LE300 Integrative & Interdisciplinary Learning Capstone

for S2QQ 2011

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Mission Statement: The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


LE 300: Integrative & Interdisciplinary Learning Capstone--Serial Killers as Heroes in Popular Culture


S2QQ 2011 HI


Harper, Gavin W.


Instructor of English


MA: English, Brigham Young University, 1998
BA: English, Weber State University, 1994

Office Location


Office Hours

Before and after class

Daytime Phone

801-865-0517 (cell)



Semester Dates

Mar 14th, 2011--May 8th, 2011

Class Days


Class Time

7:30-10:15 PM

Credit Hours



Harris, Charlaine. Dead Until Dark. New York: Penguin, 2010. ISBN: 9780441019335.

Lindsey, Jeff. Darkly Dreaming Dexter. New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2006. ISBN: 9780307277886.

Schmid, David. Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture. Chicago: U of        Chicago P, 2006. ISBN: 9780226738697.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Penguin, 2003. ISBN: 9780141439471.

Suskind, Patrick. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Knopf Doubleday, 2001. ISBN: 9780375725845.

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email helpdesk@park.edu or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information http://www.park.edu/Current/.

Course Description:

An intermediate level course that uses popular culture to expose recent trends of violence in crime novels, film, television, internet media and video games. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

My goal is to encourage critical thinking and analysis in regards to topics that are very rarely analyzed or perceived as academic material. Thus, I hope to encourage discussion and analysis of modern media forms so we can all participate in making meaning of the culture and art that surrounds us very closely. As we all have different interests in regards to popular culture, I hope that each student will bring individual specialties, subjects, and projects to the teaching of this course.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze the disciplinary content in its own context and in relationship to the issues, questions, and positions of other disciplines.
  2. Compare and contrast differences and similarities among the disciplines in terms of central concerns, values, methodologies, and relationships to public life.
  3. Synthesize diverse perspectives to achieve an interdisciplinary understanding.
  4. Analyze the relationships among academic knowledge, professional work, and the responsibilities of local and global citizenship.
  5. Evaluate multiple perspectives, modes of inquiry and expression, and processes for decision-making in the disciplines.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. Identify, discuss and critique the representations of serial killers as heroes, celebrities, and icons in modern media forms.  Explain the characteristics of the media forms, genres, and methods for each subject.
  2. Describe and analyze the popular culture forms that encourage audience identification or participation through violence or vicarious experience.
  3. Interpret and critique the possible “real world” connections or behaviors associated with the viewing or playing of media violence.
Core Assessment:

Description of the Core Assessment Instrument This Core Assessment will be a paper that covers 100% of the Core Learning Outcomes. The Core Assessment in this course will be a major critical paper of no fewer than 5 pages, which will include research and appropriate documentation. The project will be completed in the final quarter of the term. The paper must address a significant contemporary issue of a global nature relevant to the course, the student’s major, and the Liberal Education program.  The paper should synthesize multiple disciplinary perspectives and propose critical and creative responses.  Individual instructors will specify assignment details.

This assessment is designed to assess primarily Core Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and will make up 20% of the course grade.

Link to Class Rubric

Class Assessment:
The core assessment for LE 300 is a project or paper accompanied by a presentation. The project must address a significant contemporary issue of a global nature relevant to the course, the student’s major, and the Liberal Education program. The project/paper should synthesize multiple disciplinary perspectives and propose critical and creative responses.


Core Project Essay/Presentation:          200 pts.

Student Teaching and Presentations:    200 pts.

Attendance and Participation:              200 pts.

Reader Response Essays:                    200 pts.

Final Exam Essay:                              200 pts.
Grade Breakdown:
A =  1000-900 pts.
B =  899-800
C =  799-700
D =  699-600
F =  599 and Below

Late Submission of Course Materials:
All assignments are due on the day indicated in the syllabus.  Unless arrangements are made in advance with the instructor, late work will automatically receive a reduction of one full grade for each class day it is late. Active participation is essential in this course.  Active participation occurs when the student responds to posted coursework and discussion questions in a manner that reflects the weekly assignments.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Your mental and physical presence are both necessary for participation. While in class, please turn your cell phones off during filmic presentations, as a courtesy to me and your fellow students.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Aspects of LE300—Serial Killers as Heroes in Popular Culture

*Reader Response Essays—Four (1-2 page) responses to the course material will be written on the material and topics presented in class. The works should be persuasive and present your own ideas and perspective on the material being discussed.

*Student Teaching and Presentations—Each student will teach and present one of the specific topics for this course. The presentation will involve leading student discussion of the material, a presentation of persuasive argumentation regarding one of the topics, and the introduction of a student provided set of research and reading topics. I will offer a pre-approved list of possible topics and reading materials at the start of class, but I encourage each student to submit additional material for student teaching and presentations for instructor approval.

*Attendance and Participation—You will receive just as many points in this class for active participation and attendance as you will for your final research project. The equality is not accidental, as the main mode of learning in this course is student teaching and discussion. If you are absent from class, you will lose attendance points and the possibility of participating in learning for that day.


Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week One—Modes of Identification, Mar 14th and Mar 16th

·        Introduction to Course

·        Silence of the Lambs (1991)—Good Serial Killers vs. Bad Serial Killers

·        How does the film force audience identification with a “good” serial killer? How does the film define justifiable violence vs. murder?

