Aliens, monsters, killer robots, mutants.... Such metaphors may express cultural fears of the “other” that underlie social prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. But viewers and fans may also read against the grain of normative cinematic images, finding identity and affirmation in the misunderstood and maligned. English 381 introduces students to critical thinking about the representation of “otherness”
in speculative film and television media, including adaptations from comics. We will explore how binary structures of knowledge define social categories and how science fiction, fantasy adventure, horror, and superhero genres may simultaneously challenge and affirm what we “know”
about gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, nationality, and ability. We also examine the contexts of media production and the diverse social positions of viewers and fans that prompt (un)conventional readings of cinematic entertainment. The course incorporates a range of theoretical paradigms from film theory, queer theory, transgender studies, critical race theory, reception theory, and science fiction studies. ENG 381 satisfies the Arts and Letters group requirement, as well as the US: Difference, Inequality, Agency (formerly Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance) multicultural requirement. It may also satisfy certain degree requirements in English, Cinema Studies, Comics Studies, Queer Studies, and Journalism (check with your advisor).
Upper-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience.
Media, Folklore, and/or Culture courses focus on print and non-print media to explore culture and its processes of creative expression.
Digital Humanities Minor courses integrate literary study with the use of digital tools and technologies. Students in the minor learn how to make interpretive arguments by building digital archives and maps, interacting with digital games, using web-based publishing platforms, and visualizing data. The minor pays particular attention to the culture of creation in literary and cultural analysis.
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
Multicultural, Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) courses examine the social construction of collective identities, the emergence of representative voices from varying social and cultural standpoints, and the effects of prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. The purpose of courses in this category is to analyze the general principles underlying tolerance, or the lack of it.
Comics Studies Minor courses present students with an international, historical, and critical perspective on the art of editorial cartoons, comic books, and graphic novels, and how these forms communicate, inform, and emotionally engage their audiences. Students will be required to think outside of accustomed disciplinary boundaries, and to analyze and experiment with the interaction of both visual and linguistic systems of meaning.