Rhodes College Department of English

Rhodes College Department of English


Art Speaks. Be Heard. Submit Your Work to the Scrib. Our new edition comes out in a few weeks. Now is your time to be a part of it!
Had a wonderful time visiting Rhodes and Palmer hall. I even caught a glimpse of the new Palmer cat. :-) #classof2005
Professor Amy Coney Barrett of Notre Dame was recently nominated to the Seventh Circuit. She was an English major in the class of 1994 and won the Most Outstanding English Major and Most Outstanding Senior Thesis awards before going to Notre Dame Law School. Congratulations to her.
The latest edition of THE SCRIBLERUS is up. Please take a look:

We provide rigorous training in both textual study and written critical analysis. Our courses provide students with the tools necessary to read literature both attentively and critically, and to articulate those readings in formal papers that match lucidity with imagination.

In addition to covering the full range of British, American, and Anglophone literature, from Beowulf to Toni Morrison, our course offerings also encompass film studies, creative writing, and creative non-fiction. Additionally, students can engage in internships and independent study. For a literary work to survive, it must master its medium, language. Similarly, we affirm that literary study goes hand in hand with clear, persuasive, and artful argumentation. Finely honed writing skills are not only portable and transferable across the curriculum, but also indispensable in the broader workplace.

Operating as usual

Thank you to English major alumnus, Chi Whitley '16, for your continuing support!

Each winter break the Office of Alumni Relations coordinates the Rhodes Winter Externship Program. This program provides students the important opportunity to interact with a professional in a career field they wish to explore.

This is not your traditional internship program. The innate flexibility of the Rhodes Winter Externship Program is what makes this the perfect way to help Rhodes students gain knowledge and experience about their fields of interest. Due to the restrictions surrounding COVID-19, this year the program offered opportunities in a virtual setting.

We would like to profile a few of these Alumni and Parents currently offering an opportunity for our students. Thank you for your continued support of Rhodes College.

Chi Whitley ’16 is the Jr. Content Marketing Specialist for Siege Media in Austin, TX. Chi offered to schedule informational interviews and resume reviews for any English major and students entering marketing.

In submitting these opportunities Chi provides the following message:

“My inspiration to host a winter externship stems from multiple Rhodes alumni mentoring and assisting me in the past. I know a lot of Rhodes students are worried about the current job market. I want to help alleviate some of that stress by spending several hours with a student or two. Similar to those who helped me, I too want to pay it forward.

My favorite memory of Rhodes was an end of semester celebration put on by the Rhodes English department at one of our professor’s house. By then, our small cohort of English majors had spent weeks of research and writing in Paul Barret Jr. Library to complete our Senior Seminar papers. At last, we were done and able to celebrate accordingly with those we not only admired and perceived as mentors, but also as friends.”

Happy Birthday to Willa Cather!


Madison Zickgraf ’21 Honored to Be Among Finalists for Highly Coveted Rhodes Scholarship to Study in Oxford | Rhodes News

The Rhodes College Department of English Faculty & Staff applaud senior English major, Madison Zickgraf, for making the list of American finalists for the 2021 International Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. Congratulations!

news.rhodes.edu Madison Zickgraf, a senior English major from Mount Juliet, TN, made the list of American finalists for the 2021 Rhodes Scholarship, the oldest and perhaps the best-known international fellowship program, which enables exceptional young people from around the world to study at the University of Oxfo...


Charlaine Harris ’73 Named Mystery Writers of America Grand Master | Rhodes News

Congratulations to Rhodes College English major alumna, Charlaine Harris Schulz '73!

news.rhodes.edu Mystery Writers of America (MWA) has named prominent Rhodes alumna, Charlaine Harris Schulz ’73­­, a 2021 Grand Master. The New York Times bestselling author, who writes under the name Charlaine Harris, has published 13 novels in her Southern Vampire series, which was adapted by HBO into the pop...

Read about English major alumna Julie Borden’s livestreaming Celtic Band, Kinnfolk!

