Every year, the United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) pursues an ambitious annual campaign, and every year, area companies share their employees, or "loaned executives," with the organization to help it reach its funding goals. (For some sense of the scale of this undertaking, the United Way’s 2014 goal is $38,250,000.)
Published in Announcements
June 24, 2014

English Classes

English.

American Detective/Crime Literature (EH 214)

Time: M/W/F 10:10 a.m.- 11:00 a.m.
Instructor: Victor Camp

We’ll survey this very American genre from Edgar Allan Poe to the present, linking its development with the dime-novel era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the hard-boiled ethos in Black Mask magazine in the 1920s, the golden years of pulp from the 30s to the 50s, and the more recent renderings that have expanded the genre’s ranges of ethnicity, gender, class, and subject matter. Besides Poe, we’ll read stories by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, and Sara Paretsky, as well as some by the lesser known. We’ll also read some influential critical essays to help us explore questions like:
  • What explains the continued fascination with this genre over the last two hundred years or so?
  • What representative techniques are involved, and how might they be connected to its popularity?
  • How much reality should we attribute these works?
  • Are any of them worthy of the designation of literary fiction, or are they indeed a lower art form deserving of their inferior status as genre fiction?
Edgar Allan Poe. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.Edgar Allan Poe. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.One could say, then, that we’ll be following the conventional critical (and detective) route of looking beneath the surface of these texts for a more sophisticated understanding of their characteristics and effects, and there may be some truth in that. Yet, if we heed the unconventional advice of Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin, it is the obvious that we’ll need to pay more attention to.

Walking the Line: The Role of Comedy in Eradicating and Exacerbating Racism (EH 324)

Time: M/W/F 11:15 a.m. - 12:05 p.m.
Instructor: Jessie Dunbar

This course explores the origins and applications of comedy to opening discourses concerning of race relations in the United States. We will grapple with the implications of this approach including its effectiveness in creating dialogs (useful and harmful), debunking or supporting stereotypes, and shaming or emboldening practitioners of racism. The question that we, as a community, will seek to answer is this: Does race-based comedy advance our understanding of cultural difference or does it merely inure the American population to politically incorrect utterances? We will analyze a variety of tradition and nontraditional texts, such as:
  • James Weldon Johnnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man
  • Alice Randall’s Wind Done Gone
  • Damali Ayo’s How to Rent a Negro
  • “race sketches” performed by comedians Dave Chappell, and Key and Peele

Nature Writing (EH 327-2C)

Time: T/TH 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Instructor: Kyle Grimes

Global warming, urban sprawl, shrinking biodiversity, pollution, sustainable agriculture ... the relationship between humankind and the environment is one of the abiding issues of the modern world. And, at least since the days of Genesis, nature has also been one of the great and recurrent themes of both creative literature and non-fiction prose. In this course we will explore the many expressions of Nature in writing. Through such classic writers as Wordsworth and Thoreau and even Grimm's Fairy Tales, through more modern writers like Rachel Carson, Loren Eisley, Gary Snyder, Wendell Berry, and others, and even through national park brochures, nature magazines, and conservation and industry websites, we will consider some of the questions about Nature that have been significant in our history and that have bearing on current environmental discussion:
  • Are natural resources here for human use, or do we damage Nature by using natural resources?
  • Is Nature simply an uncivilized and perhaps violent chaos that we need to "tame," or is Nature a beautiful, perhaps even spiritual essence with which we should strive to live in harmony?
  • Does natural beauty express some genuine moral or ethical values?
  • Is there some deeply spiritual quality in Nature that we need to protect, or is Nature just our name for a set of mechanical processes that are indifferent to human desires?
  • Why do people spend energy and time working to buy things like cars and houses...and then spend their weekends fishing, or camping, or hunting, or "getting back to Nature"?

View of frog pond looking from southwest - Briarwood: The Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve, 216 Caroline Dormon Road, Saline, Bienville Parish, L. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. View of frog pond; Briarwood: The Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve, Louisiana. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. There are as many questions about Nature as there are nature writers fascinated by its marvellous, terrible, necessary beauty. This course will consider writing about nature from a very wide perspective — everything from reverent celebrations of natural beauty to hard-headed scientific essays that "explain" nature. We will read and discuss these works in class, we may have a field trip or two, and we will write a couple of papers — one short critical essay about the readings and a longer paper/project at the end of the course which can be, optionally, an original essay in a nature writing genre.

