General Education/Writing 111 or its equivalent is a prerequisite for all courses in the English department except some Level I Interim courses. While a few courses have additional prerequisities, most Level I and Level II courses are open to all — majors and non-majors alike — after General Education/Writing 111. Level III courses (numbered 300 or higher) are primarily for English majors and ordinarily build upon prior work. All Level III courses require as a prerequisite English 185 and at least one Level II course in an area of relevant background as confirmed by the instructor or the department. Any course offered in the English department can count as an elective in the major.
English 150: The Craft of Creative Writing
This course introduces the craft of creative writing through contemporary readings and writing exercises in three genres–poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Students learn to read and to write literature with attention to how a literary work is made. Emphasis on the elements of craft and revision provide preparation for students who want to continue into intermediate and advanced creative writing workshops. Prerequisite: prior or concurrent enrollment in FYW. WRI
- English 150 A – Nicolette Bucciaglia
- English 150 B – Juliet Patterson
English 185: Literary Studies
The foundation course of the English major, English 185 introduces students to poetic and dramatic form, narrative structure, and critical theory. In addition, students engage with literature as a living practice and address its role in a culture by attending dramatic performance and readings by visiting writers and critics. Although texts vary with the instructor, all sections explore the contemporary vitality of literatures in English and their strong connections to the past. (ALS-L, WRI)
Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
- English 185 A – Karen Cherewatuk
- English 185 B – Joan Hepburn
English 203: Asian American Literature (Cross Cultural) (Jennifer Kwon Dobbs)
In the Yellow Peril smack down, both the evil Asian and the good Asian strike exotic poses: Tokyo Rose – beautiful turncoat who lures U.S. soldiers to their deaths – versus Suzie Wong – Hong Kong hooker with a heart of gold, which she’s eager to give away to white male tourists. These U.S. cultural scripts along with Kato v. Fu Manchu, model minority v. unassimilable alien, among others imagine Asian immigrants and Asian Americans in violent ways that have supported U.S. policies such as the exclusionary acts, Japanese internment, Cold War orphan rescue and adoption, and post-9/11 racial profiling. This course introduces a cross-genre selection of writers whose artistry disrupts these stereotypes while raising significant questions about colonization, gender and sexuality, globalization, war and transnationalism. Ancillary readings in critical theory will enhance our discussions of Edith Maud Eaton, Carlos Bulosan, John Okada, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Sun Yung Shin, among other writers as well as some possible films. Students will make presentations, write essays, and take a midterm and final exam. (ALS-L, MCD) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 205 American Racial/Multicultural Literature – Joan Hepburn (Cross Cultural)
This course explores the experiences of an array of citizens in the U.S.: Native Americans, African Americans, Jewish Americans, Asian Americans, and Latin Americans. Our study covers such themes as their double consciousness, alienation, survival strategies, Americanization, and especially their unique stories and cultural traditions. In addition multicultural writers understandably express a concern with voice, and many of their protagonists desire to be heard and understood, at times around issues of gender, beauty, and violence. Linked to this issue of personal voice is protagonists’ search for an identity, a quest prompting them to embrace their ancestral pasts, only they cast the customs they come to value in the English language. Attention is given then to ways in which they mold the English language around their ethnocentric world views and narrative structures, separate at times from those of mainstream white Americans. Aspects of culture differ with groups, as well. Of interest, too, are diverse images of mainstream identity and cultural practices, especially as they are projected in media and popular culture. In any case, our approach is literary. Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent. (ALS-L, MCD)
English 220 Topic in Literary History “American Literature, 1860-1960” – Mary Titus (Literary History)
The century between the 1860s and the 1960s is among the most eventful in American history. It began in the midst of the Civil War and ended as America was about to enter the Vietnam War; it began with emancipation of slaves and ended with a new Civil Rights movement; it began with the completion of the transcontinental railroad and ended with the moon landing. This course considers the considerable body of literature produced between these events.
Literary history courses emerge from the assumptions that students gain from considering the development of literature in its historical context. We will test this assumption together, reading poetry, short fiction, plays, and novels published in the United States from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. This will be a discussion-based class with challenging, provocative literary texts to explore together. Students will be evaluated on participation in class discussion, in-class oral presentations and a mix of informal and formal essays.