November is Entrepreneurship Month and to celebrate the Office of Alumni Relations would like to create awareness for the entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership of our alumni. Over the next several days we will highlight alumni who are content creators, producers, innovators, administrators, and designers who started their own endeavors.

Julie Borden '13 and her fiancé have a Celtic band, called Kinnfolk. They released their self-titled debut album earlier this year. The album came out exactly a week before the pandemic shut everything down, which Julie states, “was an odd experience’. She continues by saying they have, “been learning to navigate musical performance in the COVID-19 era, and have taken advantage of opportunities to livestream. We've picked up a lot of out-of-state and international listeners that we wouldn't have had otherwise.”

Julie received her bachelor’s degree in English, with a Creative Writing concentration, and a minor in Mathematics. She participated in orchestra, brass ensemble, several choral groups, and one musical, “Into the Woods”. Julie would like for everyone to know that “Rhodes has a lot to offer young musicians who want to explore!”

Like them on Facebook and listen to their music on Spotify:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kinnfolk.music
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5s9St6bgbQhi2tNUGC52rv?si=TOSBp7coQoSkV3vPPn9t2A

Congratulations to English major alumna, Kristy Dallas Alley, on the debut of her new novel “The Ballad of Ami Miles”.

November is Entrepreneurship Month and to celebrate the Office of Alumni Relations would like to create awareness for the entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership of our alumni. Over the next several days we will highlight alumni who are content creators, producers, innovators, administrators, and designers who started their own endeavors.

Kristy Dallas Alley '94, is a high school librarian in Memphis. Her debut novel, "The Ballad of Ami Miles", comes out December 1, 2020, from Macmillan. Preorder your signed copy today from Burke's Book Store, link below!

Book Description:
Raised in isolation at Heavenly Shepherd, her family’s trailer-dealership-turned-survival compound, Ami Miles knows that she was lucky to be born into a place of safety after the old world ended and the chaos began. But when her grandfather arranges a marriage to a cold-eyed stranger, she realizes that her “destiny” as one of the few females capable of still bearing children isn’t something she’s ready to face.

With the help of one of her aunts, she flees the only life she’s ever known, and sets off on a quest to find her long-lost mother (and hopefully a mate of her own choosing). But as she journeys, Ami discovers many new things about the world... and about herself.

Rhodes College Alumni

Though we were unable to have Homecoming/Reunion Weekend on campus, we still wanted to recognize those with a class year ending in 0 and 5. We asked alumni to provide photos and submit answers to a series of fun questions about their time at Rhodes. We will be sharing these over the course of the next few weeks. Be sure to save the date for Homecoming/Reunion Weekend 2021 - October 1-3, 2021!

First up is Shellie Creson ’90. Shellie is the Executive Vice President and Chief Auditor at Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, OH. Her daughter, Julia Creson, is currently an English major at Rhodes and will graduate this May. Her daughter-in-law, Caroline Eley Creson, is a 2008 graduate and is currently a lawyer living in Nashville and recently welcomed her first child, and Shellie’s first grandchild, Cooper Creson, a proud member of the Rhodes College Class of 2042!

Alumni Relations: What are you looking forward to the most for your rescheduled class reunion party in 2021?
Shellie Creson: Seeing friends.

AR: What is the first thing you do on your return to campus?
SC: Walk around to see the buildings and everything I love on campus.

AR: What has been your favorite Rhodes experience since graduating?
SC: My daughter’s matriculation.

AR: What was your favorite song the year you graduated?
SC: Love Shack by the B-52s!


Twenty Rhodes Students Compete in Fulbright Award Competition for 2021-2022 | Rhodes News

Congratulations to English majors, Shaliz Barzani, Sam Brown, & Tara Fredenburg, who are 2021-2022 Fulbright U.S. Student Award Nominees!

news.rhodes.edu The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and provides grants for English teaching assistantships as well as for individually designed study/research projects. Twenty Rhodes students have been nominated for Fulbright U.S. Studen...


