Profile of a FWIS: Flappers, Ghosts, and Dandies

FWIS 192, The Roaring Twenties

An Interview with Laura Richardson, Instructor

What do you think is interesting/distinctive about this FWIS course?
This is a class about a nine-year historical period. That’s unique! In FWIS 192, we will not only read canonical modernist literature from authors like Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway, but we will also get to zoom in on a sliver of time, the aesthetics of which are still setting standards for contemporary literature and culture.

How did you get interested in this particular topic?
My dissertation was on modernism—it’s the best period of American and British literature. I also think that there’s been a resurgence in interest in the first half of the twentieth century (the 20s, in particular), evinced by Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Baz Luhrmann’s remake of The Great Gatsby.

What, specifically, are you excited about teaching in your FWIS this semester?
The lesson on 20s dance movements is always fun, but besides that, I can’t wait to read one of my favorite novels, Mrs. Dalloway, with students, and to talk about Prohibition and listen to jazz.

What is one thing you hope students draw from this FWIS?
Writing, of course! By the end of the semester, all of my students will be proficient in college-level composition. But I also hope students come to a new appreciation for the fervor of the 20s. There’s really no decade like it!

What advice do you have for first-year students (about FWIS or their first semester in general)?
I’ll reiterate here what I said for the other FWIS I teach, 189: college makes you smarter by challenging your intellect and ideas. Make time to take courses that interest you and push you out of your comfort zones. Even if you have to take some of your core credits in the summer or rethink that double major, take art, dance, computer science, economics, religious studies, and/or English courses that sound compelling to you. 

FWIS 151, American Horror Stories: Literature, History, and the Gothic

An Interview with AnaMaria Seglie, Instructor

What do you think is interesting/distinctive about this FWIS course?
This FWIS is interesting because it combines pop culture with classic literature. It helps us understand how the thriller, horror and slasher movies of today have deep roots in our national literature and history. 

What is one thing you hope students draw from this FWIS?
I hope students come to see writing and reading as a long conversation within and across disciplines. In this class, the gothic stands as our topic of interest, but it is actually part of one unending discussion about literature, history, and pop culture that has been going on for hundreds of years.  

What advice do you have for first-year students (about FWIS or their first semester in general)?
First semesters are always a bit overwhelming. Be organized, read your syllabi, jump into the conversation, and don't be afraid to ask questions - they are where strong papers, award-winning research, and good jokes begin. Also, don't forget to have some fun! 

FWIS 196, Costume Dramas: Clothing and Fashion in Victorian Literature

An Interview with Maggie Harvey, Instructor

What do you think is interesting/distinctive about this FWIS course?
My course allows students to study and write about many different kinds of mediums such as film, text, images, and material objects. While generally these mediums would be split up among different disciplines (i.e. english, art, anthropology), I think looking at them together and using methods that are not generally applied to the study of that particular medium (for example, "reading" a fabric) can lead to exciting insights and deeper engagement. It also looks at how Victorian clothing was seen and depicted then and how it is represented and created as costumes for the period films enjoyed by modern audiences today.

How did you get interested in this particular topic?
I'm interested in the stories we tell about clothing and the stories clothing tells us. When I was six or seven years old, my school took a field trip to an art museum that was holding a competition called "Writer's Eye" where locals of all ages could write a story inspired by an artwork in the museum. I was inspired to write a story about a painting of a woman in a beautiful pink dress (which was then and is still my favorite color). My story depicted the day the woman in the painting received the dress and it was awarded  honorable mention in my age group. Ever since then clothing and stories about clothing have interested and inspired me. You can see the painting here.

What advice do you have for first-year students (about FWIS or their first semester in general)?
My advice to first years in their FWIS is to remember that writing is a process that involves preparation, revision, thinking... and thinking again. If you get the end of your paper and find your thesis has changed, that's actually good. It means the writing process has deepened and sharped your focus and probably given you a better or clearer thesis than the thesis with which you began. That is why we revise: not because the paper is "bad" but because you learn more about your topic, and can write about it better and more clearly after you have created a complete draft.