Spring 2022 Course Descriptions

Below is a partial listing of English Department courses—both ENGL and WRTG—for the Spring 2022 semester. Learning formats were subject to change depending on the UA coronavirus response. View the descriptions for our current registration term here.
WRTG F211X, 009
Writing and the Humanities: Rise of the Antihero
Delivery Mode: MWF, 9:15-10:15 am, in-person
Instructor: Aaron Salzman
Human culture can be examined through the history of the stories that we tell. As societies have emerged, reshaped, fallen, and risen again, so too have the stories that have gained popularity and prominence in the cultural lexicon. In this course, we will aim to analyze the nature of the hero, how the idea of the hero formed, and how the hero has changed over time. Furthermore, we will ask the question; what is the anti-hero, and why has this particular character risen to such prominence in recent years? What does this say about us as consumers, and what does this say about our society? Most importantly, what does it mean for a character to be heroic? Students will engage with ancient texts such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as more contemporary examples of text and media, like The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murrieta, Star Wars, and Breaking Bad, to name a few.
WRTG F211X, 010
Writing and the Humanities: Gods, Dragons, and Vikings
Delivery Mode: TTh, 9:45-11:15 am, online
Instructor: Mackenzie Williamson
This course will explore how written and oral traditions facilitated Viking life and led to the themes and tropes associated with the Vikings. We will be examining literature from a variety of delivery formats to expand our understanding of how Viking values may be reflected in modern life and literature from texts including: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, a selection of Icelandic sagas, selections from The Poetic Edda, "The Battle of Maldon," "Dragons of Nilfgaard," and other supplementary texts/media. Assignments will include a variety of short essays, research of a Norse theme, and analysis of how Norse themes are present in modern society. 

WRTG F211X, 012
Writing and the Humanities: Animals, Humans, and Hybrids
Delivery Mode: MWF, 10:30-11:30 am, in-person
Instructor: Jane Jacob
How do humans separate themselves from animals? What's the difference between humans and animals anyway? What happens when that line blurs? In this course, we will explore how the human-animal relationship is portrayed in literature and read works featuring animals as companions, symbols, and monsters. Students should expect to read poems, essays, short stories / novellas, fairy tales, academic papers, and up to one full-length novel. Proposed texts for this class include John Muir's "Stickeen: An Adventure with a Dog and a Glacier," essays from Elena Passarello's Animals Strike Curious Poses, fairy tales from Angela Carters' The Bloody Chamber, and Stephen Graham Jones' The Only Good Indians. Students will learn how to craft essays, construct arguments, and read critically while exploring topics related to ethics, identity, and the human-animal relationship.

WRTG F211X, 013
Writing and the Humanities: Queer Writing Across the Ages
Delivery Mode: MWF, 1-2 pm, in-person
Instructor: KJ Janeschek
What does it mean to be gay? To be queer? How have these identities formed and shifted over time? In this course, we will explore queer writing across the ages—from the Ancient Greeks to queer writers alive and writing today—tackling along the way stories, poems, essays, and more. Students should expect to read work by Sappho, Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Leslie Feinberg, Alison Bechdel, Carmen Maria Machado, in addition to many others. Alongside those primary texts, students will also encounter critical theory and literary criticism dealing with identity, queerness, intersectionality, and gender studies. We will explore the ways queer folks have written about the world and the they have used to describe their experiences. More broadly, we will discuss how identity shapes the ways individuals navigate the world and how we can use identity in our writing to connect with potential audiences.

WRTG F212X, 003
Writing and the Professions
Delivery Mode: MWF, 2:15–3:15 pm, in-person
Instructor: Joseph Holt
Professional writing communicates with readers or users who need to solve a problem or complete a task. In this course, we'll emphasize audience needs, context of use, genre conventions, and clarity in writing. Much of our work will concern rhetorical assessment and how we can tailor our communications to achieve our purposes for writing. We'll craft emails, memos and letters, an activity report, a longer expository report, and an informative presentation. Through this work, we'll explore how to develop a research plan, evaluate secondary sources, and present your findings using MLA or APA citation style. Similarly, we'll discuss how to avoid plagiarism and establish your writerly ethos. Our textbook will be Laura J. Gurak and John M. Lannon’s Strategies for Technical Communication in the Workplace, 4th edition (Pearson: 2019), which is available as a print textbook and e-book.

