By Anna Patrick, Editor
Every student enrolled at West Liberty University (WLU) is required to take a three-hour literature course to graduate, and why not make it a fun and enjoyable experience.
This is exactly the type of approach the WLU English Department is taking. Every semester the English Department offers multiple special topic 278 courses which count as a student’s literature credit. The courses focus on a theme that otherwise wouldn’t be analyzed in the basic course offerings.
“The concept for all English 278 general is to provide courses with a particular theme that would be hopefully attractive to non majors for completing their literature requirement,” said Chair of the Humanities Department, Dr. Waller Hastings.
“Typically a lot of students sign up for something like English 204 which looks like it should be the easiest because it is the lowest number. It is the first half of British Literature which means they are taking (a course) from Beowulf through the Renaissance. Now if they are interested in that, fine, but if they are just taking it because it seems logical because it is the lowest number they probably should look at the 278s which are really tailored specifically for people who are fulfilling their requirement not English majors.”
If Beowulf is something that a student is interested in, then they can certainly take it and earn their literature credit. However, if a British literature or American literature course doesn’t scream excitement to a student then he or she might want to look into the special topics courses.
For the spring of 2012, four special topics courses for literature credit will be offered.
Dr. Steve Criniti will be offering a course titled “Desperate Housewives.” “This course seeks to examine the ‘desperate housewives’ of literary history in order to analyze the ways that female characters in domestic settings have responded to challenging situations and the ways in which representations of social and cultural roles of women have shifted across eras and cultures.”
Or if students are interested to the great outdoors and what to see how it applies to literature try Mr. Scott Hanna’s “Into the Wild: Discovering the American Landscape.” “From the newly colonized Virginia of the early 1600’s to the Alaskan wilderness of 1990’s, this course explores the various ways in which writers experience, depict, construct, respond to and identify with specific geographic spaces and places in America.”
Always been a war buff and want to see how war has been depicted in literature? Maybe Dr. Dave Thomas’ course “War in Literature and Media” will be the right choice for you.
“The course will focus on America’s involvement in war as depicted in novels (like Crane’s ‘The Red Badge of Courage’), poems (like Whitman’s ‘Drum-Taps’ and Crane’s War Is Kind), films (like ‘Born on the Fourth of July,’ ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ‘Platoon,’ and ‘The Hurt Locker’), television shows (like ‘M*A*S*H,’ ‘Hogan’s Heroes,’ and ‘China Beach’), and some songs (like ‘War,’ ‘Something’s Happening Here: For What It’s Worth,’ ‘Give Peace a Chance,’) among other similar works of the students’ choosing.”
Dr. Dominque Hoche will be teaching “King Arthur: Fact, Fiction and Film.” “This class explores the legend of King Arthur from its origins in sixth century Britain through the great romances of the High Middle Ages to some treatments of Arthur in modern times. We will look at several versions of the legend, and consider the themes of chivalry, constructing modern masculinity, the quest for the Holy Grail, the Lancelot/Guinevere/Arthur love triangle, and the Death of Arthur.”
Two special topic 278 courses for literature will also be offered during the 2012 summer terms.
In the first two terms students can take “Westerns” which is “designed to introduce students to literature about the American west. Mrs. Nicole Naegele will teach the class that they “explore the development of the (western) genre from early dime novels to modern epics. We will look at history and the literary portrayal of the West, including its inhabitants, such as ranchers, Native Americans, and pioneers.”
In the fourth term of the summer “Beowulf: Fact, Fiction and Film” will be taught by Dr. Hoche.
“This class explores the legend of Beowulf from the original Old English text through its rediscovery as a source for action-adventure films.” We will look at several versions of the tale: starting with the original (using the translation by Seamus Heaney), and continuing with Gardner’s Grendel, and Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead. In film we will see many versions of the story, ranging from viewing excerpts from Benjamin Bagby’s Beowulf to the recent Zemeckis version with Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother.
“These are widely varied classes, but hopefully some will be more intriguing then doing everything Beowulf to the 18th Century. People are still welcome to take 204 to 205 or any course really that is a literature course, but these are tailored,” Hastings said.
“One of the things we’ve been dealing with for quite some time is trying to get people to look at those 278s more closely rather than just automatically signing up for a course with a low number.”