Women’s Literature and Theory: Women’s Bodies of/and Literature (EH 444/544)

Time: T/TH 2:00 - 3:15 p.m.
Instructor: Margaret Jay Jessee

Unlike a course titled American Literature or Shakespeare, when we name a course Women’s Literature, we are invoking two bodies: a body of literature and the writer’s gendered body. This course will focus on those two bodies. We will read various theories of the body, and we will explore how notions of the body inform a body of literature by women. We will grapple with questions like:
  • How does our literature shape bodies and how do bodies shape literature?
  • What happens to human bodies and to bodies of literature that do not conform to dominant cultural norms?
  • What makes a body gendered, and do bodies of scientific literature have the potential to change our conceptions of the gendered body?
While our goal is not to fully answer all of these questions, I hope that we will come away from the course with intriguing ideas concerning the complex relationship between gender and literature.

Faulkner & Southern Writers (EH 427/592-2B)

Time: T/TH 9:30 - 10:45 a.m.
Instructor: Kieran Quinlan

William Faulkner, the contemporary of James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, and Marcel Proust, invented a South called Yoknapatawpha County. In iconic novels — The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom! — and short stories, he populated it with a wide assortment of characters that have defined the region ever since. But earlier Southern writers also grappling with region, race, and gender provide Faulkner’s templates, while his contemporaries — Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty — both complement and subvert his marvelous creation. Finally, new Southern writers — Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Bobbie Ann Mason, Alice Walker — redefine Faulkner’s imaginative space revealing complexities previously unnoticed.

Modern British and Irish Comedy, or, “What’s So Funny about THAT?” (EH 492/592-8N)

Time: 7:00 - 9:30 p.m.
Instructor: William Hutchings

Oscar Wilde. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. Oscar Wilde. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. This course will assess the remarkable variety and vitality of 20th century British and Irish comedy, in both drama and fiction. Authors and works to be studied are:
  • Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
  • George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion
  • Sir Henry Bashford, Augustus Carp, Esq.
  • J. M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World and The Well of the Saints
  • Evelyn Waugh, The Loved One
  • Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm
  • Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
  • Harold Pinter, The Homecoming
  • Joe Orton, Loot and What the Butler Saw
  • Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
  • Martin Amis, Money
Specifications: Midterm; fully documented research paper (8-10 pp. undergraduates, 12-15 pp. graduate students) and/or final exam (choices to be explained in class). In lieu of quizzes, students will write a 1-page single-spaced “initial response” paper for each work assigned. Active participation in discussion is expected from all who enroll.
Published in Cool Classes
June 13, 2014

History Classes

History.

American Environmental History (HY 290/390)

Time: T/TH 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Instructor: Jordan Bauer

This course examines the relationship between humans and nature in the United States. We will explore how natural forces shape history, how humankind affects physical environment, and how those ecological changes in turn affect human life. Students will be introduced to the major themes in environmental history, including:

  • ecological changes brought by interactions of diverse peoples, animals, and disease
  • how technological change allowed greater environmental modification
  • industrialization and urban growth
  • science and medicine
  • conservationism
  • energy consumption
  • the rise of the modern environmental movement
  • environmental inequality
  • sustainability
  • the emergence of global ecological concerns

Students will gain environmental perspectives of large issues in American history like slavery, the Civil War, and the rise of mass suburbia and topics less well known like bison, population control, sewers, DDT, fast food, and oil, among others. By the end of the course, students will have a broader understanding of the historical roots of today’s environmental issues and problems, and the extent of humans’ impact on the environment over time.

Cartoon: The World's Constable. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. Cartoon: The World's Constable. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. The US and Latin America (HY 341-2B)

Time: T/TH 9:30 - 10:45 a.m.
Instructor: Pamela S. Murray

How have cultural differences and geopolitical realities affected the US’s relations with other nations of the Western hemisphere, those of Latin America in particular? What, for example, has been the impact of the 2,000-mile border shared between the US & Mexico, our closest southern neighbor? Of the growth of US power and influence since the nineteenth century? To what extent have Latin American “Davids“ stood up to the US “Goliath”? Cooperated with it? Explore these questions as we survey the rich, complicated history of us and the Latin Americans — a vital chapter in the larger history of modern world affairs, international relations, and transnationalism. The course involves readings (4-5 books), lectures, and films along with regular classroom discussion and activities. For more info contact Prof. Pamela S. Murray, History Department, at pmurray@uab.edu or (205) 934-8695.