WRTG F213X, 001
Writing and the Sciences
Delivery Mode: online asynchronous
Instructor: Casie Cameron
This course is an introduction to what writing is, what it does, and how people learn to do it in the social and natural sciences. In this WRTG F213X section, students will read an array of science-related writing with topics ranging from astrophysics to neurobiology. Students will respond to these topics and practice crafting writing in a variety of genres of science journalism, rhetorical analysis, academic-to-popular translation, scientific book review and research-supported arguments.

WRTG F214X, 001
Arguing Across Contexts: Reading Between the Liner Notes (Writing about Music)
Delivery Mode: online asynchronous
Instructor: Courtney Skaggs
In this course, we'll explore and analyze elements of popular culture—including songs, music videos, films, and music criticism—in the same ways we are often asked to do with literature. Together, we will consider the following: How do we interact with and use music? What might music reveal about our histories, cultures, and selves? What deeper meanings might be found within song lyrics? Most importantly, how can we, as writers, effectively express our ideas and opinions about music with our audiences? As we explore these and other questions, we’ll be listening to and reading work from a wide selection of musicians and writers, including MGMT, Hanif Abdurraqib, Michelle Zauner, Tanya Tagaq, and Joan Didion.

WRTG F214X, 002
Arguing Across Contexts: Exploring the Fringes: Cryptids, Conspiracy Theories, and True Crime
Delivery Mode: MWF, 11:45–12:45 pm, in-person
Instructor: Alison Miller
What do Bigfoot, the JFK assassination, and Ted Bundy all have in common? This isn't the build-up to a bad joke—it's the start of an adventure. More specifically, it's the premise of a semester-long exploration into the fringe beliefs in our society: the odd beliefs we hold, the morbid fascinations we have, the strange ideas we’re willing to trust. In this WRTG 214 class, we’ll divide our time between three primary units: cryptids, conspiracy theories, and true crime. We’ll do research on some examples of each, and we'll write (and talk) about just why these concepts have such a persistent grip on our minds. Finally, we'll discuss what these subjects reveal about us as a society—what does it say about where we are, as a culture and a species, that fringe beliefs hold such a powerful, often obsessive draw for us? We will interact with a variety of media in this class, including academic writing, anecdotal accounts from social media and other sources, films, and podcasts. This is a discussion-based course, and students will be expected to attend class consistently and contribute regularly to in-class conversations. Students should expect to write regularly in this class, and will be required to participate in at least one peer feedback exercise.

ENGL F309, 001
Survey of British Literature: Romantic Period to the Present
Delivery Mode: MWF 11:45-12:45, in-person and by synchronous Zoom
Instructor: Chris Coffman
ENGL 309 offers a sweeping survey of British poetry, fiction, non-fiction and drama from 1785-1945. By reading works by writers such as Olaudah Equiano, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), and Percy Shelley; Charles Dickens, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Dante Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Ernest), and Robert Louis Stevenson ("The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"); William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land), James Joyce ("Araby" and "The Dead"), Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, and Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot), we will track shifting aesthetic trends in literature and the other arts from the Romantic Period to the Victorian Age and the Modernist Era.  In so doing, we will also consider the way literature and other art forms registered the effects of political revolutions, industrialization, wars, the slave trade, imperialism, and changing understandings of gender between 1785 and 1945. This course will be taught synchronously, both in person and by Zoom.  Students are welcome to participate in the course using one of those modalities or to move between them.  

ENGL F310, 002
Literary Criticism
Delivery Mode: MWF 10:30-11:30, in-person and online (Zoom)
Instructor: Jennifer Schell
Have you ever asked yourself what it means to be a literary critic? Or what relationship literary criticism has to your writing? Join us this semester as we try to answer these questions and many more. Throughout the course, we'll explore the development of literary criticism over time, discussing different ways of reading and understanding texts. We'll also talk about some of the more current schools of thought developed by scholars interested in social justice and environmental studies. And we'll discuss strategies for working with literary criticism in your own research-based writing.

