Liberal Studies Program > First-Year Program > Course Descriptions > Honors Explore Chicago
Open only to students in the University Honors Program
David Welch, English
Storytelling plays a vibrant role in Chicago’s cultural history. From 20th-century luminaries such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Nelson Algren to contemporary institutions including 826CHI, Louder Than a Bomb, and StoryCorps, how Chicagoans detail and share their experiences has been intricately tied to how they live. “Chicago Stories” allows students to embrace this rich tradition as they explore various forms of storytelling and its local venues in order to reveal how the art form enriches and reflects their experiences as students in and students of Chicago.
Douglas Long, Communication
Chicago’s vibrant theatre scene is nationally renowned for many things – from the gritty realism of Steppenwolf and the dozens of storefront theatres around the city to the improv comedy at Second City to the excitement of new plays at Victory Gardens to the focus on women’s voices at Rivendell to the multi-ethnic voices at Silk Road Rising and Black Theatre Ensemble. In this class, you will attend many productions and meet with the people who make Chicago theatre – directors, designers, playwrights, and actors. And of course we’ll visit DePaul’s nationally acclaimed Theatre School.
Note: Students in this section will need to keep Thursday nights open during Autumn Quarter in order to attend theatre performances as a class.
Colleen Doody, History Chicago has a rich tradition of radicalism. In this class, we will explore a few of the city’s radical movements and people from the last one hundred and thirty years—German-American anarchists, African-American communists, Puerto Rican activists, and socialist feminists. As a system of belief, it is notoriously hard to pin down and assign a consistent meaning to the term radicalism. We will explore the varied ideas and actions of our chosen subjects so that we can ultimately explain what we mean when we label all of these groups as radical. This course will focus on four topics—the Haymarket riot, Richard Wright and African-American communism, the Young Lords in Lincoln Park, and the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union of the late 1960s and early 1970s. We will use a variety of different sources—web pages, primary source documents, novels, cemetery monuments, and videos—to explore these topics. In addition, students will do a variety of different types of writing exercises—informal individual journal writing, small group projects, and more formal individual papers.
Chris Green, English
We will not only read some of the most important Chicago literature, but we will also walk the places and spaces at the heart of these writings. We will explore a range of contemporary Chicago works about a variety of themes as diverse as urban nature and youth violence. We will also read books from contemporary Chicago writers such as Kevin Coval, Stuart Dybek, and Alex Kotlowitz. These different voices share common themes about Chicago’s immigrant experience, diversity, work life, and influence on those who grow up and grow old in the city. You will read critically and creatively, at times analyzing the texts’ style and themes, and at others using the texts as models for creating your own poem, short story, and essay about Chicago. Furthermore, we will venture into the city—taking inspiring walking/writing tours.