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.
These course are still in transition, there will be additions and changes over the next few months.
Complete course descriptions will be added by registration time for interim and second semester.
Please note that these classes are subject to change.
English 150A & B: The Craft of Creative Writing – J Kwon Dobbs
This course introduces the craft of creative writing through contemporary readings and writing exercises in three genres: poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Students explore the fundamentals of reading and writing literature with attention to how a literary work is made. Emphasis on the elements of craft and revision also provide preparation for discussing literature from a writer’s perspective in a workshop environment should students pursue more comprehensive single genre study in the future.
Prerequisite: prior or concurrent enrollment in FYW. (WRI)
English 185A & B Literary Studies – M Trull
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 201 Transatlantic Anglo Literature – J Naito (Cross-Cultural, Post 1800)
In this course, we will travel back and forth across the Atlantic to examine English-language literature from Africa and the Caribbean with particular emphasis on writing produced since 1950. Placing these works within their historical, cultural, social, and literary contexts will involve taking up a variety of topics such as the legacies of slavery, indentured servitude, empire, and colonization; anticolonial political movements, postcolonial nations, and contemporary globalization; race, gender, class, and sexual identity; migration; the influence of Europe and the United States on Africa and the Caribbean; and the influence of Africa on the New World. In order to provide both an historical understanding of transatlantic Anglophone literature and an appreciation for its ongoing transformation, our reading will encompass both influential works by established writers and contemporary works by emerging voices.
(ALS-L) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent
English 204 South Asian Literature – J Mbele (Cross-Cultural, Post 1800)
Some of the most exciting writing in the world, not in translation but in English, is coming from South Asia: India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. A geographical area shaped greatly by British colonization, South Asia is changing rapidly now as globalization introduces a new kind of colonizer. We’ll study this are – its history, culture, and religion, what unifies it and what pulls its peoples apart – by reading dramatic literature that tells compelling stories about individuals and groups that seem far different and far away from 21st century Minnesota. Writers may include Kiran Desai, Salman Rushdie, Aravind Adiga, Pradeep Jeganathan, Michael Ondaatje, and Jhumpa Lahiri.
Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent. (ALS-L)
English 207 Women of the African Diaspora – J Hepburn (Cross-Cultural, Post 1800)
This course examines the life cycle of black women, laying side by side their experiences in Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, and the United States. Romance, marriage, family, inter-racial relations, mothers and daughters, urban and rural environments, gender politics and sexual violence, relations among females, inter-generational depictions, historical experiences, public expression and private reflections, individual and communal identities, class considerations–all of these and more images and themes arise in the selection of fictional readings required for this course. We will move from the short lyrical piece So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba and Nadine Gordimer’s Six Feet of the Country through Olive Senior’s Discerner of Hearts to Paule Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow and Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day. In the end, we will have discovered the meaning for many black women of what it is “to be and to do,” as Nanny would say in Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
(ALS-L, MCG) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 242 Children’s and Young Adult Literature – K Marsalek (Genre, Post 1800)
Beginning with the backgrounds to children’s literature in books of manners and religious instruction and in the “fairy tale,” this course then traces the history of literature in English written for children from the nineteenth century to the present. We explore the importance of book illustrations from the golden age at the turn of the 19th-20th century to the wonderful rise of the picture book in the mid 20th. We read a wide variety of books for children and young adults, including representative works of fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and the popular and controversial genre we call “contemporary young adult realism.”
(ALS-L) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 243 Arthurian Legend and Literature – K Cherewatuk (Literary History, Pre- 1800)
This course examines a number of foundational texts of the medieval legend of King Arthur, focusing on key motifs such as the quest and love triangle, main characters, and genres. Students explore the specific social contexts that produced these works and select modern versions that reveal the perennial appeal of the Arthurian myth. Offered periodically.
(ALS-L), WRI Prerequisite: FYW.
English 251 Major Chicano/a Authors in English:Tomás Rivera, Maria Viramontes, Oscar Acosta, and Cecile Pineda – C Gallego
Chicano/a identity is perhaps one of the most misunderstood racial/ethnic subjectivities in the United States. It encompasses many possible identities—such as Latino, Hispanic, and Mexican-American—while remaining politically and culturally distinct in its intended signification. Among all the racial and ethnic identities in the United States, it is perhaps the most politicized subject position, and intentionally so. The history of the term “Chicano/a” is itself defined by cultural tension, historical strife, and heated political debate. It is a term that many people, even those who technically qualify as Chicano or Chicana, feel uncomfortable with.
