Teaching @ TCU

Fall 2014 Semester

engl 10803: introductory composition

“Composing College”

Description from course syllabus:

The question “Why go to college?” seems simple—until you try to answer it. Are you here to learn? To get a job? To play a sport? To meet new people? For most students, the answer lies somewhere in-between, and as a result, it can be surprisingly difficult to decide what they want to get out of the years between their first semester on campus and the day they graduate.

The purpose of this writing course, then, is to explore how we might begin to answer the question “Why go to college?” by asking and answering even more questions: What is college for? Who goes to college? What is the value of a college degree? How are colleges run? How should they be run? In the process of writing our way toward answers to these questions, we’ll be researching the history of the university and examining contemporary representations of college life in film, television, and popular culture. Reading and writing assignments will ask you to reflect critically on your own ideas and attitudes about higher education—as well as those of others—as you become increasingly familiar with the conventions and expectations of college-level writing.

TCU Requirements Fulfilled: Written Communication (WCO)

engl 30523: american literature and popular culture

“Bestsellers in American Culture”

Description from course syllabus:

Since its birth as a field of study, “American Literature” has struggled with questions about the relationship between “high art” literary products and more “popular” modes of textual production. In this course, we will explore examples of issues associated with this ongoing tension. We will read and analyze a range of primary texts that illustrate such questions, and we will do extensive writing to support our study. Taken together, the activities in this class will blend a focus on literary traditions (including addressing issues about both “the literary” and “traditions”) and one on writing designed to enhance our cultural analyses.


 

Spring 2014 Semester

engl 20833: sophomore seminar

“The #epicfail as Argument”

Description from course syllabus:

Failure is something we have all dealt with at some point. Failed quizzes or tests in school. Failed plans and projects at work. Failed relationships with the people in our lives. And as frustrating or disappointing as each of these failures might initially seem, in time we come to understand how failure can lay the groundwork for success by exposing both the flaws in our original plan and the rules, limits, or behaviors we have violated in our attempt to achieve a desired goal. The purpose of this writing course, then, is to examine failed communication—speeches that flopped, tweets that shocked the world, movies that “bombed” at the box office, books that confused their readers—as a way of better understanding the processes by which effective communication operates. By exploring how and why the #epicfail has achieved such a ubiquitous place in contemporary culture, students in this course will wrestle with both the freedoms and constraints placed upon speakers in various rhetorical situations in order to better understand how arguments are generated and disseminated in the 21st century.

TCU Requirements Fulfilled: Written Communication (WCO)


 

Fall 2013 Semester

engl 10133: introduction to literature

“Literature as Equipment for Living”: Contemporary American Lit

Description from course syllabus:

Using the words of a rhetorical theorist as the overarching theme for a literature course might seem strange at first, but a look at Kenneth Burke’s lengthy career as a critic reveals an unceasing interest in the ways that our beliefs and behaviors are shaped by the ways that we think, speak, and write about them—in other words, how the language we use to describe the world around us changes the way we understand that world. In referring to literature as “equipment for living,” then, Burke wanted to suggest that the way an author presents a scene or a character to us implies a certain way of responding to that scene or character—and that, if we looked hard enough at a wide enough sample of novels, plays, poems, and short fiction, we might be able to surmise how people generally felt about the kinds of characters and situations those texts deal with.

Throughout this semester, we’ll be focusing on American literature published over the last three-plus years (2010-13) to see what it can tell us about how people living in the 2010s view the modern, postmillennial world. The strategies we explore and the (tentative) conclusions we draw from the course’s seven texts will, of course, not apply to everyone in every situation, but they should be able to give us at least a general idea of how authors in the 20th and 21st centuries attempt to “size things up” (Burke 298) in the texts they produce.

TCU Core Requirements: LT, HUM

Course Booklist


 

Spring 2013 Semester

engl 10113: introduction to poetry

“My Vocabulary Did This to Me”: Poets of the Modern Experience

Description from course syllabus:

No one knows precisely what Jack Spicer was trying to convey when he uttered this phrase in a San Francisco hospital, but for anyone with a remote interest in words—or, in the case of this class, with an interest in words as poetry—the notion that a man’s vocabulary could represent his ultimate undoing seems as good a place as any to start asking questions about how the words we use define the people we are. Vocabularies open worlds of possibilities by enabling us to communicate in fascinating new ways; learn a few new words, and suddenly you can express ideas, emotions, hopes, and wishes that were previously beyond your grasp. This is the fundamental principle underlying our course: that words are actually doors, and that poetry is a form of intellectual architecture, a way of placing doors in new (and often bizarre) places to see what kinds of structures one can make. By experimenting with words to create new sounds, new rhythms, and new patterns, the poet does more than simply supply English teachers with new modes of torturing their students. In doing these things, poets help open doors of perception that no one thought existed beforehand, and our goal this semester will be to walk through the doors opened by poets over the last 150 years to determine how these radically new vocabularies have helped redefine what a word like “poetry” means for readers in the twenty-first century.


 

Fall 2012 Semester

engl 20803: intermediate composition

“The Politics of the Everyday”

Description from course syllabus:

Although the word “politics” is in its title, this course is not about “politics” in the traditional way we use the term. It’s about “politics” in a much broader sense—the kinds of assumptions and principles that help form our relationships to the people, places, and things we value in our lives. These assumptions are, essentially, arguments about how we choose to live in the world, and they can have powerful effects on us (and on others) that we often fail to notice. The purpose of this class, then, is take a step back from these assumptions in order to isolate and examine more critically what kinds of arguments are being made and what kinds of effects we see these arguments having in the world. This is a much more difficult task than it might seem, however, so we’ll rely on highly-focused reading, writing, and speaking assignments throughout the course to help us uncover how the “politics of the everyday” operates in our lives. In using writing as a method for personal, critical engagement in the world, we’ll also be exploring ways of using various media—print, visual, and digital formats—to enhance particular arguments or expand one’s rhetorical repertoire. My hope is that, by the end of the semester, we’ll all feel more confident evaluating and producing the kinds of political argument we currently experience on a daily basis.

engl 30523: american literature and popular culture

“Bestsellers in American Culture”

Description from course syllabus:

Since its birth as a field of study, “American Literature” has struggled with questions about the relationship between “high art” literary products and more “popular” modes of textual production. In this course, we will explore examples of issues associated with this ongoing tension. We will read and analyze a range of primary texts that illustrate such questions, and we will do extensive writing to support our study. Taken together, the activities in this class will blend a focus on literary traditions (including addressing issues about both “the literary” and “traditions”) and one on writing designed to enhance our cultural analyses.

 

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