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Expository Writing Courses for Fall 2016

Expo 1113: No Place Like Home

There’s No Place Like Home  *Expo 1113 Course*

Section 001: MWF 9:30-10:20

Instructor: Jennifer Shaiman

This class fulfills the Composition I General Education Requirement

There is an intimate connection between the places we live and the people we become.  This course takes that connection as its starting point, investigating our homes from the most private spaces to those we share, sometimes unwillingly, with strangers. In addition to the traditionally domestic spaces, we will also consider our institutional and regional home as well. This class will serve as an introduction to college-level academic argument. Our readings will be interdisciplinary: fiction, theoretical, general audience, and professional texts.  

Alcohol In America

Section 008: MWF 1:30-2:20

Instructor: David Long

Ambivalence toward the consumption of alcoholic beverages has always been a defining tension in American social and cultural life. Alcohol's popularity as a recreational drug that enhances sociability has co-existed with concerns about alcohol as a threat to health, morality, and productivity. Course topics will include the various rites of social drinking; drinking as a source of class, gender, and racial stereotypes; nationwide efforts to curb or ban alcohol consumption, such as the 19th-century temperance movement, Prohibition of the 1920s, and AA, MADD, and modern rehab clinics; the commercialization of alcoholic beverages; and the physiological and psychological effects of alcohol consumption.

Alternative Oklahoma

Section 016: TR 1:30-2:45

Section 901: 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. 

American Gangster: From Jay Gatsby to Jay-Z

Section 012: MW 1:30-2:45

Section 013: MW 3:00-4:15

Instructor: Catherine Mintler

The iconic gangster figure in America has achieved a mythic stature, whereby both real and fictional gangsters, like Clyde Barrow and Michael Corleone, have been idolized into cultish popularity. Whether belonging to criminal organizations (mafia) or acting alone (outlaw), the American Gangster's roots in 19th century ethnic, immigrant and class subcultures have expanded to influence urban street gangs, French noir /Japanese Yakuza films, and "gangsta rap", and is continually recycled as commodified Hollywood entertainment. In this course, students will examine America's fascination with various manifestations of the gangster figure in journalism, literature, various graphic media, and music.


Food and Power

Instructor: Bridget Love

Section 009: TR 9:00-10:15

Section 010: TR 12:00-1:15

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. 

Games People Play

Section 007: TR 9:00-10:15

Section 025: TR 10:30-11:45

LAB (both sections): W 4:30-6:45PM

Instructors: Jennifer Shaiman and George Cusack

Note: This course has weekly lab sessions, where we will play different types of games in order to examine key concepts in our readings.  Attendance at these sessions is a required part of the course.

Game theorist Jane McGonigal  argues that human beings devote billions of hours to games each is year because "reality is broken."  According to McGonigal, games give us a sense of purpose and accomplishment that most people find lacking in their everyday lives.  In this course, we’ll examine the ways that games can make us feel smarter, more powerful, and more capable.  We'll see how games can distract us from the "real world," but also how they can help us to learn, to collaborate, and to express ourselves more effectively.  From there, we'll think of ways to "gamify" the university experience in order to address specific problems faced by OU students.


“Keepin’ It Real”:  Authenticity of Language and the Language of Authenticity

Section 020: TR 3:00-4:15

Section 900: TR 4:30-5:45

Instructor: Nick LoLordo

“I have chosen subjects from common life, and endeavoured to bring my language near to the real language of men.” Here the poet William Wordsworth describes his artistic goal, an ambition that proved immensely influential in shaping literary values we hold today.  Now, move forward two hundred years.  “What is keeping it real? That term is so lost. It's a forgotten term. You know what keeping it real is?” asks the rapper Ja Rule.

These two quotations bookend a long history from which this course will examine a series of episodes.  We will focus on the belief that authenticity is something valuable.  Debates about this belief, in the 19th and 20th centuries, invariably approach paradox.  On the one hand, the expressive power of “real” language is linked to personal authenticity; on the other, this power is understood as not merely natural but something one struggles to achieve.  The first of these arguments joins language to “life”; the second joins it to “art”.  Our central questions, then, will be:  is “real” language drawn from life; is it perfected in art; are there true sources of authentic speech; how do these sources shape our wider sense of authenticity itself?


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 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. 

Political Satire

Section 014: TR 1:30-2:45

Section 015: TR 3:00-4:15

Instructor: Eric Bosse

According to the columnist Molly Ivins, “Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful.”  Writers, cartoonists, and filmmakers often employ satire to provoke or prevent change by ridiculing the powers that be; and occasionally those powers strike back.  In this course we will examine the traditional and contemporary roles of satire in cultural and political discourse.  Has satire proven an effective weapon?  Can satire change the hearts and minds of its audiences?  Where do we draw the lines between funny and offensive, between satire and irony, between satire and reality?  Should certain topics be “out of bounds” for satirists?

Course texts include Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer,”  George Saunders’ “The Red Bow,” a selection of editorial cartoons, and articles in the Onion.  

Violence and the Sacred

Section 003 (all students): TR 10:30-11:45

Section 004 (HONORS only): 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.