Department of English

Jenny Howell


Postdoctoral Fellow
Jenny Howell

Contact

  • Phone: (512) 471-8116
  • Office: PAR 224
  • Office Hours: T 1-3p, Th 10-11a
  • Campus Mail Code: B5000

Interests


Twentieth- and twenty-first century American and British literature and culture; the historical novel; historiography; ethics in literature

Courses


E 316P • Masterworks Of Literature

34465 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ 1.210

E 316P  l  Masterworks of Literature

Instructor:  Howell, J

Unique #:  34465

Semester:  Spring 2016

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: One of the following: E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A.

Description: In this course we will examine how Americans and Europeans have viewed each other across five centuries. Some of our central questions will be: What effect did America’s rejection of Europe’s aristocracy and government have on each continent? Where did the idea of the “American dream” originate, and how can it be defined? To what extent does the US still bear the cultural imprint of Europe, and what role does America play in the minds of contemporary European authors?

Students will first read a few brief accounts of explorers and early settlers before examining some of the crucial documents that position the US as a nation unlike any in Europe. We will then turn to texts—novels, short stories, and essays—written by immigrants, travelers, and soldiers providing their impressions of an unfamiliar place. We will also pay close attention to the stories of those whose transatlantic encounters were sometimes violently coerced, including slaves and Native Americans. Throughout we will read narratives of “innocents abroad,” focusing on those who undergo journeys of self-discovery through their experiences (real or imagined) on foreign soil. Our goal will be to discover how Americans and Europeans establish their individual and national identities in relationship to each other.

Likely texts include: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, The Relation (1542) · John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity” (1630) · William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation (1630-51) · Thomas Jefferson et al, “The Declaration of Independence” (1776) · J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur, Letters from an American Farmer (1782) · Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789) · William Apess, “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man” (1833) · Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835) · Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869) · Franz Kafka, “The Stoker” (1913) · Anzia Yezierska, “America and I” (1923) · Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926) · Edith Wharton, “Roman Fever” (1934) · John Horne Burns, “Momma” (1947) · James Baldwin, “Discovery of What It Means to Be an American” (1961) · Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night (1961) · Joseph O’Neill, Netherland (2008)

Requirements and grading: This seminar course will require your consistent engagement with the readings and active participation in class. Attendance is mandatory, and missing more than three classes will negatively affect your grade. Participation—15%; Two short close reading assignments (500 words), one of which may be revised for a higher grade—30%, 15% each; Midterm—25%; Final Exam—30%.

E 343P • Postmodern Literature

34485 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM GAR 3.116

E 343P  l  Postmodern Literature

Instructor:  Howell, J

Unique #:  34485

Semester:  Fall 2015

Cross-lists:  n/a

Flags:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Description: What could Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s soup paintings have in common with Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, which concerns the lingering effects of slavery? What worldview might be shared by the creators of The Simpsons and the architect of the disorienting Bonaventura Hotel in Los Angeles? These exciting artistic works are all associated with postmodernism, a concept that is notoriously difficult to define. Is it a historical period, a set of aesthetic characteristics, or a way of thinking about the world? Has it already ended or is it ongoing? To what extent does it influence cultural production today?

In this course we will seek answers to these questions by reading novels and short stories, watching films, and examining visual art. After a short exploration of the stories of Jorge Luis Borges, an influential early postmodernist, we will read some of the “high” postmodernist texts of the 1960s. We will then track how the movement’s philosophical, aesthetic, and political concerns developed in the 1970s and ‘80s and take note of the ways in which postmodernism challenged traditional views of history, language, culture, and what it means to be human. We will also consider how the movement—often associated with white male writers—interacts with the concerns of female, ethnic, and queer authors. At the end of the course, we will briefly reflect on the status of postmodernism today.

Texts: Although the final course texts have not yet been decided, likely choices include (but are not limited to) Jorge Luis Borges, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” (1940) · Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) · Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) · Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo (1972) · Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979) · Graham Swift, Waterland (1983) · Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985) · Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987) · Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (1989) · Art Spiegelman, Maus (graphic novel, 1980-91). Students will decide how we end the course; short selections by David Foster Wallace, Sherman Alexie, Zadie Smith, and Lydia Davis are all possibilities. We will also examine brief excerpts from theoretical works by Fredric Jameson, Jean-François Lyotard, Hayden White, and Wallace.

Other: Blade Runner (film, dir. Ridley Scott, 1982); art and sculpture by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and others; music by John Cage.

Requirements & Grading: This seminar course will require your consistent engagement with the readings and active participation in class. Attendance is mandatory, and missing more than three classes will affect your grade negatively. Participation—10%; Reading responses (quizzes, blog posts, short informal assignments)—15%; a paper of 5-7 pages, which may be revised for credit—30%; Midterm—20%; Final Exam—25%.