Week Two—Normative Violence? Mar 21st and Mar 23rd

·        Mr. Brooks (2007)—Serial Killers as Normal People of Addiction

·      Student Presentation/Teaching

  • ·    How does this film differ in its presentation of normality? How does it define killing as addiction? How does it attract its audience with the violence?
Week Three—Heroic Violence, Mar 28th and Mar 30th

·        Dexter (2005)—Serial Killers as Heroes

·        Darkly Dreaming Dexter, (novel)

·        Student Presentation/Teaching

·        While many serial killer protagonists are presented as anti-heroes, Dexter is something different entirely. What defines his heroism? How does the TV series or novel shift our identification to that of a cold-blooded killer? What are the effects of such a shift within the real world?

Week Four—Serial Killers as Symbol and Icon, Apr 4th and Apr 6th

·        Natural Born Killers (1994) Serial Killers in the Media

·        Student Presentation/Teaching

·        While these serial killers are not presented as heroes—what effect does the media have once the killings begin? How does the media create the pair of killers as icons? Differences between iconic and heroic? Differences between reality of the murders and the media portrayal of the murders?

Week Five—Literary Violence, Apr 11th and Apr 13th

·        Perfume (2006)—Serial Killers as Artists and High Art

·        Perfume, (novel)

·        Student Presentation/Teaching

·        Suskind’s work is considered by many to be a work of high art, rather than popular culture—what is the difference between a literary serial killer and the popular culture forms? High art vs. low art?

Week Six—Literary Violence, cont. Apr 18th and Apr 20th

·        Frankenstein—Spanning the Bridge Between Literature and Popular Culture

·        Student Presentation/Teaching

·        What are the differences between the novel/text and the popular culture incarnations of Frankenstein’s monster? 

Week Seven—Romantic Violence, Apr 25th and Apr 27th

·        Dead Until Dark (novel) – Supernatural Serial Killers and Romantic Deaths

·        True Blood, (TV)

·        Student Presentation/Teaching

·        Popularity aside, what are the effects of a romantic craze that revolves around attraction to paranormal serial killers? How does the current trend in vampire fiction and media play into fantasies of violence or murder?

Week Eight—Active and Participatory Violence, May 2nd and May 4th

·        Assassin’s Creed (video game)—Becoming the Serial Killer

·        Student Presentation/Teaching

·        While many media forms assert a passive acceptance or identification, does participating in the ritualistic killings change our perspective? Once we become an assassin (serial killer) does it alter our association with violence?

·        Final Essay Exam

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty (www.park.edu/current or http://www.park.edu/faculty/).from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92-93

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


CompetencyExceeds Expectation (3)Meets Expectation (2)Does Not Meet Expectation (1)No Evidence (0)
Core Learning Outcome #1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
(part of Core Assessment)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Demonstrates a detailed and sophisticated understanding of the disciplinary content in relationship to its contexts. Demonstrates an accurate understanding of the disciplinary content in its own context. Disciplinary knowledge represented is incomplete or contains errors and/or omission of contextual factors; or CA guidelines are not followed.  
Core Learning Outcome #2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
(part of Core Assessment)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Reflects more than a simple description of similarities and differences between disciplines to illustrate the interaction of the discipline's concerns, values, methodologies, and relationships to public life. Accurately identifies similarities and differences between the relevant disciplines' central concerns, values, methodologies, and relationships to public life. Fails to address either central concerns, values, methodologies, or relationships to public life for both disciplines; offers only a superficial discussion of all; addresses these issues for a single discipline; or addresses only similarities or differences; or CA guidelines are not followed.  
Core Learning Outcome #3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
(part of Core Assessment)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Moves beyond simple interdisciplinary perspectives to achieve a sophisticated synthesis of perspectives that offers unique insights to the problem/issue. Generates valid interdisciplinary perspectives relevant to the problem/issue. Illustrates a single disciplinary perspective or offers a simplistic view of the problem/issue; or CA guidelines are not followed.  
Core Learning Outcome #4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
(part of Core Assessment)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Applies a sophisticated and creative interdisciplinary understanding to various academic, professional, and civic concerns, uncovering the interconnectedness of those concerns. Applies an interdisciplinary understanding of academic professional and civic concerns. Fails to tie the interdisciplinary understanding to one or more of the following: academic, professional, or civic concerns; or CA guidelines are not followed.  
Core Learning Outcome #5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
(part of Core Assessment)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Goes beyond simple understanding to achieve a detailed, in-depth analysis and evaluation, highlighting strengths and weaknesses of the disciplinary modes. Evaluates various disciplinary modes of thinking in pursuit of holistic understanding. Exhibits only superficial evaluation or evaluates a single mode of disciplinary thinking; or CA guidelines are not followed.  
Overall project effectiveness                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Outcomes 6.1-6.5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Project goes beyond meeting expectations to represent a creative/innovative and persuasive perspective. Project meets audience and genre expectations for coherence, organization, and mechanics/documentation. Project fails to illustrate effective audience analysis or fails to meet genre expectations in one or more areas: coherence, organization, and mechanics/documentation; or CA guidelines are not followed.  
Technical Skill in Communicating                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Outcome: University Mission Statement                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Employs conventions of Standard Written English with grace and style in a well-organized, fully developed essay. Employs conventions of Standard Written English in a well-organized, adequately developed essay. Illogical statements, lack of development and organization, and persistent problems with use of Standard Written English interferes with reader's ability to understand the point of the paper.  


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Last Updated:2/15/2011 3:18:46 PM