Course Descriptions Spring 2020

WRC 1104.101 Investigations Global: J.M. Coetzee & The Lives of Animals 

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Liberal Studies Experience.  
  • Instructor: Michael Dale 
  • Time: MW 2-3:15 pm & TR 11 am to 12:15 pm 

As Martha Nussbaum reminds us, we homo sapiens do not live alone on the planet. We share the world and its resources with a wonderful variety of flora and fauna, including other intelligent and emotional creatures. The nature of communal living requires that we be attentive to the moral questions and issues that relationships between living beings demands. What should be the nature of our human relationships with the non-human animals with which we share this world? Should non-human animals be seen as part of the community of human beings? What, if any, are the moral demands that non-human animals make upon us if they are seen as a part of our community? What does it mean to be a human being in a moral relationship with other living, non-human beings? Drawing upon novels, short stories, essays, and narrative works of non-fiction we will be attentive to and engaged with questions and issues of our humanly intimate and complex relations to, and at times callous disregard for and cruelty towards the lives and deaths of non-human animals.

WRC 1104.102 Investigations Global: Forms, Long and Short, Aural and Visual.

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Liberal Studies Experience.  
  • Instructor: Clark Maddux
  • Time: TR 11:00am - 1:45pm & TR 2:00pm - 3:15pm

In this section of WRC 1104, we'll read in their entirety great big hefty narrative works: The Odyssey, War and Peace, East of Eden, and Beloved. We'll view film adaptations of each of these: Sullivan's Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941) and O Brother Where Art Thou (Coen Brothers, 2000); War and Peace Mini-Series (Tom Harper, 2016); East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 1955); and Beloved (Jonathan Demme, 1998), and analyze lyrics associated with each film or from the periods of the books themselves. Students will compose reader responses related to each work and create a short (3-5 minute) film adaptation of some portion of a work that engages in artistic conversation with the source material. In addition, students will write a 7- 9 page essay exploring the relationship of global cultures to one of the novels, films, or songs read in the course.

WRC 1104.103 Investigations Global: Nations, Borders, and Migration

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Liberal Studies Experience. 
  • Instructor: Julia Callander 
  • Time: TR 11:00 am - 1:45 pm & TR 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm 

This class will focus on moments and places in American history where questions of race, citizenship, and belonging were in flux. What does it mean to belong in a place? How do the parameters of this question shift depending on context (historical, geographical, and disciplinary)? Our inquiry will focus on three texts: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, Elizabeth Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, and Gloria Anzaldúa's Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. In engaging deeply with these and other texts, and with the current questions they pose, we will also explore issues of genre: what counts as history? What makes something literary, or autobiographical? Who gets to tell whose story, and what's at stake in doing so?

WRC 1104.104 Investigations Global: The Shadow Wars: Voices from Iraq and Afghanistan

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Liberal Studies Experience. 
  • Instructor: Joseph Bathanti 
  • Time: TR 11:00 am-1:45 pm & TR 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm 

The war in Afghanistan, begun in 2001, is now 18 years old. The war in Iraq, begun in 2003, also continues in different forms, and across different Middle East borders. Out of these wars has exploded an extraordinary trove of literature that continues to appear even as the wars rage, and there’s reason to believe that an entire wave of a wholly new genre of literature, borne of our 21st-century wars, is being minted, especially, by this hybrid generation of U.S. combat veteran writers. This course will explore that literature – through poetry, fiction, memoir, essays, plays, films, and testimony of combat veterans and family members of combat veterans who will visit our class – and through a variety of voices and lenses, including those of U.S. men and women soldiers, families left stateside, as well Iraqi, Afghan and other noncombatants from war-torn Middle East countries.

WRC 1104.105  Investigations Global: Mapping Monsters 

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Liberal Studies Experience. 
  • Instructor: Audrey Fessler
  • Time: MW 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm & TR 11:00 am - 12:15pm 

This course will range across many eras and cultures to explore diverse monsters and their psychological and social functions. Andrew J. Hoffman, in his anthology Monsters, posits that “Monsters are not merely entertainment. The study of monsters is the study of what it means to be human in a world that provides much to fear and avoid. Since time immemorial, people have had to deal with fear: fear of the wild, fear of the unknown, even fear of each other. Monsters may be a repository for much that is negative in human experience. In this way, monsters provide us with the opportunity to connect to important issues of society, psychology, science, medicine, art, and religion” (3). Analyses by scholars from many fields—including classical studies, critical studies, cultural anthropology, history, monster theory (yes!), sociology, philosophy, psychology, religion, and urban theory—will inform our responses to primary sources of monster lore. Course work will include frequent reading reflections and quizzes, occasional leadership of portions of class discussion, and two research projects with accompanying research presentations.

