ENGL1410 Themes for Spring 2014

Please review this list of themes taught by individual instructors for Spring 2014. If you are interested in a particular theme, or you want to know what theme you might encounter if you register for a course taught by a certain instructor, the list below should be helpful. Contact the instructor with questions.

The Spring 2014 schedule indicates which instructor is teaching each section of 1410

Any changes will be posted in the schedule ASAP. Contact the Interim Director of the First-Year Rhetoric and Writing Program Ceil Malek (719-255-4040 or cmalek@uccs.edu) or the instructor with questions.

Julie Ann Hoffman
Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue: the Evolution of Horror in America

"Monsters" are not just individual fears but are reactions to cultural influences, social change and historical events.  Conflicting anxieties about race, class, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, science, and politics manifest themselves as haunting beings with new monsters appearing as American society continues to evolve.  This course asks students to investigate the dark obsessions that have helped create our national identity and to trace some aspect of America's continued fascination with the hideous and the macabre. 

Mia Alvarado
The Age of the Machine and Its Malcontents

Would you like to cuddle up with a robotic seal? Is your phone a tracker? Have you ever made a fetish of a thing or a thing of a person? Do algorithms know you? Do you look forward to driverless cars? Are you your avatar? Does your thinking resemble a Twitter feed? Is the Amazon a company or a river? What happens to your electronics when you "recycle" them? Are you the master of your tools or are they master of you?

What we do and how we do it shapes our very beings. In this course we'll look at the digital revolution critically and imaginatively. We'll engage with philosophical questions about the relations between humans and machines, and we'll look at particular instances in depth. Our assumption as we proceed is that all of us are encouraged to use more technology all the time; to balance this, we'll look more often at the place of dissent, hence our course title: "The Age of the Machine and Its Malcontents."

Gina Baldoni-Rus
The Dark Side of Immigration

The United States is a country founded by immigrants. Our ancestors arrived on our shores in search of the promises of the "American dream." We are often referred to as a "melting pot" or a "mixed salad" of people, cultures, and traditions. Immigrants have built our land, defended our country, invested in our economy, and strengthened our families and communities. They are our grandparents, parents, professors, doctors, and neighbors. Our history is enriched by immigration; nevertheless, we have also had a complicated and conflicted history with immigration. In every era of U.S. history, immigrants have been the subject of much criticism and the topic of heated debates.
Especially in recent years, the focus of discussions has turned to issues of deportation, detention, criminal and illegal aliens, exploitation, nativism, and violence at the border. Our exploration of immigration will engage issues of the "dark side," including immigrant gangs, smuggling, and the trafficking of humans and drugs. Who are these immigrants, and how, if at all, are they involved? What's really happening at our borders and in our very own cities? How do scholars, researchers, and filmmakers problematize these issues? Join us to discover the versions of truth.

Tony Friedhoff
You Are What What You Make Makes You

About two thousand years ago, Socrates warned that the written word would cause our mental faculties to deteriorate. Was he right? And now, some scholars and observers of popular culture are issuing similar warnings about the effects of the internet. How valid are their fears? It's been demonstrated throughout history that the things we make and invent also play a significant role in remaking and reinventing us. In this class, we will explore the implications of this dynamic, both positive and negative. We'll start with the internet and related technologies, but this is a question that you will be encouraged to explore from any angle of our shifting humanity that interests you-whether that leads you to investigate online social networks, advances in surveillance technologies, controversial medical breakthroughs, advances in agricultural science, or robot butlers.

Catherine Grandorff
Issues in Contemporary American Education

Whether you're concerned about the quality of public schools or the rising costs of higher education, the status of the arts, or the health benefits of P.E., the politics of Head Start or the role of teachers' unions, this course enables students to explore the numerous issues facing contemporary American education through academic argument and inquiry. Focusing in on issues such as these, students will use classical stasis theory to engage in extended research to ultimately craft an argument that contributes to the current conversation of American education.

Keri Hemenway
American Food Culture

Americans want their food to be fast, cheap, and tasty. What our culture demands, we get, but not without a cost to our health and our landscape. This course will explore the development of America's fast food culture and how its industrial nature led to changes in the way food has been grown and processed. This growth has become highly political and even "molecular" in nature.
Due to the grass roots efforts of food enthusiasts and agrarians, there has also been a recent and renewed interest in America's outlook on how food is grown and what it means for the future; there is a drive towards involving community in more sustainable methods of food production. This course will use popular books, news articles, and documentaries to discover these transformations in our agricultural landscape.

