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Registration: Interim

Interim 2011


CANCELLED W10 Spirituals & the Blues.  This course presents a study of the spirituals and the blues, analyzing their common origins in American slavery and the historic divide between sacred and secular music in African American culture. Whereas blues singers were often condemned for singing “the devil’s music,” James Cone, in his seminal book, The Spirituals and the Blues, argues in contrast that the blues should be interpreted as “secular spirituals.” Students will read descriptions of the spirituals and blues written by influential African American authors, including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison. Students listen to and analyze lyrics from spirituals and blues music in order to evaluate the validity of Cone’s thesis. Evaluation is based on an oral presentation, that is, an“ethnomusical” biography of an important blues musician and a final exam, which asks them to develop their own analysis of the relationship between the spirituals and the blues, the sacred and secular music of African American culture.  B. Ingraffia.  2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

W40 Faith & Literature: Stories that Preach.  Literary critic Lionel Trilling argues that the fundamental subject of American literature is salvation.   This course looks at a selection of works by contemporary writers with a particular focus on the ways in which faith informs literature, and asks the question: how does literature, in the words of Henry Zylstra, give us “more to be Christian with”?  To answer this question, the class will visit with local editors of religiously-oriented publishing houses.  We will also engage novels, short fiction, poetry, and films that center on faith questions.  The class will consider, as well, the force of faith in literature in terms of critical essays, especially those written by many of the writers who have visited Calvin College as part of the Festival of Faith and Writing since 1990. Students will be evaluated through their contributions to class conversation, quizzes and response papers, and a course project.  This course may fulfill an elective in the English major.  J. Holberg, J. Zwart.  8:30 a.m. to noon.

W41 Finding God in the Movies: Kieslowski & Malick. This course will look closely at the work of two “giants” in the domain of religion and film, particularly the work of the great Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941-96) and contemporary American writer-director Terrence Malick (b. 1943).  Both filmmakers have deeply invested themselves through the length of their careers in the challenge of exploring religious belief and the nature of God.  Although Hollywood and film generally are usually seen as bastions of gleeful secularism, these two writer directors have produced an extraordinary body of film that is religiously acute and moving.  The course will look at the sorts of religious statements these films make and how they go about making them, concentrating on the interrelation between means and “message.”  The course will begin by asking the question of what makes a film religious, and then move on to consider the drama of religious experience in the journey from darkness to light, from despair to hope, and from tragedy to comedy.  We will also reflect on the nature of audience response and the legitimacy of oft-drawn distinctions between religious film and Christian film.  As much as possible the course will follow a seminar format.  Recent viewing of all films in the course is a requirement.  Class sessions view films and discuss, including some time for professor lecture on filmmakers and meanings, though this is kept to minimum.  Students will be responsible for viewing the films and reading analysis of written critical texts.   The course is rather intensive, examining some fourteen films in as many sessions. It should also be noted that a number of the films in the course are R-rated and often dark in their estimate of human life. The viewing list will include such films as Kieslowski’s Blind Chance, Decalogue, Three Colors, and Heaven and Malick’s Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, The New World, and The Tree of Life (forthcoming). The course is designed to immerse students in the work of the two great masters of religious cinema to develop their own awareness of the religious capacities of cinema but also their exploration of the presence and character of the divine.  Evaluation is based on a daily log of reactions to films, three analytic papers, and  a final exam on the substance of the course.  This course may fulfill an elective in the English major.  R. Anker.  2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

W42 Multimedia Storytelling.  This course explores multimedia storytelling and journalism. Students combine writing, photography, graphics, and video to produce interactive feature stories and non-fiction pieces. Students work on several individual and collaborative projects, doing library/field research, interviewing sources, shooting pictures, writing and editing text, as well as experimenting with graphic design and website production. Student evaluation is based on class participation and on successful completion of assigned projects.  This course may fulfill an elective in the English major and Journalism and Writing minors.  D. Hettinga.  8:30 a.m. to noon.

