New Courses Examine Food Safety, Vampire Literature
Interested in analyzing “Twilight”? Wish you knew more about food safety? Alma College courses continue to be inventive, whether the topic concerns the silver screen or the Senate.
Chih-Ping Chen, associate professor of English, included Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” as one of the texts for her English 120: Vampire Stories course, knowing it would grab students’ attention.
She saw the pop culture phenomenon as an opportunity to share how vampire traditions within gothic fiction, a topic she has long taught, have changed.
“There’s something about the cultural psyche that seems to want a connection with vampires,” says Chen (above).
“In ‘Dracula,’ the vampire is a monster, but in Anne Rice’s novels, vampires become more humanized, and the narrative becomes first-person,” says Chen. “Now we have the ‘Twilight’ vampires, who can get married and reproduce.”
Though she says it is difficult to pinpoint why there’s such a fascination with vampires, she knows why she personally enjoys gothic fiction.
“There’s something about the cultural psyche that seems to want a connection with vampires,” says Chen. “For me, I like monsters because they’re an image of how we psychologically project the things we’re struggling with and the things we want to do but dare not do.”
While she is glad many students find “Twilight” to be entertaining, she admits she had a secret agenda. Her hope was that they would be able to see it for what it really is: a hybrid narrative.
To achieve this, Chen invited students to study different literary perspectives, including romance, fairytales and classics from Shakespeare and the Brontës. In addition, students also discussed topics such as social norms, morals and religion.
Managing the Food Industry
With the recent signing of the food safety bill, students also will have much to discuss in Environmental Studies 380: Food Contamination and Environmental Health.
The seven-week course, which is taught by Vaughn Wagner, explores food processes and examines the critical points where issues with hygiene or safety may exist. Because food quality affects everyone, however, he says the main objective of the course, however, is to empower students.
“I want students to be have a more thorough knowledge of the food industry, beginning from the time the food product is grown to when it is harvested, processed, transported and consumed by the end user,” he says. “As a result, students will be better prepared to understand the dynamics of health problems associated with food production in the United States, as well as globally.”
Wagner, professor emeritus of environmental health science at Salisbury University, also hopes to bring in guest speakers from the food industry, so students can see firsthand the challenges faced during the food process.
“One of the questions posed in the course is, how do we correctly manage the food industry, in order to avoid food-borne contamination and disease outbreaks,” he says.
Because job opportunities exist across the spectrum in food safety, Wagner, who is a new addition to campus, says the course’s content is applicable all students, regardless of major.
“There are potential jobs everywhere, from hotel management to working for brand names such as Kraft, so the course isn’t just sheer academics,” he says. “There’s a real-world application, and I look forward to teaching at Alma and interacting with students who, in my opinion, are of excellent academic caliber.
Posted: Fri, January 21st, 2011 at 3:21PM