Fall 2022 Courses

Mindful Writing

Presnall – TR 3:30:-4:45 PM

In this class, we approach communication as an ecology within which human and non-human actors affect each other. If I speak to a rock and don’t get a response, does that mean it doesn’t affect me, direct my movement? Does it invoke me? Does my cat? If my cat leaves a dead mouse on the step and I interpret it as a gift, have I missed a chance at communication? Rather than starting from a known purpose and thesis and advancing an argument, this class begins by questioning what we know and uses extrahuman relations to promote new thoughts and modes of expression. Posthuman theoretical readings will complement the discussion of literary essays. In class, we will also integrate the contemplative practice of meditation with journal writing to promote creativity, controlled attention, and meta-cognitive awareness. Students will apply concepts developed through reading and discussion to an analysis of literary and cultural texts, develop their own narrative-nonfiction writing projects, and present on their process to the class.

Extinction: Cause and Effect

Robins – TR 2-3:15 PM

We are currently witnessing the sixth major mass extinction in Earth’s history. How does this extinction compare to the ones of the past? Can we use those past extinctions to predict the consequences of this one? Should we try to change the trajectory of this current extinction? Students will study the past “Big 5” mass extinctions as well as the ongoing extinction event in order to predict and/or alter the future.


Anthropology of Europe: Modern Nation-State

Schwiete – TR 9:30-10:45 AM BUI 301-002

In this course we engage with concepts that are fundamental for understanding the modern nation-state, which has its historical origin in Europe, and how it shapes human lives and possibilities of belonging. We engage with anthropological theory about culture, identity formation, and boundary construction. We learn about European asylum regimes and the “European refugee crisis” of 2015, and analyze ethnographies, film, and fictive literature that relate to immigrants and refugees in various Western European contexts (mainly Great Britain, France, and Germany). A main focus will be on Muslims, who have often been perceived as the most “culturally different” to Europe.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

Intro to Screenwriting (CANCELLED)

Dr. Alan Lazer– TR 3:30-6:20 PM BUI 301-011 CRN 49921

Have you ever wondered why some movies make you dream, while others just put you to sleep? In this class, we will seek to answer that question by developing an understanding of dramatic screenwriting. This class will focus on how a scene works by exploring the fundamentals of dramatic storytelling such as conflict, character development, and antagonists. In addition we will develop the ability to analyze creative writing, and improve it through rewriting. 

Zen Buddhism and Radical Approach to the Arts

Hank Lazer – M 2:00-4:50 PM BUI 301-001

Photo by Pixabay

The course will involve an introduction to Zen Buddhism, relying on Shunryu Suzuki’s classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, and at least one other book (perhaps Octavia Butler’s Dawn).  We’ll learn and practice zazen (sitting meditation).  Through the lens of Zen practice, we will explore a range of experimental arts/artists, with particular emphasis on contemporary music, performance art, environmental art, dance, conceptual and found art.  Artists we might consider include George Quasha, John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Goldsworthy, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Linda Montano, Marina Abramovic, Javanese Gamelan music, Bill Viola, and Kazuaki Tanahashi.  Students will both discuss the art we examine and make some related artworks of their own.  And we’ll do our best to learn to be present.

Sustainability as Relationship

Photo by Zachary DeBottis

McLelland– TR 11-12:15 PM BUI 301-004

This seminar will introduce students to the breadth of Sustainability as a subject and will serve as a vehicle for further student research into specific topics within the context of Sustainability. Students will become acutely aware of the presence of connections, systems, interrelationships, and flows at all levels, from the very smallest to the very largest scales.

This course is about exploring the meaning of our humanity.  Fundamentally, the course will present and explore the idea that humanity, as species and as idea, emerges from and exists within relationship. Embracing that understanding means coming to grips with a paradigmatic shift that recognizes humanity’s place within the earth system. It means recognizing both that we belong and that we bear enormous responsibilities to all the communities — human and non-human — of which we are a part.

Like every other species on the planet, we are biological creatures. Alone among all our kin, however, we have evolved the kind of consciousness from which civilization emerges. The power of that emergent phenomenon, and the suddenness, in evolutionary terms, with which it developed has allowed us to see ourselves for nearly all of our history as a species apart, masters of a world we live on, not in. The challenges we now face — both the existential threat of climate change and the unprecedented opportunities for transformation that that threat offers — flow directly from the urgent need to understand what it means to be responsibly human.=

The nature of these questions and concerns are fundamental to all of us and cut across all disciplines and all courses of study. This seminar will strengthen students’ ability, regardless of their majors, to recognize and appreciate the power of connection, and will encourage them to be empowered by complexity, rather than overwhelmed by it.

Social Class & US Literature:

Hubbs – TR 12:30-1:45 PM BUI 301-003

Although many Americans fancy themselves denizens of a classless society, social class distinctions indelibly mark life and literature in the United States. In this course, we will study some of the ways fiction writers engage with socioeconomic status through their characters’ experiences as well as their texts’ narrative structures and stylistic devices. Reading works by William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Tomás Rivera, Edith Wharton, and other authors, we will ask: How do these novels represent and narrate life in poverty, prosperity, and the points and passages in between? How do class identities intersect and interact with regional differences, gender roles, the mythos of self-making, racial and ethnic identity, and labor relations?

