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From Pirates to War in the Graphic Novel, English 254 Offers Opportunity to Study Fascinating Themes in Literature

Themes in Literature bookEach semester the Department of English offers students the opportunity to study some of the most fascinating themes in literature.  English 254: Themes in Literature fulfills the General Education requirement for a WC course.  The following are the The themes we will be offering in Fall 2016.

Topic: “Satire and Society”

Dr. Mark Tabone

 Course Description: This course looks at how authors use hilarity, parody, gallows humor, mockery, absurdity, grotesquery, burlesque, surrealism, utopia and dystopia in order to critique their societies and advocate for social change. We will examine classical and neoclassical satire beginning with Aristophanes’ Lysistrata (recently adapted by Spike Lee), but the majority of the course will be devoted to some of the funniest, sharpest, and most bizarre writing from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Topic: “Pirates”

Dr. Ereck Jarvis

Course Description: Our class will consistently pursue what literature about pirates has to tell us about modernity in the West & what it can reveal about governance, commerce, race, gender, & sexuality. In general, our crew will consist of pirates from the late seventeenth & early eighteenth centuries, a period sometimes referred to as the “golden age” of piracy. However, these piratical figures will come to us from literature written throughout the last 300 years. Reading enlightenment, romanticist, realist, modern, & postmodern works, we will consider why various authors and their cultures take an interest in maritime rapscallions of the past. We will plunder the literature of piracy in search of what it might turn over regarding the history of English literature and of English-speaking societies.


Topic: “War in the Graphic Novel”

Dr. Kelli MacCartey

Course Description: In this course, students will have the opportunity to explore the themes of survival, communication, and freedom in times of war exclusively through the genre of the graphic novel. The notion of conflict and identity will serve as foundations for class discussions. Conflict arises in many forms during war: national vs. individual identity; differing religious beliefs; freedom of speech vs. censorship; political strife; and economic disparity. How people negotiate these conflicts to survive, maintain their freedom, and communicate their struggles is the focus of this course. We’ll cover WWII, the war in Iraq, Rwandan genocide, middle-eastern conflicts, and even nuclear war, among other global events.   Students will write essays and reading responses, take quizzes, and create a final project to showcase their knowledge of this exciting genre and topic.


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