The TLS Books of the Year 2020: Our contributors decide

Congratulations to Professor Scott Newstok for his book “How to Think Like Shakespeare” making “The Times Literary Supplement” list of books of the year 2020!

the-tls.co.uk DAVID ABULAFIA Two novels wittily bring out the realities of university life: Leaf Arbuthnot’s Looking for Eliza (Trapeze) is a beautiful and brilliantly

IMFF20 Audience Choice Award Winners

Indie Memphis 2020 Film Festival Audience Award Winners!
The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to our own Professor Trimiko Melancon for "What Do You Have To Lose?"
The winners were informed of their awards via a surprise Zoom call.

McCoy, Chris. "Indie Memphis Announces 2020 Audience Award Winners". Memphis Flyer, 3 Nov. 2020.

Congratulations to all of the 2020 Indie Memphis Audience Award Winners! View full list of winners here: http://bit.ly/IMFF20awards


Introductory Topics in Literature

ENGL 191. Golden Age of Piracy: Histories, Literature, Legends, and Myths. (F2, F4)
Legends and myths have been part of the history of Golden Age pirates since the days of the pirates themselves. The usually criminal and always liminal status of those who decided to “go upon the account” – to turn pirate – has attracted the attention of numerous authors, poets, playwrights, and filmmakers. The pirates who plundered the ships of the Spanish Main and cruised the coasts of Africa and the Americas both served and troubled notions of race, gender, economics, and law. Their stories remain stitched into the fabric of the modern world.
Taking Charles Johnson’s bestselling A General History of the Pyrates (1724) as our port of departure, this class will explore representations of seventeenth and eighteenth-century pirates from their time to our own. Authors include Daniel Defoe, Maturin Murray Ballou, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Steinbeck, Lucy Brewer, and John Howison; we will also view films spanning cinematic history from The Black Pirate (1926) to The Pirates of the Caribbean series (2003-2017).

Section 01 TR 12:30 pm-01:45 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Section 02 TR 02:00 pm-03:15 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Seth Rudy

Introductory Literature Courses

ENGL 218. Myths and Sagas of Medieval Iceland. (F2, F4)
This course focuses on the rich storytelling traditions of medieval Iceland. The endlessly diverse sagas and eddas introduce readers not only to feats of dragon-slaying heroes, disputes among Old Norse gods, fantastical tales of giants and Valkyries, and legendary explorations as far as North America but also to the more everyday aspects of medieval life—foodways, material culture, healing practices, gender roles, laws and customs, and settlement patterns across Iceland’s dangerous and beautiful landscape. Alongside our study of these Icelandic texts, we will examine global perceptions of Vikings in other parts of the medieval world as well as post-medieval lives of these enduring stories, as found, for instance, in modern adaptations, fantasy literature, and even museums and tourist sites popular in Iceland today.

Section 01 MWF 09:00 am-09:50 am (ON CAMPUS)
Section 02 MWF 10:00 am-10:50 am (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Lori Garner

ENGL 220. Topics in Women and Literature - Feminism and American Modernism. (F2, F4)
American women gained the right to vote in 1920, around the time that the Modernist literary movement was maturing. Many women writers were deeply invested in – and sometimes ambivalent about – the conversations regarding gender and rights that permeated American culture. This course will look at the intersection of gender politics, feminist theory, and narrative innovation in the works of American women writers from the turn of the century until the 1930’s, taking questions of race, sexuality, class, nation and region into account. Major Attributes: Twentieth Century, Diversity and Difference.

TR 11:00 am-12:15 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Leslie Petty

ENGL 225. Southern Literature. (F2, F4)
A study of literature written about the American South, primarily but not exclusively Southern literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Authors likely to be studied include William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Margaret Walker, Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Wolfe, Eudora Welty, and Ernest J. Gaines.

