Special Opportunity Courses

  1. I-Series Courses
  2. ARHU Freshman Reseach Seminar
  3. Carillon Communities
  4. Gemstone Program
  5. Honors Humanities
  6. Fearless Ideas Courses
  7. Elevate Fellows
  8. Foxworth Creative Enterprise Initiative
  9. Global Classrooms Initiative
  10. Study Abroad


  • ENGL289B: The Rites of Discovery: Science, Law, and Literature 1492-1992
    Ralph Bauer
    This is a course not about the history of scientific discoveries but rather about the history of the concept of 'discovery', which originally meant simply to “uncover” or “make manifest” something but that has come to assume, in modern times, a more narrow meaning in that the object of discovery must be new or previously unknown. The evolution of a modern concept of discovery is a story that belongs in part to the history of science, but in this course we will place this evolution also in the legal context of the history of European colonialism and cultural encounter with Native peoples in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. We will trace the history of this idea from the sixteenth-century debate about the European 'rights of discovery' to the 500th anniversary of Columbus's landfall in the New World in 1992 by exploring primary and secondary sources relating to international law, science, and literature.
    Course Website

  • ENGL289I: Acting Human: Shakespeare and the Drama of Identity
    Kimberly Coles
    Through readings of Shakespeare plays and their cinematic adaptations, we will consider performed social roles from various perspectives. There is no need to develop a self-absent a society—and so the “self” is largely a social development. We will explore what Shakespeare’s dramas have to say about the self and others, and what they say about the self with others. Rather than imagining Shakespeare’s claims about the human as “timeless,” we will consider what he tells us about his time and place. And rather than considering how Shakespeare has become our contemporary, we will ask the more interesting question of why successive generations have sought to reinterpret Shakespeare and bring him to their own contemporary context. Assignments will involve comparing printed play-texts with the various filmed versions and thinking about the choices made as Shakespeare is produced in a medium he never could have imagined.

  • ENGL289I: Acting Human: Shakespeare and the Drama of Identity
    Gerard Passannante
    Through an in–depth reading of key plays by Shakespeare, this course will examine the acts of knowledge, understanding, and imagination by which the playwright generates the fiction of human identities and our participation in creating that fiction. As an introduction to Shakespeare, we will explore eight plays through close reading, discuss concepts of dramatic realism, and analyze the ways Shakespeare teaches us to ask questions about his characters and ultimately about ourselves. Our reading list includes Titus Andronicus, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. There will be two papers, quizzes, and a final exam.

  • ENGL289J: What is Justice? Literature and the Invention of Ethical Imagination
    Amanda Bailey
    How is it that we crave justice as much as we crave love or money?  This course seeks to answer this question by examining literature’s unique ability to animate the concrete human passions underlying the most abstract ethical dilemmas.  We will consider how literary texts have shaped our understanding of justice, and more particularly, how fiction defines, critiques, challenges, and even alters a given society’s comprehension of equity and inequity, crime and punishment, pardon and torture, and ideas about civil liberties and human rights.  By attending to the ways writers have described the just and the unjust within their historical moment, we will gain insight into crucial role of imaginative writing in the formation of ethical citizens across time.

  • ENGL289P: Why Poetry Matters
    Joshua Weiner
    Why does poetry matter?  The power of language finding form in poetry, in the most intensely charged interplay of sound and meaning, has provided pleasure, knowledge, wisdom, solace, and inspiration since civilization’s earliest days, and perhaps even before that.  It has developed and changed in the course of history, and much of human history and the meaning of human existence is embedded and distilled in its lines.  The art of poetry is not an artifact from the past, but a living art, changing as our use of language changes, becoming itself a vehicle for such change, both keeping pace with social transformations, and sometimes setting the pace for them.

  • ENGL289T: Representing Technology/Technologies of Representation
    Jonathan Auerbach
    This course examines French, German, British and American novels and stories from the 19th century that highlight the role of new technologies—modern media and mechanical inventions such as photographs and automata that are themselves (like literature) concerned with representing “reality,” including humans, and so blurring the line between humans, machines, and animals.

  • ENGL289X: Breaking News: Contemporary Literature, Media and the State
    Linda Kauffman
    The “I”-series was established as a result of input from students who wanted more challenging and stimulating interdisciplinary courses. In Engl289x, “Breaking News” entails “decoding” narratives in fiction, film, TV.  and print media. While it draws on news stories, it is not a journalism course. Instead, we focus on the complexities of representation and interpretation. We examine the relationship between the individual and the State at specific moments of global upheaval. We are interested in how is history represented, with particular emphasis on race, gender, ethnicity, and class. Other topics: State terror, environmental degradation, and permanent war. The course combines lectures, section discussions, and interactive collaboration with your classmates and instructors.