E 314L • Banned Books And Novel Ideas

34935 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM PAR 304

Instructor:  Howell, J            Areas:  -- / A

Unique #:  34935            Flags:  Writing

Semester:  Fall 2013            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a            Computer Instruction:  Yes

Prerequisites: E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A.

What kind of stories do we tell ourselves about war? That “war is hell,” as William T. Sherman allegedly claimed? That “it is sweet and right to die for one’s country,” as an ancient poet once wrote? In times of armed conflict, we often look for stories that justify our actions, that give us courage, that impart faith in our nation, and that comfort us in the face of tragedy. But what about those texts that do the opposite—that question the morality of armed conflict, that challenge the reasons for going to war, that present an unflattering depiction of a nation, that reveal the devastating consequences of battle? In many different eras and distinct locations, people have concluded that these kinds of texts are dangerous.

This semester we will be using war as the backdrop for examining controversial novels, poems, music, and films. These works treat a range of historical conflicts, including a so-called “good war” like World War II and the divisive and politically charged Vietnam War. Most of our texts have been censored for their depictions of conflict or their arguments about war. But they are also provocative in other ways: for their portrayal of gender, sexuality, race, and class. As we examine these works, we will be asking questions like: What kinds of stories do they tell, not only about armed conflict but also about the kinds of nations that engage in warfare? And, perhaps more importantly, why exactly are these texts so threatening? What kind of “real world” power can literature have?

This course is designed to help students develop critical reading and writing skills. Class members will learn how to read literary texts closely and think about their cultural and historical contexts as well as their structure and language. They will be guided to write papers that involve analyzing literature, forming cogent arguments, conducting research, editing their compositions, and revising their work. These assignments should prepare students for a wide range of upper-division courses in English and in other departments and programs.

Texts: Course texts will likely include the following novels: Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms; Erich Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front; Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five; Duong Thu Huong, Novel Without a Name; and (recent UT alum) Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds.  In addition, we will be watching two films: Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now and Ari Folman, Waltz with Bashir.

The course packet will also include: several poems from Wilfred Owen; stories from Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried; selections from Michael Herr, Dispatches; and lyrics to songs performed by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul, & Mary.

Requirements & Grading: Three 2-3 page critical analysis papers (45%, 15% each); One 4-6-page comparative research paper (30%); Informal writing assignments & reading quizzes (15%); Discussion and consistently engaged, active participation (10%).

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Documentary Films

44300 • Spring 2013
Meets MW 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 104

Despite the fact that they have been integral to the film industry since its inception in the late 19th century, documentary features have only recently captured the attention of a wide audience in the United States.  Controversial works like Fahrenheit 9/11, Super Size Me, An Inconvenient Truth, and Waiting for “Superman” have achieved mainstream success, and they have also reignited debates about documentaries as a genre.  Some argue that these films are little more than propaganda, presenting a one-sided perspective on a particular issue.  Others, however, see these films as a means of introducing a disputed topic to generate conversation and galvanize action.  In this course we will investigate both the rhetoric that surrounds documentary films and the rhetoric that is produced by them. The class will help students to think critically about both the form and content of documentary films and to develop their own opinions about the value of the genre in contemporary society. 

In the first major unit of study, students will discuss what “documentary” means, and they will produce a paper that provides a definition of documentary and uses one film to delineate the boundaries of the genre.  We will then examine the techniques that filmmakers use to construct their arguments and convince the audience to accept their films as true.  Students will write a second paper that compares the persuasive techniques found in two related documentaries.  Finally, after studying the technologies and methodologies of documentary filmmakers, students will create their own 3-5 minute documentary using iMovie, Prezi, or old-fashioned poster board. Previous knowledge of assigned documentaries or familiarity with the computer programs mentioned is neither expected nor required.

Assignments

Short Writing Assignments - 15%

Essay 1.1 - 5%

Essay 1.2 - 10%

Essay 2.1 - 10%

Essay 2.2 - 15%

Film Proposal - 15%

Final Film Project - 20%

Homework - 10%

(10-12 grades per semester; made up of reading quizzes, short assignments, brief blog entries)           

Peer Reviews - Mandatory

Reading/Film List

  • Everything’s an Argument, Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters
  • Easy Writer, Lunsford
  • Course Packet including excerpts from Crafting Truth: Documentary Form and Meaning; Engaging Cinema; Lies, Damn Lies and Documentaries; How to Read a Film; F is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing; The Art of the Documentary; and other short readings on specific films.
  • Possible films (some will be seen in full; others only in part): Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; Catfish; Waiting for “Superman”; Page One; Sous les Bombes (Under the Bombs); Loose Change; The Cove; Deliver Us From Evil; Jesus Camp; March of the Penguins; Don’t Look Back; Los Angeles Plays Itself; Tongues Untied; Roger and Me.