The main purpose of this course is to explore constructions of Chicano/a identity as expressed through the literature produced after the Civil Rights Movement (post-1964), with the intention of demystifying the contentious history underlying this subjectivity. By focusing primarily on the formation of Chicano/a identity in the U.S., the course aims at investigating the various discourses that influence the development of racial subjectivity in general. We will pay particular attention to theories that have influenced modern notions of agency, citizenship, and identity, specifically those intellectual traditions that adopt and modify Enlightenment principles of democratic equality and social justice, such as Marxism, existentialism, and psychoanalysis. Although the literary readings will focus specifically on Chicano/a texts, a comparative analysis with other racial identities is encouraged for discussion and research. Students are also encouraged to explore the intersections of the literary texts with the theoretical readings, examining how one medium accommodates, challenges, and even transforms the other.
(ALS-L) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 253 – Topics: Southern Women Writers – M Titus (Literary History, Post 1800)
In this course, we will read fiction and memoir by women writers from different historical periods and economic and racial backgrounds—all rooted in the southern region of the United States. We will set each literary work in its historical and cultural context, connect it to the author’s life, and explore its representation of Southern female identity in relation to such categories as sexuality, religion, race, and social class. Some of the authors we will likely read include the following: Harriet Jacobs, Kate Chopin, Katherine Anne Porter, Lillian Smith, Zora Neale Hurston, Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Dorothy Allison, and Jesmyn Ward. (ALS-L)
English 260 Topic: Literature and Capitalism – S Ward (Cross Disciplinary, Post 1800)
This course examines the relationship between literature as a form of cultural expression and capitalism as a mode of economic production. Understanding literature’s response to capitalism over the last two-and-a-half centuries requires interdisciplinary study. This course thus seeks to contextualize the transformations of literature and capitalism by reading in the fields of political economy, history, sociology, political theory, gender studies, critical race studies, advertising and marketing, visual art, and film. Because course readings, lectures, and discussion will span disciplines, student writing, too, will move across disciplines, genres, and forms, from diary entries to manifestoes and analytical essays. Possible readings include Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, Olaudah Equiano, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, Max Weber, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Joseph A. Schumpeter, Ayn Rand, Cedric Robinson, Silvia Federici, Don DeLillo, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Boots Riley.
(ALS-L) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
English 275 Literature and Film – L Mokdad (Cross Disciplinary, Post 1800)
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: WRI 111 or equivalent. (ALS-L)
English 280A Topic: Queer Literature & Theory – J Patterson (Genre, Post 1800)
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. The arc of this course can be understood as a (mis)reading of the history of feminism; in particular we look at how queer theory is a part of the reaction of the perceived centering of second-wave feminism on the experiences of white, middle class, straight women. To that end, we posit a basic distinction between sex and gender, and we examine “gender norms.”(ALS-L)
English 280B Topic: The American Novel – S Ward (Literary History, Post 1800)
This course explores the history of the American novel from the mid 19th century to the present. We will address the myriad ways American writers have approached problems of individual and collective identity, historical change, politics, the complexity of social systems, and the relationship between humans and the natural world. We will pay particular attention to the deep-seated constructions of race, ethnicity, and religion that have structured life in the United States from even before its beginnings. Because writers are never removed from the wider culture that surround them, we will also think about the influence that other artforms have had on American fiction, including music, the visual and plastic arts, dance, design, and film.
Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent (ALS-L, MCD)
English 282 Fantasy and Science Fiction – N Bucciaglia (Genre, Post 1800)
In this course students read, analyze, and write works of speculative fiction (including genres such as fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, and fabulism). Readings include short stories and novels that exemplify these genres by writers such as Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Gabrial Garcia Márquez. Students then apply their knowledge of form, theme, content, and narrative techniques by crafting and workshopping their own stories.
Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent. (ALS-L, WRI)
English 286 Topic: Rhetoric of Videogames – R Richards (Genre, Post 1800)
This course provides an introduction to the fields of rhetoric and compositions as vital and innovative branches of English studies. Rhetoric and composition–or rhet/comp–scholarship investigates how meaning is made and negotiated in an variety of historical, geographical, and media-based contexts. In this version of the topics course, students examine how interactive texts–such as video games, electronic books, and interactive apps–reinforce or challenge conventional means of writing, reading, and meaning making. The “game industry” has become one of the biggest cultural industries, grossing over 10 billion dollars worldwide each year since 2009. Because of this economic scope, it is imperative that students and scholars take games seriously, examining their rhetorical force–or meaning making process and influence.
Additionally, public debates continually circulate about the value or meaning of video games, looking at many correlations from violence and gaming to learning and gaming. To add a scholarly dimension to these debates, “Games studies” emerged to bring an interdisciplinary scholarly practice to analyze what video games do. One major academic conversation has examined how video games function as an interactive, multimedia form of literature, creating cultural characters, worlds, and experiences that invite analysis and interpretation. While some critics maintain that games have not become literary, matching the quality of canonical film, poetry, fiction, there is no doubt that the themes and narratives that games present have a powerful impact on the social imaginary.
