Undergraduate Courses, Fall 2013

Times and locations of class meetings are subject to change. Consult the UF Schedule of Courses for official class times and locations and an explanation of the class period abbreviations.

Lower Division (1000–2000) Special Content Courses

Note: Only course descriptions are listed below. For a comprehensive summary of course numbers, sections, times and locations, titles, and instructors, see the following web page:

Fall 2012, Lower Division, Special Content

AML 2410

Issues in American Literature and Culture: Imperial Pasts, Imperial Futures?

Randi Gill-Sadler

Despite the devastation of the Civil War and the anxiety surrounding Reconstruction, the United States government still had expansion in its sights in the late nineteenth century.  This course is designed to introduce students to America’s history as an imperial power and to demonstrate the ways in which literature was used to legitimize America’s imperial projects in the Philippines, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.  Beginning with critical works, this class will situate American imperialism as both an extension and aberration from British and Spanish empires. Students will read travel narratives, novels, poems and government reports about each of the afore mentioned locations.  In looking at texts from each location, the class will explore themes including tropicality, characterization of natives, disease and sanitation, gender, sexuality and race. There will be a special emphasis on rereading the works of canonical authors like Herman Melville and Mark Twain for these themes as well.  Throughout the semester, I will teach the skill of close reading to assist students in recognizing how images of both the American empire and the colonies are heavily constructed and in conversation with one another despite unequal power structures.  Students will be challenged to think about the consequences and implications of categorizing imperialism as a foundational piece of American history, literature and its future.

AML 2410

Issues in American Literature and Culture: "There's No Place Like Home" - Domestic Narratives

Andrea Krafft

Well-known sayings such as “there’s no place like home” and “home sweet home” indicate a longstanding American investment in domesticity and family life. While many writers celebrate an idyllic image of the happy home, they just as frequently envision domestic space as a location that is under threat. This course will examine representations of domesticity in American literature published over the past 200 years. We will consider how literary works imagine the home not only as a site of unity, but also as a source of instability and destruction. Central questions we will explore include: How does an author’s gender influence his or her view of domesticity? How do works about family life reflect historical shifts and regional values? How is the home often imagined as a metaphor for America as a whole? To answer these questions, we will read a wide selection of texts, beginning with short stories of the nineteenth century and ending with the popular comic book series, The Walking Dead.

AML 2410

Issues in American Literature and Culture: Ethnic Young Adult Fiction

Anuja Madan

This course will discuss ethnic young adult fiction written by African-American, Native American and Asian-American authors, with a focus on the latter. The selected novels (Nikki Grimes’ Bronx Masquerade, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a part-time Indian; Tanuja Desai Hidier’s Born Confused; Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor was Divine and Gene Yuen Lang’s American Born Chinese) are representative of significant cultural experiences of the concerned ethnic group, and most have won awards.  These texts deal with a variety of themes, such as racial discrimination and tension, dualistic/hybrid identities, assimilation into dominant cultures, cultural memory, internment, generational differences, and citizenship. Thematic and critical analyses of the texts will be contextualized by outlining the specific histories of these ethnic groups in the USA, with a focus on the history of American exclusionist policies and institutionalized racism. The course would be informed by theoretical debates that have taken place over the last few decades on multicultural children’s literature— for example, the shifting definitions of the terms ‘multicultural’ and ‘ethnic,’ the use of stereotypes in multicultural children’s literature, the notion of ‘authentic’ representations, and the “insider” versus “outsider” debate about authors of ethnic children’s literature.

Students would be given regular writing assignments to explore the key themes of the course in relation to the chosen texts. They will be guided on how to carry out detailed textual analyses, conduct research, construct arguments and write literary essays. 

AML 2410

Issues in American Literature and Culture: "Story-Truth"

Mariko Turk

The search for ‘the truth’ requires more than a simple collecting of facts.  The truth of an historical event, traumatic experience, personal emotion, or cultural attitude is contentious, ever-changing, and always elusive, but perpetually sought by individuals, organizations, and nations.  Stories, in various forms, often figure in this quest to convey truth.  Stories complicate overly simple understandings of current and historical events and ideologies.  They unearth personal, emotional truths that hard facts tend to obscure about war, prejudice, oppression, and the influences these large-scale abstractions have on individual lives.  In his famous short story collection about the Vietnam War, for instance, author Tim O’Brien argues that “story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”  This course will explore O’Brien’s claim in light of various 20th century American texts that attempt to tell the truth through fiction. 

