English Seminars

Urban Legends of the Supernatural (Adam Andrews) (Full)
Did you hear the one about the Vanishing Hitchhiker? Have you ever played with a Ouija board and had something strange happen? Tales of the supernatural range from urban legends about ghosts and monsters to stories told by people who believe they encountered something out of the ordinary—angels, UFOs, and things that go bump in the night. In this course we will take a close look at the stories we tell in order to understand the social, cultural, and sometimes personal significance these stories have. In this class we will examine urban legends, myths, and ghost stories, as well as narratives of personal encounters of the supernatural.
Wiki Nation: Producing the Internet (Mary Brehm) (Canceled)
Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google. Most of us use the internet and associated communication technologies every day, but what do we really know about what is sometimes referred to as the internet revolution? In this class we will ask big questions about “network enabled social tools” and try to answer them. We’ll engage in both traditional classroom activities and hands-on work, producing a class wiki and personal blogs. You don’t need to have experience with the “tools and patterns” that are used to produce the internet – just a willingness to try and to think critically about your experiences.
Writing and Social Media for Careers (Chris Lyons)
This course helps you develop a positive, well-designed online presence that will position you well for the 21st century job market. In the process, you will set goals for your college career that will make sure you graduate with good experience, good connections, and a well-rounded education.
Beat, Bop & Buddha (Jeffrey Perso) (Canceled)
What road are you on? What Monk was the high priest of Bop? What is the sound of one hand clapping? These and other questions will be investigated during this Seminar on the Beat Generation, Be-Bop jazz, & Buddhism. The course will examine the crossroads where Jack Kerouac intersected with jazz music and the Historical Buddha, giving rise to the so-called “Beat Generation” and later the 1960s countercultural “rucksack revolution.” Throughout the semester we will read Kerouac’s writing in order to understand how music and religion influenced his contribution to American literature and culture. We will also read Geoff Dyer’s “lyrical collection of jazz reveries,” listen to jazz recordings and poetry performances, and view documentary videos to further our appreciation of how jazz and Buddhism influenced Beat thinking and composition techniques. By semester’s end students will be able to identify and critically discuss the cross-currents connecting Beat writing, jazz and Buddhism, as well as continue to develop an awareness of how this “holy trinity” offers an alternative viewpoint on life and culture in 21st century America.
Applying Philosophy & Creating Your Life's Meaning (C. Prescott Sobol) (Full)
We receive a lot of advice about what to do with our lives, but our educational system rarely provides opportunities for us to study how what we do makes our lives more meaningful. Many people say, “Well, just study this,” “Just believe that,” “Just make x amount of money,” “Just tough it out—it'll get better later,” “Just take this job,” “Just be yourself” (whatever that means), “Just do it,” or “Just find a good romance.” In this course, we will assume that at UWM, and in life in general, it is not merely what you do, but how, why, and with whom you do it, that creates a sense of purpose and meaning.
Going Green: Literature and Film (Kristin Terwelp) (Canceled)
The “Green” movement in the United States has not only become very visible in recent years, but it has also become big business. So what is all the “Going Green” hype about? What do terms like global warming, eco-lifestyle, and global sustainability really mean? Can Americans be both high tech consumers and ecologically conscientious? In this course, we will trace the history of the “Green” movement beginning with texts by Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and several Native American writers and ending with films and texts by Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, and Al Gore. We will also examine “green” advertising and do some virtual window shopping at a “green” Wal-Mart. That’s right, even Wal-Mart had joined the “Green” movement.
Multicultural Milwaukee (Gregory Jay)
Whether you were born in Milwaukee or are a newcomer, this course will offer you an exciting range of discoveries as we explore the city’s history, current events, neighborhoods, landmarks, and diverse communities. Milwaukee has always been multiethnic and multiracial, from its array of indigenous cultures through the arrival of English and European ethnic groups to the modern rich addition of African Americans, Latinos, and the people of the Hmong diaspora (to name just a few). What are their stories? How do they compare? Where do you fit in? Students will research and write about the city’s cultural diversity through readings, film screenings, and site visits.
The Art of the Short Story (Charles Schuster) (Canceled)
We grow up with stories—from fairy tales, legends, and Bible stories to personal confessions, narrative poems, romance novels, scary tales, and classic literature. Stories change us. As someone once said, we live inside stories—and stories live inside us. During this semester, we will read and discuss a variety of short stories from America and beyond that have given pleasure and joy to many readers.
Aspects of Hell (Brian Marks)
Where is hell? Can I get directions on MapQuest? Who goes to hell? Will I go to hell? Do unbaptized babies go to hell? Do we still believe in a place for the eternal punishment of wicked souls? Why does Satan have horns and a tail, and what kind of product does he put in his hair? Why does evil so often appear in the form of snakes? What role does hell play in serving heaven? Is hell just a Christian idea? What is it about hell that we find so repelling and fascinating? Would I have taken this course if it was called Aspects of Heaven?
The Trip: Writing About Your Travels (John Mulvihill) (Canceled)
The only freshman seminar that asks you to get out of town (or at least to a different part of town). We’ll read good examples of travel narratives, writers traveling by car, bus, train, plane, boat, motorcycle, bike, or shank’s mare (on foot), and analyze these to see common themes and elements and successful writing techniques. Then you’ll be asked to travel somewhere you haven’t been before (or at least not for a long time), perhaps with a companion, and keep a journal and maybe take photographs. With this journal as your basis, you’ll then spend several weeks drafting and redrafting your essay to find a structure, voice, and meaning that create a compelling travel narrative.
Southeast Asian American Life Stories (Mary Louise Buley-Meissner)
This seminar emphasizes active learning through extensive reading, collaborative class work and individual research projects as we look into the dynamic development of Southeast Asian American identities from the 1970s until now.  Through our study of autobiography and family biography, we will learn how political forces intersect with personal circumstances in shaping individual identities, family bonds and enduring community values.