Section 01 MWF 10:00 am-10:50 am (ON CAMPUS)
Section 02 MWF 11:00 am-11:50 am (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Marshall Boswell

ENGL 260. Survey of British Literature I. (F2, F4)
A chronological sampling from a thousand years of fascinating works. We’ll pay special attention to the tensions between orality, manuscript, print, and “publication.” Creative writing assignments will imitate enduring literary forms, including the ballad, the sonnet, the epic, the essay, the couplet, blank verse, shape poems, and free-wheeling chain-rhyming.

Section 01 TR 09:30 am-10:45 am (REMOTE)
Section 02 TR 11:00 am-12:15 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Scott Newstok

ENGL 262. Survey of American Literature. (F2, F4)
Representative works primarily from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Specific content will vary with the instructor.

Section 01 MWF 01:00 pm-01:50 pm (REMOTE)
Section 02 MWF 02:00 pm-02:50 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Jason Richards

ENGL 264. Studies in African American Literature - RACE, MEDIA & CULTURE. (F4, F9)
In this course, we will explore the intersections of race, media, and culture. In what ways, that is, does race—as a social construct and category—function as a “fiction,” a contrived dynamic, that simultaneously informs and impacts the realities of individuals’ lived experiences? How does race manifest in various media, literary, and cultural productions, wherein circulate particular narratives, representations, discourses, and ideas of what constitutes “normative” identity? And, how do certain technologies, texts, and media culture—mediated reality, web series, and social media platforms to video streaming, films, reality television, and user-generated video hosts, among others—digitize race, while also serving as alternative locations for voices otherwise marginalized in customary or “mainstream” contexts? Drawing on race and media theories, scholarship, and different types of media, texts, and new technologies—alongside analysis of media treatments that range from Black Lives Matter social media campaigns #Ferguson, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown and #SayHerName to web series, such as The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and Brown Girls—we will explore fundamental questions to more fully and critically understand how race is inscribed and interpolated in contemporary media, literature, culture, and society.

Section 01 TR 12:30 pm-01:45 pm (REMOTE)
Section 02 TR 03:30 pm-04:45 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Trimiko Melancon

ENGL 265. Special Topics - The Global Renaissance. (F2, F4)
This course will explore the intersections between English Renaissance literature and the larger world. How did global trade, commodities, overseas conflict, and cultural exchange shape English literature? In addressing this question, we will focus on the role of religious, racial, and ethnic difference in this literature, as well as engage with texts written by non-Christian, non-European writers during this same period. The course challenges the idea that globalization is a modern phenomenon and that the Renaissance was a “rebirth” of Western culture. Major Attributes: IIB and IIIB.

TR 12:30 pm-01:45 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Stephanie Elsky

ENGL 285. English Seminar. (F2, F4)
This course assists prospective majors and minors in acquiring the necessary tools for middle- and upper-division classes in English. Each seminar will focus on the necessary skills for reading literary texts, the development of critical argument, and the ability to situate the text in relation to significant contexts. Such contexts might include a text’s historical and cultural circumstances, or its situation within the wider history or discipline of literary studies. Not open to seniors.

TR 02:00 pm-03:15 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Jason Richards

Advanced Literature Courses

ENGL 332. Advanced Shakespeare Studies.
“Dreaming of Midsummers”: We’ll take one of Shakespeare’s most familiar comedies — A Midsummer Night’s Dream — and make it something rich and strange. After reading the play, students will delve into sources (whether classical Athens or contemporary folklore); book history (and the fascinating quandaries that editing multiple versions of the “same” text raise); adaptations (including film and music); and theoretical approaches (from queer theory to postcolonialism). Prerequisite: Any 190 or 200 level literature course or permission from instructor.

TR 08:00 am-09:15 am (REMOTE)
Professor Scott Newstok

ENGL 362. American Modernism.
An advanced study of important US poetry, drama, fiction, and non-fiction produced between 1900 and 1945. The course will examine these works within the cultural dominant of modernism, which sought to articulate the urgent sense of dislocation and contemporaneity that characterized early twentieth-century experience. The course will ground its exploration of modernist stylistic and aesthetic innovations within the context of the prevailing philosophical, political, historical, and cultural realities of the period. Authors could include Frost, Dos Passos, Eliot, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stevens, Cather, Hughes, Faulkner, and Welty. Prerequisite: Any 190 or 200 level literature course or permission from instructor.

