English 1410 Themes

ENGL 1410 is a themed course. Each instructor selects a course theme, and all student research relates to the course theme in some way. This page lists and provides information about the themes taught by individual instructors.

You can look for an instructor’s name in the course schedule (in your student portal) while you are registering for courses. ENGL 1410 is primarily offered in Spring semesters, so there are a wider selection of teachers and themes offered in Spring. A small number of 1410 sections are offered each Fall and Summer semester.

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

The Dark Side of Immigration

Gina Baldoni-Rus

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, the United States has 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.

Cash Rules: The Rhetoric of Money, Cost, and Value

Michelle Brown

For many, a cash-benefit-analysis is the first step in making any decision because money and finances dictate many of our behaviors and our beliefs. Apart from the actual study of economics and business, rhetoric plays a significant role in the way money, cost, and value is assessed, negotiated, and controlled in our society and in our lives. In this course we will examine the way money affects everything around us, for better and for worse.

Extreme Rhetoric

Heather Fester

Rhetoric has endured a lot of controversy since it first appeared on the scene in Ancient Greece, variously designated over time as empty or manipulative. Is some of this harsh judgment well-earned? This course will take a look at rhetoric in a few of its more extreme 20th and 21st Century forms, from famous demagogues to propaganda and fake news, pausing as we go to look into a couple of well-known examples of cult leaders and their methods of persuasion. The heart of our explorations or the question at issue, which we will ultimately shape in its more polished and specific forms together as a class, will begin by considering whether rhetoric is a tool more often used to free the mind or enslave it. We'll start by analyzing what conditions are ripe when either of these possibilities is present.

The Superhero and the Self and Society

Tony Friedhoff

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 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.

Writing in the Age of A.I.

Sheldon Gaskell

Writing in the Age of A.I. emphasizes argumentative and research-based inquiry into the pressures advanced technology and digital reality enforce on the writer in contemporary society. Students first read, evaluate, and integrate sources to enhance their knowledge of analytical and rhetorical practices in classical stasis theory. Students then apply this theory to explore complex issues with current and future technological developments with artificial intelligence and related subjects; summarize and construct counterclaims to scholars in the field; and strategically render arguments that contribute understanding and perspective to this heated societal scenario.

Artful Questions: Inspired Research

Catherine Grandorff

From the youngest child to the oldest elder, anyone can be affected by art. On occasion, art may serve as a prompt for reflecting on life, the human experience, or any number of topics. "Artful Questions" considers how various kinds of art can foster such inquiry and ultimately facilitate research. Upon contemplating selected works, we'll engage queries like "How can we define art? How does art shape our surroundings, or vice versa? What impact might a piece have on the world? What is the value of different kinds of art?" This class invites you to blur the line between curiosity and research to cultivate a practice that enhances both.

American Food Culture

Keri Hemenway

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 explores 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 is highly political and even “molecular” in nature.

Due to the grass roots efforts of food enthusiasts and agrarians, there is 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 toward involving community in more sustainable methods of food production. This course uses popular books, news articles, and documentaries to discover these transformations in our agricultural landscape.

Global Challenges: Population, Poverty, and Environment

Phillip Heasley

This course explores 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 around sustainability. Students 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.

The Rhetoric of the Unknown

Cody Kaser

From unsolved mysteries to fringe science to the paranormal, the unknown comprises a daily part of our lives in one way or another. Often, it creates strong emotional associations, whether someone is a believer, skeptic, or somewhere in between. Every culture, field, industry, and subject of study has well-established, sometimes shifting, borders distinguishing what is known and what remains yet to be known. In this class, we will use academic research-based inquiry to understand how people communicate their values and experiences regarding such borderlands between accepted knowledge and the unexplained. To be sure, this course is not designed to refute or purport conspiracy theories or the existence of paranormal, parapsychological, or cryptozoological phenomena. Instead, the course offers students the opportunity to critically examine the rhetorical choices individuals, families, organizations, cultures, or others make while communicating their perspectives on the unknown. We will examine those perspectives respectfully, whether they belong to believers, skeptics, or those in between.

Popular Memory and the Recent Past

Emily Katseanes

As James W. Loewen has pointed out, every generation has a blind spot in their historical understanding. When you’re in grade school, history teachers don’t teach recent events because it’s current for them. But for their students, who were too young to remember things like 9/11 or, going back further, the Vietnam War first hand, this can be a startling oversight.

This section of 1410 takes up that puzzle and looks at how we, as a culture, create memories and legacies. How do we understand the past? What events get statues and what events get erased? What are the effects of such hagiography and legend-making? We’ll look at specific examples from recent history and how those can be contributing to current discussions and future action in popular, political and academic arenas.


Works Cited

Loewen, James L. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. The New Press, 1995.