Authors we will read may include the following: Walt Whitman, Samuel Clemens (Twain), Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Stephen Crane, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Zora Neale Hurston, William Carlos Williams, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Ralph Ellison, Adrienne Rich.
Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent. (ALS-L, MCG)
English 223 Old and Middle English Literature – Karen Cherewatuk (Literary History, Pre-1800)
This covers the earliest literature in English from the seventh through the fifteenth centuries. In the Old English/Anglo-Saxon period, we study riddles and elegies, Christian texts, and the heroic epic Beowulf. In the Middle English period, we seek continuity from Anglo-Saxon traditions and study new genres imported from the continent. Readings include medieval lyric, romance from the Arthurian tradition (Sir Gawain, Malory), dream vision and allegory (Pearl), Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a mystical treatise (Julian of Norwich’s Showings), and the first biography in English, The Book of Margery Kempe. Two themes frame our study: fate (Anglo-Saxon wyrd) versus agency or free will, and wonders—from the miraculous to the magical. English credit: Studies in Literary History, course pre-1800; GE credit: ALS-L and WRI. Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 228 Romantic/Victoria/Modern – Diana Postlethwaite (Literary History)
From William Wordsworth to Virginia Woolf, this course will explore British literature of three distinct yet interconnected eras. We’ll begin with the romantic revolution at the end of the eighteenth century, traverse the wide nineteenth-century space of Queen Victorian’s reign, and cross into the modernist era following the cataclysm of World War I. Within each era, we’ll study a “literary manifesto” or two, poetry, and fiction. This is a writing-intensive course (WRI) and counts for the department’s “literary history” requirement. Prerequisite, FYW or equivalent. (ALS-L, WRI)
English 260 Topic: Global Shakespeares – Karen Marsalek (Cross-Disciplinary Studies, Pre-1800)
When Shakespeare first penned the phrase “All the world’s a stage” near the end of the sixteenth century, his plays were being performed on the stage of the Globe Theater in London. Over the last four hundred years, the entire globe has become a stage for Shakespeare’s plays, and this course will chart some of those journeys through space and time. We will study five of Shakespeare’s plays from several genres (comedy, tragedy, history), first placing them in their initial historical context, and then examining how these works have been translated, adapted, appropriated, revised and represented in performances around the world. Examples such of global responses may include Sulayman Al-Bassam’s The Al-Hamlet Summit, which transfers Shakespeare’s political upheaval to a contemporary Arabic context; Omkara, a Bollywood adaptation of Othello; and an Israeli production of The Merchant of Venice. If possible, the class will attend a performance of one of the plays on our syllabus; tickets and transportation will come to no more than $25. “Global Shakespeares” carries ALS-L credit, and counts as a pre-1800 course and a Cross-Disciplinary course for the English major. Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 266 Romanticism and Rock Music – Mark Allister (Cross-Disciplinary Studies)
What do William Wordsworth and William Blake have in common with Bon Iver and Arcade Fire? What artistic and philosophical principles unite Walt Whitman and Cloud Cult? Why might Laura Marling, Courtney Barnett, Kendrick Lamar, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen be in a course with John Keats, Samuel taylor Coleridge, and Ralph Waldo Emerson?
British Romantic and American Transcendentalist writers emphasize youth, celebrate the body and energy, and extol intuition, creativity, and individuality. Rock music has been derided by some commentators as extreme Romanticism. Students in the course examine this artistic line of influence and debate what literature and music does to the human mind and body. How does Romantic poetry do its work? What changes when a backbeat is added to a lyric? In our examining or music, we’ll reflect on the validity of Stravinsky’s comment that “music is, by its very nature powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude or mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature.”
Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent. (ALS-L)
English 269 Art, Deisgn and Literature in Britian – Jon Naito (Cross-Disciplinary Studies)
After playing a central role in the Industrial Revolution and ruling over one of the largest of Europe’s modern empires, by the end of the Second World War Britain found itself in the considerable shadow of the United States in economic, geopolitical, and cultural terms. Nonetheless, as the austerity of the 1940s gave way to a postwar economic boom, Britain emerged as a major force in a number of creative fields, from music to fashion, product design to architecture. This course will trace the flourishing of British creativity in art, design, and literature during this fascinating period. It will also address fundamental questions that arise when considering the relationships among literary texts, visual images, and physical objects.
Prerequisite: WRI 111 or equivalent. (ALS-L)
English 271 Literature and Scientific Revolution – Mary Trull (Cross-Disciplinary Studies, Pre-1800)
The 17th-century Scientific Revolution brought radically altered ideas about human beings and the Earth, animals and plants, truth, knowledge, and our place in the universe. This course examines its effects on English literature from about 1600 to 1700. We will explore knowledges rendered suspect by the new science, including magic, alchemy, and astrology, as well as how exploration of the New World, tools like the microscope and telescope, and ideas like atomism and experimental inquiry provoked and inspired literary authors. Students should gain an understanding of how and why human approaches to learning about our environment changed so radically, how science defined itself in opposition to literature, and how literary writers responded to the new forms of knowledge. Authors studied will include William Shakespeare (Macbeth and The Tempest); Christopher Marlowe (Doctor Faustus); Ben Jonson (The Alchemist); John Donne; Francis Bacon; Hester Pulter; Lucy Hutchinson; John Milton (Paradise Lost); and Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. Genres will include essays, plays, poetry, prose fiction, epic, and utopian literature. Class time will balance lectures and discussion; assignments will focus on essays.
Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent. (ALS-L and WRI)
English 275 Literature and Film – Linda Mokdad (Cross-Disciplinary)
This course examines American literary and cinematic representations of war by focusing on four historical conflicts: World War II (1939-1945), the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the War in Afghanistan (2001-2014), and the Iraq War (2003-2011). In addition to examining the conventions and practices associated with the treatment of these conflicts, students will consider how the handling of violence and trauma varies from war to war. Readings may include Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Michael Herr’s Dispatches, Robert Mason’s Chickenhawk, Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater, and Kurt Vonnegut’sSlaughterhouse-Five. Films may include Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter, Peter Davis’s Heart and Minds, Alex Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side, Paul Greengrass’s Green Zone, Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, and Fred Zinneman’s From Here to Eternity. Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent. (ALS-L)
English 280B Topic: Queer Lit and Theory – Juliet Patterson (Genre)
Through literature, film and theory, this course will highlight important questions about the politics and social dynamics of “queer” sexuality and gender and how some of the most interesting contemporary writers and artists explore these questions in their work. Particular attention will be paid to the ways in which sexual identities intersect with and shape other categories of identity including gender, ethnicity, class culture and nation. Our work together will work toward several goals: 1) to understand a literary work’s “queerness” in terms of form and style; 2) to gain a sense of the central concepts and debates in queer theory and politics; and 3) to apply theory to literature as well as real world issues. GE: ALS-L. Prerequisites: FYWor equivalent. (ALS-L).
English 283 Crime Fiction – Bjorn Nordfjord (Genre)
Throughout its history crime fiction has been a genre with particularly strong ties to English literature on both sides of the Atlantic. This course provides a historical overview of crime fiction from its emergence in the 19th century to the present day, while also addressing questions of form and meaning. After opening with the pioneering work of Edgar Allan Poe we head to England and study the classic detective story as formulated by Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. Returning to the United States we take a close look at the hard-boiled variety of crime fiction which breaks with the classic tradition in the hands of writers such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Patricia Highsmith and Chester Himes. Subsequently we will turn the police procedural introduced by American author Ed McBain, which quickly gains popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. Finally, we compare and contrast crime fiction with spy fiction by looking at key works by John Buchan, Eric Ambler and John le Carré. In addition to novels and short stories by influential authors, students will read supplemental texts that help shed light on the historical evolution of the genre and the aesthetic and social relevance of its heterogeneous forms. In class discussions we will address narrative structure and style, while also paying close attention to issues of gender, sexuality, race, class and nationality. Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent. (ALS-L).
