Spring 2016 Course Schedule

FWIS 103      Rhetoric of Food
FWIS 104      Science Fiction Survey
FWIS 108      Graphic Novels
FWIS 111        Let the Sisters Speak
FWIS 112       Modern Families
FWIS 119       What is Consciousness?
FWIS 120      Fiction and Empathy
FWIS 121       Time Travel Narratives
FWIS 129      The Empire of the Mongols
FWIS 130      Writing Everyday Life
FWIS 132      Western Bibical Traditions
FWIS 134      Artists, Patrons, and Museums
FWIS 137      Pop Music and American Culture
FWIS 138      Art Criticism in Context
FWIS 141       When Religion, Culture Collide
FWIS 142      Race in America
FWIS 143      Sustainability in America
FWIS 146      Earth Science in Action

FWIS 151       American Horror Stories
FWIS 152      The Science of Supplements
FWIS 153      The Lewis and Clark Expedition
FWIS 154      The Good, the Bad & the Border
FWIS 162       Critical Thinking in a Democracy
FWIS 163       Medical Humanities
FWIS 168       Building Design Problems
FWIS 171        Word Magic
FWIS 173       Legendary Americans
FWIS 181        Golden Age Children's Literature
FWIS 182       Intersections in Art & Science
FWIS 183       Famous Fakes in Christian Lit
FWIS 185       Contemporary American Poetry
FWIS 189       Post-Apocalyptic Lit and Film
FWIS 194       Americans Abroad

FWIS 103   Rhetoric of Food

Worth, David ∙ TR 2:30-3:45 ∙ D1
Food has historically been not only very important as a source of energy for humans but has been inseparably tied to symbolic meaning.  This course would seek to not only explore historical cases of food as powerful rhetoric but also to make sense of the current heavily rhetorical environment of food in western culture. How do terms like "Farm to table," locally sourced" "artisan" "fair trade," “free range,” and the like function as persuasion? How are food choices ethically implicated and how are those implications addressed persuasively? Surveying readings that analyze these phenomena and also readings that exemplify them, the class will ask how and why food is communicatively constructed.


FWIS 104   Science Fiction Survey

White, Ryan ∙ TR 9:25-10:40 ∙ D1
Science fiction is often seen to occupy a privileged space for literary representations of our relationships with technology, the environment, society, social engineering, and the non-human (or “alien”) other. In order to investigate these relationships, this course will survey science fiction literature from H.G. Wells to its explosive growth in the cold war era and then finally to its contemporary imaginings of environmental crisis and posthumanism. Rather than look to science fiction simply in terms of what it gets “right” or “wrong” about the future, this course will focus on science fiction as a special literary form by examining how the genre responds to an indeterminate and swiftly advancing future. We will look at how science fiction attempts to address political and philosophical problems by placing humanity always in the context of an uncertain future. 

FWIS 108   Graphic Novels and the Art of Communication

Messmer, David ∙ Section 1, MWF 10:00-10:50 / Section 2, MWF 11:00-11:50 ∙ D1
While the image of spandex clad superheroes still dominates perceptions of graphic novels, the medium has evolved into a varied and complex form of expression in the decades since Superman’s first appearance in Action Comics (1938). From their inception, though, graphic novels have always showed a deep connection to the historical events, anxieties, and struggles that surrounded their creation. In this course, we will examine graphic novels from a variety of perspectives, including the historical, the political, the social, and the literary. Students will develop research skills through an engagement with the growing critical literature on graphic novels, and will strengthen communication skills by writing and presenting analyses of the cultural relevance of graphic novels, all while maintaining an awareness of the formal properties that make them such a unique and diverse medium.

FWIS 111   Let the Sisters Speak: Voice, Gender, and Identity in Black Feminist and Womanist Writings

Hills, Darrius ∙ MWF 9:00-9:50 ∙ D1
What special insights about individuality and communal life do black women’s fiction writings provide us? In what ways have black women understood themselves as full individuals or their roles within their communities and personal relationships? In this course, we will read a selection of novels, historical selections, and literary theory to address themes related to female independence, gender roles, and the communal mores of black rural and urban life in 20th century contexts. We will read and write about these and other issues that emerge in the novels in order to understand the unique intersectional experiences of black female communities to attain a sense of autonomy and place over patriarchal and racist societal contexts.


