Writing 111 (FYW) 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 Writing 111 (FYW) or its equivalent. 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 Craft of Creative Writing
(Preregistering 5 English majors in each section)
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)
Section A – J Kwon Dobbs
Section B – J Nagamatsu
(Preregistering English majors)
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 literature in English and their strong connections to the past. (ALS-L, WRI)
Section A – C Gallego
Section B – J Hepburn
English 205 American Racial/Multicultural Literature – J Hepburn (Cross Cultural, Post 1800)
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 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 206 Topic: African Literature – J Mbele (Cross Cultural, Post 1800)
Africa, the cradle of humanity, is where storytelling started, as an oral tradition. Over time, the tradition evolved and diversified, incorporating such forms as songs, folktales and epics. The invention of writing enabled the textualization of the oral traditions and the creation of literature as written expression. The oldest evidence of such texts comes from ancient Egypt, in the form of folktales, songs, and sayings. With the advent of literacy African storytelling incorporated fiction, poetry and drama in written form. With time, written literature emerged, in languages such as Geertz, Hausa, Swahili and Zulu. With the coming of colonialism, writing in European languages, especially English, French and Portuguese emerged, influenced, from the beginning, by European literature. The medium might change, now embracing film, for example, but the tradition of storytelling persists. African literature draws from several main sources, including indigenous oral traditions, such as the folktale and the epic, and foreign—especially western–literatures. Shakespeare, Defoe, Bunyan, T.S. Eliot, and the Bible have always played a role in the evolution of African literature. On the other hand, major African writers like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o influence other African writers. We will draw attention to these issues as we explore a number works of drama and fiction. Prerequisite: WRI 111 or equivalent. (ALS-L, MCG)
English 223 Old and Middle English Literature – K 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. Writing assignments are both critical and creative. (ALS-L, WRI)
English 228 Romantic/Victorian/Modern British Literature – S Ward (Literary History, Post 1800)
This course explores British literature of three eras, from William Wordsworth and Mary Shelley to Virginia Woolf and Mulk Raj Anand. Students begin with the Romantic revolution of the late 18th century, traverse the wide 19th-century span of Queen Victoria’s reign, and cross into the modernist period after the cataclysm of World War I. Within each era, students examine a set of literary forms (novels, poems, plays, essays), as well as literature’s place within British culture. To this end, the course emphasizes the relationship between literary innovation and historical change within British and British imperial societies. In addition, we will consider the influence of other artforms on literary production, including dance, music, visual and plastic arts, fashion and design, and film (ALS-L, WRI) Prerequisite: FYW
English 229 20th Century British and Irish Literature – J Naito (Literary History, Post 1800)
Twentieth-century British and Irish writing have long been identified with experimentation, particularly in their early, “modernist” phases. In this course, we will spend the bulk of our time considering the work of innovative poets, playwrights, and writers of fiction active during the first half of the century. However, we will also examine postwar writing and the challenges that it offered to the theories and practices of modernism. Throughout the course, we will read each text in its historical, social, and cultural context. Among other issues, we will discuss the impact of the two world wars, the relationship between Britain and Ireland, the demise of the British Empire, the rise of youth culture, and changing attitudes toward gender, sexuality, and race.
(ALS-L) Prerequisite: FYW.
English 258 Folklore – J Mbele (Elective, Post 1800)
Focuses on verbal folklore: narratives, songs and shorter forms such as proverbs. Explores the intrinsic qualities of each as literary creations and also the ways in which they operate together when combined or in dialogic relationship. The folktale or the epic, for example, incorporates a variety of these forms, such as the proverb, the song, or the riddle, to form a complex whole.
(ALS-L, MCS-G ) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 260 Topic: The 80s – B Nordfjord (Cross Disciplinary, Post 1800)
As recent television series such as Red Oaks, Deutschland 83 and especially Stranger Things suggest, nostalgia for the 1980s is alive and well. In contrast to the counterculture and political turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s, the 1980s seem to summon carefree innocence or even naïveté. Against the backdrop of Reagan and Thatcher’s conservative policies during the height of the Cold War, popular culture of the 1980s appears to turn increasingly inwards and escapist. This conventional view of the eighties, however, may be too narrow as the decade saw plenty of dissent as well, and in the realm of popular culture powerful new articulations of gender, sexuality and race emerged.
In trying to come to terms with the complexity of the 1980s this course examines a variety of texts from both the United States and Great Britain. It is likely to include novels by Jay McInerney, Douglas Coupland, Brett Easton Ellis, Anne Tyler and Martin Amis, films by John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, Tim Burton, David Lynch, Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Susan Seidelman, Jim Jarmusch and Derek Jarman, and music videos showcasing performers such as Prince, Madonna, Queen, Duran Duran, Cure and The Smiths.
English 271 Literature and Scientific Revolution – M Trull (Literary History, Pre 1800)
The 17th century movement now known as the 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 the 1600 to 1700. We will discuss how exploration of the New World, new tools like the microscope and telescope, and new scientific methods provoked and inspired literary authors. Genres will include plays, poetry, prose fiction, epic, and utopian literature.
(ALS-L) Prerequisite: WRI 111 or equivalent.
