Spring 2015

Registration for spring freshmen and transfer students opens on Monday October 13. The first step in beginning the registration process is to select your themes for English 101 or 102 and CORE 101 courses.

CORE 101: SNC Experience is the common intellectual experience shared by all Sierra Nevada College students, employing variable topics grounded in the social sciences (economics, psychology, political science, anthropology and sociology). Topics are selected from areas within art, business, humanities and science to engage entering students while developing the critical skills necessary for a successful and stimulating college career.  The learning objectives of the course will develop the abilities central to active, engaged learning.  Those abilities include critical thinking, problem solving, creativity/innovation, oral communication, teamwork, peer critique, self-reflection, higher-order questioning and active discussion. Students can rank their preference of CORE 101 topics with your faculty advisor.

CORE 101 Topics


Explore the earliest origins of travel and travel’s effect on society and culture. We have traveled since earliest time. Originally we followed food and water sources. Later we made journeys to trade, explore or to conquer. In modern times we travel for business or for pleasure. What influences has travel had on culture, values, technology, and even food? We will look at how travel has shaped our world and what it takes to be a successful modern traveler, including planning our own local travel adventure.

Community, Justice & Peace

Throughout the world, marginalized peoples face inequalities across race, class, sex and age. This course looks at this issue through the sexual exploitation of vulnerable populations such as the Bacha Bazi boys of Afghanistan and locally trafficked young girls in Nevada, which are often subjected to deception, coercion and violence. This class also will explore the issues of justice and peace as they relate to inequality.

Time, Identity and Storytelling

Storytelling is a basic human impulse. We have used it to convey important messages about morality, to remember our own history, to transmit knowledge, to warn of danger and to create common culture from the earliest days of human civilization. In this course, students will learn the value of a good story – how it can be used to influence, to persuade and to communicate. Students will focus on learning to tell stories that convey their identity and allow people to get to know them at a deeper level, facilitating human connection. As part of this course, guest storytellers will share their own stories of identity. The course will be framed by the idea that the stories we tell are a method for framing the meaning of the present moment and building personal histories.

Visual Literacy

Human beings are very visual creatures, and the visual component of communication can often overwhelm its other dimensions. This class looks at a variety of ways that people and organizations use visual media to communicate and persuade, training students to make their own visual communication more effective. We will address questions such as: How can text and image be used together to tell a story? How can you illustrate an idea? What’s the difference between information and propaganda? Students will critique and create photographs, diagrams, infographics, illustrations, presentations, and video. Through this process, they will develop a greater understanding of the ways in which visual media are used to inform us and to manipulate us.

ENGL 101: Freshman Composition is the Freshman English course. Examination of themes and techniques in assigned reading is emphasized to develop evaluation, analysis, synthesis and critical thinking skill. Weekly written work, in–class discussions, essays, research writing and a portfolio documenting revisions are required.

All students at SNC are required to take two semesters of English coursework. Transfer students may be waived out of one or more sections of English if they have taken this course at a previous institution which meets catalog requirements for transfer courses. Transfer credit acceptance will be determined during your meeting with the faculty advisor.

Individual and Society

Writing is more than, simply, a necessary set of skills. It is a way of seeking ourselves, situating each of us within the world we create through language, exploring and defining our humanity through the written word. This realization is the engine that drives this course. Knowing that writing matters, that the words on the page are a momentary representation of a transient truth, a way of looking at and understanding the world unique to the writer, makes the opportunity to become a better writer an extremely valuable one. It also means that the well of subjects about which one can write is deep, that the ways of exploring these topics are many and multi-faceted, and that the sophistication of the work produced is only limited by a writer’s skill and commitment. When we write, we are, after all, delving into the lives and psyches of a most complex creature, one’s self.

There are no shortcuts to becoming a skilled, thoughtful, and critical writer. The path to success is to write, and write some more. In this class you will write 5 major essays of 3-6 pages, each with a specific purpose leading logically to the next, and up to 15 shorter annotated bibliography entries. Your skills as a writer and a critical thinker will develop by working through your own writing process, struggling to create genuine, critical work through your examination of society and your place in it. We all write differently; we all think differently. Your task will be to use the information and opportunities from the class, workshops, readings and discussions, to figure out what works for you – what helps you write with clarity, power, and nuance – so you can take this knowledge with you into the rest of your academic career.

American Literature

In this course we will read short stories from some of America’s most famous writers from the late 1800s to the present. We will examine, discuss, and write about these writers’ perspectives on four major themes:

  1. The journey from innocence to awareness
  2. The American Dream and the land of opportunity
  3. The value of nature and the new frontier
  4. Celebration of the individual and/or the hero

Authors will include Mark Twain, Jack London, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway, as well as 21st century American writers such as Jon Krakauer, David James Duncan, and David Foster Wallace.

ENGL 102: Freshman Composition II builds on and further develops the writing skills introduced in ENGL 101. Students are required to conduct both primary and secondary research, synthesize and integrate researched material into original works, and present individual research in papers and projects.

Transfer students who do not have transferable credits for English 101 must take an English Placement Exam before enrolling in any English courses. Contact Henry Conover at hconover@sierranevada.edu immediately to schedule your exam.

ENGLISH 102 Topics

Contemporary Literature

In this class, “Contemporary Literature” means novels, short stories, and poems written in the last twenty years that deal with ideas people think about in 21st Century culture: technology, the past, what it means to be human, and those old standbys: love, sex and death. That’s only a partial list.

We will focus on the writing process – how we form our ideas into a cohesive argument – and on the genres of academic writing – summaries, critiques, analyses, and research papers. We will practice various methods of composition, and develop approaches to refining your ideas through this writing process. Though this course is focused on topics in contemporary literature, the skills you’ll learn will be transferable to every class in which you’re required to think about problems from a critical perspective. You will explore how to use writing to learn, to create, and to act, particularly in college but outside the classroom as well. I hope our work will be challenging, fun and will in some way change how you look at (and act in) the world.

Image and Text

In this class, we’ll be reading graphic novels as a way to think about what a modern superhero is (if there is one) and why and how the comic form is being reimagined for older audiences. How do images influence our everyday lives and how do we make stories from them?

In general, your English classes are a chance to use writing as a tool for discovery, to practice looking for patterns, themes, and arguments in writing (your own and others’), and to try on different perspectives. In specific, this course builds on and further develops the writing skills introduced in ENGL 101 with a focus on analyzing images’ messages and conducting scholarly research. Students will examine graphic novels and practice writing in a variety of modes. Students are required to conduct both primary and secondary research, synthesize and integrate researched material into original work, and present individual research in papers and projects.

The Myth of the American Outlaw

From Walt Whitman to Walter White, the narrative of the United States has always celebrated the mythological outlaw. This class, through history, literature, music, film, television, and art, examines how this myth has shaped the nation: the way we think, the way we do business, and the way we preserve, use, and defend our land.

Imagination and Memory in the Works of J.D. Salinger

2015 marks a historical event in literature: the publication of J.D. Salinger’s writings, which have been kept in a secret vault since he left the publishing limelight in the 1960’s. The reclusive author of Catcher in the Rye died in 2010, and his will directed his literary estate to publish the many books he wrote in isolation in rural New Hampshire, with the first works to be published five years after his death.

Our course will focus on the series of short stories Salinger wrote about the Glass family, which consists of seven troubled child geniuses from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Focusing on the effects of the suicide of the eldest, saintlike sibling, Seymour, the essays written in our course will explore the role that imagination and memory play in shaping the adult lives of the remaining Glass siblings.