Kathleen Johnson
The Press: Our Fourth Estate

Our Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press, but with freedom comes responsibility. The press has the ability to influence every aspect of American society, including our decisions about social movements, medical issues, wars, and elections.
Over the course of the semester, 1410 students will find a press-related research focus that dovetails with their interests. Some questions that might be considered are the following: Is The Daily Show news? How are Facebook, Twitter, and the internet changing our definition of news? Have embedded reporters positively affected war journalism? Can we trust medical or science journalism? Is the press really free in an environment of big business and powerful interests? Does the press simply promote conventional wisdom rather than seek out alternative truths? Has news become merely entertainment and sport? Did the press portray Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin negatively in the 2008 election cycle because of their gender?
As citizens, we too have a responsibility: to be conscious consumers of news rather than sheeple at the mercy of powerful interests in a constant 24/7 news cycle

Quentin Martin
The Swinging Sixties

Both fans and critics of the 1960s agree on one thing: the decade turned America, and the world, upside down. Using historical overviews, primary documents, and a variety of films, this class explores three of the most crucial events in these topsy-turvy times--the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis (when world extinction loomed), the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (which has spawned a half-century of controversy, some of it crackpot, some of it disturbingly credible), and the Vietnam War (whose echoes also continue to reverberate). It's a bumpy but fascinating ride.

Christine L. Robinson
Beasts of Mind: The Sociopolitics of (De)Humanization

You might be a fan of science fiction or the zombie genre; or you might be interested in ethics, social politics, or the power of language; or perhaps you ARE a member of the undead or another kind of "beast" in need of social justice. If any of this applies to you, register for this theme because it explores how and why our society's definition of "humanness" is entangled with our constructions of Others including minorities, animals, aliens, cyborgs, and zombies. In essence, this theme examines the making of a beast-those considered less than human.

Nate Siebert
Writing the City

Now that over half of the world's population lives in cities, the human experience is increasingly becoming an urban experience. The purpose of this course is to explore the nature of cities and to examine the ways in which we both shape and are shaped by urban space. In the process, we'll ask perennial and salient questions about urbanization:

  • How do representations of certain kinds of urban spaces shape our actual experiences of those spaces?
  • What does the privatization and securitization of public space mean for local democracy?
  • Who should have the power to determine how city-spaces are used and who uses them?
  • How is the urban landscape shaped by globalization?
  • What would it mean to build a sustainable city?

Students will create rich research projects by combining scholarly research with fieldwork and primary-source analysis. The course will include at least one required off-campus field trip.

Benjamin Syn
Deconstructing Disney

As one of the seven largest corporations in the world with vast influence beyond its animated films, the Walt Disney Company and its subsidiaries control computer-animated works (Pixar), children's entertainment (the Muppets), feature films (Touchstone Pictures), music publishing (Hollywood Records), book publishing (Hyperion), comic book and superheroes (Marvel), science fiction (Star Wars), television news (ABC), sports broadcasting (ESPN), and more. However, Disney is much more than a multimedia conglomerate; it is currently the preeminent storyteller in the world. Ask someone to describe Snow White, Cinderella, or the Little Mermaid, and-instead of hearing fairytales by the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, or Hans Christian Anderson-this person will most likely recall movies from Walt Disney. Yet despite its vast reach, this corporation and its powerful lobby and lawyers, along with society as an accomplice, shield Disney from crucial criticism of commercialism, racism, sexism, etc. Walt Disney himself once offered, "We just make the pictures, and let the professors tell us what they mean." In this class, we will take up Disney's charge and explore not only what the pictures mean but also what Disney means as a man, as a studio, as a collection of films, as a corporation, and as an ideology.

Richard Thomas
The Rise of Technology: Emancipation or Apocalypse?

Popular films like The Matrix, The Terminator, and Total Recall are underwritten by a philosophy that technological development spells doom for our society. These narratives depict a bleak future where innovation has led to advanced death machines and sophisticated devices that manipulate and control the population. However, most modern thought associates technological progress as a positive, something that can provide solutions to social problems and improve the quality of one's life. Is technology emancipatory or apocalyptic? Does it hamper free will or encourage it? What is its social impact? What will be its role in the future? If these questions sound interesting, come join us as we explore technology's utopian and dystopian potential.

Justin Tucker
Technology and Media: Understanding Ourselves in a Digital World

You sit down at the computer with your homework. A problem comes up that you don't understand. Immediately, without thinking, you bring up Chrome and search out the problem. Meanwhile, your cellphone vibrates with a text message and you have someone chatting with you in Facebook. We live in a digital world surrounded by media, bias, and technology, and we end up losing ourselves in the mix... or do we? In this class, we will explore and understand the concerns about living in our age, and how to better research, understand, and investigate the issues that come from this.

Andrea Wenker
On the Table: Industrial Food Tradeoffs and the Rising Food Revolution

Do you ever wonder about the journey your food has taken from the farm to your plate? Don't want to know? Gone vegetarian? Gone hunting? Perhaps you're interested in health and medicine, fitness or obesity, human rights or animal welfare, immigration or migrant workers, big business or small business, corporate power, jobs, law, economics, freedom of speech and information, or simply enjoying the food you're eating knowing that it won't make you sick. Food is everywhere present in our lives, our culture, our very bodies.

This course explores the subject of food and its production, distribution, and consumption as it is implicated in almost every aspect of our lives. The focus will be on the industrialization of food in the United States and its tradeoffs, alternatives represented by the rising food movement, and what eaters can bring to the table.