MW 02:00 pm-03:15 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Marshall Boswell

This course will explore the stories of those whose voices have been historically silenced, omitted, marginalized, forgotten, or gone unrecorded. In particular, we will be paying attention to the ways that fiction and creative nonfiction writers construct and recreate these narratives to reckon with the past and disrupt master narratives about race, gender, and oppression. We will discuss how silences in the historical record ask writers to rely on different ways of using the archives and mining other tools such as generational memory, memorials, and maps, and how this shapes a work’s form and content. We will use Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments and John Keene’s Counternarratives as our foundational texts, in addition to works by Megan Mayhew Berman, Jennifer Clement, and Miriam Toews. Prerequisite: Any 190 or 200 level literature course or permission from instructor. Major Attributes: Diversity and Difference.

Section 01 TR 02:00 pm-03:15 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Chanelle Benz

ENGL 380. Topics in Literary Study - Children’s Literature and Media.
Reading children’s texts as adults may seem nostalgic to some, but it actually allows us to analyze the myths we construct for and about young humans. Through tales of adventure and belonging, courage and persistence, children’s texts communicate cultural values about what is “normal,” who is valued, and how to grow up. This course will investigate whose stories get told and who gets to tell them. We will examine children’s literature and media from historical, sociological, and theoretical perspectives. We will study a wide range of texts that are meant to entertain and instruct children, including folk tales, fairy tales, picture books, chapter books, and visual media. Instead of the pedagogical uses of texts, our course will focus on thinking critically about the ideologies at work in the writing, publishing, and marketing of children’s texts. A small sampling of our texts: some Grimms’ tales, an abridged version of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, some Winnie-the-Pooh stories, James Baldwin’s Little Man, Little Man, Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer, films like Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz and Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, and Disney shows like Elena of Avalor. Major Attributes: 20th-21st Century and In Focus. Prerequisite: Any 190 or 200 level literature course or permission from instructor.

Section 02 TR 09:30 am-10:45 am (REMOTE)
Professor Rashna Richards

ENGL 385. Junior Seminar: Critical Theory and Methodology.
This seminar is designed to introduce English majors in their junior year to the theoretical debates that inform the work of contemporary literary criticism. The overall goals of the course are:

• To clarify the connection between modern theories of literature and the longer tradition of philosophical inquiry from which these theories emerged.

• To introduce terms and concepts central to the concerns of contemporary scholars of literature.

• To guide students as they interrogate and ultimately, through writing and class discussion, evaluate these theoretical perspectives.

While the course aims to introduce contemporary theoretical debates in a broad way, it focuses on three overlapping areas of critical interest: Marxist theories of literary interpretation; theories of race, in particular blackness and anti-blackness; and queer theory. After studying a series of foundational statements, ancient and modern, on language and literature, we move increasingly into these three areas of contemporary discussion amongst literary critics and theorists. Students write a series of short analytical statements and develop two projects at the end of the term: a presentation on a contemporary text, and an exploration of one critical article they have chosen. Prerequisite: English Seminar.

MW 03:00 pm-04:15 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Gordon Bigelow

Creative Writing

ENGL 210. Introduction to Creative Writing.
This is the first course in the Creative Writing sequence, designed to introduce students to a range of genres and assignments. We will study the craft of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, writing in each genre and building to a multi-genre workshop. We will explore form and structure, significant detail, point of view and perspective, creating voices and characters. As we work, we will experiment with writing exercises, dissect a range of published works, and develop our own creative process.

Section 01 TR 02:00 pm-03:15 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Caki Wilkinson

ENGL 210. Introduction to Creative Writing.
This is the first course in the Creative Writing sequence, designed to introduce students to a range of genres and assignments. We will study the craft of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, writing in each genre and building to a multi-genre workshop. We will explore form and structure, significant detail, point of view and perspective, creating voices and characters. As we work, we will experiment with writing exercises, dissect a range of published works, and develop our own creative process.

