COOL COURSES AT STEVENSON ENGLISH – 2015
ENG 260 True, Personal Storytelling: Tell Your Life
Meeting from January 5th to January 25th
Instructor: Laura Wexler
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion famously said. This course teaches students how to tell the stories of their lives. Students will engage with the rich history of true, personal oral storytelling, examine its current iterations both online and IRL, and learn to master its art and craft. Participants will form a workshop community of tellers and listeners, in which each student will create several stories and critique their peers’ stories. The class will involve a visit to a storytelling show and culminate with a capstone presentation of student stories. Taught by Laura Wexler, co-founder and co-producer of The Stoop Storytelling Series. See stoopstorytelling.com
SPRING 2015 TERM
Love in Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Love
ENG 281-01: Tuesday, Thursday – 10:50 AM-12:05 PM
Instructor: Kathy Brown
This course examines 5 comedies, and like all the comedies, they end with marriages. We will carefully read these plays and watch excellent film adaptations. We will also watch films that capture the plots of these plays. For example, She’s the Man is a modern reworking of Twelfth Night. We will also read sonnets that suggest that Shakespeare may have been in love and watch Shakespeare in Love and A Waste of Shame.
New Worlds: 1984 to The Hunger Games
ENG 281-03: Monday, Wednesday – 12:00 PM-1:15 PM
ENG 281-04: Monday, Wednesday- 1:30 PM-2:45 PM
Instructor: Laura Snyder
What do the future worlds we imagine tells us about our current world? What are our hopes? Our fears? What do we believe about ourselves and our society? This course will explore twentieth- and twenty first-century literature and films that present us with an imagined future and will include works such as Brave New World, The Martian Chronicles, 1984, Blade Runner, and The Hunger Games. We will focus on what the works reveal about the time periods that produced them and on our current attitudes to the social conditions and technology that the works predicted.
America at War: From Revolution to Terrorism
ENG 281-05: Tuesday, Thursday – 1:40 PM-2:55 PM
Instructor: Kathy Brown
We begin with the American Revolution and will read Thomas Paine’s excellent argument for breaking up with England. We move through the War of 1812 and the battle of Baltimore, the Mexican War that Thoreau argued against, the Civil War with selections from Ken Burns’ brilliant documentary, WWI and watch “Heroes for Sale,” an in-depth study of WWII, reading Paul Fussell’s essay “Thank God for the Atomic Bomb,” then the Vietnam War, and finally reach our current struggle with terrorists.
The Pursuit of Happiness
ENG 281-06: Tuesday, Thursday -12:15 PM-1:30 PM
Instructor: Nanette Tamer
Are you happy? What is happiness? These are questions that have stimulated writers around the world. We will explore literary works that reflect the writers’ engagements with the perennial questions of defining and attaining happiness. Readings will range from classic parables and excerpts from Emerson and Thoreau to short works by contemporary authors.
Whodunnit: Detective and Crime Fiction
ENG 281-07: Monday, Wednesday – 12:00 PM -1:15 PM
ENG 281-09: Tuesday, Thursday – 3:05 PM -4:20 PM
Instructor: Aaron Chandler
The game is afoot! This course is an inquiry into the development and elaboration of detective fiction in American fiction. We trace detective fiction from its origins in Edgar Allen Poe, make a trans-Atlantic assessment of the so-called Golden Age of Detective Fiction, delve into the transformative American innovation of the hard-boiled novel and film, and conclude by examining the police procedural and its TV manifestations. Throughout, we examine how certain oppositions (law/rule, professionalism/amateurism, authority/bureaucracy, intuition/reason, crime/order) govern the genre and shed light on our sense of social order. Best of all, students will work in groups as “Armchair Sherlocks” to research a historic cold-case murder and, ultimately, to “reveal” the true killer in a persuasive final presentation.
Short Stories from Poe to Diaz
ENG 286-01: Monday, Wednesday – 3:00 PM-4:15 PM
Instructor: Nanette Tamer
Fables and tales inspired Poe to initiate the short story as a literary genre, crafting stories of many kinds and formulating the characteristics that writers the world over now use. We will enjoy a few of his works and explore short stories old and new from diverse writers, including Junot Diaz and Nobel Laureate Alice Munro.
Creative Writing: Nonfiction
ENG 324-01: Tuesday, Thursday – 1:40 PM-2:55 PM
Instructor: Gerald Majer
Creative Nonfiction–what’s that? Imagine journalists, fillmmakers, fiction writers, essayists, poets. Imagine catching the down-to-earth gravity and the real-world prickliness of documentary fact and putting it together with the freewheeling imaginative freedom of contemporary fiction. Think Dave Eggers, John D’Agata, Eula Bliss. Then imagine channeling the restless verbal and formal energies of contemporary poetry into creative prose. Think Eileen Myles, Anne Carson, Wayne Kostenbaum. Keep going. Imagine your new moves with language, form, and genre opening out into spaces where you track your themes, visions, and obsessions across multiple, wide-ranging literary spaces where discovery and invention get built right into your form. New things you’re making. Creative Nonfiction: a new genre where journalists, fiction writers, essayists, and poets have been doing exciting, innovative work. Journalists use fiction techniques to enrich and intensify their stories. Fiction writers take on true-life documentary fact and blend it with imaginative forms. Essayists create texts that look like fiction, and poets sing out lyric language in essay-like explorations. Through group workshops and a range of projects, this course will help students to think in different ways about writing, genre, and form, including ways writing and other media (photography, video) can be brought together, a leading edge in recent years.
The End of the World
ENG 381-01: Monday, Wednesday – 1:30 PM-2:45 PM
Instructor: Gerald Majer
We love those worst-case scenarios: the alien invasions, the worldwide plagues, the deluges, the infernos, the final wars. The end of the world as we know it—a terrible, scary thing, but some way contemplating it we feel fine. This course explores the fascinations of ends and apocalypses while asking what they suggest about the how and why of the stories we tell. Our main lines of exploration: the apocalyptic as social and political critique; the apocalyptic as working-through of historical identities and trauma; the apocalyptic as resistance and utopia; the apocalyptic as meditation on the posthuman. Texts will range from H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds to Octavia Butler, The Parable of the Sower, with points between and around including works such as J.G. Ballard, The Burning World; Stephen King, The Stand; Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker; Cormac MacCarthy, The Road; Max Brooks, World War Z; and Lucy Corin, One Hundred Apocalypses. Film accompaniment will include excerpts from On the Beach, Akira, Melancholia, and Take Shelter, among others. (You also are invited to post comments and ideas for other readings and films at http://endsworlds.blogspot.com )
The Young Adult Novel: From Bilbo to Katniss
ENG 385-01: Tuesday, Thursday – 3:05 PM-4:20 PM
ENG 385-E1: Wednesday- 7:00 PM – 9:50 PM
Instructor: Gerald Van Aken
The rapid growth of this genre over the last fifty or so years presents a strong argument that reading is not a vanishing skill and that literature is not a dying art. As more and more novels are published and as more of these novels are turned into movies, it becomes blatantly obvious that the young adult audience has a vested interest in reading the types of stories being told and that the publishing and entertainment industries are investing heavily in the production of these works based on the belief that the market will continue to flourish. So, what are the types of stories being told? And why are they so popular? To answer these questions, this course will look at several contemporary works such as the Harry Potter novels, The Hunger Games, and Twilight (this is not the full list) and one earlier novel that may be looked on as a precursor, The Hobbit.