FWIS 112   Modern Families

Hsu, Sophia ∙ TR 10:50-12:05 ∙ D1
What does “family” mean today when debates over gay marriage, blended families, and America’s declining birth rates seem to ring the death knell for the nuclear family? To what extent have we moved beyond the image of the nuclear family with its 2.5 children? And to what extent does this image continue to exert a strong social and emotional pull? This course examines the myth of the nuclear family by looking at representations of the Anglo-American family from the nineteenth century on. In tracking the nuclear family’s rise and fall, we will consider how today’s modern families reinforce, complicate, and translate the nuclear family for our contemporary times. Through analyses of novels, short stories, television shows, films, newspaper articles, and nonfictional texts, we will look at how issues such as gender, class, race, sexuality, and globalization have shaped and transformed family structures.

FWIS 119   What is Consciousness?

Dial, Heather ∙ TR 1:00-2:15 ∙ D2
How do we recognize the face of a loved one, understand language or remember anything at all? This seminar will explore these questions by delving into the relationship between the mind and the brain in neurologically healthy and impaired populations. We will examine how the human mind functions normally by investigating numerous studies in neurally healthy populations, such as whether brain signals that control a motor movement precede conscious awareness of that action. We will also examine how the human mind can break down by exploring case studies of individuals with perceptual, memory and language impairments, such as an inability to recognize faces to an inability to form new memories. Students will learn to critically think about what it means to be conscious, methods of scientific investigation, and how we relate to and perceive the world around us through written and oral communication in both individual and collaborative projects.

FWIS 120   Fiction and Empathy

Nixon, Burke ∙ MWF 4:00-4:50 ∙ D1
Is there a link between reading literary fiction and empathizing with others? A much-discussed 2013 article in Science seemed to answer this question in the affirmative, but writers and readers have been making (and challenging) similar claims for almost as long as the novel has existed. In this course, we’ll explore and debate the question ourselves. What does empathy actually mean? What’s the difference between empathy and compassion? Can a work of fiction actually change the way we perceive others in real life? We’ll read and write about the work of fiction writers who are often praised for their ability to inhabit the consciousness of their characters, as well as contemporary authors who attempt to do the same thing in different ways. We’ll also examine and debate what literary critics and authors themselves have claimed on this topic, focusing in particular on the elements of fiction and how those elements might provoke empathy.


FWIS 121   Time Travel Narratives: Fiction, Film, Science

Richardson, Laura ∙ MWF 11:00-11:50 ∙ D1
From an aesthetic perspective, time travel has existed as long as there have been stories: narrative is time tourism. Narrative introduces alien temporalities, transporting listeners and readers into different temporal landscapes. Throughout the twentieth century, science and science fiction participated in a shared economy of inspiration, each stirring the other to new creative potential. This course investigates the historical, aesthetic, and scientific connections between the authorial and scientific co-creation of time travel. Our central quests will be to define the relationship between scientific and narrative jumps through time, as well as forge, as a class, a general understanding of how our culture represents time travel, given not just technological limitations, but also the historico-cultural limiting factors of gender, race, politics, and language.  

FWIS 129   Chingis Khan and the Empire of the Mongols

Balabanlilar, Lisa ∙ TR 1:00-2:15 ∙ D1
At the beginning of the thirteenth century the Mongol tribes were united under the leadership of Genghis [Chingis] Khan. Within just a few decades, much of China, Eastern Europe and the Middle East were conquered, becoming a part of the the largest contiguous empire in world history. This class will explore the Mongol experience through readings of a broad array of primary sources, including the letters and memoirs of eye witnesses, including merchants, diplomats, travelers and adventurers as well as the Mongols themselves. Through short wring assignment projects, the students will learn to work closely with primary sources, and develop analytical writing skills. This class is eligible for credit towards a History major.

FWIS 130   Writing Everyday Life

Dib, Lina ∙ TR 10:50-12:05 ∙ D1
This course is dedicated to the poetics of everyday life. It introduces its participants to cultural and historical writing that draws from the real world and from the forms and colors of the ordinary. First, we will experiment with some non-fiction writing styles, from journalistic, to poetic, to documentary and ethnographic. Then, shifting the focus from writing styles to writing topics, the course will delve into how we experience landscapes, bodies, and objects in prosaic ways. We will develop reading, research, writing, and presentation skills through creative assignments and workshops. Engaging in fieldwork around Houston, we will practice observational and literary tactics, such as experimenting with rhythm and repetition, shifting scales from the micro to the macro, and making the strange familiar or the familiar strange. In short, we will explore, evaluate, and communicate the everyday. This course is eligible for credit toward the major in Anthropology.