Section 02 MW 02:00 pm-03:15 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Chris Brunt

ENGL 301. Intermediate Fiction Workshop.
Continued practice in the craft of fiction writing with an emphasis on elements of narrative form, including point of view, character development, plot, style, tone, and so on. Includes historical and formal study of narrative form. Prerequisites: Introduction to Fiction Writing: Form, Theory, Workshop.

TR 11:00 am-12:15 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Chanelle Benz

ENGL 400. Advanced Poetry Workshop: Theory.
In this capstone course, students will develop their own poetry and formulate a clear aesthetic while also studying and discussing the long history of poetics. Additional readings will include recent poetry collections by Ross Gay, Dean Young, Louise Glück, and others. The course will culminate in a substantial portfolio of poetry. Prerequisites: Intermediate Poetry Workshop: Form

TR 03:30 pm-04:45 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Caki Wilkinson

ENGL 401. Advanced Fiction Workshop.
The capstone course for writing majors concentrating on fiction. Students will work to develop their own fiction while examining short fiction from all periods of the preceding century, thereby placing their own art within its historical context. The course will culminate in a substantial portfolio of fiction that may be a story sequence, a novella, or some other assemblage. Prerequisites: Intermediate Fiction Workshop.

MW 02:00 pm-03:15 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Chanelle Benz

Film Studies

ENGL 381. Advanced Topics in Film - AFRICAN AMERICAN FILM.
In this interdisciplinary course, we will explore African American film and the history, aesthetics, political and commercial contexts of its production. What, that is, are the evolutions and progressions from film to film? How are these cinematic reflections embedded, as well as in conversation with, larger sociohistorical, political, and racial ideologies? And, how do these films draw upon and deploy black cultural aesthetics, expressive culture, and cinematic techniques—such as film shots and angles, color schemes, narratives, scripts, language, and music—to shape representational, aesthetic, and thematic developments in African American film? Examining various types of film during different historical and cinematic eras, namely (though not exclusively post-1970 to the contemporary moment), this course examines how black directors and filmmakers engage, produce, and complicate narratives of race, specifically U.S. representations of blackness and constructions of race, as these intersect with gender, sexuality, class, geography, and other axes of identity. Prerequisite: Any 200-level film class or permission from instructor.

T 06:00 pm-08:30 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Trimiko Melancon

ENGL 382. Film Theory. (F5)
This course provides a comprehensive history of film theory. We will begin with classical film theorists, such as Rudolf Arnheim, Sergei Eisenstein, and André Bazin, evaluating their twin concerns of cinema’s relation to reality and its status as art. Then, we will direct our attention to writers who challenged the classical tradition and destabilized the meaning of such terms as art, nature, reality, illusion, author, work, and artist. Assessing the semiotic turn in film theory, we will analyze the influence of new interpretive approaches, such as psychoanalysis, feminism, and critical race theory. Finally, we will focus on the latest developments in contemporary film theory, tracing in particular the role of globalization and digitization. We will end by reflecting on the future of film and film theory in an age of new media. While more or less chronological, the course does not present the evolution of film theory merely as a linear progression of ideas and movements. International in scope, our study of films and film theories will stress the links between developments in cinematic thought, from France and the United States to Russia, Italy, and Japan to Latin America, Africa, and India. Prerequisite: Any 200-level film class or permission from instructor.

TR 08:00 am-09:15 am (REMOTE)
Professor Rashna Richards

Special Courses

ENGL 460. Internship (F11)
A supervised learning experience in the greater Memphis community in which students apply analytical and writing skills learned in the classroom to situations in business, journalism, not-for-profit organizations, and other professional arenas. The program of professional work will be devised by the student, the internship supervisor, and the faculty advisor for internships. All internships must be approved by the chairperson of the department. Additional course work will consist of journal entries, reading assignments, and a final reflective paper. (Pass/Fail credit only. English 460 does not satisfy an upper-level English course requirement for the major.)

