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Expository Writing Courses for Spring 2017

Alternative Oklahoma

Section 003: MW 1:30-2:45

Section 004: MW 3:00-4:15

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. 

Building Arguments

Section 007: TR 10:30-11:45

Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Shaiman

This class will focus on the spaces around us as individually meaningful, socially constructed, and historically situated. We’ll make arguments for the relative merits of different designs and philosophies behind public spaces. We’ll investigate the history of spaces on the OU campus and discuss how well they serve university life as we now live it. Finally, we’ll seek to share what these places mean to us as individuals who travel through them every day. While our focus will remain on the built environment, we’ll complicate our viewpoints with works from a variety of fields, including marketing, sociology, history, geography, and architecture.  

 

(De)Constructing Gender

(De)Constructing Gender

Section 014: TR 1:30-2:45

Section 015: TR 3:00-4:15

Instructor: Eric Bosse

How does gender shape our lives? How does it intersect with race, class, ability, sexuality, education, and other axes of identity? How does society define, interpret, manipulate, and regulate gender? What are the impacts of such gender-exclusive organizations as fraternities and sororities? Gender confers privilege and power on some and subjects others to subtle and not-so-subtle acts of oppression. This interdisciplinary course explores gender roles, feminism, privilege, oppression, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, misogyny, gender-based violence, and the complexities of allyship across intersectional identities, through texts drawn from gender studies, queer studies, philosophy, sociology, psychology, journalism, legislation, public policy, literature, social justice advocacy, and popular culture.

 

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. 

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).

Music, Sound, and Noise

Section 012: TR 10:30-11:45

Instructor: Robert Scafe

This course examines political and social struggles over music and the sonic         environment. Students will be asked to tune into the music, sounds, and noises of their daily lives, and to write about how their experience is shaped by the "soundscape" in ways that often go unnoticed. Assisting us in this effort will be the anthropologists, historians, and sociologists who have written about music from its folk origins through classical and contemporary "pop" and "alternative" genres. Why do people identify so strongly with their musical tastes-and react so strongly to music they dislike? How has music informed social movements and regimes of oppression? Who owns the soundscape, and how should we negotiate disputes over public "noise"?

 

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. 

Poets 2 Rockstars

Section 018: TR 12:00-1:15

Section 019: TR 3:00-4:15

Instructor: Nick LoLordo

Why are so many of our celebrities artists? Why do so many of these famous artists have famously difficult lives? Why do we hunger for every possible detail about those lives? And how does our obsession help us understand their art?

Beginning with the Romantic poet Lord Byron (who was called "mad, bad, and dangerous to know"--by his lover!), and ending with Tupac Shakur (who remains famous enough to need no further advertisement), we will look for answers to these and related questions, to better understand the co-dependent relationship between art and fame that characterizes modern cultural life. 

Violence and the Sacred

Section 016: TR 10:30-11:45

The expression “I see” often conveys understanding, and our sense of sight is often regarded as superior to other senses in acquiring knowledge of the empirical world. But what is the relationship between what we see and what we can know? How does visual culture facilitate our knowledge of self, other, and the empirical word?

Our journey in Seeing Is Believing will begin with Ancient Greek theories of vision. We will then turn to early modern and Enlightenment periods to understand how the invention of optical devices removed the limitations of the unaided eye and empowered visual knowing over other sensory ways of knowing. Inventions like eyeglasses, prisms, microscopes, and telescopes aided the naked eye in observing hidden, miniscule, and distant worlds, such as the spectrum, one-celled organisms, and planets. We then will turn our attention to the Victorian period, when new visual technologies of mechanical reproduction further influenced an overreliance on vision, referred to as ocularcentrism, or the dominance of sight-privileged knowledge. Inventions and advances in visual technologies like cameras, mirrors, Surrealist dreamscapes, and the moving picture devices that predated the movie camera, introduced new ways of seeing as a form entertainment, but at the same time harnessed and managed human vision both in terms of what and how the observing eye could see. So the question becomes: When is visual technology emancipatory and when does it manage vision in ways that tethers us to behaviors or objects, thus preventing us from actually seeing? We will investigate some consequences that occur when vision is mediated or controlled by others, worries explored in both ancient and modern times, such as in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and Foucault’s theory of Panopticonism. We will continue our analysis of seeing as paradoxically emancipatory yet simultaneously and dangerously enthralling by applying theories and technologies of vision to the racially “other” human subject’s visibility, invisibility and hyper-visibility, and the social and political ramifications of being seen vs. unseen.

Our course will end by imagining the impact of ocularcentrism and the continued barrage of visual technologies on ourselves—as social, political, and consumer subjects—to consider questions like the following: Is our vision aided, managed, or controlled by technologies involving virtual reality and cyberspace—worlds that are virtual rather than empirical, and that are generated by and exist in the circuitry and code within computers and cell phones, rather in the empirical world? How does the continued dominance visual culture affect our identity, subjectivity, and agency? Can we trust what we see? Is seeing believing?    

Violence and the Sacred

Section 017: TR 1:30-2:45


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.