Course Descriptions Fall 2023

WRC 1010.101 Introduction to Mathematics For WRC

  •  Gen Ed. Attribute: Quantitative Literacy

  • Instructor: Dr. Sarah Greenwald

Prerequisite:  passing the math placement test or MAT 0010.

Whether it is counting the number of stars, understanding why the Benjamin Franklin fund never earned its intended money, or managing the uncertainty inherent in polling and medical testing, many real-life situations require the critical and creative analysis of a variety of mathematical interpretations in order to fully consider the implications. This course focuses on local to global connections related to the application of geometry, algebra, probability, and statistics as you develop creative inquiry skills, research techniques, and communication skills. You’ll also explore what mathematics is, what it has to offer, and the diverse ways that people can be successful in mathematics and impact the world (including you!), as we study:  

  • Geometry of our Earth and Universe: How we measure and view the world around us and decide what is the nature of reality.

  • Personal Finance: How we apply algebra to interest formulas and decisions we make about our own lives.

  • Consumer Statistics: How probability and statistical techniques allow us to recognize the misrepresentations of studies and make public and private policy decisions.

  • What is Mathematics? To reflect more broadly about the course themes as we tie the segments together.  You can choose a topic you are interested in and research how mathematics relates to it or you can design a creative review of what we covered in class. You will communicate your expertise in a poster presentation session.  

WRC 1103.101 INVESTIGATIONS LOCAL: Stories Can Save Us

  • Gen Ed. Attribute: Serves as first-year Seminar (including Honors) and ENG/RC 1000 for Watauga College students.

  • Instructor: Professor Joseph Bathanti

  • Time: TR 11:00 am-1:45 pm & TR 2:00 pm-3:15 pm

"Words are all we have," the great Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, reminds us. All of us bear stories and they all matter, and I would hazard that sharing stories comes as naturally to humans of every stripe as breathing. Stories make us jointly human. They kindle intimacy. Stories can save us even when we don't know we need saving – by returning us to who we are essentially, by underscoring what matters most to us, by taking us back home, wherever that home might reside – an abstract in all likelihood. Tim O'Brien writes, in his short story, "Spin," from The Things They Carried: "Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story." This course will tackle story from a generous vantage. While the bulk of the reading will be short stories – some classic, some brand new, some obscure – we'll also engage with other kinds of stories: poems, memoirs, essays, interviews, film – and we'll host a number of noteworthy guests who will share their spellbinding stories with us. This is a course where your lived life is of the utmost importance, as is the place(s) where that lived life plays out. This is very much a course that relies on autobiography. And, of course, you will write stories too.

*Honors students interested in this course should register for WRC 1103.410

WRC 1103.103 INVESTIGATIONS LOCAL: A Critical Perspective on Food 

  • Gen Ed. Attribute: Serves as first-year Seminar (including Honors) and ENG/RC 1000 for Watauga College students.

  • Instructor: Dr. Jessica Martell

  • Time: TR 2:00 pm-3:15 pm & TR 11:00 am-1:45 pm

Food is everything! Food is the primary source of energy for our bodies; it is a form of creative and cultural expression; and it can raise a rallying call for implementing social change. In the last few decades, the popularity of regional foods, like Southern and Appalachian cuisines, has heralded an American culinary renaissance. Yet there is a great deal of controversy and politics wrapped up in food. “Foodie” trends have elevated culinary expression into a high art form; diets like paleo and keto flood social media; and people will fight over the right way to make barbecue. But not everyone has access to food – low-income populations all over the world, including in the United States, struggle to find healthy and nutritious food on a daily basis. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions and rising food insecurity have been exposed as major failings of the industrial model.

In this section of WRC 1103, students will learn about how the US food system operates, taking interdisciplinary dives into topics like food justice, cultural appropriation, and environmental impact. Students will then explore alternative local food systems in the North Carolina High Country that work towards sustainability, equity, and community resilience. In addition to fulfilling the requirements of first year writing in 1103, students in this section will build their knowledge of food studies by applied learning activities such as volunteering for local non-profits, cooking, and self-directed research reports. 