In addition to reading scholarship on how games make meaning, students will experience a wide-range of digital games and write how these artifacts are more than just textual and visual narratives. Games are neither “literature” nor “films,” but artifacts that include literary, filmic, multimodal, and interactive components. Therefore, students will push beyond the narrative of filmic aspects of games to ask how the playability of the game alters its rhetorical force. While the course engages scholarship on rhetoric and video games, much of the class content will focus on your writing. This course will introduce to you to conversations about video games in the umbrella of English studies and media studies. You will investigate the motives (economic, cultural, and aesthetic) behind game development while analyzing how games function as rhetorical artifacts. Additionally, you will examine game studies, media studies, and rhetorical theory that explains how video games function as interactive literature. The course includes a rigorous reading schedule so that you can get a broad view of the scholarship on video games. However, to ground these theories, this class will also include a hands-on, laboratory component. Sometimes the gaming labs will be individual, meaning that you are playing shorter games on your own. Other times, these experiences will be collaborative, meaning that you will work in teams to experience more time-consuming games.
(ALS-L) Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent.
This course explores the inner workings of the publishing world from literary magazines to commercial book publishers. Students explore the modern history and trends of publishing inAmerica with special attention paid to indie and university presses/magazines, as well as engage with hands-on projects that both illuminate readings and offer insight into the daily practicesof writers and literary gatekeepers. Projects may include the drafting of a proposal for a hypothetical literary magazine, reading and discussing submissions for a magazine, short literary reviews, and conducting a podcast interview.
Prerequisite: FYW or equivalent. (WRI)
English 291 Intermediate Non-Fiction Writing – K Schwehn (Genre, Post 1800)
Creative Nonfiction is a name given to the modern essay, distinguishing it from fiction but acknowledging its use of fictional techniques and its starting point in the creative imagination. In this course you will practice writing a variety of nonfiction pieces that might include a focused memoir, a reflection, a collage, cultural criticism, and literary journalism.
Prerequisite: FYW and sophomore standing or English 150.
English 372 Advanced Fiction Writing – J Nagamatsu
Students develop and complete individual projects in fiction, deepening and polishing their work. Assignments include multiple pieces of short fiction, the opening chapter(s) of a novel, an analytical presentation of a published short story, and a world building group project culminating in a website. Class sessions are devoted to discussion of craft, examination of literary models (both short stories and novels), and workshopping of student writing.
(WRI) Prerequisites: Completion of English 293 or permission of instructor.
English 380 Shakespeare – M Trull
This seminar is devoted to studying Shakespeare plays in both their original historical context and contemporary performance. We will read eight or nine plays closely, including at least one from each of the genres of history, tragedy, comedy, and romance, and situate the plays in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Understanding the plays as living texts continually renewed through interpretation and performance will be just as important; we will attend at least one live theatrical performance and view film adaptations. Assignments will include oral presentations and a final research paper. Students may incur an extra fee (less than $30) for theater tickets and transportation.
Prerequisites: ENGL 185 + at least two English courses at Level II or permission of the instructor
English 395 Chaucer and Ethics – K Cherewatuk
Chaucer and Malory are the only two English medieval authors still popularly read. Courtier, Vintner’s son, justice of the peace, amateur philosopher, and poet in his free time, Geoffrey Chaucer worked at the English Court and stood at the crossroads of the political, religious, and intellectual debates of the late Middle Ages. Sir Thomas Malory, in contrast, is hardly documented, known only by his noble title and a rumored reputation for thuggery.
In this class we simultaneously examine the medieval past and ethical issues reflected in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Malory’s Morte Darthur. In addition to Chaucer’s poetry and Malory’s prose, we will sample ethical readings from Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Kant, Nietzche, Marx, and de Beauvoir. Our ultimate goal is to understand our role as readers of literature and moral agents.
Written and oral assignments are both critical and creative and include a long research essay.
Prerequisites: BTS-T and ENGL 185 + at least two English courses at Level II or permission of the instructor
English 399 Major American Poets – M Allister
Who gives a poet the status of “major” and what helps a poet attain that status? Are major poets the ones who articulate the deep social and individual truths and meanings of their particular time? Or do they shape the art of their time? Or might they be major because they highly influence poets that follow? This seminar will consider such questions – and others that we articulate – as a way to talk about why poetry matters as well as how canonical judgments are formed. We’ll read the work of seven poets who are considered, for a variety of reasons, major poets in American literature: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Adrienne Rich, Mary Oliver, and Juan Felipe Herrera. In the final third of the course, students will read deeply in the work of a poet of their own choosing, and then write a lengthy paper arguing for why that poet has been or should be considered “major.”
Prerequisites: ENGL 185 + at least two English courses at Level II or permission of the instructor