English 495 Senior Seminars Extended Descriptions
Jacqueline Thursby—Women’s Culture, Women’s Folklore
A directed study of folklore, folkways, and culture based on women’s expressed social behaviors both in the United States and abroad. Class time will be spent in lecture and discussion augmented by film clips, fiction and on-fiction book talks, and possibly a few guest speakers on contemporary foods, fashion, and other cultural/social aspects. Required reading will include four books with settings over time and place: A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove (Laura Schenone), Mormon Healer and Folk Poet (Margaret K. Brady), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou), Reading Lolita in Tehran (Azar Nafisi).
ENGL 495: Fiction and the Rhetoric of Empathy (Grant Boswell)
Neuroscience is revolutionizing our understanding of human nature. For example, neuroscience has shown that the way we experience the world affects how we think. Our embodied experience is the basis of thought. Language, perhaps our most human attribute, is a particular case in point. Study after study has demonstrated that language shapes the way we think. If both experience and language shape thought, experience can be neurologically linked to language and meaning. For the past several decades three different research teams have made the case that linguistic meaning is simulated experience. When we speak, write, listen, or read, our brains are simulating in our motor cortex the experiences we are expressing or understanding as if we were enacting those experiences.
Literary neuroscience confirms these findings by researching how the brain simulates the elements of fiction. Reading fiction has demonstrable effects, particularly in increasing empathy. This course will seek to understand the role of metaphor in thought, theory of mind, and fiction to explain the rhetoric of empathy.
ENGL 495: Leadership and the Humanities (Greg Clark)
This course will help you answer questions like “What’s the use of an English major?” by testing the proposition that this study of language, literature, and culture develops understanding and skills that enable you to be effective and influential in your interactions with others—what good leadership requires. It will culminate in a seminar paper where you develop your own answer to that question in terms of leadership.
Your education in English offers concepts of leadership that focus on qualities of interaction rather than actions that any office could enable you to take. We will expose those concepts by reading Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (a case study in leadership, good and bad), DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk (a handbook for gathering influence), Paul Woodruff’s The Ajax Dilemma (on leadership and justice) and Martha Nussbaum’s, Not for Profit (on the humanities as preparation for civic life) as well as a collection of the best recent essays on leadership from the Harvard Business Review.
Your seminar paper will explain to others in and outside the major what studies in English can teach about leadership.
ENGL 495: Mormon Religious and Regional Folklore (Eric Eliason)
This capstone course will explore historical and contemporary scholarship on Mormon folklore and the folklore of the inter-Mountain west and the inter-relations between the two. Students will select and investigate their own topic in this area using scholarly, archival, and/or ethnographic methods.
ENGL 495: The Contemporary Memoir (Joey Franklin)
Thomas Larson, author of The Memoir and the Memoirist, wrote that in the 1980s “memoir burst forth sui generis from the castle of autobiography and the wilds of the personal essay.” He calls memoir “an American form” and suggests a study of the genre requires a mix of “criticism, psychology, reflection, essay, [and] historical and cultural contexts.” Using the fifteen chapters from Larson’s book as a starting point, and supplementing them with additional significant articles and chapters on the genre, students in the course will explore the memoir as both a literary genre and cultural artifact. We will read six to eight memoirs that mark important moments in the development of the genre and students will write critically and creatively about the role of memoir in literature, popular culture, and their own self-discovery.
Students will gain a broader understanding of the significant developments in the brief history of the modern American memoir; they will become familiar with the critical conversation that has built up around the genre over the past thirty years and they will increase their ability to analyze memoir according to its historical, cultural, and literary context. Students will also develop sufficient competency to formulate an extended, complex argument in conversation with the major voices in the discipline. The will gain a unique perspective on the genre by producing their own short memoire essay in connection with or as part of their final paper.
ENGL 495: Deviance in Victorian Literature and Culture (Jamie Horrocks)
Nineteenth-century British literature imagined into being a panoply of characters who operate outside the norm, some truly frightening (Mr. Hyde, Bertha Mason, Dracula, and Henleigh Grandcourt) and some who simply exist beyond the boundaries of “good” behavior (The Mad Hatter, Sherlock Holmes, “Mr. Bunbury,” and Scrooge). Alongside these fictional characters, real-life Victorian deviants (Jack the Ripper, Sweeny Todd, and hosts of those whom Cesare Lombroso famously described as either “born criminals” or “criminaloids”) saturated non-fictional print culture, suggesting to readers that their lives were constantly being invaded by society’s “others.”
According to Michel Foucault, one of the unique contributions of the Victorians was the invention of deviance itself, and this course will examine that claim by considering how the emerging nineteenth-century interest in the abnormal, the unnatural, and the pathological led Victorians to construct notions of deviance still in circulation today. Our readings in a variety of genres will include forays into dirt, pauperism, and hysterics as well as the more “conventional” examples of deviance as we explore—with the help of recent theoretical work—what it meant to be both normal and abnormal in Victorian Britain.
ENGL 495: Literature and Human Rights (Peter Leman)
This seminar will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of literature and human rights. With broad attention to the strengths and limitations of interdisciplinary methodologies, we will focus primarily on world Anglophone, or postcolonial, literatures, which often represent or intersect in complex ways with historical conditions marred by human rights abuses and can, therefore, be brought into productive, and even confrontational, conversations with human rights discourse. In addition to reading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and theoretical and historical texts, we will address topics such as: literary form, rights, and representation; the Bildungsroman and “personhood”; sentimental literature and humanitarianism; narration, witnessing, and women’s rights; genocide and the human/non-human/post-human; and the ethics of “knowledge vs. action” in the context of human rights. Authors we will study include: Henry Dunant, Dave Eggers, Michael Ondatjee, Arundhati Roy, Brian Friel, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others.
English 495: Jung and Pop Culture (Suzanne Lundquist)
This capstone class will focus on Jungian analyses of Iconic screenplays and novels that have been adapted to film---including the Nolan Brothers’ Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy; the Wachowski brothers’ The Matrix (1999); and Dan Brown’s The Divinci Code among others. Jungian archetypal analyses is grounded in dreams; archetypal symbols, characters, and plots; attention to the “rejected feminine”; and challenges to contemporary consciousness from filmic works.
ENGL 495: Let the Games Begin: Sexual Politics in the Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century (Brett McInelly)
This seminar will examine the ways literary texts represented, and informed, courtship practices, marriage customs, and gendered spheres during what is often referred to as the Long Eighteenth Century, roughly 1660-1800. We will focus much of our attention on two genres, drama and the novel. Titles like The Reformed Coquet, A Bold Stroke for a Wife, The Conscious Lovers, The Man of Mode, and Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World suggest a preoccupation with the relationships between the sexes, gender and identity, and domestic and sociopolitical economies. This course will examine these themes in a number of eighteenth-century texts, considering how context influenced the development of drama and the novel on both thematic and formal levels as well as the ways literary representation may have influenced social practice and norms.
ENGL 495: The Gothic in Literature and Film (Dennis Perry)
This will be a course on film adaptation, in which we read various theoretical approaches to adaptation, several literary texts, and study films that are based on those texts. We will also read theoretical and historical essays on the Gothic itself, as well as study film terms, theory and analysis.