*Honors students interested in this course should register for WRC 1103.412

WRC 1103.104 INVESTIGATIONS LOCAL: Metamorphoses In Life: Love and Death

  • Gen Ed. Attribute: Serves as first-year Seminar (including Honors) and ENG/RC 1000 for Watauga College students.

  • Instructor: Dr. Michael Dale

  • Time: MW 2:00 pm-3:15 pm & TR 11:00 am-1:45 pm

Love and death are oftentimes experienced as seismic upheavals in our lives; we are changed in puzzling, perhaps even mysterious ways by these two forces, sometimes delightfully and sometimes terrifyingly or painfully. In love, suddenly someone or something that perhaps we did not even know existed comes into our life and now is seen and felt as a presence we cannot imagine living without. In death, as the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins puts it, "I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day." How should we see and understand the experiences and transformations wrought by love and death? The question is especially important in a society that frequently trivializes love, and at times and in some circumstances, makes death something to either be avoided, not spoken of, or a spectacle of entertainment.

*Honors students interested in this course should register for WRC 1103.413

WRC 1103.105 INVESTIGATIONS LOCAL: (Be)Longing: Identity Formations In 19TH-Century American Arts

  • Gen Ed. Attribute: Serves as first-year Seminar and ENG/RC 1000

  • Instructor: Dr. Audrey Fessler

  • Time: TR 11:00 am-1:45 pm & TR 2:00 pm-3:15 pm

Historian David Shi identifies the “process of forging an American identity” as one of the “overarching themes of the early American republic [that] continues to resonate today.” Late-18th-century political writings such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution grounded this unitary (and therefore exclusionary) effort. In the early 1800s, Irving, Cooper, Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, and others began to establish a canon of “American” literature; in 1828, Webster published the first American Dictionary of the English Language, which sought to identify and consolidate a specifically “American” language. How did subsequent writers and artists in other media appropriate, challenge, expand, redefine, and otherwise respond to foundational conceptions of “an American identity”? In answering this question, we will explore a wide range of 19th-century short stories, novels, poems, slave narratives, dream narratives, speeches, paintings, cartoons, songs, and folk art productions, and will visit local museums and attend local artistic performances together.

Students will also research little-known paintings by important American artists and write label texts that may be permanently displayed with those paintings in an area museum. We will travel to the museum three times to work with the curators there, pandemic conditions permitting. Through this project, each classmate’s research and writing can reach and benefit thousands of museum-goers over time!

*Honors students interested in this course should register for WRC 1103.414

WRC 2001.101 28607: DAYS IN THE LIFE

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Sophomore Writing, Fills ENG/RC 2001 requirements

  • Instructor: Cary Curlee

  • Time: MW 2:00 pm-3:15 pm 

Days in The Life: Mountain Messages, will introduce students to writing across the curriculum using poems, essays, short stories and scientific texts. Readings in the course will touch spiritual, cultural, and environmental aspects of living in Appalachia and beyond. Our exercises will hone research and analytical skills learned in WRC 1000 while introducing you to writing and reading across academic disciplines. We will take a rhetorical approach to reading and writing across the curriculum and students will engage in more independent work and more involved research. We will read texts from a variety of academic disciplines, including analyses of disciplinary writing in order to identify other writers’ rhetorical choices and discipline-specific writing strategies and conventions. Our writing projects, some of which will entail independent research, will provide you opportunities to make effective choices in your own writing for specific purposes and academic communities, and using various digital methods. Learning to assess different writing situations and make effective context-specific rhetorical choices should prepare you to meet writing challenges in the future, whether it be for another college course, on the job, or for civic or personal reasons.