Professor Leslie Petty (REMOTE)

ENGL 496. Honor Tutorial
Satisfies the Senior Paper requirement. For seniors only. Prerequisite: Tutorial for Honors Candidates.

Professor Leslie Petty (REMOTE)

First Year Writing Seminars

FYWS 151-01. Coffee Shops, Cafés, and Public Spaces.
How have the places where we gather to eat and drink shaped our society? This first year writing seminar asks students to read and write about coffee shops and other places outside home and work where people come together to create and share ideas. Students will visit local coffee shops (and/or research famous ones) and write about their experiences. This course will count as the equivalent of a 100 level course toward the History major.

MWF 10:00 am-10:50 am (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Jeff Jackson

FYWS 151-02. Adam Smith and the Racial Wealth Gap.

If capitalism, as many believe, is about wage labor, markets,
contracts, and the rule of law, and, most important, if it is
based on the idea that markets naturally tend toward
maximizing human freedom, then how do we understand
slavery’s role within it?
Sven Beckert, Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec 12, 2014

In this class we will give careful consideration to the work of Adam Smith, one of the first and still most insightful theorists of capitalism. We begin by reading substantial portions of Smith’s two major books, Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and Wealth of Nations (1776). We will consider major questions Smith discussed from the vantage point of our own twenty-first century society: Does capitalism promote virtue? Does free trade promote political freedom? And in particular, does free-market capitalism foster racial equality? Along with our reading of Smith’s books, we will focus on this last question, working with a series of recent books and essays by contemporary writers who investigate the relationship between capitalism and slavery, as well as the contemporary wealth disparity in the U.S. between African American and white wage earners and families. This course will count as the equivalent of a 100 level course toward the English major.

MWF 11:00 am-11:50 am (REMOTE)
Professor Gordon Bigelow

FYWS 151-03, 151-04. What Makes a Self?
In this course we will read and write about literature that explores the concept of individuality and selfhood through the perspective of property ownership. We will begin with Thomas More’s Utopia, in which no one owns anything, but everyone is alike. We will then read portions of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, in which a woman who escapes slavery explores the meaning of self-possession. Together, we will consider questions like: what constitutes a self? Is a sense of individuality necessary to selfhood? What, finally, is the relationship between us and our stuff?
This course will count as the equivalent of a 100 level course toward the English major.

Section 03 MWF 12:00 pm-12:50 pm (REMOTE)
Section 04 MWF 01:00 pm-01:50 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Stephanie Elsky

FYWS 151-05. Satire.
What is the power of satire? Can it effect real change in the world, or might it lead us, as Peter Cook once put it, to “sink giggling into the sea?” This class will focus on the features and functions of satire in the past and present as we use the linked practices of reading, writing, and discussion to develop your critical thinking and compositional skills. Satire, Jonathan Swift observed, is a mirror in which one sees everyone’s face reflected but one’s own. We will look at satire itself and generate our own conversations about its place and purpose in cultural discourse. This course will count as the equivalent of a 100 level course toward the English major.

MW 02:00 pm-03:15 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Seth Rudy

FYWS 151-06. Board Games in America.
The American entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman once observed that “What we do during our working hours determines what we have; what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are.” But should these two portions of our lives be so easily separated, or is there a greater complexity involved? This seminar will explore the relationship between leisure and its surrounding culture by focusing on a single element of recreation in the United States—board games. Through case studies involving Monopoly, chess, and Scrabble we will investigate how American society has shaped and in turn been reshaped by the games we play. Alongside these shared explorations, students will also undertake individualized projects aimed at examining how a board game of their own choosing emerged from a particular cultural context and then proceeded to interact with American society more broadly. Such critical examination of these seemingly simple “games” often yields surprising results, with effects that can sometimes be traced all of the way from the most trivial pursuit to the all-encompassing game of life itself.