FWIS 132   Western Biblical Traditions: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic

Adamson, Grant ∙ MWF 2:00-2:50 ∙ D1
The similarities and differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are a matter of historical and scholarly as well as current political interest. We explore them in this course, which introduces the three Western biblical traditions, from their origins to the present, and which surveys their scriptures, from the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament and the Quran. During the course, you will write comparative and argumentative papers, deliver oral presentations, and participate in class discussion and peer review. No prior knowledge of the topic is necessary.

FWIS 134   Collecting Art: Perspectives of Artists, Patrons, and Museums

Fuqua, Kariann ∙ TR 9:25-10:40 ∙ D1
This course is designed to explore the interconnected roles of those who make art, the individuals who buy it, and the institutions charged with preserving and displaying these important creative contributions to society. Do these three entities have a synergistic relationship or do their various ideas/agendas prevent a harmonious partnership? What role do collectors have in the career trajectory of artists? The history of art collecting and patronage will be discussed as students explore the role of the museum, the art market, public and private collections, artists who are influenced by or incorporate collections in their work, and the psychology of collecting. Practical concerns about museum management, conservation, provenance, and art law will also be addressed. Houston has a large and active art community, and through this course, students will be encouraged to engage in the world of museums and galleries that lie just beyond the hedges of Rice University.

FWIS 137   Popular Music and American Culture

Klein, Andrew ∙ MWF 3:00-3:50 ∙ D1
This course will explore the world of popular American music by looking at a number of recent albums and songs as well as many critical and journalistic writings about music.  Ranging from Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love to Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, and from a novelistic portrayal of Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality to a memoir of the Riot Grrrl movement, these texts will also allow us to think critically not only about music itself, but about what other issues (race, gender, sexuality, class, taste, etc.) we talk about when we talk about music.  Assignments will include album reviews, song analyses, genre/region presentations, and personal essays.      


FWIS 138   From Leo Tolstoy to Cornel West, Art Criticism in Context

Hooper, Rachel ∙ TR 2:30-3:45 ∙ D1
What does art mean? Where does interpretation start, and under what circumstances does it become criticism? How can I articulate what I am thinking and feeling when looking at art and make my perspective convincing? Some of the most influential modern and contemporary writers have grappled with these questions in reference to art of their time. The class will think through challenges of visual interpretation through close looking at art around our campus, including the Rice Gallery, Contemporary Arts Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and public art collections at Rice and Hermann Park. Art critics who live in and around Houston will visit class to discuss their writing process and personal perspectives. In this course, you will develop a rich understanding of the genre of art criticism, and by the end of the semester, will be able to write your own concise and insightful analysis of art.

FWIS 141   When Religion and Culture Collide with the West

Schneider, Rachel ∙ MWF 2:00-2:50 ∙ D1
What happens when religion and culture collide? This will be the central question of this course, as we consider how religious systems of belief can be a source of great tension for individuals and groups, especially when these beliefs are not shared by the dominant Western culture that individuals inhabit or aspire towards. In discussing examples drawn from Europe, the United States, and Africa, this course will explore key issues such a freedom of religion; secularism and religious fundamentalism; colonialism and missionary activity; and the relationship between religion, science, and medicine. Ultimately, we will seek to develop an appreciation for the complex ways that religion and culture interact with the ‘modern’ West, while questioning our own inherited beliefs and biases along the way.

FWIS 142   Race in America

Mitchell, Beverly ∙ TR 10:50-12:05 ∙ D2
Although the election of President Obama signaled to some the arrival of a ‘post-racial America,’ recent events – Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, the Charleston church shooting, and findings documenting growing wealth and health disparities – arguably indicate otherwise. We will begin by tracing historic constructions of the concept of race, with emphasis on the role of 19th century anthropological, sociological and medical ‘science’ in cementing destructive understandings of the relationships between race, bodies and personhood. Moving from the past to the present, we will explore the impact of race in everyday life in contemporary America. A diverse range of topics will be explored, including education, housing, income inequality, health, sports and criminal justice. Students will critique academic and popular texts and films, review news and media for relevant current events and engage in ethnographic exercises to produce written, oral and visual analyses of race in the United States. Course is eligible for credit toward the major in Anthropology.