English 292 Creative Writing: Poetry – Diane LeBlanc (Genre)
A course in the craft of contemporary poetry, this course involves intensive reading and writing of contemporary poetry in a workshop setting. Students will explore and practice methods of craft, with special attention paid to imagery, metaphor, and structure as a means to stretch the boundaries of creative experience. The goal is to produce ambitious and resonant work as a part of the long conversation that is poetry. (WRI)
Prerequisite: FYW and sophomore standing or English 150
English 293 Intermediate Fiction Writing – Jeremy Nagamatsu (Genre)
In this course students read and write contemporary fiction intensively and explore the writer’s craft. Through readings, exercises, and discussion, students will improve their understanding of story structure, character development, and genre conventions, as well as how different literary traditions influence contemporary writing. The ultimate goal of this course is to direct students toward reading and writing practices that are necessary in both appreciating and contributing to the 21st century literary landscape. Prerequisites: FYW or equivalent and at least sophomore status. (WRI)
English 296 Screenwriting – Nicolette Bucciaglia (Genre)
This class will help students understand screenplay structure, dialogue, character, and dramatic situations. Students will read and analyze the storytelling techniques of screenplays and view feature films. Organized in a workshop structure, writing assignments start with short exercises and culminate in a partial original feature screenplay based on what students have learned through readings, screenings, and discussions.
Prerequisite: FYW and sophomore standing or English 150 (WRI)
All Level 3 courses are open to rising juniors and seniors who have completed English 185 and at least two level-II English courses or by permission of instructor.
English 347 Topic: Post Colonial Literature – Joseph Mbele
With a focus on writings by Alex la Guma and Nadine Gordimer, this course explores South African Literature. We will concentrate on twentieth century South African literature in English, exploring its evolution through the legacy of indigenous folklore and literature and the influence of foreign cultures and literatures. The focus on la Guma and Gordimer will enable us to explore not only diverse literary techniques but also common themes in South African literature, such as the dialectic between urban and rural realities, apartheid and race relations, the struggle for liberation, and ideologies such as Marxism. We will explore artistic theories and world views which shaped the work of la Guma and Gordimer, both of whom, fortunately, have left us a rich legacy of their thoughts, in the form of interviews and essays, which illuminate not only their own works but also the broader universe of South African literature.
Prerequisite: Open to rising juniors and seniors who have completed English 185 and at least two level-II English courses or by permission of the instructor.
English 391 Seminar: Austen/Eliot/Woolf – Diana Postlethwaite
This course will provide the opportunity for in-depth exploration of three great British novelists, whose work spans three literary periods (the age of reason, the Victorian era, and the modernist revolution). All three brilliantly explored and exploited the formal potential of this relative newcomer among literary genres, “the novel. “ We will read two or three works by each author (texts such as Austen’s Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion; Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch; Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and The Waves). We’ll trace continuity of themes and the development of new literary forms from the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries, and explore issues of literary influence (how does Eliot re-vision Austen? How does Woolf both re-read and revise Austen and Eliot?). We’ll also explore the territory of contemporary literary criticism (in our own times), and undertake final projects putting secondary sources in conversation with your ideas.
Prerequisite: Open to rising juniors and seniors who have completed English 185 and at least two level-II English courses or by permission of the instructor.
English 393 Drama and Moral Choice – Karen Marsalek
“To be or not to be” is only one of many ethical questions raised by dramatists writing in English. From medieval moralities that allegorized a soul’s battle with temptations to contemporary plays on the ethics of nuclear weapons or assisted suicide, the stage has been a site for exploring questions of private and public morality. This semester we will examine these issues in a range of six to eight plays, including Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Tony Kushner’s “gay fantasia on national themes” Angels in America (1993). We will consider the moral and ethical conflicts in these works using framework of readings from classical and contemporary ethical theories, and will also address the plays in their cultural and theatrical contexts. The class will also attend a performance of one play on the syllabus; ticket/transportation fees will not exceed $25. (EIN. Prerequisites: English 185 and at least two English courses at level II, as well as completion of BTS-T; or permission of the instructor.)