  • ENGL289Y: American Fictions: Cross Examining U.S. Literature, History, and Politics
    Peter Mallios
    This course concerns the relationship between two kinds of “American fiction.” One is the kind generally associated with the phrase “American literature”—i.e., novels, short stories, poems, etc., written by U.S. authors. The other is the more general category of cultural and political storylines through which U.S. “America” has become constituted and contested as a people and polity. This latter kind of “American fiction” refers to the general narratives and vocabularies framing how different groups of U.S. Americans have come historically to understand and contest their relationships to one another and to the rest of the world. In this course, we will see that the “literary” is a much larger category than we may previously have assumed—very little textuality that circulates in human politics and culture, and certainly none of the most consequential political, social, and legal documents and declarations in U.S. history, are lacking in literary qualities central to their social meaning. We will also see that much of U.S. political history itself turns on struggles over competing “American” fictions: i.e., narratives of national constitution, diverse cultural composition, social justice, and world relation—often at their most vivid when being asserted and challenged in works of U.S. novelists.

  • ENGL289Z: Aliens, Exiles, Immigrants: Literature and Emigration
    Jason R Rudy
    The world as we know it has been shaped by immigration; we are all, in different ways, products of global dislocations. This course will explore the ideas, beliefs, and aspirations that immigrants carry from one nation to another. We will think about different ways of understanding national and cultural identities, and in what ways the experiences of immigration have changed significantly over time. We will read both historical and contemporary immigrant writing, including post-9/11 poetry and fiction; memoirs of nineteenth-century British emigrants to South Africa, Australia, and Canada; literature by emigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America now living in the United States; and writing by individuals displaced by war, famine, and political conflict. Our conversations will be shaped by several short articles on the politics of immigration and citizenship, and our questions will be guided by historical and contemporary arguments for and against immigration and assimilation.


  • ARHU158B: Explorations in Arts and Humanities: Metaphor: The Art of Connecting the Self to Others
    Mark Forrester
    Many scientists believe that metaphors are fundamental to human thought and action, allowing us to process new information in terms of the familiar. Examine the role of metaphor in literature, visual arts, and history. Consider what metaphor suggests about the connections between the objects, cultures, and peoples of our world.
  • ARHU158D: Explorations in Arts and Humanities: Lives of Performance
    Scott Trudell
    Explore "Live" performance and its many afterlives in audio and visual media. Study performance as an art form, ranging from Shakespeare to the Cohen Brothers, and as a social practice that includes race, sexuality, and political protest. Approach performance from the perspectives of literary studies, musicology, theater studies, and more, working throughout the course on collaborative projects that find, creative ways to engage communities.


  • Novel Humans
    Jonathan Auerbach
    What are the dark, uncertain borders between the human and the nonhuman, between the natural and the unnatural, between life and death? In Novel Humans you will explore great works of literature to examine their perspectives on how technology shapes and redefines us. You will discover subtle insights involving gender, race, labor and other issues that inventors, engineers, and scientists might have overlooked or underestimated. Through literary analysis and hands-on experimentation you will learn to put the current preoccupation with new media into a broader historical perspective and to appreciate how literature can offer fundamental and fresh understandings of the ways that technology helps us grasp what it means to be human. The Novel Humans community students live together for one year. The community theme comes from the I-Series course that all students complete in the fall semester.
  • ENGL289P: Uncanny Technologies: Monsters, Droids, and Vampires
    This course aims to address how we initially understand new technologies and how these modern instrumentalities in turn represent us. You will delve into a series of nineteenth-century American, French, German, and British novels and stories from Frankenstein (1818) to Dracula (1897), featuring a variety of media and inventions such as photographs, phonographs, automata, and motion pictures that are concerned with recording and reproducing human consciousness and the human body.


Gemstone is a four-year undergraduate team research program within the University of Maryland Honors College. It was originally developed through the School of Engineering, and currently emphasizes original research, often deriving from faculty projects, in a variety of fields drawing on scientific and quantitative methods. Team Politic (2011-2014) was the first humanities-based project in the program’s experience. The team used advanced computer tools (specifically, those of topic modeling, sentiment analysis, and predictive classifiers of large data) and statistical methods (regression, time series, and factor analyses) to analyze the relationship between the reception of Russian authors in earlier twentieth century American newspapers and magazines and contemporaneous developments in international political history.The project was advised by Professor Peter Mallios, drawing on his research with the Foreign Literatures in America (FLA) project.


