Skip Navigation
expository writing program website wordmarkOU homepageExpository Writing Home

Expository Writing Courses for Fall 2017

Expo 1113: Keepin' It Real

Section 001: TR 12:00-1:15

Section 002: TR 1:30-2:45

Instructor: Nick LoLordo

“I have chosen subjects from common life, and endeavoured to bring my language near to the real language of men.” In 1800, poet William Wordsworth describes his artistic project in terms that remain immensely influential; two hundred years later, rapper Ja Rule asks:  “You know what keeping it real is?”  These quotations bookend a long history, from which this course will examine a series of episodes.  

We will look at genres ranging from poetry to gangsta rap to science fiction to political oratory, reading through the analytical and philosophical lenses of race, class, gender and national identity.  Our writing, from short responses to full-scale academic essays, will engage with the various, ongoing conversations these works provoke.  

Be yourself.  Find your voice.  Follow your passion.  Stay gold, ponyboy.

Alternative Oklahoma

Section 018: TR 3:00-4:15

Section 900: TR 4:30-5:45

Instructor: Rachel Jackson

Is Oklahoma a red state? If so, how red is it?  This course will examine the various meanings and connotations of “red” in Oklahoma’s public discourse, political identity, and popular culture history.  Beginning with an examination of Oklahoma City’s globally popular, radical music phenomenon the Flaming Lips, the course will inquire into several other topics related to “red.”  These topics will include Native history and experience, “red state” politics & economics, women's history, racial equality, and the Red Scare.  Texts will include scholarship in rhetoric and Oklahoma history, films and music, and primary (archival) sources.  Students will be encouraged to question the contradictions and ironies of Oklahoma’s unique political histories and to consider the crimson depths of the state’s identity in public discourse. 

Food and Power

Instructor: Bridget Love

Section 009: TR 9:00-10:15 (all students)

Section 010: TR 12:00-1:15 (Honors College students only)

Eating does more than just physically sustain us: it feeds our senses, fuels our social lives, and propels global trade. Looking cross-culturally at diverse practices and beliefs surrounding food, this course explores eating as a social and political activity that defines and connects us to others. What rules govern what we eat?  How does gender shape our interactions with food? Why do people fight to maintain local food traditions?  How do our food choices involve us in complex global relationships?  We will investigate these questions in diverse contexts—from Japanese fish markets and French vineyards, to family meals in Florence and pitched global battles over genetically modified foods. Our goal will be to understand how food is central to the way we organize our lives and participate in the world. 

 

Immigrant America

Instructor: David Long

Section 008: MWF 1:30-2:20

Travel bans, mass deportation, threatened sanctuary cities, reduced refugee quotas, and a proposed border wall—these are the most controversial elements of reformed U.S. immigration policy as of spring 2017.  But the current political showdown between nativists and pluralists is nothing new, given the perennial debate in this country over how open (or not open) our borders should be.  This debate revolves around questions of American identity: What does it mean to be a member in good standing of American society, and how does an immigrant go about attaining that status?  Among specific ethnic groups, what have been the terms and conditions of Americanization?  Are U.S. citizens obliged to welcome the so-called “huddled masses” of the world, and what have been the objections to doing so? 

In Immigrant America we will study immigration in the history and practice of civic life in the United States, with a focus on the period from 1875 to the present.  Mindful of recent developments in our national dialogue about immigration policy, we will consider the ways in which immigration has often been viewed as more problematic than promising for the health of our democracy, despite the many contributions that immigrants have made to both the culture and the economy of this country.  Course texts will include landmark legal documents, newspaper articles, various ethnographic studies, a novella and a novel, and OU-archived photographs, as well as songs, poems, and films. 

Modern Monsters

Section 011: MWF 10:30-11:20

Instructor: David Long

Our world and our minds have always been populated by monsters.  Not only do they both horrify and fascinate us, but monsters may be said to shape and express the lives we lead—socially, politically, and psychologically.  From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Nazi death camps to 70s horror films and beyond, this course will investigate the birth and career of the modern monster in the Western world.  What is a monster?  In what ways are the monsters of a scientific, technological age different than their ancestors?  What do those differences reveal about the times in which we live?  How does our sense of what’s monstrous change as we move from fictional narrative and to actual history?  Why are monsters indispensable to our culture?  And why, no matter how fast we run or how carefully we bolt the door, can we never really escape them?

