Fall 2015 Classes | Literature, Heroes, Women’s History, & More

Hey, everyone! I thought it would be fun to talk about the classes I’m taking this semester! Now that my Honors Primetime seminar is over, it’s time for my regular classes – they begin tomorrow!

If I count Primetime along with all my other classes, then I’m taking seven courses this semester… but Primetime already ended, and one of my courses is strictly Internet-based AND will conclude by September twenty-fifth. So. Most college students aren’t enrolled in seven (or even six) classes at the same time, buuuut some of my classes are ridiculously easy. YAY.

FYI, I am double-majoring in creative writing and journalism, and I think I’d like to earn a certificate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies as well!

In this post, I’ve included the course description from the University of Iowa’s website, as well as a few of my own thoughts about these courses! ALSO: Some of my courses are honors classes, so I’ve indicated which classes those are with an asterisk (*).


Success at Iowa

Teaches skills to help students transition successfully to the University: online tools specific to the University of Iowa including Iowa Student Information Systems (ISIS) and Iowa Courses Online (ICON), resources for navigating life on campus, financial aid literacy, strategies for making healthy behavior choices, and sexual assault awareness and prevention.

This is basically an orientation course, and it’s SO BORING. But unfortunately REQUIRED OF ALL FRESHMEN. Hey, at least it’s online… and it’s really short, too! This is the class that’ll be over by late September. Also, YES MY SCHOOL’S SOFTWARE IS CALLED ISIS. THEY REALLY NEED TO THINK ABOUT CHANGING THAT ACRONYM OMG.

Creative Writing*

The poet Billy Collins says, “Write the poem only you can write,” while fiction writer Neil Gaiman advises, “Tell your story…. As quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only you can tell – because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you … but you are the only you.” In this class, we’ll uncover and interrogate the material that is uniquely yours, and we’ll engage with prose poetry, narrative poetry and (especially) short fiction to pinpoint and learn from how accomplished writers turn their material into art.

We’ll read a diverse collection of mostly (but not exclusively) contemporary writers – like Sherman Alexie, Sandra Cisneros, Eudora Welty and others – reading not to escape into their worlds, but to understand how they’ve used the tools of craft to conjure them.

During the first part of the semester, you will have weekly reading assignments and short writing assignments that give you the freedom to experiment and discover. Then you will apply your sharpened skills to writing a short story – a story only you can tell – and will workshop it with your classmates.

Yeah, I have a class that’s literally just called “Creative Writing.” HOW UNCREATIVE IS THAT. Anyway. I’m really looking forward to getting feedback from my teacher and classmates! I LOVE WRITING AND I LOVE HEARING WHAT OTHERS THINK OF MY WRITING.

City of Literature

Learn the literary history of Iowa City from the founding of the Writers’ Workshop to our designation as a UNESCO City of Literature in this new lecture course. We will read poems, short stories, and essays by faculty and graduates of the Workshop and Nonfiction Writing Program alongside reminiscences by writers of their time in Iowa City.

Lectures will cover such topics as the short story and the lyric poem as pedagogical models, the problem of whether writing can be taught, the role of literary prizes, the significance of local businesses such as Prairie Lights and the Foxhead tavern, the rise of creative nonfiction, and the idea of a Writing University.

Assignments will be designed to engage students with the university and the city, including archival research in Special Collections, attendance at local readings, walking tours, interviews with local writers, and contributions to the City of Literature website.

Iowa City is one of only eleven Cities of Literature in the world – and it’s also the only US city on that list! I chose the University of Iowa for, among many other things, its location: Iowa City is a hotbed of publishing, bookstores, literary festivals, author readings and book-signing events, drama performances, poetry, et cetera. AHHH I’M REALLY EXCITED TO STUDY THE WRITERLY CULTURE OF THIS CITY. And as you can see from the third paragraph of the course description, this looks like a really hands-on class, too! Yayyyy!

Intro to Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies*

Where do Beyoncé, Tina Belcher, Thelma, and Louise stand in feminism’s vibrant puzzle? Why is it important to bring up gender inequality at the Oscars, or to introduce the #HeForShe campaign at the UN? This course explores a variety of texts and materials about how cultural and social beliefs about gender and sexuality intersect with race, ethnicity, and class to shape our identities, voices, relationships, and choices.

I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS CLASS. (I’m so excited for all my classes, in case you haven’t already guessed.) Neither women’s history nor LGBTQ+ history are commonly taught in high school, so I’m sooooo excited to finally learn more in college! I think this course will help me become a better writer, too – it’ll help me figure out how to write characters who are vastly different from myself, aaaaand understanding the lives of real people (especially minorities) will help me be a better journalist someday.

Superheroes Unleashed:
3,000 Years of Heroes, Villains, and a Mad Race for Immortality*

What do Gilgamesh, Achilles, Odysseus, Aeneas, King Leonidas, Beowulf, and Frankenstein have in common? In so many ways they are the superheroes of Western history and art from the past three thousand years! Their cultural impact is undiminished and permeates the pages of Superman, Batman, Star Wars, Spiderman, X-Men, The Matrix, Watchmen, and Frank Miller’s 300.