WRC 2001.103 28607: DAYS IN THE LIFE 

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Sophomore Writing, Fills ENG/RC 2001 requirements

  • Instructor: Katy Abrams

  • Time: T/TH 9:30 pm-10:45 pm

Science fiction dazzles its readers with alien invaders, comet collisions, futuristic technologies, and dystopian landscapes. Why are such works so captivating, and what can they show us about the societies that produce them? In this second-year writing course, we will delve into major works of British, U.S., and Indigenous science fiction. We'll begin in the late-nineteenth century, when the genre arguably emerged, and journey through the twentieth century, encountering the "Pulp Era" of the 1920s-30s, the so-called "Golden Age" of the 1950s, and the "New Wave" that began in the late 1960s. We will then spend substantial time on twenty-first century science fiction, including iterations in new mediums such as podcast, digital art, and web series. As we move through this historical progression, we'll analyze common themes such the fraught role of technology and science, the question of what makes someone "human," the use of extrapolation to predict the future, and more. Because science fiction cannot be separated from its social and historical contexts, gender, race, settler colonialism, sexuality, and class will be central to our explorations. Expect to encounter well-known writers like H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, and Octavia Butler, as well as lesser-known and emerging authors and creators.


WRC 2201.101 HEARING VOICES: Science and Nature in Literature

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Integrative Learning Experience Theme; Literary Studies Designation

  • Instructor: Dr. Michael Dale

  • Time: TR 2:00 pm-3:15 pm

Living in relationships with the natural world (land, oceans, and the larger universe of galaxies and star systems) and reaching for an understanding of nature provides fertile ground for novelists, short-story writers, and writers of narrative non-fiction. In this seminar we will explore and examine the intellectual and emotional landscape of fictional and non-fiction beings as they are immersed in and navigate the world of science and nature. What happens when the sciences and humanities meet? What do we learn about science and the all-too-human human beings who pursue scientific knowledge and understanding when both are brought together on the landscapes of novels, short stories, poems, and essays? What do we hear from the voices of science and scientists in narrative literature and poetry?

*Honors students interested in this course should register for WRC 2201.410

WRC 2201.102 HEARING VOICES Truth, Lies, and Nonsense

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Integrative Learning Experience Theme; Literary Studies Designation

  • Instructor: Dr. Clark Maddux

  • Time: TR 9:30 pm-10:45 pm

 What is truth?  What is a lie? Maybe more importantly, what is nonsense, and how is it different from a lie?  In this course, we'll look at a variety of material:  cultural, historical, and literary, that can be called bunkum, balderdash, nonsense, or more vulgarly, bullshit.  We'll examine one of the lesser known, but positively brilliant works of episodic storytelling, the brief series, "Wayne."  We'll also read the famous work of moral philosophy by Harry Frankfurt called "On Bullshit." Finally, we'll read three novels that centrally ask the question of what we can trust from the narrators of Julian Barnes's "The Sense of an Ending," Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," and Ford Madox Ford's "The Good Soldier."

*Honors students interested in this course should register for WRC 2201.411


  • Gen Ed Attribute: Hist & Soc Theme-Culture in Social Practice and Liberal Studies Experience, Literary Studies Designation

  • Instructor: Dr. Laura Ammon

  • Time: TR 3:30 pm-4:45 pm

Myths are the stories we tell about the world, exploring and explaining humanity's place in the past, the present and the future offering insights on what it means to be human. This course will explore various expressions of myth, from the Aztecs to Black Panther, and how these myths construct meaningful imaginative worlds within specific historical, cultural, and literary contexts. We will cover an assortment of myths, rituals, symbols that construct the worldviews of various communities, investigating conflict, syncretism, and hybridity in differing global encounters, and how that conflict impacts the stories humans tell about their place in the world. This investigation is necessarily an interpretive journey involving theoretical approaches to the role of mythology in human cultures and religions.

*Honors students interested in this course should register for WRC 3401.410

WRC 4001.101 Capstone

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Hist & Soc Theme-Culture in Social Practice and Liberal Studies Experience, Literary Studies Designation

  • Instructor: Dr. Laura Ammon

  • Time: MW 2:00 pm-3:15 pm