Crime and Punishment

Chelsea Lawson

How does modern society classify crimes? Why are some actions that are technically illegal largely viewed as morally acceptable, such as stealing food to feed one’s family? Should society prosecute those actions in the same way as other crimes? How does society justify some killings and not others? How do we appropriately punish those who commit crimes? Are the mentally ill capable of receiving equitable treatment in the justice system? What are some of the issues that plague the justice system and prevent it from being efficient and truly just? There are just a few questions we will explore as we navigate the topics of crime and punishment. There exists a great deal of contention on how to treat those we deem criminal and how to define “criminal” appropriately. This course seeks to explore various attitudes towards crime and punishment through a rhetorical lens. We will examine our modern society’s reaction to and definition of what constitutes criminal action and justice, how definitions have evolved over time, what has impacted this shift, and how shifting attitudes have impacted our culture as a whole.

Public Sounds, Sounding Publics

Chris Martin

While honing our academic research-writing skills, we’ll think about how we inhabit, engage, and shape the soundscapes we encounter daily. This course will consider topics out of the interdisciplinary field of sound studies, which encompasses such off-beat explorations as

  • 1970s ear-cleaning exercises that don’t involve a Q-tip
  • antique sound technologies like the laugh box
  • speculative sound technologies like the cat piano
  • the soundscapes of the sewer, the car, and Guantanamo Bay
  • cassette tapes as radical community-building
  • therapeutic silence and the history of the stethoscope
  • vocal fry, upspeak, and the politics of noise
  • and more.

In addition to the standard (written) academic research paper, students will also have the option to present their research findings in the form of an audio essay, taking as their model some of the podcasts and sound documentaries we’ll encounter during our foray into sound studies.

Exploring Local History

DeLyn Martineau

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 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?

Veterans Programs and Resources

(Spring 2020: Section 052)

With five military bases in Colorado Springs, UCCS has a diverse military-affiliated population. In this research-based course, we will explore goods, services, and programs specifically designed for and by veterans. This is a service-learning course designed not only to introduce veterans to a variety of known and lesser-known programs available to them, but to use research skills to help connect these resources to other veterans and their families.

Identity and Community

Omar Montoya

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?

This class begins by defining the concept of community and considering how your identity is “created” and represented in the culture at large. Using personal experiences--memories, stories, and a variety of other textual and visual artifacts--you 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.


Nathan Price

It is often argued that the best way to avoid being a victim of propaganda is to study propaganda. It is through this purpose that we examine the use of propaganda in historical and social events. We analyze these events for the use of rhetoric, the manufacturing of messages, and the formation of in-groups and out-groups. We look for timeless patterns, techniques, and strategies that allow communicators to craft messages that seek to manipulate people's emotions, in hopes that we can become more skillful, compassionate, and contentious rhetoricians ourselves.

Humor and Comedy

Leslie Rapparlie

Amy Schumer. 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 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.

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

Christine Robinson Coon

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 this course 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.


Adrian Shaw

Aristotle believed "a command of metaphor" is "the mark of genius" (part XXII). More recently, scholars like Ann Berthoff have argued that metaphor—our "human capacity to see the form of one thing in another"—is the basis of “language itself" and "central to the making of meaning" in general (251).

In Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson famously contend that "our ordinary conceptual system ... is fundamentally metaphorical," so that "the way we think, what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor" (3). As a class, we will investigate the surprising (and often hidden) metaphors at the heart of our communication, our thinking, our scholarship, and our culture. Over the course of the semester, students will choose their own topics of inquiry, then develop individual research projects to reveal the extent to which metaphor shapes our understanding of the subjects and the questions we care about most.


Works Cited

Aristotle. Poetics. Translated by S.H. Butcher, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/1974/1974-h/1974-h.htm

Berthoff, Ann E. Forming, Thinking, Writing. 2nd ed., Boynton / Cook, 1988.

Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago Press, 1980.

A Rhetoric of Ordinary Objects

Nate Siebert

"Things," write Scot Barnett and Casey Boyle, "provoke thought, incite feeling, circulate affects, and arouse in us a sense of wonder. But things are more than what they mean or do for us. They are also vibrant actors, enacting effects that exceed (and are sometimes in direct conflict with) human agency and intentionality. Things are rhetorical, in other words" (1).

A Rhetoric of Ordinary Objects begins with a study in rhetorical ontology: a study of things as rhetorical agents, of objects as texts to be read, of stuff as sound to be listened to. Students conduct semester-long research projects on ordinary objects of their choosing--from the bicycle to bread, from the password to luggage, from the shipping container to dust--exploring what a deep investigation of ordinary objects can reveal about patterns, changes, and conflicts in human and non-human relationships.


Works Cited

Barnett, Scot, and Casey Boyle. "Introduction: Rhetorical Ontology, or, How to Do Things with Things." Rhetoric, Through Everyday Things, edited by Scot Barnett and Casey Boyle, University of Alabama Press, 2016, pp. 1-14.

How Do We Handle Hardship of the Body?

Sarah Treschl

This course explores the theme of the body from varied contexts--political, sociological, psychological, and literary. The course invites exploration of topics like chronic pain, mental illness, disability, traumatic brain injury, addiction, and even death. Course readings will include autobiographical accounts blended with timely and provocative research. Closely examining your life and the lives of others will lead to heightened understanding and appreciation of the human body and the human experience.

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

Andrea Wenker

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.