WRC 2001.101 Days in the Life: Environment, Space, and Place 

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Second Year Writing 
  • Instructor: Jessica Martell 
  • Time: TR 9:30 am - 10:45 am


WRC 2001 is a "Writing Across the Curriculum" course designed to introduce second-year students to conventions in the three main academic disciplines, the physical sciences, the social sciences, and arts + humanities. WRC 2001 moves faster than first-year writing and emphasizes critical reading skills, process-based writing, and advanced scholarly research. These skills will be evaluated by both investigative and argumentative papers, oral presentations, and creative projects. This section's theme, "Environment, Space, & Place," explores what it means to be living in Appalachia during the Anthropocene Era, a newly-coined geological period in which human activity disrupts, accelerates, and transforms the planet's physical systems. By honing our practices of reading, writing, and critical thinking, we will investigate the social outcomes of this new era as we consider our responsibilities to our own "place" in a time of great ecological upheaval.

WRC 2001.102 Days in the Life: Environment, Space, and Place 

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Second Year Writing 
  • Instructor: Jessica Martell 
  • Time: TR 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm


WRC 2001 is a "Writing Across the Curriculum" course designed to introduce second-year students to conventions in the three main academic disciplines, the physical sciences, the social sciences, and arts + humanities. WRC 2001 moves faster than first-year writing and emphasizes critical reading skills, process-based writing, and advanced scholarly research. These skills will be evaluated by both investigative and argumentative papers, oral presentations, and creative projects. This section's theme, "Environment, Space, & Place," explores what it means to be living in Appalachia during the Anthropocene Era, a newly-coined geological period in which human activity disrupts, accelerates, and transforms the planet's physical systems. By honing our practices of reading, writing, and critical thinking, we will investigate the social outcomes of this new era as we consider our responsibilities to our own "place" in a time of great ecological upheaval.

WRC 2100.101 The Lives of Animals 

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Integrative Learning Experience (Theme: “Human-Animal Bond”) 
  • Instructor: Michael Dale 
  • Time: TR 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm 

As Martha Nussbaum reminds us, we homo sapiens do not live alone on the planet. We share the world and its resources with a wonderful variety of flora and fauna, including other intelligent and emotional creatures. The nature of communal living requires that we be attentive to the moral questions and issues that relationships between living beings demands. What should be the nature of our human relationships with the non-human animals with which we share this world? Should non-human animals be seen as part of the community of human beings? What, if any, are the moral demands that non-human animals make upon us if they are seen as a part of our community? What does it mean to be a human being in a moral relationship with other living, non-human beings?

WRC 2201.101 Hearing Voices: Inquiry in Literature.  Queer + Southern Voices

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Literary Studies Designation; Integrative Learning Experience (Theme: “Experiencing Inquiry: How to Ask Questions”)
  • Instructor: Julia Callander 
  • Time: TR 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm 

In this class, we will explore possible definitions and understandings of "Southern," "queer," and "literature." Does someone have to identify a certain way in order to write about members of a specific group? Can we read queerness into texts that don't explicitly call attention to having such a status? Can new media such as Instagram or 'zines still be read as literature, and if so, what methods can we use to do so? We will also think deeply about genre and medium: what, for example, can a poem do that creative nonfiction cannot (and vice versa)? We will approach these questions using a variety of methods and texts, including Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Silas House's Southernmost, Julia Koets's The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays, and a number of shorter works, especially poetry.