Students are required to read three graphic novels – Frank Miller’s 300, Eric Shanower’s Age of Bronze, Part One: A Thousand Ships, and a graphic novel version of Beowulf – and a number of short handouts that will help them explore the fabric of academic inquiry and delve into the nature of art and culture of the past and their relevance in today’s world.

AHHHHH THIS IS MY OTHER HONORS FRESHMAN SEMINAR… but unlike Primetime, this one lasts the entire semester! DSLAKGJDSLKHDALGS. I love graphic novels and comic books, and I love superheroes, aaaand I think this course will also teach me a lot about writing! I love writing fantasy and heroes are so important to that genre, perhaps more than to any other genre.

Media History and Culture*

This course surveys the historical and cultural development of journalism in the U.S. from the Revolution to present.

JOURNALISM. AND HISTORY. I CAN’T EVEN. Seriously, this sounds super fun… especially for an introductory course! Like, if I have to take a course that teaches me the basics of any subject, then I want the course to be FUN.


SO. Now it’s your turn! What classes are you taking this fall… or if you’ve already graduated, then what was your favorite and/or weirdest class you’ve ever taken?!


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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22 Responses to Fall 2015 Classes | Literature, Heroes, Women’s History, & More

  1. Miriam Joy says:

    YOUR UNIVERSITY SYSTEM MAKES NO SENSE TO ME. But the papers (modules, classes, whatever you want to call them) that I’m taking for my second year at Cambridge are:

    Medieval Irish Language & Literature
    History of the Gaelic-Speaking Peoples from the 4th century to the 12th (I think?)
    History of the Brittonic Speaking Peoples ” ” ” ” ” ”
    England Before The Norman Conquest
    Love, Violence and Power in France 1100-1400 (a literature paper)
    and a dissertation on an Irish Lit topic.

    They all last the whole year, because that’s how things work for us. So yeah.

    • nevillegirl says:

      BUT WHY DO YOU CALL YOUR CLASSES “PAPERS” AND “MODULES” I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. Over here, papers are things you write for assignments and modules are like mini-subjects within a class… like, in an American History class one module might be the Civil War and another would be Reconstruction.

      • Miriam Joy says:

        Papers is a weird Cambridge thing, most places would call them modules I think, in the sense that they’re an aspect of a subject. So, a friend studying an English Literature degree might take modules in Shakespeare and, I don’t know, Romantic Poetry or something. But because my course is interdisciplinary, mine are entirely different subjects at times. And Cambridge calls them ‘papers’ because Cambridge is weird; things you write are called essays or exams. Heh. It’s like, my ENTIRE DEGREE is ASNaC? And all the papers I take are from my department, except for the French one, which I’m ‘borrowing’ from MML (Modern & Medieval Languages). Imagine my whole degree as one class, and the papers within it are like modules for you. So yeah. That’s basically how it works…

    • nevillegirl says:

      Ohhhhhhh. That… kind of makes sense to me? IDK.

      Here, we have to take a bunch of “general education” courses from departments outside of our own, and it isn’t uncommon to NOT study anything in one’s department until the third or fourth year, until all the other requirements have been satisfied. I managed to avoid that, however, because I took so many dual-credit classes in high school. I get to begin creative writing and journalism classes right away! 😀

  2. Cait @ Paper Fury says:


  3. THIS IS ALL JUST SO COOL. I do a similar unit in Society and Culture class to the superheroes one, except it’s just Marvel and DC, and only about a quarter of the whole content. BUT STILL COOL. And I had no idea Iowa was so writerly!! Aaaaahhhhhh so excited for you 😀 😀 As for my favourite class, it’s probably drama, because it’s just so much more fun than my other subjects 🙂

  4. ENGIE, YOU ARE GIVING ME COLLEGE GOALS. I wanna study heroes and villians, that seems so cool!

  5. Wow, that sounds like the funnest semester of school ever!

  6. Erin says:

    Whoa, your classes sound so cool! Out of curiosity though, are you taking any GDR classes? I’m taking a mix of GDR classes and classes that will go toward my major. I can’t say I’m super pumped for my GDR classes but I’m really excited for this semester!

    • nevillegirl says:

      I’m guessing GDR classes are the same as gen ed classes? Like, requirements for graduation? I know that Intro to GWSS, Creative Writing, and City of Literature definitely fulfill some of my gen ed requirements (I’m allowed to double-count credits that way) and I think MHC, the first-year seminar, and maybe even Primetime count as well??? For writing/literature/culture requirements. 🙂

      • Erin says:

        Yeah, GDR is General Degree Requirement. Nice! Yours sound cooler than mine. 😀 (Except I do get to take orchestra, which counts as my Art requirement, so I’m happy about that.)

  7. Stacy N. says:

    Your classes sound so much fun. ^.^ Except for the Success to Iowa one. I’m also taking a creative writing class, and an intro to gender class, as well as a Critical Introduction to Literary Forms class, and a beginning Vietnamese class. So far, it’s been pretty fun.

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