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Variable Topic ENGL Courses

Variable topic courses are those that change topic from term to term. Here you will find the course descriptions for variable topic ENGL courses being offered in the Summer term of 2014.

ENGL 300 section 940 - Humanity 2.0: Portable, Enhanced, Engineered and Digital

Valerie Booth, PhD

In this online course, we will read works which envision the future of humankind as a complex system entangled with the environment and technology. Characters in cyberpunk novels whose consciousness is uploaded into cyberspace, engineered beings who can adapt and survive the effects of climate change, interchangeable clone bodies used to “sleeve” minds in transit, and artificial intelligence capable of waging war or enforcing peace—these provide a glimpse of the authors’ all too easily imaginable prospects for humanity in the not-too-distant future. Writers include: V. Vinge, P. Anderson, P. Bacigalupi, R. Morgan and W. Gibson.

ENGL 320 section 900 - J.K. Rowling & Philip Pullman

Deirdre McMahon, PhD

Major Authors J.K. Rowling & Philip Pullman reinvigorated (and some say reinvented) contemporary children’s literature. Our online course focuses on the ethical questions and narrative complexities presented by Rowling’s first four books of the Harry Potter series as well as Pullman’s classic trilogy His Dark Materials. Scholarship on children’s literacy and on pedagogical approaches will enrich our discussion of the role of these novels in youth culture. We will also study films (the final four of the HP series as well as The Golden Compass), the website Pottermore, and various forms of fan fiction. Topics include predestination versus free will; ethics and violence; the nature of good, evil and moral ambiguity; the psychodynamics of power; the representation of child abuse/neglect; the possibility of agency and individual belief; the politics of censorship; the distinction between children’s and young adult fiction; the challenges and rewards of encyclopedic narratives; and the function of fantasy.