Featured Courses

Spring 2018 Critical Writing Program

Acting and the Brain
Starner, A.
Two sections: WRIT091301 TR 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM; WRIT091302 TR 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Sometimes part of the fun of theater is imagining that you can peel back the performer’s mask or go inside an actor’s brain. With developments in cognitive neuroscience it’s now closer to being a reality than ever before. In this course, students will explore how characters and theatrical personae are created by studying the acting methods of the great actors, specific techniques they can use themselves for performances scripted or otherwise (onstage or off) and the latest brain science about personality and perception. Theatre scholar John Lutterbie’s Toward a General Theory of Acting: Cognitive Science and Performance will be our guide as we approach the craft of acting and the craft of writing using the insights of neuroscience.

Mummies Pyramids & Pharaohs: Egypt in Popular Culture
Justl, S.
One section: WRIT068301 TR 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Hieroglyphs, magic, and buried treasures! Fascination with ancient Egypt has existed for millennia, with ancient Greeks and Romans even creating “Egyptianized” art and adopting Egyptian deities to their pantheon. Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt led to new archaeological discoveries like the Rosetta Stone and a revival of Egyptian architecture. The Victorian era was filled with mummy unwrapping parties and black market trade of artifacts robbed from tombs. The 1922 archaeological discovery of the undisturbed tomb of King Tutankhamun unleashed a frenzied wave of modern Egyptomania. Golden treasures, ancient curses, and the mysterious deaths of the tombs’ archaeologists proved irresistible. These discoveries inspired Egyptian motifs in New York’s Chrysler Building, authors like Agatha Christie, and movies like Cleopatra and The Mummy. And colossal Egyptian obelisks and sphinxes were even shipped across the Atlantic to display to the eager public of London and Philadelphia. This course links the study of ancient societies and modern experiences in a way that invites critical thought. Students will examine how archaeology and the ancient world inspire today’s media, art, architecture, and more.

The Black Death
Byland, H.
Two sections: WRIT039302 TR 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM; WRIT039303 TR 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Buboes. Plague Masks. Blood-letting. Leeches. These are some of the realities of the Black Death, which swept across Europe toward the end of the 14th century and killed nearly one third of the population. In some places, entire villages were decimated, leaving only cows and dogs to starve without their human companions. This class looks at the aftermath of the Plague in Europe. We will learn about the impact the Plague had on populations, religion, art, and politics. Our book, In the Wake of the Plague, by renowned historian Norman Cantor, offers both medieval and modern evidence for its conclusions. We will find that we’re still not done trying to understand one of the major catastrophes in human memory. Additionally, you will hone your writing skills by taking Cantor’s arguments apart and looking closely at how logical arguments are put together.

Illness Narratives
Kapadia-Bodi, M.
Two sections: WRIT050301 TR 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM; WRIT050302 TR 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

What stories do sick bodies tell? What do stories of suffering do for those who choose to listen? In this seminar, we will read Arthur Frank’s The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics as a means of examining the role of storytelling in the lives of those who are ill. Following Frank’s work gathering and analyzing the stories of people with cancer, chronic illness, and disability, we will ask questions about the ethics of suffering and the power of storytelling in everyday life.