  • HHUM106: The Arts in Practice Animation in Theory and Practice
    Oliver Gaycken
    Across its many forms, animation has been considered a subset of film and television rather than their parent. Yet the basic principle of creating motion through frame-by-frame manipulation underlies more than a century of moving-image art, advertising, and storytelling, constituting a rich and under-examined history. Now, as digital technologies colonize nearly every mode of image making, distribution, and critique, animation has become even more pervasive in our mediascape, encompassing everything from the branded displays of Times Square to the icons on our cell phones and the avatars we inhabit online. This course surveys and investigates the history and evolution of animation, both as a medium “in itself” and as a set of practices and aesthetics that circulate throughout different media, technologies, and cultural settings. Students will be encouraged to engage in animated media production, which could include such forms as flip books, flash animation, medical animation, engineering/architecture modeling, cartooning, animated painting, installation art, and more.
  • HHUM106: Literature and Visual Culture
    Christina Walter
    This course explores 20th-century collaborations between literature and visual culture. Today, whether it’s in the form of touchscreens, Prezi, or internet news, we’re well-accustomed to icons that merge visual and verbal media—which is why some scholars call our moment the time of the “imagetext.” But in the past, images and texts have sometimes been imagined as incompatible or even at war with each other.  We will explore why such a war would have existed and how things changed.  We’ll look specifically at how the practice of mixing visual and verbal media evolved in the 20th century, looking at writers who worked with visual media and technologies like painting, film, photography, and advertising. At the end of the course, students will develop a creative work that uses both visual and verbal media, along with an artist’s statement that discusses the meaning of the work and the role of images, texts, and vision in it.
  • HHUM106: Film Noir and American Culture
    Jonathan Auerbach
    Most of us think about film noir, if at all, as a set of clichés best exemplified by those TV commercials shot in black-and white—guys in hats talking in cheesy dialogue to mysterious women.  But as both a visual style and an equally dark set of attitudes, film noir during the 1940s and 1950s represents a profound exploration of great American themes: moral corruption, gender confusion, alienation and paranoia, all set in bleak urban landscapes.  This course will look closely at a number of classic noir films, including Double Indemnity, Gun Crazy, Kiss Me Deadly, and Touch of Evil, as well as some examples from abroad, concentrating on their formal aspects as well as what they suggest about postwar American culture.
  • HHUM106: Photography in Literature: From the Great Depression to 9/11
    Sheila Jelen
    Contemporary culture has, to a great extent, eradicated the border between the literary and the visual. Through graphic novels, "photo texts," and novels containing photographs, the literary and the visual have become continuous and contiguous. This course considers this development in two related literary-historical moments: the documentary realist movement, which was shaped during the Great Depression, and the post-modern explosion of a hybrid photographic/narrative genre, which seems to have found its fullest expression in post-9/11 fiction. Looking at these moments side-by-side, we will explore the power of the image in literary attempts to foster social change and to democratize literary access in an increasingly global intellectual and political environment. Texts to be explored will include photo albums, photo essays, photographic anthologies, photo-documentary novels, and novels which contain photographs.


Supported by the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

  • ENGL395: Writing for the Health Professions
    Scott Wible
    You’re pursuing a career in the health professions because you’re passionate about solving real-world health problems and helping people to improve their lives. This Professional Writing course gives you the training and support to do just that. You’ll learn how to research communities to truly, deeply understand their health problems. You’ll learn how to design bold, innovative solutions that target the community’s most pressing needs. You’ll learn how to use writing to manage your project development and to deliver your solutions to stakeholders who need and can implement them. In short, you’ll learn to become a fearless solver of the world’s pressing health problems.


Grants for course redesign from the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center

Current Fellows:

  • Scott Moses
    ENGL393: Technical Writing
    The intent of ENGL393 is to prepare you for the type of professional communication you are likely to engage in during your first post-college jobs and beyond. This course focuses on technical communication – learning how to present specialized information in an accessible way to a variety of different audiences, but audiences who, no doubt, will expect clarity, accuracy, and professionalism from you. This class stresses the key skills that highlight a successful professional technical communicator. Specifically, we focus on the process of writing (including the planning, drafting, and revising stages) and look carefully at the work that goes into the final polished product
  • Peter Grybauskas
    UNIV104: Reading and Writing at the College Level