MW 03:00 pm-04:15 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Scott Garner

FYWS 151-07. The Literature of Plague.
Coronavirus. The Black Death. Cholera, Yellow Fever, AIDS, and the Angel of Death. The specter of the plague is a haunting, dynamic presence in human history, world literature, and in our own lives. In this class, we'll examine the literature of plague from antiquity to the present moment. Through analysis of novels, plays, poetry, and art, in conjunction with relevant nonfiction and items from the popular press, we'll see what role pandemics play in artistic innovation, political turmoil, religiosity, and the science and practice of medicine. We will view the pandemic as a crucible in which the meaning of sickness and health, mortality and morality, humans and God and the gods, demand to be reckoned with. This course will count as the equivalent of a 100 level course toward the English major.

TR 09:30 am-10:45 am (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Chris Brunt

FYWS 151-08. Places and Points of View: Memphis.
Places are not simple, interchangeable backdrops against which human events play out. On the contrary, recent historical scholarship has taken a local turn, embracing the radical idea that, like people, places too have identities that are neither “natural” nor stable, but rather constructed and constantly changing. Together we will read selections from works investigating particular places, and explore how the various authors relate to the locales they describe. And we will celebrate our own embodied return to on-campus learning by investigating the city around us, exploring, re-evaluating, and re-writing its many stories.

TR 11:00 am-12:15 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Geoff Bakewell

FYWS 151-09. Writing in the Scientific World.
Writing in the Scientific World is often about efficiently communicating information generated through experimentation. This information takes on different characteristics as it bubbles out of the lab and then rises to the general public. Understanding this process not only makes for more effective writing, but also helps you to be a more informed citizen when it comes to understanding ‘science’ in the news. In this class we will explore topics like evolution, genetics, regenerative medicine and climate change to learn about the pathway of information from lab to the public. We will also explore how the scientists use a mix of popular references, media and real data to get their message across. Students in this course will develop both their writing skills and oral communications skills. Students will learn how scientific knowledge is generated and will learn data collection and analysis skills during in-class experiments.

TR 12:30 pm-01:45 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Jonathan Fitz Gerald

FYWS 151-10. Drones and Drone Warfare.
This first year writing seminar explores the emerging proliferation and use of commercial and military drones. Along with various civilian applications and associated regulatory restrictions, students will consider moral, legal, and political arguments used by proponents and opponents of military drone proliferation and use.
A variety of written approaches from policy memos to descriptive, persuasive, and expository essays will be used to provide a glimpse into better understanding developments in modern technology as well as contemporary international relations.

MWF 12:00 pm-12:50 pm (REMOTE)
Professor Stephen Ceccoli

FYWS 155. Daily Themes.
"The New Yorker".
Harold Ross, the first publisher of "The New Yorker", once projected that his magazine would “hate bunk,” and sure enough, nearly 90 years later, "The New Yorker" still publishes writing unparalleled in its sophistication, currency, and craft. Each week we will read the latest copy of the magazine and decide, as a class, which articles we want to analyze. Students in the class write critical reactions daily, and few prompts are given, allowing students to explore the subject and rhetoric most provocative to them. Students receive substantial feedback on their daily written work and spend the semester developing both their writer’s voice and rhetorical skills, all the while reading and analyzing some of the best prose stylists in the country. Favorite readings in the past include “Trial by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man?”; “The Borrowers: Why rent when you can buy?”; “Drinking Games: How much people drink may matter less than how they drink it”; “The Mask of Doom: A nonconformist rapper’s second act”; and “Getting In: The social logic of Ivy League admissions.” We will read and write about such topics as crime, music, neuroscience, social networking, presidential candidates, celebrities, shopping, and subjects heretofore unimaginable. The course is limited to 12 students who meet as a class once a week and individually with the instructor or in small groups with the Writing Fellow once a week. This course will count as the equivalent of a 100 level course toward the English major.

R 12:30 pm-01:45 pm (ON CAMPUS)
Professor Rebecca Finlayson

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