Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

New Syllabi This Spring: “Video Game Culture” and “Magic and Literature”

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As I get ready to head out to MLA, I thought I’d post my two new syllabi for this semester, HONORS 2953: Video Game Culture and ENGLISH 3000: Magic and Literature. (My Cultural Preservation course hasn’t changed all that much, but you can see the new website here.)

Here’s the meat of both, the week-by-week schedules, as well as the “What Is English 3000?” explanation for those who don’t know the history behind this course…

#1 ENGLISH 3000

WHAT IS ENGLISH 3000?

ENGLISH 3000 is a new course, emerging out of the English’s department recent redesign of its curriculum, which is intended to serve as a gateway to 4000-level study in the discipline (as well as in the humanities more generally). The previous major had tended to silo different historical periods, forms, genres, and methodological approaches each within their own courses, constructing an intellectually diverse curriculum primarily through the juxtaposition of the various course requirements. In contrast, the new major loosens those requirements and chooses instead to put the different perspectives together within a single course, in an effort to promote shared conversations and collective interests across the English major while also allowing students more freedom to define a course of study that truly matters to them. This, of course, is ENGLISH 3000, which was taught for the first time in Fall 2014.

The plan is for the ENGLISH 3000 sections to gather together a variety of literary forms (poetry, drama, prose fiction, film, and so on) from a variety of historical periods (ours runs from Shakespeare to Harry Potter) and explore them through a variety of critical perspectives and interpretive lenses (we study feminism, Marxism, postcoloniality, queer theory, genre theory, New Criticism, structuralism, disability studies, and reader response). Our conversations will thus become richer and denser as we go, as we build a shared vocabulary for our critical interventions. In the process, we will also be able to explore a number of the multiple writing styles and publishing venues that are available to literary-minded thinkers today: creative writing and academic writing, of course, but also journalistic writing, popular criticism, the personal blog, fan criticism, and even fan fiction. I hope you will find these examples inspirational as you think about the possibilities for your own writing in the future.

Professors teaching ENGLISH 3000 each choose some wide-ranging but ultimately unifying theme to structure their courses; while we might have studied literature and medicine, or literature and science, or literature and the law, the theme I have selected for our section of this course this semester is “magic and literature.” This theme is present in some way or another through every literary text we will encounter, from the vaunted heights of the literary canon to culturally suspect and supposedly frivolous works of genre fiction (again: Shakespeare to Harry Potter).

Although ENGLISH 3000 shares some similarities with our sophomore-level courses, including its consideration of multiple authors and historical periods and the use of a “theme” as an organizing principle, ENGLISH 3000 should not be thought of as an introductory or remedial course, nor as a free-form general-interest survey; rather, it is an opportunity for you to meet together as emerging literary scholars to figure out what you think defines (and what should define) literary study in the twenty-first century. The conversations we begin here will, I hope, ripple across all the courses you take in the English department at Marquette.

GENERAL COURSE PLAN

WEEKS 1-2: INTRODUCTIONS AND CONTROVERSIES: POETRY

            Concepts: New Criticism, Structuralism

WEEK 3-5: DRAMA: THE TEMPEST

            Concept: Postcoloniality

WEEK 6-8: NOVEL: ONE HUNDRED YEAR OF SOLITUDE

            Concept: Marxism, Genre, Allegory, Utopia

WEEK 9: THE SHORT STORY: “THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER” AND “THE PROBLEM OF SUSAN”

            Concept: Feminism

WEEK 10-11: FILM: FROZEN

            Concept: Cultural Studies, Queer Theory, Disability Studies, Reader Response

WEEK 12-16: YOUNG-ADULT LITERATURE: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

