English 1410 Themes

Please review this list of themes taught by individual instructors. 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.

When you register for courses in your Student Portal, the course schedule will show which instructor is teaching each section of 1410. ENGL 1410 is primarily offered in Spring semesters; you will find a wider selection of teachers and themes in Spring. A small number of 1410 sections are offered each Fall and Summer.

Contact the Director of the First-Year Rhetoric and Writing Program Dr. Ann Amicucci, aamicucc@uccs.edu, or the instructor with questions.

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

The Superhero and the Self and Society

The superhero story has been unfolding since 1938, reflecting the anxieties and aspirations of each era it’s passed through. The comic book pages where the story began showcased the issues of identity and annihilation, exploration and empowerment, alienation and morality, that preoccupied Americans over the course of the twentieth century. And in a post-9/11 America, where superheroes are such a dominant cinematic presence, they continue to serve this function. But as the superhero story unfolds for us, what do we see of ourselves in it? What could we see? What does it say about us that this is the vision of heroism that has taken hold of the modern imagination? Can we not envision any way out of the modern catastrophe that doesn’t involve superhuman intervention? In exploring these questions, we’ll begin in the realms of the comics and movies that have brought superheroes into mainstream consciousness, but you’ll be encouraged as the semester progresses to branch out in exploration of any of the issues that come up in our discussions, in any of the realms (such as politics, sports, celebrity culture, science, technology) where we see—or wish to see—those who are greater than us, saving some version of the universe.

Denise Garrett

Education is:

  • a broad concept heralded as the foundation for success in your life.
  • a major part of your life from childhood into adulthood.
  • the residence of exciting breakthroughs and the creation of your future.
  • an institution fraught with social, political, and economic concerns and agendas.

In this course, we explore the concept of education in our society, and you will have the opportunity to research an aspect of education you find interesting—from studying cutting edge educational advances, to investigating questions involving culture, identity, and schooling, to examining the social, political, or economic dynamics of our education system—compelling questions about education await your attention!

Phillip Heasley

Global Challenges: Population, Poverty, and Environment

This course will explore challenges facing human populations around the globe including issues of population growth and demographic shifts, poverty and standard of living, social and legal justice, and environmental concerns and sustainability. Students will be asked to choose a location outside of the U.S., collect basic demographic, economic, and social information about this place, and then deeply explore a particular challenge facing the local population.

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.

Emily Katseanes


Are you what you eat?

Most of us-usually, hopefully-eat several times a day. Whether we're gathering around with our family for a traditional dish, fighting food insecurity in our community, gaming our diet for a specific fitness goal or just pigging out on some Cheetos in front of the TV, food plays an integral part of our lives. Not to mention, that it does, after all, keep us alive. In this section of 1410, we'll be jumping off from that starting point of basic survival and exploring the many other issues food intersects with in three broad units: the personal/political, historical/cultural and industrial/commercial.

In each unit, we'll engage with a variety of viewpoints and explore the rich texture a basic meal can provide, as well as the thorny societal issues it's embedded in. We'll explore this through a variety of sources-academic journals, podcasts, newspaper and magazine articles, television shows and more.

Chelsea Lawson

Drugs: A Culture of Conflict

How does our society classify drugs? Why are some drugs seen as problematic while others are socially acceptable and even, in some cases, encouraged? How do various contexts impact our attitudes surrounding what drugs are illicit and what are not? Drugs will be defined as a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body. From coffee to ibuprofen to Prozac to heroin, drugs have been a part of our culture for centuries and our cultural attitude continually changes regarding these substances. Drugs are a ubiquitous element in our society, appearing everywhere from pop culture to our doctors’ offices to our kitchen cabinets and many places in between.

This course seeks to explore various societal attitudes towards drugs through a rhetorical lens. We will examine how our society’s reaction to and definition of what constitutes acceptable versus non-acceptable drug use has evolved greatly over time, what has impacted this shift, and how shifting attitudes have impacted our culture as a whole.