FWIS 143   Sustainability in America

Goode, Abby ∙ TR 4:00-5:15 ∙ D1
What do we mean when we use the term “sustainability”? What kinds of concepts and patterns of thought are we invoking and where do they come from? What, exactly, are we aiming to sustain? In this course, we will analyze the roots of sustainability in American literature, history, and popular culture. Identifying the grounding assumptions of this concept, we will explore the treatment of issues such as food scarcity, subsistence agriculture, environmentalism, and population control in images, short stories, films, essays, and speeches. We will become authorities in how discourses of sustainability work, locating their hidden meanings and agendas, and analyzing their representation of themes such as race, labor, reproduction, democracy, and social justice. Using our knowledge of American sustainability, we will design and propose our own sustainability initiatives, all the while challenging and rethinking what it means to be “sustainable” in “America.” 

FWIS 146   Earth Science in Action

Dugan, Brandon ∙ TR 1:00-2:15 ∙ D3
Students will develop effective written and oral communication while learning about exciting Earth science problems (e.g., earthquakes, tsunami, climate, sea level). We will read popular science articles that highlight Earth science in the news that are of scientific and societal importance. Lectures will introduce the science behind the problems. Writing and presentation assignments will be used to train students how to organize a scientific argument, compose and edit a research paper, and give an oral presentation. Student research papers will focus on the science based on independent literature reviews. The course will also teach students techniques for editing and revising to strengthen their writing and presentations.

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

Seglie, AnaMaria ∙ MWF 9:00-9:50 ∙ D1
The U.S. is a nation haunted by history. Whether witches, ghosts, monsters, or jokers, that which we deem terrifying, horror-filled and frightening has taken many forms. Through a study of U.S. literature, this course will examine how these gothic forms have been shaped by major historical changes, such as shifting gender norms, economic instability, religious and racial conflict, and political unrest. Our readings will span a variety of historical periods and texts ranging from Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” to Toni Morrison’s Beloved to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. As a writing course, American Horror Stories will help students develop critical reading and writing skills as they explore the ghastly and ghostly both today and throughout the course of American literary history.


FWIS 152   Nutritional Supplements: Real Remedies or Shady Science?

Purugganan, Mary ∙ TR 10:50-12:05 ∙ D3
This course examines the science behind some of the most highly promoted nutritional supplements for preventing or treating disease. The supplement industry has recently grown to $33 billion per year, and more than half of Americans now take supplements regularly. Because nutritional supplements are not regulated like pharmaceuticals, consumers have begun to question the safety, purity, and efficacy of these products. Students will examine the challenges in regulating supplements, the role of supplements as alternative or complementary medicine, the biology of common but complex diseases such as cancer and depression, and the molecular mechanisms of supplements’ effects on the human body. Through writing assignments and oral presentations, students will explore this rapidly growing but poorly regulated approach to improving health.

FWIS 153   The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Boles, John ∙ TR 9:25-10:40 ∙ D1
In 1803 Thomas Jefferson established an exploratory party to travel up the Missouri River to its headwaters and across the “Stony” Mountains all the way to the Pacific and back again, reporting on every aspect of what they encountered. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were chosen to lead the “corps of exploration,” and setting out from St. Louis in the spring of 1804, the party spent almost three years performing their duty. Their journals record their encounters with many Native Americans and graphic descriptions of animals, plants, and geological formations never before seen by Europeans. The men overcame tremendous hardships, traversed extremely hostile terrain, suffered hunger, cold, and hail storms, and met a variety of very diverse Indian nations. All this they describe in vivid language in their journals, now available on-line and in print. Students will read and analyze portions of these journals and write short papers on them. This course is eligible for credit toward the major in History.

