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.
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.
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?!