University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

First-Year Experience


ENGS 005 A - Food & Writing

Instructor: Elizabeth (Libby) Miles

Food, glorious food. At its best, food nourishes and sustains us, it provides a sense of place and cultural identity, it tantalizes and delights, and can even take us on sensory explorations to other worlds. But it can also be fraught with peril: disorders and toxins and social injustice. In this class, we will immerse ourselves in the writing that surrounds food, such as narratives, recipes, treatises, research studies, documentaries, and blogs. Students will read, research, and write a range of discourses that explore different aspects of food in our lives, and the lives of those around us.

Requirements Satisfied: Humanities, Writing and Information Literacy

ENGS 005 B - Writers at Work

Instructor: Susanmarie Harrington

Good writers are curious! Through practice, reading, & conversation we’ll cultivate curiosity, developing habits of mind that uncover what we don’t yet know. We’ll read and write non-fiction, and we’ll playfully compose and seriously confront complicated ideas. You’ll have the chance to develop questions, pursue curiosities, and cultivate your voice.

Requirements Satisfied: Humanities, Writing and Information Literacy

ENGS 005 C - Poetry: How Shall We Live

Instructor: Huck Gutman

In ancient Greece how to live an ethical life was the concern of philosophers.  Yet over many centuries, philosophy often turned away from ethical questions.  The domain of living, and especially how to live, was appropriated by poetry. This seminar will start with the Greeks-Plato, Homer and a study of ancient Greek philosophy-and then leap forward to look at poets of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.  Aside from Plato and Homer, the class will read the historian Pierre Hadot and the poets Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Anna Akhmatova, Yehuda Amichai, Pablo Neruda, and A. R. Ammons.

Requirements Satisfied: Literature and Writing and Information Literacy

ENGS 005 D - Graphic Novels & Narrative Theory

Instructor: Daniel Fogel

In the course of this seminar, we will read six graphic novels—Art Spiegelman’s Maus (two volumes), Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Are You My Mother?, and Jason Lutes’s Berlin: City of Stone and Berlin: City of Smoke—along with H. Porter Abbott’s Cambridge Introduction to Narrative in order to explore a few key questions: Why is story-telling central to human life? Why do we value story-telling so highly, and how does each of the graphic novels we read fulfill the criteria of value we have identified? What is the use of theorizing about narratives, and what is the value and power of applying systematic and rigorous analytic terms to the study of narrative? And what must we do to supplement the formal, structural study of narratives in order to honor the specificity of historical, economic, sociological, political, cultural, anthropological, legal, philosophical and other pertinent contexts essential for understanding the works.

Requirements Satisfied: Literature and Writing and Information Literacy

ENGS 005 E – 19th Century Monsters

Instructor: Sarah Alexander

British writers of the nineteenth century created some of the most memorable and enduring monsters—Frankenstein's monster, Mr. Hyde, Dracula. In this course we will study nineteenth-century literary monsters in order to think about the ways that monsters suggested conceptions of identity and difference, self and other. We will consider depictions of monsters within the context of the immense social, ideological and cultural changes that occurred over the course of the nineteenth century. We will think about how different forms of monstrosity reflect a culture's anxieties, fears, values, and desires. How do nineteenth-century notions about monstrosity reflect anxieties and desires in relation to industrialism, scientific and technological developments, colonial expansion, and changing notions about gender roles and sexuality? How do nineteenth-century fears and desires as reflected in the monsters they created compare to our own fears and desires?

Requirements Satisfied: Literature and Writing and Information Literacy

ENGS 005 F - Anatomy of the Short Story

Instructor: Deborah Noel

Once upon a time, for the first time, someone told you a story. Since then, you’ve heard and read many tales, and you’ve acquired a set of narrative expectations. Fairy tales and folk tales written for children often have predictable forms, familiar conflicts between good and evil, plot complications that are nicely resolved in the end, and a moral that teaches readers a lesson. Short stories written for more sophisticated readers take more complex forms and deliver subtler messages. In this class, we’ll be reading stories that exhibit a range of styles and genres by American Authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Willa Cather, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, Octavia Butler, Kelly Link, Wells Tower, George Saunders and Rivka Galchen, among others. Students will work toward mastering terms and concepts from narrative studies and literary criticism more broadly that will prepare them to write informed analyses of our primary texts. In order to engage in a broader critical discussion of our narratives and build research skills, student will draft short discussion board essays throughout the semester and a final research project focused on one work. We will explore how scholarly articles, interviews and other secondary materials can enhance and embolden our own responses to literature. Additional writing in this course will be more informal and even experimental, including personal responses, imitations, parodies, and other creative forms. Grades will be based on attendance, participation, preparedness, in-class and online writing assignments and final projects.