FWIS 154   The Good, the Bad, and the Border

Cummins Muñoz, Elizabeth ∙ MWF 1:00-1:50 ∙ D1
This course will explore portrayals of morality in cultural texts produced in the US-Mexico borderlands. Through film, literature, music, and cultural criticism, students will examine representations of right and wrong that often conflict and many times converge in unexpected ways. As we consider perspectives from within the borderlands and without, we will also explore the ways in which border dwellers employ artistic production to expose and make meaning out of these alternative moral codes. Through the study of a variety of texts, students will be introduced to the following concepts: the nature of representation in film, literature and ballad; the border as both a physical and theoretical construct; the concept of a moral code and its relationship to cultural context.


FWIS 162   Critical Thinking in a Democracy

Hutchinson, John & Hutchinson, Paula ∙ TR 2:30-3:45 ∙  D2
We will examine the vital importance and significant challenges of thinking critically as a citizen in a democracy. Critical thinking runs counter to an inherent tendency towards confirmation bias in decision making. This conflict is often exploited by governmental leaders and media to control specific outcomes which may not be in the best interests of individual citizens or the citizenry collectively. Students in this class will learn to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills in the context of the function of a democratic society. They will learn to analyze media and political rhetoric to recognize and work past propaganda, partisanship, hypocrisy, and nationalism. 

FWIS 163   Medical Humanities: Literature, Medicine, and the Practice of Empathy

Nixon, Burke ∙ Section 1, MWF 2:00-2:50 / Section 2, MWF 3:00-3:50 ∙ D1
This course will provide an introduction to the field of medical humanities, focusing specifically on narrative medicine and the role narrative can play in illness and the clinical encounter. We’ll also examine the use of literary fiction as a way to increase empathy in doctor-patient interactions, which will lead to a series of questions: Can empathy be taught? If so, can the humanities, and literature in particular, teach it? To help us explore these and other questions, we’ll scrutinize academic research on empathy and fiction, as well as examining some of the most influential texts in the field of medical humanities. We’ll also read medical-themed short stories by Ernest Hemingway, Lorrie Moore, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the physician-writer Anton Chekhov, among others. Writing assignments will range from a work of personal reflection to a research paper and presentation arguing for or against the use of literary fiction in medical schools. 

FWIS 168   Case Studies of Building Design Problems

Fleishacker, Alan ∙ TR 1:00-2:15 ∙  D1
This course is not for the faint of heart. We will read and analyze case studies, project documents and other source materials on buildings that have experienced serious design problems and ended up in the news and in court. Some major buildings lose their high-rise windows inexplicably, others experience catastrophic structural failures, while others are saved from disaster through brilliant professional skill and sheer luck. You will write about what went right and wrong, why the situation happened, who caused the problem, and who should have acted differently. We will conduct a mock trial with students serving as the designers, constructors, clients and others involved, as well as their attorneys. The broad goals of the course are to improve and refine your ability to think and write critically and powerfully, and to present a convincing argument on the written page and in person.

FWIS 171   Word Magic

Belik, Katerina ∙ TR 10:50-12:05
People create inner models of the world to represent their experience and guide their behavior. How we state and say things has direct impact on how we feel and affect others. Students will be introduced to art of persuasion, learn about the power of words, the importance of word choice, and might of a metaphor. They will learn to create effective messages through understanding patterns of communication and how they can be altered to bring about a change in human behavior. The course offers an opportunity to analyze and discuss various readings related to neuro-linguistics. It suggests recording observations, writing reports and a short research paper.

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FWIS 173   Legendary Americans

McDaniel, Caleb ∙ Thursdays 2:30-5:30 ∙  D1
In this course you will learn about how historians write as well as how Americans in general remember legendary figures from their own past. By consulting scholarly articles, books, historical documents, and cultural artifacts like songs and films, we will learn how historians separate facts about larger-than-life Americans from the myths surrounding them. (For example, can we determine how Davy Crockett died? Can we know how many slaves Harriet Tubman helped escape to freedom?) But we will also think equally as hard about what the myths themselves tell us about different periods in American history. (For example, why does Crockett's death matter to Americans?  What explains why different writers have offered different accounts of Tubman’s rescue missions?) Together, through weekly blog posts, a group project, and a final paper, we will consider why and how “legendary Americans” have become iconic and explore the relationship between history, biography, and collective memory.