Jonathan Marcantoni

Social Justice and Neo-Colonialism

As social justice has been made a prominent issue in all aspects of American life, it is important to view the topic on a larger scale. Much of social justice's concerns regarding inequality, racism, class warfare, the environment, and gender concern not only American problems but global ones that play out in an interconnected manner between eastern and western civilizations, developed nations and undeveloped nations, and that capture a larger picture of global trends of oppression and exploitation. Neo-Colonialism is derived from Marxist theory aimed at understanding post-colonial societies, but what happens in a global community is that even the perpetrators of colonial practices are victims as well, leading to power struggles and manipulations that increase inequality and racial animosity. "Social Justice and Neo-Colonialism" seeks to understand how these movements began and the different value systems at play in actions and policies which affect all of us in national and interpersonal ways.

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.

DeLyn Martineau

Exploring Local History

Journey back in time to the early days of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region to examine historical issues from a fresh perspective. Students will engage in inquiry through podcasts, audio and video recordings, lectures from local historians, original texts, and visits to local libraries and museums. What mystery still awaits an answer?


Omar Montoya

Identity and Community

As we walk around town or campus, there are a number of features that can mark us as unique: the clothes we wear; the bags we carry; the color of our hair, eyes, skin; even the language that we speak. But, what about where we are from? Does the place we identify with—our background, home town, upbringing, and even culture provide us a unique identity within a community?

In this class, you will begin by first considering how your identity is “created” and is being represented in the culture at large as well as define the concept of community. Using personal experiences--memories, stories, and a variety of other textual and visual artifacts--you will then investigate how your identity has been represented; you will follow this by examining how these representations support and/or contradict observations about culture as depicted by such authors as bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, Beverly Tatum, and Victor Villanueva among others, to develop a research project that explores the relationship between identity and community.

How do we recognize a good joke when we hear one?  Why do we laugh?  What can taking comedy seriously teach us about language, science, and culture?  A joke is never just a joke.  Jokes are arguments that invite us to identify with certain values and to criticize others.  Like skilled rhetoricians, comedians and humorists construct their arguments with specific purposes in mind.  These masters of the absurd may not speak "rhetoric," but they understand their audience, and their messages rely on our intuitive sense of genre, ethos, and kairos.  Jokes ask us to see our world differently, to critically engage with the conceptual frameworks that we use every day in order to understand and organize our experience.  So let's learn how to read these arguments-the ones masquerading as meaningless jokes and parodies-and let's consider what they mean and how they shape the many ways we understand our world and ourselves.  Let's tap into the conversations of scholars who take comedy seriously.  Let's see how many instructors it takes to teach an introductory course on argument and research, and then let's laugh at him while he struggles to turn on the projector.

Leslie Rapparlie

Humor and Comedy

Bill Cosby. Robin Williams. Louis C.K. Aziz Ansari. These comedians have all come to fame by providing people with one of the pleasures of life: humor and comedy. But to what end do people use humor? Why does jest have such an impact on humanity and how can understanding that help us? This course allows students to investigate humor, comedy, and laughter through a variety of academic lenses. Students can research and analyze topics such as: political satire, popular cartoons, stand-up routines, comedians, ethnic and cultural humor, sit-coms, YouTube antics, humor and yoga, bloopers, vaudeville, The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, The Daily Show, film, video, comic books and more.

Christine Robinson Coon

Beasts of Mind: The Sociopolitics of (De)Humanization and Animalization

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.

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.

Sarah Treschl

How Do We Handle Hardship of the Body? The course will explore the genre of medical narratives as a way gaining clarity over difficult experience. Medical narratives seam together autobiographical or biographical accounts with relevant research to tell a story. At some point in our lives, most of us will confront a disease or even disability, and writing can serve as an outlet. As C.S. Lewis once said, "We read to know we are not alone." Medical narratives are a place to address trauma and build resiliency. The class invites exploration of topics like chronic pain, mental illness, disability, traumatic brain injury, addiction, and even death. Closely examining your life and the lives of others will lead to heightened understanding and appreciation of the human experience.


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.