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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

English Department announces new courses and instructors

Published: November 14, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

Brandeis’ newest English classes have just recently been announced. According to the English Department, Scott Moore and Jodie Austin will be teaching a number of courses next semester.

Moore, who will be teaching Moving on Up: The Fiction of Merit and Mobility this coming spring, earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from California State University, Chico, and received his Ph.D. from Brandeis specializing in 19th-century American literature. An already experienced instructor, Moore currently teaches Composition and has taught sections of University Writing Seminar. His spring class will explore the problematic relationship between talent and class mobility in American literature and culture and will be a special one-time offering for spring 2015 only.

Austin, who earned her B.A. in English from University of California, Santa Barbara and earned her Ph.D. in English from Brandeis, will be teaching three courses in the Spring: Digital Humanities, Poetics of Plague Writing and The Political Zombie.

Digital Humanities is an introduction to the history and development of digital media and culture. The class will explore topics like video games, cyberpunk culture and e-commerce sites. The Poetics of Plague Writing is a literature-based course focusing on plague in the 17th century. Finally, The Political Zombie is a UWS in which representations of the zombie as a political figure in film will be studied.

As an English professor, Austin is most looking forward to meeting her students and developing a rewarding relationship with them. “These are all new courses, so I’m hoping that we can break some exciting ground together in terms of engaging with the content and trying out some novel approaches toward class-based projects. For example, the Digital Humanities course will be the first class that I’ve ever taught that will feature a video game as a common text,” she disclosed. When asked about her personal favorite works of literature, she said that some of her favorite works will be read in class and that students will have to take the courses to find out.

At Brandeis, Austin wrote her dissertation on the plague and its impact on early modern literature in England. The Poetics of Plague Writing is based upon her own dissertation research. “I wanted to teach it in order to expand further upon my research in addition to seeing what students themselves think about the topic. Although I’ve always loved studying early modern literature, I’ve also tried to keep one foot firmly planted on the modern/postmodern side of things as well; the prospect of teaching a Digital Humanities course really appealed to my geeky side,” she said.

There are many parallels between the intellectual Renaissance that early modern Europeans were experiencing in the 17th century and the digital renaissance that we’re currently a part of. “I see this as an opportunity to bridge some of those discussions. As far as the UWS is concerned, I am well aware that America is fairly saturated with zombie culture at the moment; however, I’ve found that there aren’t that many opportunities for undergraduates to explore the idea of the allegorical zombie, or the historical zombie, within a more rigorous, academic context,” she explained. “I felt in many ways like it was time to give the zombie his/her due. Even the undead should be allowed to have a political voice.”