Spring 2021 Course Descriptions
ENGL 201X FXA
Texts and Contexts: Contemporary Science Fiction
Delivery Mode: T Th, 9:45-11:15, both in-person and online by Zoom
This course will look at a range of contemporary fantasy and science fiction stories and one new novel (The City We Became by Nebula-award winning fantasy novelist N. K. Jemisin). We will discuss trends among recent science fiction and their connections to contemporary aspects of American life, such as climate change fiction (or "cli-fi"), artificial intelligence, cyborg life, and the coming singularity, alien invasion and immigration, and alternate history and social change. Our goal is to understand more about what storytelling in the modes of fantasy and science fiction can tell us about ourselves, as well as more about storytelling works as a human invention.
This is crazy. She’s nuts. That episode was insane. What a psycho. The language of mental illness permeates our vernacular. Often, we refer to our meticulous quirks as “OCD behavior” or say that we are “depressed” when we’re really just sad. These terms are (mis-)used constantly and unthinkingly, usually without any intention of shaming people who do suffer from mental illness. But what do those casual appropriations mean for our collective cultural conceptions of mental illness? And where do they come from?
In this course, we will be discussing the ways that mental illness is represented in a variety of mediums, including literature and film. We will talk about how those representations reflect or contribute to existing stigmas around mental illness, and explore the ways in which mental illness has been represented over time and the effects of literary portrayals on public perception and understanding of mental illness.
WRTG 212X FXH
Writing and the Professions (Honors)
Delivery Mode: M, 2:15–3:15 online, with additional work conducted asynchronously
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.
ENGL F307 FXA
Survey of American Literature: Civil War to the Present – Environmental Imagination
Rachel Carson might have launched the modern environmental movement in 1962 with the publication of Silent Spring. She was neither the first nor the last American author to tackle environmental issues, however. This semester we will study the development of the American environmental imagination between 1865 and 2020, a period which witnessed dramatic changes to many, if not most, American ecosystems. As we will see, authors from diverse backgrounds felt compelled to respond to these changes. As they did so, they adopted myriad styles, perspectives, and approaches to their material. Thus, among other things, our readings will include Zitkala-Sä's autobiographical essays, Marianne Moore’s poetry, Octavia Butler’s science-fiction, and a little bit of everything in between. Students will not need high-bandwidth internet connections to complete this class.
experiences, observations, memories, and thoughts. This can take many forms including
memoir, personal essay, travel and nature writing, literary journalism and lyric essays.
This course will guide students through a variety of exercises and writing tools and
will focus on the development of the “habit” of writing, emphasizing exploration and
risk taking, in order to write in new and imaginative ways. In the beginning weeks
of class, we will focus on generating material, and
experimenting with different craft techniques, and then use these skills to develop individual writing projects Students will be expected to write at length, read selections from published authors, and respond to the work of their classmates.
Horror films are often considered "low art," as exploitative and gratuitous schlock, but many such films are deceptively complex. A study of the American horror film reveals deep insights into sociopolitical and cultural fears and anxieties, including collective traumas, and how such fears and anxieties have transformed across generations. In this course, we will watch and analyze the American horror film from the 1920s to the present, with an eye for how these films reflect the cultural contexts in which they were created. Along the way, we will learn about film theory and criticism, and how to "read" films as active critics, rather than merely watch them as passive spectators.
ENGL F449 FXA
Northern and Environmental Literature: Cli-Fi, Fiction for Warming World
Thinking Outside the Box: Genre-Benders and Hybrid Forms
Though we typically think of writing as belonging to a certain genre group—fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and drama—the four major literary genres can be manipulated, mutated, or merged into works that cannot be categorized as any one literary mode. This course is a study in the creation and transformation of literary forms, and a conversation about the usefulness of imposing genre boundaries on literary art. What are the benefits and limitations of writing the poem that is also an essay, or the video game that is also a novel? We will study a variety of works that cross genre lines, such as the graphic novel, the lyric essay, the verse novel, and the narrative video game. We will also write and workshop experiments in such genre-bending, and consider the ways our own work in our preferred genre can be pushed in unique ways.
ENGL F482 FXA
Topics in Language and Literature: Practicum in Literary Publishing
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 synchronously via Zoom, but we'll take certain days off for independent work. 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 and Workbook: The Complete Set (U of California Press: 2019). Students can petition that their enrollment in ENGL F482 this spring counts toward their Creative Writing minor.
ENGL F601 FXA
Theory, Criticism, and Methods
Have you ever asked yourself about the relationship of literary theory and criticism to your own writing? Join us this semester as we try to answer this question and many more. Throughout the course, we’ll explore the development of literary theory and criticism over time, discussing the foundational ideas advanced by such thinkers as Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault. We’ll also talk about the more current ideas developed by scholars working in the fields of gender studies, critical race theory, and environmental studies. And we'll discuss strategies for working with literary criticism in your own research/creative writing. Students will not need high-bandwidth internet connections to complete this class.
ENGL F608 FXA
Studies in British Literature after 1900—Bodies
Class will meet synchronously via Zoom. Our class meetings will be broken into several segments: some focused on full class discussion or small-group conversation in Zoom breakout rooms; others involving activities such as close reading or freewriting that will allow you to disconnect from the screen and return to our Zoom classroom at a predetermined time.
“the art and craft of transforming life into art.” This semester we’ll read and write in a variety of nonfiction forms and categories, including memoir, graphic memoir, literary journalism, place based writing, essays, and experimental forms. We'll explore how these categories might merge, expand, and in some cases, subvert the genre entirely. Then we’ll move to the essentials of quality writing, not only in terms of craft and technical skill, but especially toward an aesthetic understanding of what separates a piece of writing that is merely competent from one that is a work of art, that “breathes life”? And, most importantly, how might we drive our own work toward the latter?