Exploring Oz: Wizard to Wicked

Full Course Title: 
The Wizard of Oz to Wicked
Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
184: MW 6:30 – 7:45 pm
Fall 2016

Follow the yellow brick road! Explore the worlds of Oz in books, movies, and song, as we pull back the curtain on diverse inventions of the classical American fairy tale The Wizard of Oz. Written by L. Frank Baum in 1900, the tale endures through hundreds of books, comics, movies, theatrical productions, songs, and even a theme park located near Boone. Starting with the original book and moving toward the Broadway play Wicked, we will work our way through decades of diverse interpretations to explore the single idea of multiple meanings by examining this single issue through the multiple perspectives of the many diverse interpretations of Oz. Through the process we will connect the local to the global and back again as we cultivate intercultural competencies by examining the many cultural frameworks within the Oz universe. Oz is not always the happy-go-lucky image of childhood. We will take a darker look at Oz interpretations including themes of death, alienation, revenge, loss, oppression, duplicity, political corruption, environmental degradation, animal abuse, and ethnocentrism. By exploring Oz, we will connect the inner worlds of these fictional stories in a quest to understand ourselves, our communities, and each other better, and in the process discover our own home, and why there may be no place like it.


William Purcell teaches communication studies, journalism, and media classes in Appalachian's Department of Communication where he has taught for the past 14 years. He began his career as a journalist working as a reporter, photographer, and editor for several different news organizations before making a switch to public relations. He continues to work in public relations on a volunteer basis for non-profit organizations, but left the profession after the birth of his first child to be a stay-at-home parent. Once his children were older, he returned to graduate school to work on a Ph.D. and to commit more time to teaching. He teaches a diverse range of communication courses from research methods to persuasion to public speaking to journalism to interpersonal communication to interviewing to mass media. His research interests revolve around disability culture, representation, auto/ethnography, and pedagogy. He is a fan of old-time and bluegrass music, and enjoys photography/videography.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Dr. Martha McCaughey

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