English Seminars

Urban Legends of the Supernatural (Adam Andrews) (Full)
In this course you will read scholarship about various belief traditions, legends, and narratives of encounters with the supernatural, do your own original research on belief traditions and narratives among your own family and friends, and write a final project paper that uses class concepts to analyze and make sense of those narratives and beliefs.
The Memoir: Writing Your Life (Sandra Brusin) (Full)
In this class, we will study the genre of memoir writing by reading a selection of memoirs, analyzing what makes them successful, and applying what we learn by writing a memoir about a particular person or event of significance.
Representations of the American Dream (Liana Odrcic)
What *is* the American Dream, anyway? Has it changed over time? Does the definition of the Dream change according to who’s defining it? How is the Dream defined and portrayed in different literary works, film, and non-fiction texts? Does everyone have access to the American Dream, or is its accessibility limited? Is the American Dream a myth? A reality only for some? How so?
Translation Game: Hidden Meanings in Language (Jennifer Mattson) (Full)
In this course, we will explore hidden and (mis)understood meanings between males and females, between advertisers and consumers, between politicians and voters, between Caucasians and African-Americans, between internationals who speak English as a second language and native speakers, between mainstream speakers of American English and non-mainstream speakers.
Going Green: Literature and Film (Kristin Terwelp)
In this course, we will trace the history of the “Green” movement beginning with texts by Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and several Native American writers and ending with films and texts by Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, and Al Gore. We will also examine “green” advertising and do some virtual window shopping at a “green” Wal-Mart.
Travel Writing (John Mulvihill)
The only freshman seminar that asks you to get out of town (or at least to a different part of town). We’ll read good examples of travel narratives, writers traveling by car, bus, train, plane, boat, motorcycle, bike, or shank’s mare (on foot), and analyze these to see common themes and elements and successful writing techniques. Then you’ll be asked to travel somewhere you haven’t been before (or at least not for a long time), perhaps with a companion, and keep a journal and maybe take photographs.
Aspects of Hell: The Downward Ascent (Brian Marks) (Full)
We’re going to start off by going to the source, way back to pre-Christian accounts of journeys to the underground and gradually make our way up to conceptions of hell in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Southeast Asian American Life Stories (Mary Buley-Meissner) (Full)
This seminar emphasizes active learning through extensive reading, collaborative class work and individual research projects as we look into the dynamic development of Hmong American identities from the 1970s until now. Students will read an essay collection exploring identity, family and community in contemporary Hmong American life; a recent collection of prose and poetry by young Hmong Americans; and a highly acclaimed Hmong American family biography. These texts illuminate not only individual lives, but also the historical and cultural circumstances shaping people’s identities, communities, and sustaining values.
The Beat Writers (Jeffrey Perso)
This seminar will investigate the writers known collectively as the Beat Generation. Students will read major Beat writers, such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, as well as their critics. Through their reading, writing, and research, seminar participants will experience the literary and cultural phenomenon of the Beat writers.
Wiki Nation: Producing the Internet (Mary Brehm)
In this class, we will ask big questions about “network enabled social tools” and try to answer them. We’ll engage in both traditional classroom activities and hands-on work, producing a class wiki and personal blogs. You don’t need to have experience with the “tools and patterns” that are used to produce the internet – just a willingness to try and to think critically about your experiences.
Applying Philosophy & Creating You Life’s Meaning (C. Prescott Sobol) (Full)
In this course, we will assume that at UWM, and in life in general, it is not merely what you do, but how, why, and with whom you do it, that creates a sense of purpose and meaning. We will study psychology, fiction, poetry, music, philosophy, history, and memoir—a wide variety of sources that describe how we can make our lives more meaningful and satisfying.