American Urban History (HY 435)

Time: M/W/F 11:15 a.m. - 12:05 p.m.
Instructor: Jordan Bauer

Randolph Street East, LaSalle, Chicago. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. Randolph Street East, LaSalle, Chicago. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. This course examines the historical evolution of urban areas in the United States from the colonial era to the present-day sprawling suburban nation. We will explore major transformative forces of urban change, such as immigration, industrialization, technological revolutions, and suburbanization. We will consider a wide range of topics including: the place of the horse in the city, municipal reformers, freeways, housing segregation, environmentalism, Disneyland, (un)natural disasters, gated communities, among many others.

Cities were not only places where people pursued their American Dream — the rowhouse and ranch house, flush toilets and the American lawn, and better jobs and the two-car garage. More profoundly, the metropolis represented an avenue through which social control and conflict created a spatial landscape divided by wealth and power and poverty and inequality. Thus, the rise and outward spread of cities were inextricably connected to the formation of class, racial, gender, and sexual identities and distinctions. A principal theme of the course will be studying how cities have functioned as crucibles for American culture and politics. This historical perspective will provide students with a better understanding of the major issues facing metropolitan areas today.

America and the World (HY 490-9H)

Time: T 5:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Instructor: Tennant McWilliams

Focusing on the span of US history, the course probes cultural influences behind foreign policy as well as foreign-policy influences on home-front culture. It addresses questions such as these:
  • How did Americans get addicted to “free security”?
  • How did they come to view themselves as exceptional?
  • How do American film, TV, and sports influence foreign views of the US?
  • How have individualism and community competed in US foreign relations?
  • How does America’s current polarization on home-front issues — blue state, red state, etc. — influence global perceptions of America? And is this really new?
  • On the world scene what do the following have in common? “Sweet Home, Alabama.” The Terminator. Chase-Manhattan Bank. Harvard. Silicon Valley. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The Golden Mile.
  • What’s the historical significance of Doctors Without Borders, missionary aid workers, and other NGOs engaging US citizens?

For over 20 years Tennant McWilliams taught this course at UAB, changing it with changing times. Then he retired. Then he moved overseas. Then he flunked retirement, big-time. And now he offers “Americans and the World” this coming spring term. He will draw on different books and articles he has written, his early studies with former US Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and a PBS “American Experience” film he helped produce. Equally, he will bring lessons he has personally learned from foreign work as well as just plain daily life abroad. And he will incorporate experiences of people who know far more than he does about certain elements of America and the world.
Published in Cool Classes
Can making movies make you a better chemist? UAB chemistry professor Joe March and graduate student Mitzy Erdmann have proven that it does. Their research-tested approach is now implemented across UAB's introductory General Chemistry curriculum.
Published in Announcements
What's the fastest thing you can imagine? How about the smallest?

Well never mind, because there really is no way to wrap your head around what's going on in David Hilton's laser lab in the UAB Department of Physics.
Published in Announcements
Two advanced students in The College, Nicole Watkins in History and Kyle Besing in Mathematics, won second and first place, respectively, in this year’s Graduate Student Research Days, hosted by UAB Graduate School.

Selected by peer review, rather than faculty (as had been done in the past), the two winners were scored on content, delivery, visual aid and preparation.
Published in Announcements
For most of us, Antarctica is a story of ice.

Huge, craggy mountains laced with jagged icy edges. Penguins perched on frozen knolls and ridges, fur seals, crabeater seals, and others fishing amongst the floes. And massive chunks of glaciers breaking off into the sea as the warming global temperature melts away the edges of our southernmost continent.
Published in Announcements
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Art and Art History will host the Art History Master of Arts Symposium, an annual daylong symposium shared with the University of Alabama, on Friday, March 7, at the UAB Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts.
Published in Announcements
Two graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences have received 2014 CAS Graduate Entrepreneurship Awards. The program promotes student innovation and entrepreneurship across all graduate programs in CAS.
Published in Announcements

The UAB College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) announces a FY2013 competition for graduate student entrepreneurship awards. CAS plans to award six such graduate student projects of up to $10,000 each. The goal is to promote student innovation and entrepreneurship across graduate programs in CAS.

Published in Announcements
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