Course Topics

ENG 352 American Literature to 1860

American writers since the very beginnings have inscribed the natural landscape and crossed frontiers of the human heart and soul. We will explore these frontiers and the authors who transcend boundaries into uncharted space in stories of Spanish conquistadors and Native Americans; the narratives of English colonists, African-American slaves, and explorers Lewis and Clark; nature essays of Emerson and Thoreau, illustrated by the Hudson Valley School; poetry by Bradstreet, Wheatley, Whitman, and Dickinson; fiction by Hawthorne, Melville, and Beecher Stowe.

ENG 353 American Lit 1860 To Present

An invitation to explore currents and crosscurrents, traditions and individual talents, movements and masterpieces from the Civil War era to the present. Works will be chosen from a variety of genres, and course units may emphasize particular regions, periods, or themes, such as Southern voices (Faulkner, Hurston, Welty), the era of World War I (Hemingway, Cummings, Dos Passos), and feminist fiction and poetry (Kingston, Walker, Sexton).

ENG 185 A Eco-Media

Since the Lumière brothers conducted one of the earliest public film screenings in 1895, people have recognized cinema as a powerful medium for documenting moving images and for telling stories. Recently, people have turned to film to inspire people to think and act ecologically. This course explores how various cinematic media shape the ways we understand and represent ecological issues and potentially sustainable futures. We will move through documentaries, fiction features, and digital transmedia texts as well as the Decorah Eagle Cam. Students will acquire the ability to analyze various approaches to narrating ecological issues through discussion and in writing. They will also produce their own eco-media projects to post on the Internet.

ENG 211 A Writing for Media

A comprehensive course in news writing, reporting, and writing for media. Focus on the issues and skills central to journalism, and professional writing for various media. Readings and examples from newspapers, on-line and print magazines, and electronic journalism.

ENG 247 A Literature and Ecology

What kinds of stories help us confront, ignore, deny, or re-imagine the ecological challenges we face? How do we use narratives and poetry to perceive and imagine ecosystems? And why do we think things like mountains, wind turbines, fjords, limestone, bonobos, the influenza virus, or snow-globes are beautiful or ugly, natural or unnatural? This course explores how literature and other cultural texts shape the ways we think about and act in the biophysical world and the systems that comprise it. Readings will vary by may come from traditions of nature writing; explorations of place, space, and time; connections between religion and ecology; relationships linking literature and science; and intersections of ecology and social issues like ability, class, gender, and race. 

ENG 354 American Novel

A study of major American novelists from the mid-19th century to the present, such as Melville, Stowe, Twain, Cather, Faulkner, and Morrison. Some attention is given to theoretical approaches to American literature.

PAI 450 Archaeologies of the Future

We cannot change the past. We can try to live in the present. But it is only into the future that we can project our hopes for and fears of change. The future is a time and place that remains open. To be sure, the shape of things to come is influenced by the shapes of things that already exist, and yet, the future is not entirely predictable. This course explores a range of fictional and non-fictional imagined futures from various places and times with a particular focus on three main areas: Social Structures, Technology, and Environment. We will excavate past and contemporary visions of the future in order to learn how predictions, and the ethical positions from which they are built, are subject to the ideas of their times and places and to examine which factors influence the success or failure of these visions. The future, after all, is the site and the stakes of our ethical imagination and action in the present.