Requirements Satisfied: Literature and Writing and Information Literacy

ENGS 005 G - What is Literature

Instructor: Helen Scott

While the category ‘literature’ may seem self evident, it is both historically new and remarkably hard to define. This seminar explores the origins and development of the modern concept of a distinct realm of ‘literary’ writing. We shall read examples of the major genres—narrative fiction, poetry and drama—by a historically and geographically diverse selection of writers in English. We shall examine debates about literary interpretation and value while practicing close reading and contextualization of our selected works.

Requirements Satisfied: Literature and Writing and Information Literacy

ENGS 005 H - Dreaming America: To Tell an American Story

Instructor: Mary Kete

The presidential election asks us to do more than vote for the next President of the United States of America, it asks us to confront our hopes and dreams of what America is and can be. This seminar focuses on the stories Americans' told to make sense of themselves from the era of the Revolution through the sometimes bewildering, frightening, yet promising nineteenth century. A reading, as well as writing, intensive course, we aim at three goals. One goal is to survey a set of paradigmatic novels about and by Americans from the early years of our nation. Another is to gain a familiarity with the formal components of story, or narrative, in order to be better able to understand the function or effect of the choices made by these authors. The third goal is to develop the skills needed to write effectively at the college level.

Requirements Satisfied: Literature and Writing and Information Literacy

ENGS 005 I - Writing Happiness

Instructor: Jenny Grosvenor

We tell ourselves stories to make meaning of our lives. In this writing-intensive, inquiry-driven course, students will explore pathways to happiness and probe ideas within the field of “positive psychology” that lead to long-term life fulfillment, such as: determination, empathy, flourishing, flow, gratitude, helping others, hope, mindfulness, optimism, resiliency, savoring, spirituality, and subjective well-being. Along with current happiness “gurus,” Daniel Gilbert and Martin Seligman, students will choose from a diverse list of readings—from Maya Angelou to Pema Chodron, Viktor Frankl to Plato—in their examination of the nature of happiness through speculative reflection and empirical investigation. Key texts include Tara Parker-Pope’s New York Times blog, “Writing Your Way to Happiness” and Timothy D. Wilson’s Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By. With emphasis on discovery and self-actualization, students will approach the study of happiness from a variety of diverse cultural and spiritual perspectives. Readings and weekly writing assignments—including personal story editing, as researched at Duke and Stanford—will broaden student understanding of the plurality of models and ideals used to explore big life questions: What is happiness? Are you happy? Why or why not? How does one determine and/or measure happiness? What factors most greatly influence one’s happiness? And how can you—and society at large—become happy? Writing Happiness will help students heighten awareness and hone communication skills through group discussions, projects, surveys, presentations, journaling, and essay writing. One outcome will be the discernment of meaning and purpose that leads to long-term happiness—for one’s self, one’s community, and the world at large. An outreach component will enlighten students about the role of altruism in enhancing one’s own inner fulfillment.

Requirements Satisfied: Writing and Information Literacy

ENGS 005 J - Contemporary Irish Literature

Instructor: Angela Patten

In 2016, Ireland will celebrate the centenary of the Easter Rising, a landmark moment in Irish history that precipitated full independence from Great Britain in 1948. Since then, the country has endured many changes – from a national education system run by the Catholic Church to clerical abuse scandals that have eroded trust in religious institutions; from the poverty and hardship of the early 20th century to the financial exhilaration of the Celtic Tiger in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, and back to a debilitating recession; from an insular island nation on the western edge of Europe to a full-fledged member of the European Union; and, through the rapid growth of industry, technology and mass media, from a localized culture to a global one. Yet despite all these upheavals, the Irish predilection for language and storytelling has flourished and the work of Irish poets, writers, musicians and artists continues to be celebrated at home and abroad. For a comparatively small place, the island of Ireland has made a disproportionate contribution to world literature. This course is designed to introduce students to contemporary Irish literature through the work of poets like Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland, and fiction writers like Roddy Doyle, Colm Toibin and Kevin Barry. Readings will be supplemented with excerpts from Irish film and frequent references to Irish history to provide context and encourage discussion of the ways in which poets and writers examine and influence personal and national identity. Through a wide variety of styles and subject-matter, contemporary Irish poets and writers look back to an illustrious literary tradition and forward to new body of writing that reflects a country coping with the benefits and burdens of globalization.

Requirements Satisfied: Literature and Writing and Information Literacy