Blast Courses Offered by English Graduate Students

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The Department of English is delighted to announce that five English graduate students have been chosen to help inaugurate a pilot program of humanities courses this summer.  Sponsored by the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute, Blast Courses are five-week online humanities courses offered free this summer to students of all ages and experience levels. Please click the links below for more information and to register; courses are open to everyone until spaces are filled.

Science and Utopian Fiction:” Mitch Cram’s course introduces students to science and utopian fiction as a literature of ideas. Focusing on Pauline Hopkins’ Of One Blood, a proto-Afrofuturist story which challenges colonial history and inspired Marvel’s Wakanda, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Students will consider the wider social significance of technology, literary form, and human imagination.

Dan McClurkin’s course, “The Northern Irish Troubles: Literature of Conflict,” covers the Northern Irish literary scene during and immediately following the period of conflict known as The Troubles (1968-1998), and studies the literary representation of structural violence and considers what it means to live in and build a post-conflict society. He’ll be reading writers from Colm Tóbín and  Eavan Boland to Seamus Heaney, Sinéad O’Shea.

Sarah Ross’s course is titled “Bad Mothers in Literature, On Screen, and Across History.”  In it, students will ask why so many works of fiction—from classic works of literature to present-day TV and film—center around bad mothers?  How do race and class feature in the classification of “bad” mother? What, in the end, is mothering?  Works considered will include Medea, a variety of fairy tales, Leave It to Beaver, Pride & Prejudice and Schitt’s Creek.

Joel Childers’s course, “How to Read Poetry,” is designed to enrich students’ understanding of poetry by providing them with practical tools for reading. Through lectures on sound, image, language, and genre, they will learn what poetry is made of, and discover, along the way, poets of various national and historical traditions, from Shakespeare to Claudia Rankine. 

Alexandra Lossada’s  “Latinx Immigration and Literature: Interpreting the Border,” is an introduction to the ongoing Mexican and Central American refugee crisis and immigrant detention practices.  Among the Latinx writers students will study are Valeria Luiselli, who is at the forefront of spreading awareness about child migration; Helena María Viramontes, famous for her compassionate and dignifying portrayals of Latinx characters; and anonymous, detained minors themselves, who in writing poetry, tell audiences outside of the detention center their dreams of living in the United States. (Her course gives us the image above, of an installation by the artist JR, at the US/Mexico border).