Monsters, zombies, serial killers _ oh my!

By Alexa Lauretano

Everyone who has graduated form Arizona Western College has taken an English class. But if you're looking for a fresh and unique take on learning you should take Hollie Villanueva's ENG 102 class. She is introducing students to academic writing through pop culture by exploring monsters.

"This could be anything from Frankenstein to slasher films and how monsters are representations of a culture's fears," says Villanueva.

Recently AWC has made changes in the writing program that covers classes from ENG 80 through 102. Specifically for ENG 102, the syllabus was revised to focus more on critical thinking and academic writing with research. When deciding how to go about teaching the ENG 102 class Professor Villanueva was inspired by a conference she attended last spring where she got the idea to create a class around monster culture.

"While I was there, there were these academic papers about zombies, and the Twilight books," she said. "I thought that was awesome because they are blending academics with modern pop culture."

The class ranges from academic reading about zombies to a feminist critic of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to psychological pieces on serial killers.

Professor Villanueva's main goal in designing the class around monster culture was to make it more fun, while also being relevant to contemporary pop culture. "Because it is everywhere, it is easier to understand," says Villanueva.

She also talks about how the students in her class are exploring a monster of their choice and how that monster changes through different generations as well as different mediums.

"I gave students this topic of monsters in different media, and now what are you going to do with that?" she says. "So they got to choose a representation of a monster and it's really interesting to see what they have come up with, because they have some really good points of view."

Villanueva does not know how long the class will run in this format.

"You definitely need a good three or four semesters under your belt to get the feel for a class," she says. "I'm still testing out different readings and getting a feel for what the students are interested in. These first students are my guinea pigs."

One of the great things that this class offers is a general sense of fun while still learning, which is what every class should strive for.

Photo by AWC Photo Services

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