FWIS 181   The Golden Age of Children's Literature, or, How Alice (in Wonderland) became Harry Potter's Great-Great-Great Grandmother

Neill, Heather ∙ Section 1, MWF 10:00-10:50 / Section 2, MWF 11:00-11:50 ∙ D1
The “Golden Age” of children’s literature, approximately dated from 1865-1914, produced many of our most famous children’s classics, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan. This course will discuss and write about why this period produced so many influential books and how those stories still shape our ideas about writing for children. We will read a number of children’s novels as well as excerpts from scholarly publications about children’s literature. Students will focus on writing strong academic essays. Students will also learn about different kinds of oral communication, from dramatic reading aloud to formal presentations.

FWIS 182   Intersections in Art & Science

Dib, Lina ∙ Section 1, TR 2:30-3:45 / Section 2, TR 4:00-5:15 ∙ D1
In a survey of both classic and arcane material, this course looks at how these different ways of engaging with the world have crossed paths - from World Fairs, to cinema, as well as current exhibits in Houston galleries, hackerspaces and museums. Participants delve into modes and trends from surrealism and experimental film, to bio-art, interactivity and networked collaboration. Discussing these cross-disciplinary relationships, their ethics, ideas and outcomes, participants produce a variety of responses in the form of journal entries and critical essays. Sessions involve lectures, writing workshops, film screenings, and gallery visits. This course is eligible for credit toward the major in Anthropology.

FWIS 183   Famous Fakes in Early Christian Literature

Adamson, Grant ∙ MWF 1:00-1:50 ∙ D1
The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, the Gospel of Judas, the Secret Gospel of Mark ... 2 Thessalonians, the Pastoral Epistles. These are some of the famous fakes in early Christian literature. Or are they? Is it possible to tell, and if so, how? What makes one of them a fake and not another? Are ancient and modern forgeries really that different? What is a forgery, anyway? In this course we will read and write about these and other questions as we discuss these texts along with the canonical Gospel of Mark and the undisputed letters of Paul. We are interested in these questions because we want to discuss not only authorship and forgery but also: how academic information is produced, represented, and analyzed; what critical tools are available for analysis; and the ways in which the selection and use of such tools are part of broader cultural dynamics.


FWIS 185   Contemporary American Poetry

Klein, Andrew ∙ MWF 2:00-2:50 ∙  D1
This course will explore the world of contemporary American poetry by looking at some of the most exciting collections to come out in the past few years.  Ranging from the intimate lyrics of Peter Campion’s El Dorado to the minimalist verse of Christina Davis’ An Ethic to the historical polyphony of Amaud Jamaul Johnson’s Darktown Follies, these collections have been chosen: 1) to introduce students to some varieties of American poetry in their literary and historical contexts; 2) to increase each student’s ability to understand and analyze how given poems “work”; 3) to develop each student’s ability to put the results of their engagements with poetry into clear, effective prose; and 4) to build a framework for reading and understanding other types of poetry.  Perhaps more significantly, though, these books will also allow us to ask a larger questions: what, if any role, can poetry play in contemporary life?

FWIS 189   Post-Apocalyptic Literature and Film

Richardson, Laura ∙ MWF 10:00-10:50 ∙  D1
Our culture is fascinated with its own destruction. From zombies to nuclear war, ecological disasters, aliens, disease, and killer machines, Armageddon takes many forms. Structured around ways in which we have imagined the world ending, this course charts the cultural consciousness of apocalypse. What’s at stake in envisioning annihilation? We will take a multimedia approach to the end of the world, exploring works as diverse as Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, the Wachowski siblings' The Matrix, and Max Brooks’ World War Z. As a writing intensive course, Post-Apocalyptic Literature and Film will teach you college-level critical writing and reading skills, along with a healthy dose of doomsday phobia.

FWIS 194   Americans Abroad: Travel and American Literature

Seglie, AnaMaria ∙ MWF 11:00-11:50 ∙  D1
Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, China, Brazil – the world is a big place and, today, there are endless possibilities for exploring it. In an age of increasing globalization, travel has become a commonplace part of our lives, whether we seek it as tourists, students, teachers, soldiers, workers, or missionaries. But why exactly do we travel? In this course, we will consider how American writers answer this question. We will examine how foreign travel challenges and reaffirms concepts of identity, and how it calls into question where we call home. Our readings will span a variety of historical periods and texts ranging from Edith Wharton’s short stories to Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises to Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. These readings will help students develop critical reading and writing skills as they explore what happens when someone gets bitten by the “travel bug.”