ENGL 103 Fall 2014 Themes

ENGL 103, the third in the FWP course sequence, invites students into an in-depth textual and rhetorical exploration of themes across genres. Each FWP instructor offers a unique theme. Below is a list of the courses offered for Fall 2014.

The Power of Narrative (ESL)

Malik Abdul-Jabbaar

This course focuses on the power of narrative and storytelling in the creative process, as we analyze short fiction, narrative poems, narrative essays and dramatic plays. We will discuss form and content and explore how stories are told across different genres. This course will help students to think and write critically about the stories and tales that inspire them. Texts will include short stories by James Baldwin and William Faulkner; poems by Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes and William Butler Yeats; essays from Emily Bernard and W.H. Auden.

Drexel, Diversity, and You (ESL)

Sharon Brubaker

This class will explore diversity, using as a focus short stories and essays from : Edwidge Danticat’s Claire of the Sea Light, Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic, and Sherman Alexie’s Blasphemy: New and Old Stories. Supplemental texts/readings will come from: Dominican Juno Diaz, African American Suzan-Lori Parks, Irish playwright Martin McDouagh, and lesbian Paula Vogel. Exploration and discussion of diversity will include race and ethnicity, but will in addition look at gender, family, geography, religion, and other issues as they arise from class discussion. Drexel prides itself on being culturally diverse, has this always been the case?

Life in the Moment

Gregory Cooke

Is an examination of cross-cultural ideas about improving the Spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological well-being of individuals. Central to reading and discussion is the idea that all things are connected to all other things. Special emphasis will be placed on living in the moment – where all life exists. We will also examine the “Jedi Path” and the role of the “Force” in daily life. “As a Man (or Woman) Thinketh” is the primary text, but we will also analyze similar concepts in essays and "Star Wars" films.  

The Essay (ESL)

Valerie Ellis

Although it has been around since the 16th century, when it was “invented” by Michel de Montaigne, critics have enjoyed proclaiming the essay dead. However, it has survived. From the more traditional book review, with its adherence to a formal structure and distance, to the personal essay, where the line between fiction and non is sometimes hard to find, the essay has continued to find its place.

In this class we will analyze the form, considering how it differs from both so-called “straight” journalism and fiction. We’ll begin by looking at how some of the American masters of the genre view the essay form and, because this is a section designed particularly for non-native speakers, we’ll look at the popularity of the form to outsider or immigrant writers, where using and sometimes manipulating the English language is an integral part of their understanding of what it means to participate in a new culture.

The Suspense is Killing Me

Anne Erickson, PhD

Crime, mystery, suspense, horror. Things that go bump in the night and keep you wide awake. Books that compel you to keep reading. An economy of words and careful use of writing techniques leads to the finer nuances of suspense. With readings by Poe, Gaiman, King, Christie and others, we will explore various forms of suspense. Through discussions about what compels us to read on, we will develop an awareness of literary aesthetics and writing strategies. Through various critical lenses, we will explore strategies for analysis.

Relationships Across Cultures (ESL)

Jacqueline Landau

How are loving relationships—both familial and romantic—impacted by changes in time and place? Do our own cultural perspectives free us, or blind us to others in some ways? This course looks at contexts and characters that cross cultural boundaries. In reading this literature, we seek to explore the “lens” other cultures provide to understand those around us. Key readings include short stories by Indian-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri, (Interpreter of Maladies) a novel by Japanese-American Julie Otsuka, (The Buddha in the Attic) and a memoir by African-American James McBride (The Color of Water). We will also read a variety of short pieces by other international and American authors

American Stories and Novels (ESL)

Thomas Parry

How does a story “work”? What makes a novel “great”? What can fiction tell us about the truth? What can American Fiction tell us about America? In this class, we’ll endeavor to find out. We’ll crack open stories and novels. We’ll dig into American culture and history. We’ll create our own fiction.

Reveal, Conceal, Suggest: How Words Create Realities in the Mind

Donald Riggs

Words are noises that we make that are associated with meanings, and suggest objects, actions, environments, but can only give us glimpses of these "realities" through certain details. In this course we will examine how words in narratives and poems suggest realities with a certain twist, and we will compare those words with visual images in graphic novels, paintings that poems are based on, and other observations of texts in relation to images.

Graphic Philosophy (ESL)

Norman Roessler

Confucius, Plato, Nietzsche, and Morpheus – together at last! Specially adapted for the ESL student, this course seeks to synthesize the rhetorical - pedagogical elements of Eng 101 and 102 into a fun, unique course that explores some of the great philosophical debates of Eastern and Western Philosophy. Issues such as Language, Human Nature, Family, Blood, God, Mind – Body, and Technology will be explored through canonical texts, graphic representations, and contemporary film.


Matthew Smith

The theme of this course is memory. You will study how memories are formed, and how those memories are shaped into narratives. An interest in narrative writing helps but is not required. Readings include George Saunders, David Foster Wallace, and Bill Bryson.

Transformation, Adaptation, and Preservation

Maria Volynsky

In this section of ENGL 103 we will examine narratives, poetry, and drama related to various aspects of life of immigrants in America. We will discuss several topics, including identity shift, cultural adaptation, generation gap, food, traditions, and language preservation. Comparing your own experience of coming to America to the journey of immigrants depicted in two books, Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration and Simply Maria or The American Dream, you will continue to develop your critical thinking, active reading, and skills in rhetorical analysis.

Previous themes

Spring 2013 themes

Spring 2014 themes