EH Courses For Eterm 2013
Faulkner’s Town: Oxford as the Setting for the Snopes Tales
Although Faulkner is best known for transforming literature with novels like The Sound and the Fury and stories like “A Rose for Emily,” he spent thirty-five years developing the history and life of his fictional Yoknapatawpha County and its county seat, Jefferson. Based on Oxford, Mississippi, this setting is especially clear in Faulkner’s tales of the poor-white Snopes family. We will read the middle novel in “the Snopes Trilogy”—The Town (1957)—along with selections from other Snopes stories and from Faulkner’s biography.
We will also spend three days in Oxford, Mississippi (the model for Jefferson), visiting Faulkner’s house, hearing from experts, and seeing some of the specific sites he was writing about. Students will be evaluated on reading quizzes, class discussion, and a series of short response papers.
The End and After:
Apocalypse and Post-Apocalypse in Literature, Film, Religion, and Politics
The course will explore artistic and social representations of world-ending and catastrophically transformative events. Though the primary focus will be on film and literature, students will also examine myths, religious texts, social phenomena (the survivalist movement, for example), and various ideological viewpoints that frame historical narrative in eschatological terms.
From John of Patmos to Jared Diamond, Cormac McCarthy to Dr. Strangelove, the Midgard Serpent to Al Gore, “The Second Coming” to The Walking Dead, Spengler to Atwood, Breughel to Michelangelo, heat death to the Big Crunch, representations of world’s end will be interpreted to discover what they have to say about how we think about the present, about our anxieties and conflicting values, about purpose and ethics and ultimate ends. Evaluation will be based on essays and a presentation.
The Grimm Reader Keeps Märchen On: Exploring the World of Fairy Tales
This course explores the world of the fairy tales (or Märchen) collected and edited by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The course begins with an intellectual orientation explaining the complexity of the tales by readings from Jack Zipes (“Two Brothers Named Grimm”) and Vladimir Propp (Morphology of the Folktale). We then proceed to examine and discuss the more popular fairy tales, including “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel,” and many more. Contrary to a sentimental or popular understanding, these fairy tales are complicated works of fiction, often politically charged, sexually provocative, violent in nature, and, well, grim.
For each class the student is assigned a specific question to be answered in conjunction with a particular fairy tale. These questions serve as the basis of our analysis of the fairy tale generated through class discussion. A 10-15 page paper analyzing a fairy tales not covered in class is due at the conclusion of the course. Evaluation/grade is based on attendance, quality of assigned questions on fairy tales, and the final paper analyzing the selected fairy tale.
Novels Right Now: Commodities or Future Best Sellers
In this project, we will read four very recent novels that have appeared on the best-seller lists and have also achieved at least some literary acclaim. In class meetings, we will discuss the novels, but we will also consider what makes books popular and what makes them ‘literature’. We will explore best-seller lists from the past, as well as past winners of literary awards. We will consider questions such as these:
• Are contemporaries able to recognize a ‘masterpiece’?
• How often does literary fiction achieve best-seller status?
• What distinguishes literary fiction from commodity fiction?
We will meet three afternoons a week, and students will write 4 short (2-5 page) papers, one about each of the four novels we will read and discuss.
In addition, each student will select a related topic to research and present to the class. For instance, one student might look up what was on the best-seller lists when a novel that has entered the literary canon of ‘great works’ was first published. Another student might seek out reviews of best-selling novels from another decade or another century to see if any were proclaimed important works of literature and whether we agree with that judgment now.
Note: Students will be required to purchase four newly published novels for this project.
Sci-Fi Sixties: From Camelot to the Final Frontier
Novelist Ursula K. Le Guin once wrote, “Prediction is the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurologists. It is not the business of novelists. A novelist’s business is lying.” The point of science fiction is not to predict the future but to interrogate the present . . . imaginatively. In this project, we will consider how science fiction writers made sense of humanity in the middle of one of the most turbulent decades in American history.
The works of writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick form the heart of the project, but the decade was filled with wonderful (and often wonderfully bad) sci-fi films and television shows, many of which we will sample and enjoy. Besides the authors already mentioned, we may read Clarke, Heinlein, or others, totaling six to eight novels, plus historical materials. Students will be graded on attendance, reading quizzes, presentations, and a research paper.
Service-Learning in San Francisco: Poverty in Urban America
John Tatter, Kristin Harper
Students will travel to San Francisco to work with the outreach programs of the Glide Foundation. This project focuses on cultural immersion through service, allowing students to examine and reflect on urban poverty, homelessness, social service, and programs that work to eradicate poverty. Participation in this project is a major commitment, requiring that students be self-motivated and self-disciplined. Requirements include careful examination of readings, full participation on site, willingness to be engaged in team work, a reflective journal, and a final reflective essay. Evaluation will be based on the quality of the student’s work on each of the requirements listed above. To apply, contact Dr. Tatter or staff in the Bunting Center.
NOTE: Students interested in this experience as part of their senior project must contract for individualized study with a faculty member in their major.
Sports journalists are more than just sports fans with word processors; they‘re responsible for enhancing the spectator experience through in-depth coverage of any and every sporting event. This course will teach students a basic approach to the world of sports journalism through the instruction and practice of four styles of writing: field coverage, interviews, features, and opinion pieces. The class will be enhanced by a host of engaging outside readings from popular sports writers, a number of guest lecturers (in particular, seasoned sports journalists and anchors in the Birmingham area), and interactive homework assignments (such as covering Birmingham-Southern sporting events and experiencing a simulated press conference).
The goal of this course is to help students improve their writing and reporting skills in order to accomplish the main goal of any respectable sports journalist: providing insight that cannot be gleaned simply by watching a sporting event. Evaluation will be based on one-page response papers to outside readings and guest lecturers as well as a four-page feature, a three-page interview, a two-page opinion piece, and a two-page event report.
Sticks, String, and Spindles: The Art of Knitting, Spinning Yarn, and Fiber Preparation
Clare Emily Clifford
“Respect your inner compass. It points to yarn.”
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End
It’s not just Julia Roberts and Russell Crowe who do it—knitting and making yarn are a global phenomenon, skills long practiced for centuries by men and women from cultures around the world (even the ancient Egyptians and Vikings did it!). This project is designed to introduce students to the basics of knitting, spinning yarn, and fiber preparation.
During the first week you’ll learn how to knit, the second week you’ll learn how to spin your own yarn using a handspindle and wool, and the third week we’ll discuss the various types of fiber and fiber preparation for spinning and knitting—ranging from animal wools (like sheep, mohair, angora, alpaca, cashmere, etc) to plant and other fibers (like silk, cotton, flax, bamboo, etc). We’ll do a bit of related reading, and assignments include a process and reflective journal, presentation, final project which demonstrates proficiency of knitting, spinning, and fiber preparation. No previous experience with yarn, needles, or handspindle necessary—but if you have mad knitting or spinning skills you are certainly encouraged to sign up!
Exploring Classical and Renaissance Italy: The Major Cities and Places in Between
After a series of orientation sessions early in January, this three-week travel-study experience will visit major cultural and historical sites in Italy. We will examine the world of the ancient Romans and Etruscans. We will explore the foundations of modern Europe in medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Italy. We will focus in particular on how art, architecture, literature and urban life express cultural and intellectual history. We will be based in Rome, Orvieto, Florence, and Venice. We will visit Pompeii, Pienza Pisa, Padua, and other areas. Evaluation: Students will prepare three written docent topics for group presentation at appropriate times. For minors in Classics, a substantial paper and presentation will be required.