Fall 2018 (un)common reads

Please use the UF Schedule of Courses to find times, places, and other course information.

These courses are discussion oriented, one credit seminar courses centered on a book.

Books are listed in more than one category, but please peruse them all.

Full listing of all courses:

Course Class Number  Title Sect Instructor Syllabus
IDH2931 18328 Hamilton 21HD Law, Mark Hamilton 
IDH2930 18326 Petty: The Biography 2196 Calvert, Clay Petty: The Biography 
IDH2930 18315 Stamped from the Beginning 22BD Black, Joel Stamped!
IDH2930 18316 Zoning Inequality 22BE Black, Joel Zoning Inequalities 
IDH2930 18237 Oranges, yesterday and today  22CG Alferez, Fernando  Oranges 
IDH2930 18377 Phoenix: Reading the "God of Manga's" masterwork  22HG Smith, Christopher  Phoenix 
IDH2930 18318 Cities in Civilization 22C0 Jawitz, James  Cities in Civilization 
IDH2930 18239 A Cuban Novel: Assassination, Revolution, and the Peril of Writing   22D3 Little, William T. Padura's Cuban Novel The Man Who Loved Dogs 
IDH2930 18376 A City of Two Tales: Reading Istanbul from Orhan Pamuk Novels 22HD Sahin, Emrah City of Two Tales Revised
IDH2930 18323 Secrets of Alchemy 217E Angerhofer, Alexander  Secrets of Alchemy Revised 


If we have to explain why, leave it to those already obsessed.

Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Hamilton: The Revolution  Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
Impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

Find out and read the real history.  Be in the room where it happens!  Don't waste your shot!  Compare the real story to how it was brought to the stage in the Tony winning Hamilton: An Americal Musical.

Oranges, yesterday and today

This book is 52 years old, and is a classic of reportage. Originally, it was conceived for The New Yorker as a short magazine article about oranges and orange juice, but the author, who moved to Florida for the reportage, was fascinated by what he saw and learned, and ended up writing a book. The book progresses as a whole narrative work. It has seven chapters that are interconnected (as everything in the orange world is) and includes vibrant descriptions of everything related to citrus production, from orange growers to orange pickers and packers, as well as orange botanists, pioneers of the industry of concentrate juice, and early settlers on Florida's Indian River. It introduces us the first orange barons, and provides a captivating profile of Ben Hill Griffin of Frostproof, Florida, probably the last of the individual orange barons. The book has intrinsic values for anyone interested in Florida, and shows how Citrus has shaped the history of our State and its crossing paths with agriculture, environment, nutrition, anthropology, and economy; but it also serves as a cornerstone to understand what Citrus means for our State today. When reading this book, we will benefit from the perspective of the last 50 years of Citrus Industry and we will analyze how Citriculture has changed in Florida since mid XX century, and why. By knowing Florida’s vibrant past in the last century, we will better understand how resilience of Citrus people warrants the survival of our State’s signature crop despite big threats such as huanglongbing, the yellow dragon disease, which was unknown here by that time. The author guides us through the relation of man with nature through illustrative examples of orange farmers struggling with devastating frosts and seminal efforts of citrus breeding at the UF for better adapting the groves to the environment.

The purpose of this Course is to confront students with what growing Citrus in Florida means today as compared to the past narrated by the book. This will open the door to understanding what the future may be not only in Florida citrus but also for other citrus growing regions around the world. The Course will follow a discussion format for the seven chapters of the book. Each chapter will have two sessions, and depending on the enrollment, each chapter will count with a leader and a co-leader, who ideally will have to work together: in the first session (class), leader will drive analysis of the chapter in depth (it will be a short presentation followed by interactive discussion). In the second session, co-leader will conduct a discussion on comparing the situation now and before, and possible future evolution; for this, it is expected research of information from different sources beyond the book and included but not limited to (internet resources, interviewing with people from the industry and researchers, searching in professional magazines, etc). In addition, we will have one or two guest speakers and a field trip.

Petty: The Biography

This course centers on the 2015 book Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes.  Zanes, who is both a musician and a professor, offers a detailed narrative – one based on multiple interviews and historical research – that goes far deeper than merely telling the life story of the late Gainesvillian Thomas Earl Petty. Specifically, the book provides a riveting account of life in the music industry, the life and struggles of a band (several bands, in fact), and the life of Petty’s own family, from his grandparents through to his daughters. Ultimately, Petty was a self-made man and this book provides important lessons about hard work, perseverance, leadership and burning ambition. Students should also find the book interesting because it provides a fascinating historical account of the rich music scene in Gainesville. 



Meet the Author: Zoning Inequality

Can you use your property as you see fit?

Can the government regulate your property use?

