Cultures of Infection (My own course about Infection!)

Hello Dear Reader,

I’m back!

I apologize for the delay between posts, but this summer really got a bit hectic. Teaching a course 4 days a week for six weeks, and having 2 weddings to go to in the middle of that, while starting a dissertation and planning a new class for the Fall quarter can take its toll!

But I’m back!

I just want to write, for a moment, about my super awesome new class at UCSB.

I am teaching ENGL 165 (Topics in Literature) and my section is CI: Cultures of Infection: Microbes, Monsters, and the Politics of Fear (or something of the like).

We just kicked off class last Thursday with the first introductory meeting and my (full) class of (super eager) students did a close reading of a passage from Dracula that really addressed some of the major themes of the course. We’re knee deep in Dracula now, and they seem pretty into it.

This course is really a more undergrad friendly, or a sort of poppier version of the kind of issues I am looking at in my dissertation. So, we are hashing out the intertwined lexicon of politics, war, and biology, to examine the idiomatic intersection of infection and immunity and terror and security. We’re starting with Dracula and Microbe Hunters, moving on to Who Goes There and the alien invasion, and then spending most of the second half of the course historicizing the figure of the zombie as it relates to these themes.

Needless to say, I am super excited.

After two class meetings, my students really seem to be, too.

I’ll post you updates of materials we cover in class that seem interesting, but my students seem very engaged by the idea of using fictional portrayals of infection/immunity//terror/security to help understand and gain the language to speak about the intertwined politics of the social, the biological, and the military. To me, that is the ultimate enthusiasm booster: if I can get my students interested in the material and in the pedagogical philosophy behind it, the class can only go well.

I’ll sign off here, but expect a post next week about my students’ reaction to DraculaMicrobe Hunters, and some topical analysis of accounts of the newly(ish) discovered Bas-Congo Virus.

Farewell from you ever-faithful correspondent,

Steve

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