5 English Courses Cooler than Gator Football

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You’re in one of the best universities in the country. You made it. The University of Florida’s English Department offers an inexhaustible supply of diverse studies and five-star professors— and it’s all yours for the taking. Whether you’re an English major, minor or devoted Harry Potter nerd, there’s sure to be a burning flame inside you that screams: “Read! Write! Do something brilliant!” There are way too many English courses to choose from, and heaven forbid you let your talents get wasted on some half-ass online class. The following is your guide to the English Department’s cream of the crop courses.

1. CRW 3110: Fiction Writing

Cool story, bro. You should put it in writing. This advanced level class, taught by Padgett Powell, will show you the ropes on taking your over told memories of band camp from white noise chatter to a full-fledged epic. Powell has taught writing at UF for over 30 years, and with six published novels and two collections of short stories, he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve worth your attention. Once you’ve nailed the basics in English usage and narrative structure, it will be your turn to whip out the plume and ink. Or MacBook, whichever tickles your (pretentious) fancy. Then it’s time for the scary part: group critique. That’s right— your work will not only be judged by your professor, but by every one of your classmates, and you’ll also be reading and critiquing their work each week. Writing workshops are here to improve your writing and toughen your skin. It’s a character-building-palooza that will be worth the sweat and tears, if you’re up for the challenge.

2. ENC 3414: Hypermedia

Calling all computer geeks: If you possess an undying affection for graphics, videos, sound, blogging and all things interweby, congratulations, you are a connoisseur of hypermedia. Dr. Greg Ulmer is one of those rare unicorns of a teacher who leaves a life-long impact on his students. One glance at his education philosophy and you’ll see why. Ulmer stresses the power of knowledge gained by “independence from instructor.” He’ll give you the tools you need to become a critical thinking, problem solving wizard. You’ll collaborate with a group to create an online blog, while challenging your notions of creativity on the web. Sure, you’ll be doing plenty of writing (as if you don’t write enough already), but you’ll also get to explore your artistic nature with Photoshop and other drawing software. He puts it this way: “We are learning about hypermedia by doing hypermedia.” This class is basically one big resume booster. You’ll get the real-world experience you’ve been waiting for, not to mention make mom and dad super proud.

3. ENL 4333: Shakespeare—Learning By Doing

If the idea of speaking in front of the classroom makes you weak at the knees, how about reenacting “Romeo and Juliet?” It’s not just for theatre geeks; students of all backgrounds rave about Dr. Sidney Homan’s course for its unique approach to decoding the brilliance of Shakespeare’s greatest masterpieces. You and a partner will work together to prepare multiple scenes to be performed for your peers. And don’t worry, no one expects you to be the next Meryl Streep or Ian McKellen. Your performances will be judged by your deep consideration of the script and willingness to experiment different methods of interpretation. As an experienced actor and director himself, Homan will knock you out of your shell and straight into your 17th century alter-ego. Oversized ballgowns and knight gear are optional.

4. ENG 3122: History of Film Part II

Everyone likes movies, but nothing compares to discovering the beauty of them with a real cinephile like Dr. Robert Ray. This course covers the evolution of film across America and Europe from the 1930s to the 1960s. What makes this course shine is Ray’s action-packed curriculum that sheds light on not only the ins and outs of movie making, but also their cultural and political backdrop. The class will cover classics like Casablanca and Breathless. Never heard of them? Prepare to get cultured AF. You’ll gain an in depth understanding of cinematic waves like Film Noir and Italian Neo-Realism, as well as the historic events that influenced them like the advent of Fordism and World War II. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll work your ass off to impress him. His lectures are known to blow minds and melt faces. With such a wide-breadth of topics covered, like politics and philosophy, class discussions are always a blast, but only if you keep up with the reading. Ray plays by a no BS policy and that is exactly what makes him so good. You’ll be bowing down to him by the end of the semester.

5. ENG 4136: Video Production

Has YouTube gotten you daydreaming of filming, directing and editing your own videos like a pro? You’re not the only one and Professor Lauren DeFilippo’s course will teach you how. Her curriculum combines the magic of reading and practice, heavy on the practice. Textbooks focus on the logistics of film making to guide your first attempts behind the camera, as well as save you from the headaches of theory. Your coursework will revolve around the creation of a single five minute video with a partner. You’ll be granted VIP status with access to goodies like Canon XH-Ai HD cameras and Adobe Premiere software. It’s the hidden gem of the English Department. There are even guest star appearances; this semester will bring filmmaker Shannon Silva to teach a one day master class, in addition to a screening of three of her works at The Wooly downtown. Finally, once your video project is complete, you’ll get your own downtown premiere. Bring out the red carpet, baby. OK, there’s no red carpet, but you can still show up in an Oscar de la Renta dress. YOLO.

Sofia Harris is a senior at the University of Florida studying English, film and studio art. She enjoys tropical climates, wine BOGO’s and dressing up.

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