Current Courses

Spring 2021

In Spring 2021 the Liberal Arts Studies Program is offering three courses that give you a wide range of options for your studies. As happens regularly in our program, one course has not been taught before and the professor is excited to be developing this course in collaboration with you. LAS is all about adventures in knowledge and intellectual and personal growth. And it’s not only you as a student who gains from it, but the teachers as well no matter how experienced they are.

The new course addresses a distinctive topic that gets little attention: how are questions of the effects of human civilization on our natural environment raised and addressed in literary works? Another course focuses on early American history through the lens of narratives: the stories people told about their lives and national events in their lifetime. The third course is a “practices studio” in which each student works on a project of their own choosing through the duration of the semester, while learning about tools of research and analysis, lucid and well-organized writing, and effective public presentation. This course is highly recommended for all students and REQUIRED for students who have begun their studies in 2020.

All three of our courses will hone your capacities for critical reading and thinking, and expand your intellectual horizons through topics that you may never have considered before. Each professor is highly regarded in our program and in their home academic department, and we know you will enjoy working with them.


LBS 720  Imagining the Planet: Literature and Climate Change

At this late moment, we have entered an era of climate change in ways that many perceive as irreversible. How did we get here? In what ways have thinkers, writers, and artists envisioned the current crisis and the future of the planet? And what is to be done, both locally and globally? This seminar conducts a broad study of climate change by leading environmental scholars such as Rob Nixon and Jedediah Purdy, in reflective essays by Indian writer Amitav Ghosh and war veteran Roy Scranton, in documentaries such as Merchants of Doubt and Chasing Ice, in visual art such as Art in the Anthropocene, across a range of world poetry, and in science fiction such as Octavia Butler and Kim Stanley Robinson. Overall, this seminar introduces students to key debates over climate change across a range of perspectives and explores the possibilities for imagining a sustainable planet in the future.

Professor Omaar Hena

Professor Omaar Hena

Omaar Hena, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of English at Wake Forest University, where he teaches courses in modern and contemporary poetry in English, postcolonial literature, and global literary studies. His book, Global Anglophone Poetry: Literary Form and Social Critique in Walcott, Muldoon, de Kok and Nagra, was published with Palgrave’s series in Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. He is currently working on a new project on the intersection of race and violence in global avant-garde poetics.


LBS 721 Multiple Literacies in 21st Century Communication: A Practices Studio

Multiple types of literacy are proliferating through digital media, and information circulates more rapidly than ever. We all face the challenge of developing new ways to understand evidence-based knowledge-making as well as written and oral communication.

Inquiry and analysis, and the presentation of this evidence in writing and oral presentation, continue to be foundational practices for understanding and communicating knowledge and creating action. Students in this course will identify precise ways of understanding types of evidence and why they matter to the community in which they work/learn/act. They will then learn how to choose rhetorically appropriate genres of writing and methods for oral delivery to disseminate this knowledge and create a dialogue with others. Students will practice these skills in a semester-long project of their choice that will contribute to their academic and/or professional goals.

Professor Marina Krcmar

Professor Marina Krcmar

Marina Krcmar, Ph.D.  is a professor at Wake Forest University. Her research focuses on how children and adolescents use and are affected by media. Recent work has focused on video games and other entertainment media as they relate to moral reasoning. Additional research examines the effects of media targeting very young children. She links her academic interests in media with a personal interest in consumerism and life satisfaction, ultimately working on issues of ethical consumer behavior. She has published 2 books, as well as many chapters and journal articles on these topics.

Professor Kari Mathis

Professor Keri Mathis

Keri Mathis, Ph.D. is in her second year as an Assistant Teaching Professor of Writing at Wake Forest University. Mathis’ research and teaching are driven by her curiosity about how individuals in underserved institutions and/or communities carve out spaces for their own empowerment in writing and reading, particularly as they learn and navigate new genres and media of communication. Mathis has explored these questions through researching historical and contemporary texts using rhetorical genre theory and digital media scholarship, implementing practice-based community engagement literacy education programs, and teaching business writing, technical and scientific writing, and community-writing courses at introductory and advanced undergraduate levels.

Professor Rowie Kirby-Straker

Professor Rowie Kirby-Straker

Rowie Kirby-Straker, Ph.D. has previously taught public speaking, communication practicums and supervised undergraduate research. She has affiliations with the Center for Health and Risk Communication at the University of Maryland, College Park, National Communication Association and the Society for Risk Analysis. Her industry experience includes serving as a Public Education Officer for the St. Vincent and Grenadines Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, where she designed scores of education materials, radio jingles, radio programs, songs, poetry, and television promos on the nutritional value of fish, marine life conservation, and environmental sustainability.


LBS 723  Early American Stories

Come examine stories about early American history in pop culture and memory! Weigh the choices storytellers make. Debate the political and intellectual implications of these presentations of the past. Consider scholars’ reactions. The course explores “colonial” stories, “revolution” stories, and “slavery” stories in the genres of theater, fiction, and film — including Pocahontas, the Last of the Mohicans, the Hamilton musical, Amistad, and Nat Turner’s insurrection. These classic tales show the interactions between past and present, political power and culture, and the nature of history as an intellectual discipline.

I have three main goals in this course: First, students will expand their knowledge of early American history and deepen their understanding of how and why certain stories get told. Second, students will engage with an ongoing scholarly conversation focused on these fictional, artistic representations, developing their analytic abilities. Third, our writing assignments and presentations – with structured feedback and revisions – will strengthen students’ key academic skills.

Professor Jake Ruddiman

Professor Jake Ruddiman

Jake Ruddiman, Ph.D. is drawn by Early America as a teacher and historian because it stands as a hinge between eras. It mixes the familiar and foreign, mythic and controversial, foundational and revolutionary. The era’s actors point us towards questions of human experience: how did people build lives, communities, and meaning? And the American Revolution – boldly begun but never quite finished – pushes us to engage with its triumphs and failures, demanding we challenge ourselves to seek what still remains to be done.
His 2014 book, Becoming Men of Some Consequence: Youth and Military Service in the Revolutionary War, explores the lives and choices of young men in the military maelstrom of the American Revolution. His current research explores the Revolutionary era in the Southeast. One project examines the place of slavery and enslaved people in soldiers’ travel writing during the War of American Independence.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the Liberal Arts Studies M.A. program, please contact us so we can help you!

April Strader Bullin
Program Assistant
Liberal Arts Studies M.A./Lifelong Learning