Primary texts will cover a variety of literary forms (short story, novel, graphic novel, poetry, essay collection), which we will read in conjunction with cultural materials that represent the same issues or events, but that ultimately tell very different stories (documentary, propaganda, popular magazines, photographs).  Throughout the course, we will think about how different literary forms are employed to tell different stories, and in what situations fiction can be ‘truer’ than fact.  Students will undertake their own searches for meaning and truth as they read the course texts closely and critically, and write about their interpretations thoughtfully.  Assignments will include weekly reading responses, a close reading, a prompt essay, and a final research paper. 

AML 2410

Issues in American Literature & Culture: Tradition & Innovation in American Poetry

Andrew D. Wilson

The term “poetics” can refer to theories about the compositional dynamics of poetry, about the purpose and practice of poetic writing. What does verse accomplish that prose cannot? How does the rhythm and arrangement of words construct or alter their “literal” meanings? What does it mean to describe something as “poetic”? While these lines of inquiry span all kinds of literary writing (and indeed, all writing in general), this course will offer students a chance to engage these questions through a particular history of American poetry—namely, its rich tradition of avant-garde and experimental writing.

Focusing on concepts and questions of formal innovation, this class will continually juxtapose new and traditional poetic works by reading in tandem early-20th and early-21st century writings. For example, we’ll study the lyricism of Edwin Arlington Robinson alongside the later works of Robert Creeley; we’ll examine feminist voices in Gertrude Stein and Alice Notley. To help ground these readings, we’ll analyze the critical works and avant-garde manifestos of Ezra Pound, Charles Olson and the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets. While providing students with a historical frame of American poetry, this class’s non-chronological approach will encourage students to look beyond the discipline of literary studies to help them comprehend poetics in a larger framework of writing and composition—a context that will help students comprehend literary issues in an interdisciplinary way. For this reason, the course is designed both for students new to poetry and for those already “versed” in the field. 

ENC 1145

Writing about Humans and Non-human Animals

Melissa Bianchi

This course would address some of the primary intersections of animal studies, media studies, and composition, among others. Given the rise of animal studies and animal right’s activism in the last few decades, this course is ideally positioned to engage students along several sociocultural, political, and ethical axes, addressing questions like: what are some of the legislative and cultural differences in our understanding of the word “animal”? How are animals represented in popular culture? How do we circulate different epistemological understandings of animals, and to what end? Students will be asked to cover excerpts from a broad range of texts, some of which will include the theoretical (i.e. Jacques Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am, Donna Haraway’s Simians, Cyborgs and Women, and Cary Wolfe’s Animal Rites), the historical (i.e. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species), the literary (i.e. Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, and George Orwell), and the popular (i.e. John Landis’s American Werewolf in London and Franklin J. Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes). As a course that will satisfy the University’s Writing Requirement, this class is designed to work with these ideas and texts in tandem with writing practicums. To that end, students will be asked to contribute to a course wiki (which will function as a collaborative annotated bibliography), to present a media project to the class, and to complete several reading responses along with a midterm and a final essay for the course as we move through different texts and ways of exploring animal ontos.

ENC 1145

Writing about Gothic Monsters

Olubunmi Oguntolu

Gothic fiction’s traditions of horror and the romantic provide a framework to examine “unspeakable” anxieties and desires in society. Faustian pacts, doppelgängers, oppressed heroines, portents, anti-heroes, and monsters that populate eighteenth-century British literature resonate in present-day literary and visual texts. From the modern Prometheus to dissociative identity, images of the grotesque and unorthodox retell cultural fears and simultaneously invoke pleasures of haunting and being haunted. In this course, we will read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula as our basis to explore how anxieties and dichotomies between good and evil, domestic and foreign, mysticism and science, and nature and technology are fractured, deconstructed, and redefined. Through our close readings and critical analysis we will develop questions to help us examine the ways literary and visual adaptations convey discourse in identity, gender, sexuality, class, and post/colonialism while paying homage to gothic monsters.