WRC 2202.101 WHAT IF? ASKING HISTORICAL QUESTIONS: "WAIT, WHAT HAPPENED?!" EXPLORING EARLY MODERN ENGLAND THROUGH NARRATIVE HISTORY AND HISTORICAL FICTION

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Historical Studies Designation; Integrative Learning Experience (Theme: “Experiencing Inquiry: How to Ask Questions”)
  • Instructor: Marjon Ames
  • Time: MWF 11:00am-11:50am (Section 101); MWF 9:00am-9:50am (Section 102)

How do we know what we think we know? What informs our understanding of the past? This course examines both historical nonfiction and fictionalized accounts of Tudor-Stuart England to help us shape the ways we think about this seminal period in history. Students read a variety of historical works in order to form a foundation of techniques and theories on which to build. Students read fiction in conjunction with nonfiction, and consider what makes for successful storytelling and why it has fascinated people throughout history. Students examine different storytelling techniques employed, question the quality of the portrayal of the historical backdrop, and observe how different approaches in narrative can result in different stories. The course's main foci are the stories told by the students themselves. By the end of the semester, each student is expected to produce a substantial piece of historical fiction. The class is structured around a series of workshops in which students lead the discussions and critique each other's work.

WRC 2405.101 Living and Learning in Community

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Liberal Studies Experience 
  • Instructor: Shane Gragg 
  • Time: T 5:00 - 7:30 pm 

In this section of WRC 2405, we will investigate personal development, community development, responsible citizenship and individual/community identity through the lens of the Big 8 Identities. Various books, media and readings will be resources as we explore identities and their intersection with community. Students will compose responses throughout the semester reflecting on assigned readings and class discussions. Students will also write one six-page essay exploring the intersection of their identities and community, and will complete a group project related to their university community and the various identities represented in the group. 

WRC 3203.101 Why Art? Ways of Responding to the World Around Us

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Integrative Learning Experience (Theme: “Experiencing Inquiry: How to Ask Questions”), Fine Arts Designation 
  • Instructor: Mel Falck 
  • Time: W 5:00 pm - 7:30pm

An integrative and creative encounter with multi-model artistic processes as a means of exploring unique inquiries and responses to natural, social, and constructed environments. Artisitc forms studied may include visual art, dance, drama, poetry, music, pupperty, and film. 

HIS/WRC 3210.101 Poverty: Theory and Practice

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Liberal Studies Experience 
  • Instructor:  Jeffrey Bortz
  • Time: W 5:00pm - 7:50pm

Poverty is one of the great afflictions of humanity.  Around the world, 22,000 children die from poverty every day.  In the United States, more than 43 million Americans live in poverty, a million and a half in North Carolina. The goal of this class is for students to learn about poverty and the poor through a dual approach.  Part of the class will consist of students working with local poor 1 ½ each week (22 hours during the semester) at the Hospitality House, Boone’s local homeless shelter.  The other part will be our meetings to discuss our reading of Karl Marx, one of the most important and radical theorists of social class and therefore of the poor.  We will bring together the practical experience of working with the extreme poor with our readings so that students arrive at a more complete understanding of poverty, its impact on human beings, its causes and possible solutions.

WRC 3403.101 A Walk in Beauty

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Fine Arts Designation; Liberal Studies Experience
  • Instructor:  Sarah Moore
  • Time: F 11:00am - 1:45pm

WRC 4001.101: Seminar in Experiential, Integrative Learing

  • Gen Ed Attribute: Capstone for Watauga Minor
  • Instructor: Joseph Bathanti
  • Time: TR 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm 

This is the culminating course for the “Watauga Minor” (Minor in Experiential, Integrative Learning). At the heart of our study of residential colleges will be Black Mountain College (BMC), founded in North Carolina’s Swannanoa Valley in 1933. Black Mountain College closed its doors in 1957, yet to this day remains the greatest experimental academic adventure ever launched on American soil. We’ll examine the history of BMC as well as the climate in the world and in education that spawned it; its far-reaching influence that in many ways defines “experimental” and interdisciplinarity; the concept/nature of community as it pertains to education, and the resulting compatibility/friction that occurs between the individual and the community; what happens when students are responsible for their own learning; what it means to privilege, in the spirit of true learning and discovery, spontaneity and improvisation over a predetermined, often traditional, course. Other residential colleges have taken their cues from BMC – and we’ll study a number of them – including a deep study of Watauga Residential College (WRC). You’ll be asked ultimately to demonstrate in a final project, with the same academic integrity as a capstone thesis, how WRC has impacted you, shaped your notion of education, and charted your future.