 

Myth and Hero

Section 001: MWF 12:30-1:20

Section 002: MWF 2:30-3:20

Instructor: Liz Locke

After discussing some of the ways in which scholars define and think about the word “myth,” we meet two classical heroes, Theseus and Luke Skywalker, leading us to discover the iconic American Cowboy Hero. We then explore the significance of comic book superheroes (especially Superman, Black Panther, and Hancock) in our popular, moral, and political cultures: How do “truth, justice, and the American Way” figure in our current narratives about American identity, power, law, vigilantism, masculinity, heroism, and race? Finally, we look at representations of women superheroes, still asking: How do both our new and traditional hero myths mold our thinking about power, leadership, individual autonomy, community, suffering, justice, violence, and virtue? How do they influence our behaviors and attitudes about gender, ethnicity, class, citizenship, conflict, and peace? In addition to regular class attendance, we’ll be viewing five films: Shane (1953), The Black Panther (2008),      Hancock(2008), Wonder Women! (2012), and Miss Representation (2012).

Paris Through the Ages

Section 005: MW 1:30-2:45

Section 006: MW 3:00-4:15

Instructor: Sam Temple

In this course, students will explore the back alleys and boulevards of Paris, one of the world’s great capital cities. Best known as a tourist destination today, Paris played a key role in the forging of the modern era. Medieval kingship and absolutism met its end on the Place de la Concorde, just as modern mass democracy was taking its first steps at the gates of the Bastille. The origins of modern terrorism can be glimpsed in the rubble of cafés and concert halls blown up by anarchist bombs. It suffered the pains of foreign occupation and became a city of both resistance and collaboration, its trains helping deport thousands of French men, women and children to German death camps. But Paris also gave us some of the finer things in life—cuisine, fashion, and cabarets to name a few.  Through a selection of historical and contemporary sources, students will create their own “spatial histories” of this fascinating city, culminating with a collective digital “map” of Paris that highlights each student’s particular interest. 

Truth to Power

Section 014: TR 1:30-2:45

Section 015: TR 3:00-4:15

Instructor: Eric Bosse

This course focuses on the work and writings of past and contemporary civil rights leaders and social justice activists. In particular, students will explore issues related to human rights, overlapping social identities and systems of oppression (intersectionality), the deconstruction of "toxic masculinity," the roles of allies in social movements, and the implications of protest and dissent for those involved. Through a sequence of short and longer writing assignments, students will be challenged to move beyond their initial thoughts toward more fully developed arguments, and to examine what it means to take a stance, no matter how controversial it may be. 

 

Violence and the Sacred

Section 003: TR 10:30-11:45

Section 004: TR 12:00-1:15

Instructor: Robert Scafe

Beginning with Biblical human sacrifice and extending to the contemporary phenomenon of suicide bombing, this course examines how human communities have used symbolic violence to forge a common identity and to establish boundaries between themselves and others.  Why do cultures create "scapegoats" in times of crisis?  Why do religions of peace produce prophets of terror?  Why do secular states cloak their wars in sacred language?  We will address these questions by reading first-hand accounts and literary interpretations of violent episodes such as the medieval crusades, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and Jihadist terrorism.

Course texts include Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, the legend of Romulus and Remus in Livy’s History of Rome, the accounts of Cain & Abel and Abraham & Isaac from the Book of Genesis, and films such as Hotel Rwanda and Apocalypse Now.

What Is Work?

Section 012: MW 1:30-2:45

Section 013: MW 3:00-4:15

Instructor: Dr. Catherine R. Mintler  

You know what work is—if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
—Phillip Levine, “What Work Is”

When you were young, how did you answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Were your aspirations tied to duty, education, career, title, salary, or social class? Was your decision based upon the mental or physical labor that different work involves? In this course we will explore the interconnectedness of work, value, and identity. Why, for example, do we ask people what they do when we really mean: “How much money do you make?” or “How much are you worth?” Why do we try to avoid doing work, yet find the activity of working satisfying? Why do we privilege certain work for ourselves, yet take for granted or undervalue the work others do that we regard as mundane, beneath us, dangerous, or even exploitative? Why are the most difficult, dirty and dangerous jobs so poorly paid? What is work anyway?

Philip Levine, an American working class poet who died in 2015 and was honored as US Poet Laureate in 2011, starts to answer the question of our course title, “What Is Work?” in the title of his famous poem “What Work Is.” Beginning with Levine, your reading, thinking, and writing—your work in this class—will enter into conversations about work in four units focused on the Language of Work, Gender and Work, Alienated and Exploited Labour, and the Future of Work. We will examine controversial contemporary work issues like “right to work,” DWYL, workaholism, unions, minimum wage, white-blue-pink collar work, the low-wage working poor, invisible labor, Occupy Wall Street-the Occupy Movement, the wage gap, glass ceiling vs. glass escalator, slavery (past and present), discrimination in the workplace, and universal basic income.

Expo 4890: Independent Research

Any student interested in taking an Independent Study course led by one of the Expository Writing faculty should contact the faculty member in question by the middle of the semester BEFORE they want the study to take place.  The student and the instructor will then complete a learning contract that will determine the student's goals and responsibilities for the term.

Independent Study courses can be taken for 1-3 credit hours, and are arranged at the discretion of the individual faculty members.  Expo faculty members have no obligation to agree to an Independent Study.