Summer 2023 Courses
Creative Writing Workshop
In this course, we will explore the formal elements of prose narrative in general and the short story in particular. As we transform our own experiences into fiction, we will pay special attention to the various ways in which narrative provides structure and order to the flux of lived experience. We’ll focus on specific formal elements such as description, point of view, character, and dialogue. These discussions and assignments will then serve as the basis for each student’s full-scale short story. In addition, we will read several short stories by established writers. Class discussion of these stories will isolate and examine structure and craft. Students may also use these stories as models for their own original work. At the end of the two-week session, each student will submit a portfolio of their original work.
College Writing Seminars
Literature: Stories of First Contact in the Medieval North Atlantic
Around the year 1000, Norse seafarers made a series of voyages from Iceland and Greenland to North America, bringing about what is generally considered the earliest contact between European and Indigenous cultures. The many unknowns regarding this historical moment have sparked the imaginations of writers around the globe for hundreds of years. The two earliest accounts, The Saga of Eirik the Red and The Saga of the Greenlanders, survive in 13th-century Old Norse-Icelandic manuscripts. In his 1979 novella, The Ice Hearts, Joseph Bruchac envisions these early interactions through the lens of traditional Abenaki stories learned from his grandfather. In his provocative novel of revisionist history (Civilisations, 2021), French author Laurent Binet shifts attention away from the famous explorer Leif Eiriksson to his fierce sister, Freydis Eiriksdottir. Most recently, the Japanese historical manga series by Makoto Yukimura, Vinland Saga, has created a rich backstory for Icelander Thorfinn Karlsefni in an innovative adaptation of the Old Norse sagas. Collectively, these tellings and retellings complicate common, and often harmful, stereotypes of both “Vikings” and Native peoples. Through these diverse renderings of Vinland's "discovery," students in this class will engage complex questions of gender, race, power, colonization, and even ecology in the context of a transglobal medieval world. Stories and storytelling served as powerful rhetorical tools in the Middle Ages, and students in this course will hone their own skills in writing and analysis by close and thoughtful reading of these medieval texts and modern reimaginings.
Psychology: Debunking Psychological Myths
This course will introduce students to the science behind psychology through exploration of popular myths about neuroscience (e.g., the brain is static), social relationships (e.g., there’s safety in numbers), cognition (e.g., human memory works like a video camera), development (e.g., we inherit our traits), and education (e.g., students have different learning styles). We will discuss how these myths arise and how a misunderstanding of science results in psychological findings being misrepresented in the news and on social media. Students will learn how to find and interpret empirical evidence to answer questions about human experiences and how to accurately summarize scientific research for popular media. Additionally, they will learn the basics of scientific writing, including how to formulate a research question and thesis statement and how to support the thesis using evidence.
Art History: My Fashion Is Me
Sneakerhead, Goth, Regencycore, Streetwear, Dark Academia. The way we fashion ourselves and the clothing we choose to wear is our way of telling the world who we are and what we believe. Fashion has meaning, sends messages, and is a vital part of our everyday lives. This seminar will ask students to read and write about fashion and clothing as art, social identity, and environmental problem. Students will work to improve their skills in academic writing, including crafting thesis statements, practicing the difference between analyzing and summarizing, using evidence, and learning to follow a clear, stepwise process in order to achieve a clearly written final product.
Political Science: Politics and Pastimes
Political scientists often joke, “Everything is political.” If this is true, then the political world is infused in every aspect of our lives. Our pastimes and passions, which we often use to escape from our everyday lives, are no exceptions. Whether you are watching your favorite Marvel movie, playing video games, or taking in a ballgame, aspects of the political world have made their way into your favorite pastime. This course seeks to examine the many different areas where politics intersect with our downtime while asking the following questions: Where do we see the political in our pastimes? How is the political used in our pastimes? Should the political be a part of our pastimes? This class will place a particular focus on the importance of intent and purpose in the writing process. It is designed to help students develop their analytical and argumentative writing abilities.
Literature: What Makes a Self?
In this course we will read and write about literature that explores the concept of individuality and selfhood through the perspective of property ownership. We will begin with Thomas More’s Utopia, in which no one owns anything, but everyone is alike. We will then read portions of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, in which a woman who escapes slavery explores the meaning of self-possession. Together, we will consider questions like: what constitutes a self? Is a sense of individuality necessary to selfhood? What, finally, is the relationship between us and our stuff?
History: Hitler’s Germany.
How did Adolf Hitler, once a homeless art student and later felon, seize power in Germany, one of the most advanced countries in the world? In this course we will examine Hitler’s triumph, how he maintained control over the populace, and his eventual defeat. Our topics will include: the rise of the Nazi party; everyday life in the Third Reich; terror and resistance; war and genocide; and Hitler’s legacy today. Writing about these topics gives insight into nearly every aspect of the human condition, from why societies collapse to why human beings collapse, and the assignments themselves will help you develop your analytical and argumentative writing skills. Expect our examination of the Nazis to outrage and frighten you, and the heroic efforts of those who defied Hitler’s regime and persevered to inspire you.