workshop in creative writing. Students will write original creative work and critique the work of their peers in a communally supportive environment. Additionally, we will do in-class writing exercises that help us to hone our craft, as well as read a sampling of recently published works by renowned authors and consider together what we might learn from them as writers. All genres (fiction, nonfiction, YA fiction, poetry, and screenwriting) are welcome.

ENGL F612, F01 – Studies in American Lit 1918
Subtitle: Intelligent Lifeforms
W 2:15pm-5:15pm
Instructor: Dr. Jen Schell

Explore the exciting world of nonhuman intelligence! In this course, we will read and examine various works of contemporary American fiction and nonfiction, which attempt to expand our understanding of intelligence to the more-than-human realm. Informed by recent scientific discoveries, our texts describe, among other things: plant worlds, cephalopod enthusiasts, talking ravens, fungal infections, and alien invasions. The readings take a variety of approaches toward their subject matter. Some focus on the beautiful and mysterious aspects of nonhuman intelligence, while some address their more terrifying qualities. All of them are fascinating! Authors include: Richard Powers, Sy Montgomery, Anna Tsing, and Nnedi Okorafor.

ENGL F620, F01 – Images of the North
Subtitle: The Stories of Ice
T 6:00pm-9:00pm
Instructor: Eric Heyne
 
From the disappearance of the Terror and Erebus on the Franklin expedition to the breaching of the Wall by zombie dragonfire, ice has loomed large in the Anglo-American imagination.  President Trump’s recent comments about portions of the Middle East being just “a lot of sand” echo developers' claims about the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge being nothing but “snow and ice.”  This course will explore the ways ice and high latitudes have been depicted as mysterious, horrific, empty, and regenerative in literature, film, and traditional stories over the last couple of hundred years. Depending on student interest and expertise, we will also juxtapose those imaginative depictions with scientific and/or political versions of what ice means. 

ENGL F682, F01 – Forms of Fiction
R 6:00 pm-9:00pm
Instructor: Joseph Holt

“Artists tend to be an unruly bunch,” writes Jerome Stern in the guidebook Making Shapely Fiction. “No sooner do they learn their craft than they stretch the boundaries, test their limits.” In this course, we’ll assess traditional novels and stories, as well as more experimental ones. Along the way, we’ll discuss narrative technique (scene, exposition, authenticating detail), narrative strategy (chronology, point-of-view, psychic distance) and literary genre (realism, metafiction, western, romance, horror and others). Students will guide critical discussion on our assigned readings, and they’ll draft original work in several modes and voices. Ultimately, we’ll survey the possibilities of fiction writing so that students might become strategically unruly—honoring traditional forms while nonetheless subverting them. 
 
Writing F211X F02 Writing and the Humanities:
Subtitle: Popular Culture and Politics 
T R 11:30am-1:00pm
Instructor: Ryan Shek
 
Conservative and liberal values permeate all aspects of American society, from television to comics to hip hop music. In this class, we will work to better understand U.S. partisanship by critically examining popular culture in its many forms--from episodes of The Simpsons to soundbites on Fox News. Featured writers and artists will include Ben Shapiro, Macklemore, Kelly Sue McConnick, Lord Jamar, Chris Rock, Peter McGraw, Christopher Nolan, Trey Parker, Matt Stone and many, many more. Ultimately, this class will not only help students write more effectively in the humanities, but will further our understanding of popular culture and the issues it suggests.
 
Wood PictureWRTG F214X F01 – Arguing Across Contexts
Subtitle: Welcome to the Jungle: Animals v. Humans v. Writing
T R 8:00am-9:30am
Instructor: Rebecca Wood
 

Jeff Goldblum warned us: “Yes, but if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.” But still Jurassic Park reopened its doors and park-goers got eaten. Ranging from classic fairy tales to survivalists to blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Jaws, animals have played a consistent role in literature, art, and film for centuries. As a class, we will explore and respond to varying writings, movies, and media that will challenge our ideas on animal and human interactions, how symbols transfer over time, and our role as the “superior life form.”