Funny Story: Comedic Narrative

Butler– TR 2-3:15 PM BUI 301-007

Full title: “Funny Story: Comedic Narrative in Film, TV, and More.” The course will focus on humor as it is elicited through and within storytelling—as opposed to humor generated through jokes and nonnarrative devices. Topics might include silent film comedy (slapstick and more), screwball comedy, the romcom, the sitcom (well, a LOT on the sitcom), and the like. In other words, it would focus on screen-based comedic narrative, but not exclusively audio/visual humor. I would also include an introduction to theories of humor. Moreover, I’ve spoken to Martone about the possibility of him visiting the class and talking about writing humorous fiction. And I think I could rope a few other humor-makers into the class: Ken Kwapis, the sitcom director; Lou & Peter Berryman, creator of humor stories in song; and Rick Dowling, a semi-professional stand-up comedian whose humor comes more from stories than from gags.

Agents, Actions, and Ends

Field – TR 12:30-1:45 PM BUI 301-006

“Why would you do THAT?” “What did you THINK would happen?” This course asks what it means to be a free agent, examining the relationship between what we intend, the actions we take (or fail to take), and their end results. Reading across disciplines, we will look at cases of compromised agency, the process of moral decision-making, practical reason, and the doctrine of double effect. The course culminates in a close study of applications to criminal law (homicide sentencing) and civil law (World Trade Center damages).

On the Color Line and the Jewish Question

Mcknight and Levine– MW 5:-6:15 PM BUI 301-013

How do large, highly variegated political communities deal with the persistent fact of human difference?  For many nineteenth-century Europeans, this question found persistent expression in what would come to be known as the Judenfrage, or Jewish Question: debates over how, and whether, to accommodate or include Jewish forms of difference within the emerging national ‘families’ of Europe.  In what ways did those debates parallel similar ones in the US over what WEB duBois would call “the color line”?  What can – and no less important, what cannot — be learned from such cross-comparisons?

Lessons from Galápagos

Tompkins – TR 3:30-4:45 PM BUI 301-008

The Galápagos Islands famously inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and continue to be an important “living laboratory” in which to test modern evolutionary theory. The islands’ biodiversity remains remarkably intact, a fragile state given mounting threats from introduced organisms, alien diseases, and climate change. We will use the writings of scientists and managers to survey the plants and animals of Galápagos, encountering siblicide in boobies, shrinking marine iguanas, the rarest of giant tortoises, and parasitic flies threatening the diversity of Darwin’s finches. We will use the information gained to critique evolutionary biology and conservation policy.

Plastic Representations

Warner – M 3:30-6:20 PM BUI 301-010

Currently, society’s notion of what defines good representation revolves around metrics of positive and negative as well as an unquestioned ability to quantify how many different looking bodies appear on screen. But what if representation requires larger, more developed metrics than those? What if the bodies on screen charged with representing us also felt meaningful to us as audiences and viewers? Through an examination of race and gender through film and televisual mediation, this course explores a variety of strategies and tactics designed to help us consider how we as creators of all kinds can take representation from solely visual to fully embodied experiences.


Photo by Johannes Plenio

Whiting – TR 3:30-4:45 PM BUI 301-009

Roll the Dice and see what class Whiting will teach this semester. Will he teach something on gazing at the sun and getting melanoma in your eye sockets, or will he be teaching 19th century English Literature? It could be a combination of both. Or none of them.

In full transparency the Web Intern kept bugging Whiting to get the description but he never did. So roll the dice and see what you get. May the odds be ever in your favor (or not if that is what you are more into).


Sico – W 3:30-6:20 PM BUI 301-012

What is a book and when did books begin? Is the book an obsolete form, or will it continue to evolve and adapt as we move further into a digital future? In this hands-on course, we’ll discuss the global history of mark-making, materials, and forms related to books and bookness, from prehistory to our present digital world. We’ll talk about cave paintings, the emergence of cuneiform writing, paper and printmaking in Asia and Europe, Mesoamerican screenfold books, paperbacks, photocopied zines, artist books, kindle readers, and more. At the same time, you’ll get hands-on practice with making a range of different book structures, both historical and contemporary, and will engage in creative ideation and experimental book design as a team. Students taking the course this semester will have the unique chance to work collaboratively on binding a new copy of the Blount Book of Scholars, which will have a 20-year active life in the program. In making the book, you’ll be expected to engage in a thoughtful consideration of how our book will fit into the broader history of the book as well as the contemporary book arts landscape. While artistic experience isn’t necessary for this course, experience working with your hands and/or with creative design will be helpful in getting the most out of this class.



**We have submitted the official request to have a Blount DEI Internship (BUI 350), but we won’t know until possibly even as late as the second week of August if that course is approved. Therefore, I’m not creating a BUI 301 for the course. Students should know that it will be offered as a 301 or 350, interested students need to contact Dr. Keene, it will meet in TU 101, TR, 12:30-1:45, and I will create the course pretty darn close to the last minute. 

Scot – TR 12:30-1:45 PM

The diversity, equity and inclusion Internship (DEI) experience is designed to deliver professional development, work experience, career advisement and networking opportunities for undergraduate students with diverse academic interests. This co-curricular experience will address social justice issues within diversity, equity and inclusion grounded in race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identities and, class etc. Students will have an opportunity to be a part of transformational change in the field of DEI through the construction and implementation of projects, policies and procedures.