Fall 2016 Classes | English Major Existential Despair, How To Write A Sentence, & More

Hey, everyone! So as you may remember, I gave monthly updates on my classes last school year and since people seemed to really like that, I’ve decided to continue doing so. The first day of classes is tomorrow, so this seemed like as good a time as any to post this introduction to the classes I’ll be taking this semester.

Prose Style

In this course, we will invade the space of the sentence and demand explanation. No intimate word-gathering will be left unmolested. Which word-assemblies place us most capably inside a consciousness? What is to be gained and lost from a clipped, clean style? Which sentence-level stylistic choices affect pace, and which tend toward humor? What does it mean for a sentence to “move,” and what qualities earn a sentence the honor of ending a paragraph? Expect to accrue a vocabulary for discussing the sentence, moves for manipulating the sentence, and well wrought sentences of your own.

Word-assemblers of interest to us will include Marianne Moore, Vladimir Nabokov, Herman Melville, Denis Johnson, Anne Carson, Wayne Koestenbaum, Mary Ruefle, Sam Lipsyte, and Joan Didion, among many others. During each class, we will play with sentences of our own, riffing off those we have encountered in other works. Students will leave the class with a portfolio of workshopped, syntactically varied sentences that may be enjoyed on their own or incorporated into larger pieces.

This class has, like, the least descriptive course title ever – I didn’t even realize what it was about when I signed up for it and just added it because my adviser told me I would need it to graduate – but it sounds really cool! I love having the opportunity to focus so narrowly and in-depth.

Foundations of the English Major

At some point, your parents and friends are going to ask: What does an English major do? This course introduces the history and practice of English as a discipline. In it, we develop the skills to read and write critically across subjects ranging from medieval poetry to digital media. The course teaches three central aspects of literary study: The techniques of literary criticism, including close reading and the analysis of form and genre; the periods of literary history that constitute the English major at Iowa, such as medieval, early modern, modern, postcolonial, et cetera; and knowledge of the research, critical thinking, and writing skills that are essential in the English major and beyond.

What DOES an English major do? They cry and sleep and have existential despair about whether they’re ever going to have a job, that’s what. I’M KIDDING. Mostly. Anyway, in addition to all that crying, they take courses such as this one and feel excited because they’ve taken a class with this professor before and appreciated that he didn’t take himself so seriously. THAT is what English majors do. Sometimes.

Media Shift

Why did Benjamin Franklin prefer the Spanish print-house custom of inverting a question mark at the beginning of a query? Why did Edgar Allan Poe attempt an early form of photocopying, known as “anastatic printing”? Why did Dave Eggers make Garamond 3 the typeface of choice for McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern? These questions illustrate the kinds of inquiry and appreciation pursued in the field known as book studies.

The subject of this course will be the dynamics of literary expression in the context of information revolutions. Class members explore three extended moments of media shift, by which is meant a change in how words and images are delivered to audiences.

So this is an honors seminar in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American lit… slowly but surely fulfilling all those requirements for graduation based on time period and/or place. I’m super excited for this course because we’ll be learning not only about literature but about the actual physical process of designing and producing a book!

Journalistic Reporting & Writing

Students examine and practice journalistic reporting and writing. Students complete both in-class and out-of-class reporting and writing assignments. Out-of-class assignments include covering campus and city events, as well as reporting and writing enterprise stories.

I’m so excited to finally take more demanding journalism courses! My previous classes were all about media history and media’s effects on us, which was fun to learn about, buuuuut… I’ve really been looking forward to courses that get us out of the classroom and into the real world so we can start applying our skills.

Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling

Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling teaches basic skills to create multimedia journalism projects. Multimedia stories will incorporate text, images, audio, video, data, and social media. You will learn reporting and writing skills in Journalistic Reporting and Writing, the co-requisite for this course, and you will be expected to apply those skills in this course. Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling will teach skills that are relevant to a variety of communication professions and prepare you for advanced work in upper-level courses.

As stated in the course description, this course must be taken concurrently with Journalistic Reporting & Writing, so I’ll have the same classmates in both classes. Hopefully that will help me to make new friends more quickly and find people to work on group projects with!


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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13 Responses to Fall 2016 Classes | English Major Existential Despair, How To Write A Sentence, & More

  1. These classes sound so fun! Writing all day would pretty much be the best thing ever. Sometimes I wonder why I chose marketing when I could be doing this! Haha. Sounds like a fun semester!

    • nevillegirl says:

      It can be stressful but for the most part writing all day IS fun! 🙂

      And lol my roommate used to be an English major but has since switched to marketing. I still don’t understand why and I don’t think her parents do either, but whatever makes her happy is obviously best! 😛

  2. I’m so jealous of all the people going back to school. But hopefully this will fuel me to get working on my GED again.
    Best of luck with your classes! 🙂

  3. Mom says:

    Weirdest and yet strangely interesting: Abnormal Psychology. It’s amazing how many ways the brain can be wired.

    Favorite: College level geometry, especially the part where we studied curved space, and the sum of the angles of a triangle can be MORE than 180 degrees.

  4. Susanna says:

    Sounds so interesting! I am a history major, but I seriously considered doubling in or switching to English for a while. I study in the UK, so I only have four classes for my second year of uni: Building the Modern World (how the modern world was shaped and helped to shape the modern world), Europe East and West: 1945-present, Approaches to History, and Exploring Historical Debate (which is a class with no lectures, I basically work with a professor to write a mini-thesis about some debate amongst historians).

    Good luck on your coming year!

  5. Mahima says:

    These sound so interesting. I think my favourite one is the Media Shift one (I mean come on, isn’t it like always a secret bookworm wish to do some in-depth analysis on the font of a book??).

    The classes I’m taking next year are Elements of crime writing, German nationalism and some maths (I can’t tell you which type, just assume it’s all of them). I’m looking forward to it (but kind of overwhelmed by how much there is to do!).

    • nevillegirl says:

      I actually ended up hating Media Shift but I think that was partially to do with the professor and not just the course content! 😛

      !!!!!!!!!!!! Elements of crime writing ahhh!!

      I’ve been laughing at “some maths (I can’t tell you which type, just assume it’s all of them)” for like five minutes now!

  6. Pingback: My First Week Back At School | Syllabi Are Stressing Me Out But I (Surprisingly) Don’t Mind Having An 8 AM Class | Musings From Neville's Navel

  7. Heather says:

    Wow, sounds like you’re going to be studying a lot of interesting things… The one that strikes me is your “Foundations of an English Major” class since I’m taking a similar class. It’s actually called Literary Analysis but we’re going to spend a whole month on characterizing English major-ism for ourselves, so that will be fun. Enjoy your classes!

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