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CHSS Winter Trip

December 29, 2012-January 9, 2013

English 3309: Introduction to Creative Writing and the Art of Travel
Experiment with the marvelous challenge of writing fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction while traveling to one of East Asia’s most fascinating places. English 3309 is designed to introduce students to creative writing as a complex, engaging, and multifaceted discipline that requires a rigorous exploration of craft, practice, a sense of play, and acute observation of the world as one finds it. The course introduces students to basic components of creative non-fiction, poetry, and fiction, so that they might get a sense of the genres and discover their interests and preferences. Learning outcomes require that students develop an increasingly sophisticated attention to artful language and the complex ways it is used in literary texts; demonstrate robust understanding of literary conventions and techniques in original compositions; and integrate sophisticated reading and original composition through reflective understanding of their work in relation to appropriate literary and cultural contexts.


Travel outside of the country is a remarkably good way for beginning (and indeed advanced) writers to step away from known contexts and observe themselves--and their sense of nationality and place--in fresh ways. Taiwan provides a rich site marvelously different from the culture of everyday life in the United States, and thus provides fertile ground for students working toward the outcomes we have designed for the course. Although students will practice some of the techniques of fiction, the genres of poetry and creative nonfiction--with their varied emphases on image, observation, and reflection--will be particularly useful in preparation for and during travel.


Green hills


English 3340/Humanities 3310: Orientalism and the Western Encounter with China
This course will give students a unique opportunity to better their understanding of their own cultures through the systematic and empirical study of another culture, specifically, the greater Chinese culture. China has long served as a mirror for the West, and students will consider how the Western encounter with China produces representations and interpretations that reflect Western interests, values, and perspectives. The course spans from the eighteenth-century to the present and students will read “texts” ranging from cartoons to historical novels to travel journals to Houston’s Chinatown.


We will begin with Orientalism and postcolonialism but we will likely conclude that these theories do not address well the Western encounter with “things Chinese.” In addition, we will discover that the social, cultural, and political realities experienced by those who live in or identify with Taiwan and Taiwanese culture need to be uniquely understood and contextualized. To further investigate what it means to be “from Taiwan,” students will travel to Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC), at the conclusion of the semester. Together we will tour cities and sites relevant to the course and you will practice “reading” Chinese. You will also likely have an opportunity to meet with students from the National University of Tainan.


Street  in Taiwan



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