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Documentary Films

44105 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 6

Despite the fact that they have been integral to the film industry since its inception in the late 19th century, documentary features have only recently captured the attention of a wide audience in the United States.  Controversial works like Fahrenheit 9/11, Super Size Me, An Inconvenient Truth, and Waiting for “Superman” have achieved mainstream success, and they have also reignited debates about documentaries as a genre.  Some argue that these films are little more than propaganda, presenting a one-sided perspective on a particular issue.  Others, however, see these films as a means of introducing a disputed topic to generate conversation and galvanize action.  In this course we will investigate both the rhetoric that surrounds documentary films and the rhetoric that is produced by them. The class will help students to think critically about both the form and content of documentary films and to develop their own opinions about the value of the genre in contemporary society. 

In the first major unit of study, students will discuss what “documentary” means, and they will produce a paper that provides a definition of documentary and uses one film to delineate the boundaries of the genre.  We will then examine the techniques that filmmakers use to construct their arguments and convince the audience to accept their films as true.  Students will write a second paper that compares the persuasive techniques found in two related documentaries.  Finally, after studying the technologies and methodologies of documentary filmmakers, students will create their own 3-5 minute documentary using iMovie, Prezi, or old-fashioned poster board. Previous knowledge of assigned documentaries or familiarity with the computer programs mentioned is neither expected nor required.

Assignments

Short Writing Assignments - 15%

Essay 1.1 - 5%

Essay 1.2 - 10%

Essay 2.1 - 10%

Essay 2.2 - 15%

Film Proposal - 15%

Final Film Project - 20%

Homework - 10%

(10-12 grades per semester; made up of reading quizzes, short assignments, brief blog entries)           

Peer Reviews - Mandatory

Reading/Film List

  • Everything’s an Argument, Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters
  • Easy Writer, Lunsford
  • Course Packet including excerpts from Crafting Truth: Documentary Form and Meaning; Engaging Cinema; Lies, Damn Lies and Documentaries; How to Read a Film; F is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing; The Art of the Documentary; and other short readings on specific films.
  • Possible films (some will be seen in full; others only in part): Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; Catfish; Waiting for “Superman”; Page One; Sous les Bombes (Under the Bombs); Loose Change; The Cove; Deliver Us From Evil; Jesus Camp; March of the Penguins; Don’t Look Back; Los Angeles Plays Itself; Tongues Untied; Roger and Me.

RHE S309K • Rhetoric Of Documentary Films

87995 • Summer 2012
Meets MTWTHF 11:30AM-1:00PM BEN 1.124

Despite the fact that they have been integral to the film industry since its inception in the late 19th century, documentary features have only recently captured the attention of a wide audience in the United States.  Controversial works like Fahrenheit 9/11, Super Size Me, An Inconvenient Truth, and Waiting for “Superman” have achieved mainstream success, and they have also reignited debates about documentaries as a genre.  Some argue that these films are little more than propaganda, presenting a one-sided perspective on a particular issue.  Others, however, see these films as a means of introducing a disputed topic to generate conversation and galvanize action.  In this course we will investigate both the rhetoric that surrounds documentary films and the rhetoric that is produced by them. The class will help students to think critically about both the form and content of documentary films and to develop their own opinions about the value of the genre in contemporary society.

In the first major unit of study, students will discuss what “documentary” means, and they will produce a paper that provides a definition of documentary and uses one film to delineate the boundaries of the genre.  We will then examine the techniques that filmmakers use to construct their arguments and convince the audience to accept their films as true.  Students will write a second paper that compares the persuasive techniques found in two related documentaries.  Finally, after studying the technologies and methodologies of documentary filmmakers, students will create their own 3-5 minute documentary using iMovie, Prezi, or old-fashioned poster board. Previous knowledge of assigned documentaries or familiarity with the computer programs mentioned is neither expected nor required.

Assignments

Short Writing Assignments - 15%

Essay 1.1 - 5%

Essay 1.2 - 10%

Essay 2.1 - 10%

Essay 2.2 -  15%

Film Proposal - 15%

Final Film Project - 20%

Homework - 10%

(10-12 grades per semester; made up of reading quizzes, short assignments, brief blog entries)           

Peer Reviews - Mandatory

Reading/Film List

  • Everything’s an Argument, Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters
  • Easy Writer, Lunsford
  • Course Packet including excerpts from Crafting Truth: Documentary Form and Meaning; Engaging Cinema; Lies, Damn Lies and Documentaries; How to Read a Film; F is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing; The Art of the Documentary; and other short readings on specific films.
  • Possible films (some will be seen in full; others only in part): Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; Catfish; Waiting for “Superman”; Page One; Sous les Bombes (Under the Bombs); Loose Change; The Cove; Deliver Us From Evil; Jesus Camp; March of the Penguins; Don’t Look Back; Los Angeles Plays Itself; Tongues Untied; Roger and Me.

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