ENGL F360, 001
Multiethnic Literatures of the United States: Hauntings
Delivery Mode: MWF 3:30-4:30, in-person and online (Zoom)
Instructor: Jennifer Schell
Haunted houses, histories, minds, bodies, ecosystems, and texts. This semester we will examine examples of multiethnic American literature that employ spectral imagery as a means of talking about and thinking through pressing social and environmental issues. We will read a selection of memoirs, novels, poems, short stories, and graphic novels by authors such as Maxine Hong Kingston, Craig Santos Perez, and Jesmyn Ward, among others. We will travel back and forth in time and space, visiting colonial Pennsylvania, present-day Guam, and near-future Texas. And we will discuss matters of social justice and civil rights, as well as problems of environmental justice and climate change. Along the way, we will encounter all manner of strange occurrences (fungal infestations!) and creepy creatures (ghost mammoths!). We will also write four papers (800-1200 words).

ENGL F377, 001
Intermediate Creative Writing: Nonfiction
Delivery Mode: online asynchronous
Instructor: Daryl Farmer
Creative nonfiction is the literary art of true storytelling. In this class, you will write from your own lived experience in a variety that may include travel writing, environmental writing, memoir, personal essays, and literary journalism. You will spend the semester writing about your own experiences and working to give them shape, structure, design and individual voice. The class will include readings of published work, online peer-workshops, and the production of an anthology of work produced in the class.

ENGL F410, 001
American Literature to 1900: The Short Story: Early Days
Delivery Mode: MWF, 1-2 pm, in-person
Instructor: Eric Heyne
In this class we'll look at some of the books that influenced the early days of the modern short story, from its beginnings in the "sketch" (Irving's Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon) and the "sensation story" (Poe's Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque), through the increasing realism of Hawthorne (Mosses from an Old Manse), Bierce (Tales of Soldiers and Civilians), and Jewett (A White Heron), to the Naturalist and multicultural experiments of Chopin, Crane, Chesnutt, London, Sui Sin Far, and Austin. All of the texts for this class will be available for free online.

ENGL/FLPA 427, 001
Topics in Film Studies: The Contemporary Sci-Fi Film
Delivery Mode: T, 3:40–6 pm, in-person
Instructor: Sara Eliza Johnson
While sometimes treated as lowbrow entertainment, cinematic science fiction is often pensive, philosophical, and intelligent. More than escapist fun or cartoonish aliens, the dramatic sci-fi film offers us an important critical lens through which to analyze the societal touchstones and structures of an era, and to consider how present conditions shape both our collective imaginations and visions of our future world, which are ever-changing and shifting. In this course, we will consider the hopes, dreams, and fears surrounding post-20th century technological development through a small representative sample of films, starting with 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

ENGL F471, 001
Undergraduate Writers' Workshop
Delivery Mode: TTh, 2–3:30 pm, in-person
Instructor: Sara Eliza Johnson
This course is an advanced undergraduate workshop in creative writing. Students will write original creative work and critique the work of their peers in a communally supportive environment. Additionally, we will do in-class writing exercises that help us to hone our craft, as well as read a sampling of recently published works by renowned authors and consider together what we might learn from them as writers. All genres (fiction, nonfiction, YA fiction, poetry, and screenwriting) are welcome.

ENGL F494, 001
Practicum in Literary Publishing
Delivery Mode: M, 6–9 pm, in-person (w/ option to join by Zoom)
Instructor: Joseph Holt
In this course, students will manage the publication of Ice Box, the undergraduate literary journal for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Students will form an editorial team, review creative submissions, then edit, design, produce and promote the journal. In the process, we'll hone our skills as copyeditors and literary decision makers. We'll discuss the market landscape for books and journals, and we'll explore career possibilities in editing and publishing. If time allows, we'll discuss how students can develop strategies for submitting their own creative work for publication. Our course will meet in-person with the option of Zooming into the live session. Our required textbooks will be What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing (U of Chicago Press: 2017), and The Copyeditor's Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications (U of California Press: 2019). Students can petition that their enrollment in ENGL F494 this spring counts toward their Creative Writing minor.