English 272 Global Shakespeares – K Marsalek (Cross-Disciplinary, 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 Omkara, a Bollywood adaptation of Othello; and manga treatments of Shakespeare. 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. (ALS-L) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 280A Topic: Reading and Writing Post-Apocalyptic Fiction – K Schwehn (Genre, Post 1800)
For as long as humans have been telling stories, humans have been imagining the end of the world. But the way we tell the story of our ending is often more reflective of our contemporary predicament than of our literary powers to foretell the future. In this course we’ll examine, compare, and assess a variety of texts: from the Book of Revelation to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, from Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake to Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. In addition to analytical writing we will also create our own apocalyptic narratives as a way of interrogating our own anxieties about the political, environmental, and social complexities of our current moment. (ALS-L, WRI) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 280B Topic: American Cinema – L Mokdad (Genre, Post 1800)
This course provides a history of the American film industry that includes early cinema, and classical and post-classical Hollywood. We’ll examine the formal and stylistic elements of American film, while also being attentive to relevant cultural, industrial, and historical shifts and trends. Topics will include the star and studio system, genre, authorship, censorship, independent filmmaking, New Hollywood Cinema, and production, exhibition and distribution practices. We will make use of a wide variety of approaches–industrial, generic, aesthetic, historical (reception studies), and political. (ALS-L) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 285 Digital Rhetoric and New Media Literacies – R Richards (Genre, Post 1800)
This course examines what it means to be “literate” in an age of new media reading, writing, and publishing practices. Students will explore how we read, interpret, and learn from a video game, a meme, or a wiki in (dis)similar ways from a book, a poem, or a play. In particular, this class examines how “participatory culture” shapes changing literacy habits and proficiencies. This class will use, as primary texts, multi-modal sources such as mashups: digital fan fiction; video games; 4chan, Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook; VOIP-technologies; and IM—just to name a few. In the examination of these texts, students will read the emerging critical scholarship and writing about new media literacies from Henry Jenkins, Sherry Turkle, Douglas Eyman, Jane McGonigal, and Nicholas Carr.
Students will select one artifact of digital culture to investigate over the course of the semester. Students will produce a digital project as a capstone to the course, examining the social good of making humanities scholarship more “public” and the drawbacks of such expectations. No specific computer proficiencies will be necessary for taking this course beyond a cursory understanding of word processing, social media, and digital presentation software. (WRI)
English 292 Intermediate Poetry Writing – J Patterson (Genre, Post 1800)
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. Students will investigate different styles of poetry including lyric and narrative forms; experimental and elliptical poetry; documentary poetics; spoken word and contemporary formal verse. The goal is to produce ambitious and resonant work as a part of the long conversation that is poetry. (WRI) Prerequisites: FYW and sophomore standing or English 150
English 293 Intermediate Fiction Writing – J Nagamatsu (Genre, Post 1800)
In this course students read and analyze contemporary fiction from an artistic perspective and write intensively, exploring the writer’s craft. Students compose multiple pieces of original fiction and peer-edit each others’ writing. English 150 can be helpful but is not required. (WRI) Prerequisites: FYW and at least sophomore status.
English 296 Screenwriting – N Bucciaglia (Genre, Post 1800)
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. (WRI) Prerequisites: FYW and sophomore standing or English 150.
English 360 Literary Criticism/Theory – C Gallego
The primary aim of this course is to further enhance your understanding of literary analysis, specifically the close reading of contemporary poetry and fiction via the application of various theories. Since the majority of the texts in this course were written during the twentieth century, it is important to keep in mind their “modernity.” By this I mean the cultural, historical, political, and social context of their production. These texts were not produced in a vacuum, although some pretend to be, and it is thus important to consider certain factors when analyzing them: Who/what are/were the major influences on the author? What are/were the main socio-political tensions of that historical period? What are/were the major cultural and intellectual trends of the time? These types of philosophical-social-political questions will provide the basis for our readings. In order to facilitate our understanding of the various literary texts, and because this is considered an advanced literary course, we will study various theories that have been famously applied to literature, or have incorporated literature as a means of advancing non-literary theses (Marxism and Freudian psychoanalysis being examples). Some of these “schools of thought” include formalism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, popular cultural studies, linguistics, feminism, and ethnic studies. By studying these various “non-literary” texts, you will hopefully discover how the complexities of literature demand a well-rounded and critical understanding of the world itself.
Prerequisites: English 185 and at least two level-II English courses or by permission of instructor.
English 371 Advanced Poetry Writing (Ritual, Spectacle, Performance) – J Kwon Dobbs
This workshop introduces students to ways of writing poetry that engage its origins in ritual, spectacle, and performance. In collaborative and individual assignments linking poetry with the sister fields of archaeology, art, film, and dance, students will deepen their understanding of poetry as an interdisciplinary art form in order to produce a substantial portfolio of polished work. Class sessions will include guest artists and lecturers along with opportunities to write in response to a translation of Cleopatra’s poetry, a feminist contemporary epic, and mixed-genre and multilingual work that resists easy categorization and provokes exploration of poetry’s technical possibilities. In addition to Cleopatra, possible authors and texts include Alice Notley’s Descent of Alette, Gabrielle Civil’s Experiments in Joy, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, Tyehimba Jess’s Olio, Douglas Kearney’s Buck Studies, and a selection of motion poems.
Prerequisite: English 292 or permission of instructor. (WRI)
English 393 Drama and Moral Choice – K 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 plays, including Seamus Heaney’s The Burial at Thebes (an adaptation of Antigone), Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, and Tony Kushner’s “gay fantasia on national themes” Angels in America. We will consider the moral and ethical conflicts in these works using a framework of readings from classical and contemporary ethical theories, and will also address the plays in their cultural and theatrical contexts. 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. (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.)