ENC 1145

Writing about Ecology

Joseph P. Weakland

Many scientists and environmentalists now refer to our era as the “Anthropocene,” the geological epoch in which human civilization has the power to reshape Earth’s environment on a planetary scale. The carbon dioxide emitted by our industries and technologies, for example, will continue to warm the globe for centuries after we exhaust all fossil fuels. Some thinkers have recently proposed “geoengineering” as a solution to climate change, and suggest we attempt to regulate the planet’s thermostat through blocking the sun’s rays or farming carbon-eating plants in the ocean.

Even in the Anthropocene, however, humans must still obey simple ecological principles. Earth’s ecology is finite, and all living and non-living things are connected through networks of relationships. This course considers our changing environment through the practice of “ecocomposition,” defined by Dobrin and Weisser as “the study of the relationships between environments (and by that we mean natural, constructed, and even imagined places) and discourse (speaking, writing, and thinking).” Accordingly, we will study how environmentalist discourses shape ecological relationships between humans, non-humans, and Earth.

We will also explore how ecocomposition can help us understand writing as an ecological process distributed among people, places, objects, and organisms. While practicing ecocomposition, our readings will consist of nature writing, ecophilosophy, ecocomposition theory, scientific articles, and environmental science fiction.

Assignments may include, but are not limited to: weekly reading quizzes, one in-class presentation (with a 300-word written component), four short response papers (400 words each), one 1500-word midterm paper (with a 300-word prospectus), and a 2000-word final paper (with a 300-word prospectus and annotated bibliography).

ENC 1145

Writing about Modern Sound

Michael Rowin

While modern Western societies increasingly surround themselves with and mediate external reality through technologically manipulated sound -- in the form of stereo equipment, television sets, portable music players, PA systems, and computers -- relatively little attention is paid to the auditory sense as compared to sight. As the image- and text-heavy realm of cyberspace proliferates and comes to dominate cultural production, both the general public and academic scholars continue to remain more aware of issues concerning visual representation and aesthetics at the expense of those related to sound.

In Writing About Sound we will consider the role of sound in modern society and culture by asking questions about the part played by sound in the evolution of media, from the spoken word to Skype; the effects of electronic and digital technology on aural perception; the relation of sound to art forms such as literature, film, radio, television, and new media; and the various challenges to conventional notions of and approaches to sound communication as theorized and practiced by popular and "underground" musicians, poets, comedians, and singers. The aim of the course will be to rethink the cultural bias against sound as a mere "additive" to sight -- where what is heard provides less substantial information and evidence against that which is seen ("Seeing is believing") -- and to recognize and appreciate sound as an art and act of vast communicative significance and creative possibility.

Students will describe, research, and analyze both materials presented in class and encountered in their environment in four essays over the course of the semester (each 1500 words in compliance with the University Writing Requirement). These essays will range from responses to specific texts to topics of the students' own choosing (in consultation with and approval from the instructor). Texts will include essays by John Cage, Gregory Whiteheard, Kaja Silverman, Allen S. Weiss, and Marshall McLuhan; literature by T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, Norman Mailer, and Kathy Acker; film excerpts by Dziga Vertov, Peter Kubelka, Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Bresson, Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Altman, and Charlie Kaufman; radio pieces by Antonin Artaud and Gregory Whitehead; and performances and recordings by Igor Stravinsky, John Coltrane, Keiji Haino, Richard Pryor, Mike Patton, and the Wu-Tang Clan.

ENC 1145

Writing about Narrative Theory through Science Fiction Typography

Kendra Holmes

Despite its reputation for futurity, science fiction is a reflection of a culture's interest in its current state, and in particular how it is shaped by technologies of the present and the very near future. Science fiction is also a material practice: the stuff its texts is made of--images, pages, words, letters--shape how we interpret it and how it influences our response to it. This course will explore how writers, filmmakers, editors and "thinkers" in the genre use visual-textual elements (epigraphs, symbols, shaped text, and images) to address, re-imagine, "play-with", and/ or complicate and disrupt how we read and interpret a narrative form. We will look at tropes and themes of modern SF to understand how its typographic presentation may exemplify the machinery of language at work in our historical present. We will approach this topic through multiple media: fiction, film, non-fiction, and digital text.

CRW 2300

Imaginative Writing: Poetry Writing

Michael Hofmann

Papers, poems, analyses. This semester we will read the Selected Poems of Ted Hughes and the Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath. Not against each other, not even really alongside each other, but simply as well as each other. I’m thinking perhaps one poem by each per class – that, in addition to the (t)rusty workshop format. Sparks will fly. M.H.