This term you will meet Law Professor Michael Allen Wolf. After reading his book describing the landmark 1926 U. S. Supreme Court opinion Euclid v. Ambler, we will discuss legal opinions dealing with land use and exclusion, and meet with Urban Planning and Law librarians to identify and develop research topics.

The course is an invitation to explore policies that connect us and keep us a part, to examine city life and legal thinking a century ago, to explore our expectations around government regulation—and to understand how each influences us today. Your final grade will be divided between in-class participation, two short writing assignments, and a formal presentation on a topic of your choosing that is related to course themes and content.


Phoenix: Reading the "God of Manga's" Masterwork

Tezuka Osamu (1928-1989) is Japan’s celebrated manga no kamisama, or the “god of comics.” He became active just after World War II, and kept up a prodigious output throughout his life. More than any other single author he pushed manga (comics) from the pulpy, simple children’s form it was when he began in the 1940s to the complex medium it is today, capable of addressing serious topics and sociopolitical issues.

This seminar studies Tezuka’s Phoenix (Hi no tori), which he described as his “life’s work.” In eleven volumes published sporadically from 1967-1988, Phoenix moves from Japan’s distant past to its distant future and back again, seeming to eventually converge on the present. One the one hand, Phoenix tackles the history of Japan that had legitimated state power during the war years of Tezuka’s childhood. With the other, the text examines the deep future and questions whether humans can ever stop repeating the patterns of violence and oppression that characterized the twentieth century. Phoenix is arguably the most important single work of manga, and touches on a variety of historical, social, political, and cultural issues related to Japan and Japan’s modernity, as well as larger questions facing humanity in general.

Cities in Civilization

Cities are the engines of cultural creativity and technological innovation. Explore and understand why and how cities continue to catalyze the growth of human civilization, from ancient Rome and the Italian Renaissance, to modern culture and technologies, including movies (Hollywood), rock and roll (Memphis), and the tech industry (Silicon Valley).

A Cuban Novel: Assassination, Revolution, and the Peril of Writing

The course explores the magnum opus by the renowned contemporary Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura, The Man Who Loved Dogs (2009). Padura is a journalist and detective fiction writer who was sentenced to two years of internal exile in the 1970s for an “adjustment” of his political views; nevertheless, he has continued to live and publish in Cuba. The Man Who Loved Dogs is structured around three equally balanced and interlocking themes with their respective characters, all three of whom love dogs. The first and framing theme concerns an aspiring young Cuban writer who suffers the political oppression and physical misery of Cuban life from the 1970s until his death in 2004. The second theme arises when the writer encounters Leon Trotsky’s Spanish assassin in Cuba. The third theme concerns the writer’s research into the history and politics of the Soviet Union, whereby Stalin ordered Trotsky’s murder in 1940. This novel has elements of a detective novel at the same time that it exposes the political cul-de-sac of the Cuban regime, while simultaneously exposing the difficulty of writing about this material in the context of Cuban censorship.

A City of Two Tales: Reading Istanbul from Orhan Pamuk Novels

Istanbul linked Europe to the Islamic World from the 16th century to the present. This honors course explores the complexity of Istanbul through “My Name Is Read,” a classic novel written by Orhan Pamuk, the 2006 Novel Prize Winner in Literature. The novel takes place in 1591, when an Ottoman Turkish miniature artist gets killed in a mysterious incident. Then the characters who have known him narrate their stories, leading the reader to a journey into the complexity of life and times in Istanbul—a journey filled with intrigue, knowledge, power, and romance. Throughout the semester, you will discuss the novel themes and develop a nuanced understanding of how multiple realities reflected and shaped the human conscience in Istanbul and elsewhere. We will also explore European and Islamic influence on the author, such as the degree to which Umberto Eco and Ahmet Hamdi affected the author’s work.

The course has no prerequisites. The assignments are: a closed reading and engaged discussion of several chapters from the book, and regular contributions to a weekly blog to be created by the professor. Erdag Goknar, the author’s translator and Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University, will also be invited to present to the class a lecture on making sense of Istanbul from Orhan Pamuk’s characters. 

The Issa Valley (Dolina Issy) by Czeslaw Milosz

This course will be structured around the book The Issa Valley by Czesław Miłosz originally published in 1955. Czesław Miłosz received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. He was Polish poet and writer of Polish and Lithuania heritage.

The story of the book plays in Lithuania but touches on many aspects of Polish and Lithuania history and relationships among Poles, Lithuanians, Jews, and Russians. The book gives a unique look, from a perspective of a young boy, at the timeless issues of growing up influenced by the aspect of a family dynamic, political environment, love, life, and death.

The course will be discussion-based, stimulating students to systematically evaluate aspects of family, society, and genetics, and culture in process of creating world vies and personal opinions. Students will be introduced to the historical background of Polish and Lithuanian territorial and cultural struggles that influence current politics, social interactions, and migrations in this part of Europe.