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Fall 2024 Special Topics Course Descriptions

LIT 170-01 Topics in English: Feast, Fantasies, and Hunger Games: Food in Literature and Fiction
Professor: Carney
Monday/Thursday 12:30-1:50pm

We are what we eat. In this course we will examine how literature and film represent the relationship between food and the human experience.  We will move between feast and famine, and consider food from many angles: food as sensory delight; food as cultural identity; food, sustainability, and climate change; food and social inequality; food in children’s literature and fairy tales.  Books and films to be considered include Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games; C. Pam Zhang’s Land of Milk and Honey; Cormac McCarthy’s The Road; Hulu’s TV series The Bear, as well as works by T.C. Boyle, the Brothers Grimm, Roald Dahl, and Charles Dickens.


LIT 170-02 Topics in English: Literature, Popular Culture and Gender: Taylor Swift
Professor: Luettchau
Wednesday 5:30-8:20pm

Calling all Swifties! “Stop everything now!” “You need to calm down” and make sure this class is in your cart for registration in Fall 2024! If you love Taylor Swift and talking about her lyrics, the media, and consumerism, you’ll find it all and more in LIT 170! Karma’s a relaxing thought” when you have LIT 170 on your schedule. 


LIT 200-Introduction to Poetry: Exploring the World of Verses
Professor: Mi
Monday/Thursday 2-3:20pm

Welcome to LIT 200, where we embark on a poetic journey that transcends boundaries and explores the rich tapestry of human expression through the art of poetry. This course serves as a gateway to the enchanting world of verses, delving into various forms of poetic creation and immersing ourselves in the diverse schools and movements that have shaped world literature.

In this course, students will engage with a comprehensive study of poetic forms, including traditional structures such as sonnets, haikus, and Chinese regulated verses, as well as contemporary free verse and experimental forms. Through hands-on writing exercises, discussion workshops, and critical analysis, students will develop their poetic voices and hone their critical skills in navigating the intricate paths of compelling and evocative verses across time and space.

Come and embark on this poetic odyssey with us!  This course invites you to join an intellectual and creative community where the boundaries of expression are pushed, and the magic power of poetic language unfolds.


LIT 270-01/LIT 370-01 Topics in Literature: Gender in East Asian TV Drama
Professor: Steinberg, G. 
Tuesday/Friday 3:30-4:50pm

K-dramas have become an international sensation, and TV shows from other East Asian countries have gained a world-wide audience through streaming services such as Netflix, Viki, and Amazon Prime.  In this course, we look at one East Asian TV genre (romantic comedy) and the portrayal of gender in that genre.  How do masculinity and femininity seem to be defined?  What are the relations between the genders?  Are the boundaries between genders clearly drawn and strictly enforced?  How does the portrayal of gender in East Asian romantic comedies differ from – or track closely with – pop culture in the U.S.?  How might the portrayal of gender in K-dramas and other East Asian TV shows have contributed to their world-wide popularity?


LIT 270-02 Topics in Literature: Global Fairy Tales
Professor: Carney
Monday/Thursday 11am-12:20pm

And they all did not live happily ever after, for the fairy tale genre is not what you think if you rely primarily on Disney. This course surveys the rich tradition of the literary fairy tale from the Islamic Golden Age (Arabian Nights) to 16th-19th century Europe (Basile, Brothers Grimm, Oscar Wilde, Hans Christian Andersen) to the present (Angela Carter, Robert Coover). We will consider how these various works are culturally and historically specific and yet share common narrative elements and structures.  Embrace the strange.


LIT 280-01 Literature, Film, and the Art of American Politics
Professor: Blake
Monday/Thursday 9:30-10:50am

How have writers and filmmakers been inspired by American politics? What have leaders learned from creative depictions of democracy? What are the differences between a protest novel, a White House satire,
and a Hollywood conspiracy theory? 
Topics include: Protest, Policing, and Public Opinion; Race, Citizenship, and Civil Rights; and Campaigns and Celebrity.
Plus lots of conversation about the 2024 Presidential Election!

LIT 360-01 British Augustans and their Rivals 1700-1820
Professor: Venturo
Tuesday/Friday 11am-12:30pm

Explore the world of 18th-century (1700-1820) English Augustan literature featuring writers from Jonathan Swift to William Blake to Jane Austen. 


LIT 371-01/AAS 371-01 Topics in African American Literature: Global Blackness From the Kardashians to K-Pop
Professor: Jackson
Monday/Thursday 9:30-10:50am

This course explores the impact of African-American culture on contemporary popular culture across the globe.  The course will begin with an introduction to African-American artistic production and debates about the meaning and purposes of Black art forms. We will continue by studying how Black aesthetics have circulated in popular culture in the U.S. and abroad. We will explore music, literature, film, visual art,  and social media. Note that because contemporary popular culture is ever-changing, students will have opportunities to shape the primary materials of the course. The course will be guided by the following questions: How does power inform the ethical implications of cultural borrowing? Does the meaning of Black cultural forms change when they become a commodity in a global economy? How has the spread of African-American culture informed social justice movements throughout the world? How has fast media, like TikTok, complicated the understanding of cultural ownership? Does a global commodity culture make cultural appropriation inevitable? How can we think about the relationship between colonial histories and the trafficking of Black culture today? We will also delve into how African-American producers of culture address the appropriation of Blackness in their work.


LIT 378-01/AAS 378-01 LIT 378-01/AAS 378-01 African American Literature, 1920 to the Present
Professor: Abdur-Rahman
Monday/Thursday 3:30-4:50pm

A study of literature in the African American tradition, focusing on the realist and naturalist writings of this period, as well as the prose, poetry, essays and speeches of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement. We will interrogate how the social matrices of competing definitions of black identity are reflected in and through writing produced by African Americans, while we trouble notions of authenticity, representation, and essentialism.

The course will also explore the canon of African American Literature, its literary traditions, and the intersections with and diversions from the canon of American Letters.


LIT 385-01/JPW 385-01 Literature of Literary Journalism
Professor: McMann
Monday 5:30-8:20pm

This course introduces students to the important genres of creative nonfiction and literary journalism. We will be studying a range of texts – podcasts, true-crime docuseries, long-form journalism, and essays, to name just a few – and study this immersive approach to reporting that combines the aims of journalism with the techniques of narrative fiction. In doing so we will investigate the various craft elements of these genres and ask questions regarding the author’s role in and access to the story, immersion reporting practices, the pursuit of objectivity, and the struggles around neutrality in reporting. Additionally, you will try your hand at producing your own creative nonfiction and/or literary journalism.