Enfield PictureWRTG F214X F03
Subtitle: Love, Language, and Hip-Hop
M W F 11:45am-12:45pm
Instructor: Sean Enfield
 
I met a critic… [who] thought Hip Hop was only guns and alcohol
  I said "Oh hell naw!", but yet it's that too
  You can't discrima-hate cause you done read a book or two”
                                                                           -Andre 3000, “Humble Mumble”
 

In this course, we will examine hip-hop as a genre and its many intersections with modern pop culture. From Sugarhill Gang to Public Enemy to Tupac to Kendrick Lamar to Migos, we will track hip-hop’s trajectory from underground to mainstream and look at the surrounding scholarship of this still polarizing genre. This course will analyze the music, itself, and other mediums—poetry, fiction, film—informed by the music. In addition to the rappers, we will read works by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Morgan Parker, and Hanif Abdurraqib and study films like Do the Right Thing and Juice. Students will sharpen their argumentative skills by approaching these works with a critical eye and forming critical connections across mediums and genres. 

 
Lyew PictureWRTG F214X F03 Arguing Across Contexts
Subtitle: "The Good Life"
M W F 10:30am-11:30am
 Instructor: Daniel Lyew
 

What kind of life is a life worth living? Is it a life of bodily pleasure? A life of intellectual pursuits? Or a life of selfless devotion to others? What roles might faith, meaning, or community play in the living of a good life? In this course, we will examine these visions of the good life, exploring and engaging with a variety of texts by figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Fyodor Dostoevsky, William James, Emma Goldman, and Lu Xun, as well as selections from texts such as the Bible and Buddhist scriptures. Students will develop and hone their rhetorical and argumentative writing skills as they respond to these texts and develop their own answer to the question, what is the good life?

Blackwood PictureWRTG F214X F04 – Arguing Across Contexts
Subtitle: From Page to Screen: A critical Examination of Text-to-Film Adaptations
T R 3:40pm-5:10pm
Instructor: Adrianne Blackwood
 

Marilyn Monroe once said, “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” This class will explore the souls of various short stories and novels, focusing on the themes they contain and the messages they convey. We will then take a critical look at their movie adaptations—What is sacrificed during their transition to film? What is gained? Before watching the film adaptations, we will be reading “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen, The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber, “The Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, and “Memento Mori” by Jonathan Nolan. Assignments will include writing a critical review for each film, researching a short story or novel of your choosing, writing a proposal about adapting your chosen text into a film, “pitching” your movie adaptation idea, and adapting a scene into script format. Popcorn not included, but welcome.

Ezell PictureWRTG F214X F05 – Arguing Across Contexts
Subtitle: Perennial Hauntings: Horror in Literature & Film
T R 2:00pm-3:30pm
Instructor: Heather Ezell
 
“To learn what we fear is to learn who we are. Horror defies our boundaries and illuminates our souls.” ― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
Considered by many low-brow entertainment, the horror genre has been a staple of literature for centuries and often serves as a representative of issues such as race, gender, religion, and social unrest. In this course, we will study Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House, a contemporary release, the recent rise of the notion of “elevated horror” (such as Midsommar, The Witch, Get Out), and more, entering the debates surrounding the genre. To what extent does horror speak to our contemporary cultural needs, desires, and anxieties? How can we interact with horror to develop personal identity in our writing? Why is there a need to “elevate” the genre for certain recent releases? By challenging our perspectives through analysis of primary sources and supplementary research, students will enter a variety of rhetorical situations and sharpen their argumentative writing skills… with perhaps a scream or two. 
 
Is She a Bad WitchWRTG F214X F06 – Arguing Across Context 
Subtitle: Is She a Bad Witch?: Exploring Female Villains in Fantasy Literature and Pop Culture
M W F 1:00pm-2:00pm
Instructor: Cheyenne Corty
 
I particularly mourn the lack of female villains — good, potent female villains.” - Gillian Flynn
In this class, we will explore female villains in fantasy literature and pop culture. We will aim to answer the questions that arise when analyzing female villains through varying academic theories, namely we will grapple with the question of what makes these villains “bad.” Together, we will examine the impact that the vilification of women in literature has had on pop culture, as well as contemporary societal norms, and the implications of the vilification process as a whole. Throughout the duration of the semester we will read and discuss texts such as, but not limited to–– selections from “Beowulf,” selections from “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” and Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid,” as well as various films and television shows containing female villains. Your writing will take on many forms, but ultimately you will be asked to critically analyze female villains in fantasy literature and pop culture through various academic lenses; these lenses will include Women & Gender Studies, Queer theory, and Cultural and Historical Studies.