  • ENGL388C: Writing Internship: Community Engagement
    Heather Lindenman with guest lectures by Scott Wible
    This class offers students an opportunity to combine service with scholarship. We will work with ninth grade students at local Northwestern High School to explore the ways writing can be used as a tool for social change. In collaboration with the high school students, we will host a performance event that opens a dialogue surrounding a pressing social issue. In addition to tutoring and mentoring, this class requires a good deal of writing. You will write multiple reflections, a literacy narrative, a creative composition, publicity materials, and a multimodal exploration of some aspect of writing in society. You will conduct independent research and will be expected to switch fluidly between academic, creative, professional, and hybrid genres. We will also focus on developing critical self-awareness of our own relationships with literacy, writing, and dialects of power. In addition to two weekly 50-minute meetings, this class requires commitment to an off-campus service-learning component for about 90 minutes, once a week.
  • ENGL 292: Writing for Change
    Justin Lohr with guest lectures by Scott Wible
    In this Scholarship in Practice class, students will explore the possibilities and limitations of using writing as a tool for social change. As a member of this class, you will play many different roles: learner, collaborator, mentor, teacher, and performer, to name a few. We will interrogate the concepts of rhetorical agency, critical literacy, intercultural inquiry, and performance. Then, through our work with 9th grade students (on site) at Northwestern High School, we will draw on these approaches as we collaborate to address an issue or problem of importance to the students. Our ten-week collaboration with Northwestern will culminate in an evening of performance, in which the high school students present their final Writing for Change projects. The goal of our final performance will be twofold: to celebrate the students’ voices and perspectives, and to begin a robust dialogue surrounding the issue at stake.
  • ENGL368C: Caribbean Stop: Poetry and Short Stories from the Region
    Merle Collins
    This is a project-based course.  If you are interested in teaching and want experience working with grade school students, this is the class for you.  If you want an opportunity to learn to play at least one tune on the Caribbean steelpan, and can add an hour or two per week outside of scheduled class time, this is also the course for you.  You will work in the classroom and with Cultural Academy for Excellence (CAFÉ), a community group in Prince George’s Community, on a project aimed at developing a “global tour” to give young people an understanding of the literature and culture of various parts of the world.  This course is designed as the community group’s “Caribbean Stop” on its global tour.  You will work alternatively in the classroom and at the CAFÉ location in Mt. Rainier, Md.   In the classroom, you will be introduced to selected Caribbean poems, plays and short stories.   At CAFÉ, you will assist young people with homework and, having established a relationship, design a program to teach the youth some of what you are learning of Caribbean literature. 


  • ENGL261/361: Recovering Oral Histories: Caribbean and Latin American Communities in the USA and Britain
    Merle Collins
    This is a project-based course, aimed at recording oral histories of Caribbean American and Latin American communities in the Washington metropolitan area.  At the beginning of the course, we will discuss interview and oral history techniques.  From the end of the second/beginning of the third week of the course, you will be expected to begin interviewing a contact in the Latin American or Caribbean community.  Interviewees/narrators will be approved by the course instructor, who will assist with identifying individuals if students find it difficult to do so independently.  Students will record and videotape oral histories, transcribe these stories and begin writing them as oral histories. This course is being offered in coordination with Professor Conrad James at the Department of Latin American Studies, Birmingham University, UK.  Using Canvas and video conferencing facilities, the two classes (in the U.S.A. and U.K.) will share comments about interviews and interview transcripts.


  • Bologna, Italy: ENGL369B/FILM369B: Methods and Issues in Film Preservation
    Oliver Gaycken
    Study Abroad in Bologna, Italy with Professor Oliver Gaycken as you learn first-hand about the vital role of film preservation in the maintenance and reclamation of cinematic patrimony.  In this hands-on collaborative program, you will experience the work happening at film restoration laboratories which keeps the films we know and love available to us, as well as attend the annual film restoration festival Il Cinema Ritrovato.
  • London and East Anglia: ENGL409M: Study Abroad in London and East Anglia
    Michael Olmert
    Study Abroad in London and East Anglia in England is an intensive examination of British culture. With Professor Michael Olmert, students on the program study the History, Literature, Drama, Architecture, Art and Archeology of Britain by visiting London, Castle Acre (an East Anglian village in Norfolk), and a number of other historic and literary sites in England.
  • Australia: ENGL369D/HONR349B: Australia: Literature and Culture - Aboriginal to Contemporary
    Jason Rudy
    Join Professor Jason Rudy for an immersion into Australian culture and history. This course explores the literature, theater, and arts of aboriginal and contemporary Australia. It looks back to the colonial founding of Australia as a British outpost and considers how modern Australia has emerged from a mixing of Western and Indigenous cultures. This three-week program takes place in Sydney. See the Program Flyer.
    * This course has been approved for the Gen Ed Humanities and Cultural Competence requirements.
  • New Zealand: ENGL369D/HONR349B: New Zealand Literature and Culture
    Jason Rudy
    Professor Jason Rudy leads students on a journey through the landscape of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, immersing you in the culture, literature, and history of New Zealand.  This course will look back to the colonial founding of New Zealand as a British outpost, and to the strong Maori culture the British encountered when they arrived.