W44 The Vampire Lectures.  This course challenges the claim that the current interest in vampires is a “recent” one.  In fact, great interest in vampires has bubbled up at several points in history, and it will be the task of the class to determine how these responses have been similar or unique. We will proceed by examining the development of the vampire mythos in England and Europe, and our texts will include vampire stories from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including, of course, Dracula.  We will read these texts in the context of their reception by original audiences and try to determine if those responses are comparable to those by audiences of today.  We will also examine a couple of “vampire epidemics” that occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Newspapers at both times diligently reported on what was thought to be sudden plagues of vampires in their communities and we will consider what features of those cultures might explain the “appearance” of vampires.  Our exploration of the history of vampire literature will also cause us to ask more fundamental questions such as “What characteristics does a creature need to possess in order to be considered a vampire?” and “Are the Twilight films and The Vampire Diaries TV series actually vampire stories?” Finally we will frame our exploration by looking at theoretical responses to vampires and vampire literature. These will range from Augustus Montague Summers’ The Vampire, his Kith and Kin, published in 1928, to 20th century texts. Students will read a collection of vampire literature from various genres and see six films.  Evaluation is based on a group digital research project on either the 18th century vampirism epidemic in eastern Europe or on the current reception of Twilight and one-page response papers for each of the readings.  This course may fulfill an elective in the English major.  J. Williams. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

W45 African American English & its Culture. This class will focus on a variety of English spoken by many African Americans: African American English. Through daily exercises students will learn linguistic tools for analyzing the sound, structure, and meaning of African American English. Through class lecture, group discussion, and local field trips, they will learn more about the history of this variety and how this variety shapes popular culture and the social interactions of Americans. Student evaluation will be based on regular short quizzes and write short exploratory essays. Each student will make one presentation to the class. This class may fulfill an elective in the English Major, the Linguistics minor, the ESL minor, or the English minor. A. Kortenhoven, E. Vander Lei. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

W80 Reading History, Writing Story.  This workshop (which includes one week in Boston) leads students through the process of researching, writing, and publishing works of historical fiction. Students read three novels, as well as a number of essays that address the challenges for authors who use elements from history to write for a contemporary audience. Class time consists of lectures, discussions, research, and composition.  Additionally, the class views films and video clips that illustrate how critical the setting, dialogue, plot, and characters are in creating a world from the past that reflects issues faced by the contemporary reader. Students learn the process of locating and examining primary and secondary sources. Students travel with the professor to Boston during week two to read first person narratives, examine artifacts, and visit historical sites. Students will conduct research at the Schlesinger Library, the Boston Public Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Museum of African American History, and the Boston Athenaeum. Students complete several small writing exercises and use research from the Boston expedition to write chapters of a novel or to draft a short story—for adults or children—in the historical fiction genre. Students read aloud from their own writing and learn to review and edit one another’s work.  Evaluation is based on the students’ portfolios of course assignments and on the students’ participation in the readings and discussion. This course may fulfill an elective in the English major and Language Arts major and in the Language Arts and writing minors.  Prerequisite:  ENGL 101.    Fee: $915.  N. Hull.

W81 The Great American Short Story.  What constitutes greatness in an American short story?  What, in fact, constitutes an American short story?  Our aims in this course are (1)  to establish some criteria  by which to judge the worth of the American short story, or perhaps any short story, (2) to enjoy, discuss, and understand some of the contenders for the accolade “The Great American Short Story,” and (3) to designate one story for the honor.  The class uses a common, required anthology, from which stories are read in a roughly chronological order and in which a wide variety of styles and authors is represented.  Student evaluation will be based on lively participation, reports, and testing.  This course may fulfill an elective in the English major.  Prerequisite:  English 101.  J. Timmerman.  8:30 a.m. to noon.

262  Business Writing. A course introducing students to the kinds of writing and computer presentations that are required in business-related fields. Students collect examples of and practice composing the types of professional communication that they are likely to craft on the job. The class is conducted as a workshop; students consult with each other and with the instructor. Each student submits several projects. The class also includes a group report (with written, multi-media, and oral portions), in-class writing and computer exercises, and the use of word-processing and presentation software. Prerequisite: Completion of English 101 with a grade of C+ or above. M. Dunn.  8:30 a.m. to noon.

339 English Grammar (3).  A study of traditional grammar, focusing on its history, its system, its applications, its competitors, and its place in the middle-school and high-school classroom; special emphasis will be given to the system and terminology of this grammar.  Student work will be evaluated by means of daily assignments, in-class projects, several quizzes, and a test.  B. Vande Kopple, J. Vanden Bosch. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS W16 Taos Art & LiteratureL. Naranjo-Huebl.

IDIS W21 An Inside Look at the January SeriesR. Hondered, K. Saupe.