English 111: Animating 1919
English 111: Animating 1919
English 111: Animating 1919
English 111: Animating 1919
English 111: Animating 1919
English 111: Animating 1919

English 111: Animating 1919

Spring 2008 (22 Students)

Course Site No Longer Live

The Syllabus


Computer-Integrated, Writing Intensive Course (designed and taught with approval from the University of Washington English department)

Full Course Title: “Composition: Literature (Animating 1919)”

Course Description

What is literature’s relationship to history? What about literature might be considered “timeless”? How does literature help us understand the past? And how is the production of literature influenced by the material conditions of its time? To unpack these questions, this course focuses on a particular year, 1919, and Anglo-American literature and literary criticism somehow related to that year. These texts, though historically located in 1919, will no doubt still be moving about in English 111. In fact, movement or, more precisely, “animation” will be our refrain.

In the first half of the course, we’ll commit to most of our reading. Even if sitting down, we’ll be sure to mobilize different methodologies or “critical lenses.” For example, we’ll contextualize literature and connect it with historical events. To avoid getting rooted in a single approach, we’ll also attend to the wonders of literary form. Switching critical lenses will allow us to not only better understand literature’s relationship to history, but to also understand how particular methodologies influence how we make meaning. Indeed, the animation of a text is often a matter what tools are in the kit.

In the second half of the course, we’ll attempt to “animate 1919” by collaboratively composing digital media projects related to literature. Here, to “animate 1919” will imply taking an Anglo-American modernist artifact and making it move–imagining literature and history anew through digital work. Projects might include, but are not limited to, an interactive map of Winesburg, Ohio, a hypertext version of a Marianne Moore poem, or a multimedia version of one of John Dos Passos’s “newsreels.” These collaborative projects will require both a specific methodology and some close reading of things 1919. What’s more, they’ll bring to the fore how and why literature matters in 2008, not that you were wondering.

Learning Outcomes for the Course

Students should:

Demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.

Read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.

Produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.

Develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.

What I Learned

Prior to this class, I had taught several composition courses; however, none of them focused specifically on literature. That said, this course was an opportunity to teach writing through literature (specifically modernist literature), with an emphasis on how history informs aesthetics and interpretation. The topic—“Animating 1919”—allowed students and me to not only concentrate on a particular year and some representations of it, but also examine how time is articulated (e.g., as a contested vehicle for inquiry and organization) in literary criticism and related fields. And by asking students to create a variety of media (e.g., academic essays, Flash animations, photography, and video), I learned to effectively teach how media composition and temporality intersect with arguments about literature.

Course Evaluations

Available upon request.

(On the left, the first image, which is a screen shot of the class blog, includes an image by former student, Ainsley Bourque. Image used with permission. All other images are screen shots of the course site and blog, which I designed.)