ENGL F612, 001
American Literature after 1900: The Paranoid Novel
Delivery Mode: W, 2:15–5:15 pm, in-person
Instructor: Joseph Holt
In 1964 Richard Hofstadter noted what he called "the paranoid style in American politics" in an article in Harper's, but novelists had already begun exploring the powerful American urge to construct alternative realities. In this class we’ll read novels by Ralph Ellison, Joseph Heller, Ken Kesey, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Thomas Pynchon, Jennifer Egan, and several others (some of which you will choose), as we probe the meta-mysteries of how fiction depicts true stories that are fictional—or are they?

ACNS/ENGL F620, 001
Images of the North: Polar Weird
Delivery Mode: T 6:00-9:00, in-person and online (Zoom)
Instructor: Jennifer Schell
Northern writing is filled with weird, supernatural things, including unfrozen mammoths, irreligious trolls, mysterious meteorites, giant polar bears, and human beings. This semester, we'll turn our critical attention to these strange things. We'll discuss Western perceptions of the North alongside those of Indigenous peoples. We'll devote significant time to analyzing representations of climate change. The list of texts includes: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (novel), Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow (novel), Michelle Paver's Dark Matter (novel), Jeremy Page's The Collector of Lost Things (novel), Shelia Watt-Cloutier's Right To Be Cold (nonfiction), Emmi Itaranta's Memory of Water (novel), Sam Miller's Blackfish City (novel), Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories (short stories), Thaw (film), Trollhunter (film), Woman at War (film), Arctic Comics, and Never Alone (video game). Over the course of the semester, we'll be working on a series of short papers and a research project.

ENGL F615, 001
Contemporary Literature – When Empires Fall: Writing from the Once-Colonial World
Delivery Mode: M, 2:15–5:15 pm, in-person
Instructor: Rich Carr
The term "post-colonial" emerged in the 1980s to refer to literature from countries/cultures emerging from the shadow of their colonizer as they sought a confident identity. y using the alternate term "once-colonial," however, we will suggest that the colonial era was one phase in the history of these countries, their cultures, and their literature. By doing so, we will acknowledge the colonial influence but insist that the country and culture encompass something new and fresh, informed by history and by many other ingredients. Our study will lead us across several continents and a great range of countries—Peru, Brazil, Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), Algeria, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Tonga, Australia—and will include work from at least four Nobel Laureates. Consider it a literary and cinematic tour of countries once part of a colonial empire. Students will experience the perils of romance between a young man and an older woman—Peru style (Mario Vargas Llosa' Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter); the quandary faced by a South African family in the wake of a widespread black uprising against the white minority (Nadine Gordimer's July's People); a journey via ship from Ceylon/Sri Lanka to England for three young boys (Michael Ondaatje's The Cat’s Table); and the stirring drama that ensues when the peaceful transfer of power is interrupted as a clash between traditional and modern ways erupts (Wole Soyinka's Death and the King’s Horseman). Students will write a couple of response papers, a book review of a work outside of the syllabus (your choice), and a longer piece exploring a topic or issue you find emerging from one or more of the course texts.

ENGL F681, 001
Forms of Poetry
Delivery Mode: Th, 6–9 pm, in-person
Instructor: Sara Eliza Johnson
This course is a survey in poetic genre and form at its base, but in our discussions we will soon find that the boundaries are not always so clear, and that sticking to rules is not always as productive as breaking them. We will attempt a wide array of both generic and received forms this semester, and my hope is that by the end of the term we will have not only a better understanding of the "forms of poetry," but also have developed a sense of formal adventure and appetite for play and experimentation. How might we press on or "open" up a received form like the sonnet to new and exciting possibilities? How can we manipulate the substance of language in surprising ways? How might we make some ancient forms, like the pastoral, relevant to 21st century experiences?