Day-by-Day Schedule

M January 12 FIRST DAY OF CLASS
W January 14 W.H. Auden, “So An Age Ended…” [D2L]
Arthur Rimbaud, “After the Flood” [D2L]
M January 19 MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY—NO CLASS
W January 21 New Criticism
How To Interpret Literature: “New Criticism”
Robert Frost, “Mending Wall” [D2L]
M January 26 Structuralism
How to Interpret Literature, “Structuralism”
Dan Harmon, “Story Circle 101” [online]
J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories” [D2L]
in-class discussion: The Lord of the Rings (film and book)
W January 28 William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act I
M February 2 The Tempest, Acts II-III
W February 4 The Tempest, Acts IV-V
M February 9 Postcoloniality
How to Interpret Literature, “Postcolonial and Race Studies”
Heather MacDonald, “The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity” [online]
Natalia Cecire, “Humanities Scholarship Is Incredibly Relevant, and That Makes People Sad” [online]
W February 11 Postcolonial Commentary on The Tempest
George Lamming, “A Monster, A Child, A Slave”
Barbara Fuchs, “Conquering Islands: Contextualizing The Tempest”
M February 16 Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 1-5
W February 18 Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 6-10
M February 23 Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 11-15
FIRST PAPER DUE
W February 25 Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 16-20
Gabriel García Márquez, “The Solitude of Latin America”
M March 2 Marxism
How to Interpret Literature, “Marxism”
Gregory Lawrence, “Marx in Macondo” [D2L]
W March 4 Tools and Methods: Genre, Allegory, and Utopia
Fredric Jameson, “Radical Fantasy” [D2L]
Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” [D2L]
M March 9 SPRING BREAK—NO CLASS
W March 11 SPRING BREAK—NO CLASS
M March 16 Feminism
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wall-Paper” [D2L]
How to Interpret Literature, “Feminism”
W March 18 The Chronicles of Narnia
C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle (excerpt) [D2L]
Neil Gaiman, “The Problem of Susan” [D2L]
SECOND PAPER DUE
M March 23 Cultural Studies
How to Interpret Literature, “Historicism and Cultural Studies”
David Forgacs, “Disney Animation and the Business of Childhood” [D2L]
Lili Loofbourow, “Just Another Princess Movie” [online]
W March 25 Queer Studies
Frozen
How to Interpret Literature, “Queer Studies”
Google Search: “queer reading of Frozen” [Google]
M March 30 Disability Studies
Frozen continued
How to Interpret Literature, “Disability Studies”
Su Holmes, “Cold and Hungry: Discourses of Anorexic Femininity in Frozen” [online]
ZebraGal, “Let It Go—Autism Version” [YouTube]
W April1 Readers and Fandoms
Frozen continued
How to Interpret Literature, “Reader Response”
Henry Jenkins, “Transmedia Storytelling 101” [online]
M April 6 EASTER HOLIDAY—NO CLASS
W April 8 J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter 1-4 review and discussion
M April 13 J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
W April 15 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
M April 20 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
W April 22 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
M April 27 IN-CLASS WORKSHOP DAY FOR GROUP PRESENTATIONS
W April 29 GROUP PRESENTATIONS
F May 8 FINAL PAPER DUE VIA D2L DIGITAL DROPBOX BY 3 PM

 

 

#2 VIDEO GAME CULTURE

DATE KEYWORD TEXTS
Tuesday, January 13 START FIRST DAY OF CLASS
Tuesday, January 20 PLAY Game: The Stanley Parable
Corey Mohler, Existential Comics: “Candyland and the Nature of the Absurd”
Tuesday, January 27 RULES Alexander Galloway, Gaming: “Gamic Action, Four Moments”
Tuesday, February 3 ART Roger Ebert, “Doom,” “Critics vs. Games on Doom,” “Why Did The Chicken Cross the Genders,” “Video Games Can Never Be Art”
Ian Bogost, “Art”
Tuesday, February 10 CRITIQUE Game: Braid
Patrick Jagoda, “Fabulously Procedural: Braid, Historical Processing, and the Videogame Sensorium”
Tuesday, February 17 COGNITION Stephen Johnson, Everything Bad Is Good for You (excerpt)
Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken (excerpt)
Short: “Play”
Tuesday, February 24 HABIT Game: Tetris
Ian Bogost, “Habituation”
Chris Higgins, “Playing to Lose”
Sam Anderson, “Just One More Game…”
Tuesday, March 3 OBSESSION Film: The King of Kong
Tuesday, March 10 PAUSE SPRING BREAK—NO CLASS
Tuesday, March 17 VIOLENCE Game: Portal
Short: “Duty Calls”
Alexander Galloway, Gaming: “Origins of the First Person Shooter” and “Social Realism”
Tuesday, March 24 MASCULINITY Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Witheford, and Greig de Peuter, “Designing Militarized Masculinity: Violence, Gender, and the Bias of Game Experience”
Todd VanDerWerff, “#GamerGate: Here’s why everybody in the video game world is fighting”
Tuesday, March 31 MASTERY Game: FreeCiv
Alexander Galloway, Gaming: “Allegories of Control”
Trevor Owens, “Sid Meier’s Colonization: Is It Offensive Enough?”
u/Lycerius, “I’ve Been Playing the Same Game of Civilization II for Almost 10 Years. This Is the Result.”
Tuesday, April 7 IDEOLOGY Game: SimCity
Ava Kofman, “Les Simerables”
Mike Sterry, “The Totalitarian Buddhist Who Beat Sim City”
Tuesday, April 14 FREEMIUM Game: Candy Crush
Ramin Shokrizade, “The Top F2P Monetization Tricks”
June Thomas, “Sugar Coma”
Julia Lepetit and Andrew Bridgman, “The Most Realistic Game Ever”
Ian Bogost, “Rage Against the Machines” and Cow Clicker
Tuesday, April 21 GAMIFICATION Lifehacker, “Gamify Your Life: A Guide to Incentivizing Everything”
Michelle Greenwald, “Gamification in Everything”
Dan Schawbel, “How Gamification Is Going To Change The Workplace”
Ian Bogost, “Why Gamification Is Bullshit”
Short: “Sight”
Tuesday, April 28 COUNTERGAMING Games: molleindustria.org
Alexander Galloway, Gaming: “Countergaming”

 

Classes start after my red-eye from Vancouver Sunday night…

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