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English – Courses

First-Year Seminars in English Composition and Literature

These courses are open to first-year students. The main purpose of the first-year seminars (no matter what the topic or reading list) is to give first-year students extensive practice in reading and writing analytically. Each seminar is normally limited to sixteen students and includes discussion, outside reading, frequent papers, and individual conferences on writing problems. For a full description of first-year seminars, see the First-Year Seminar section.

1001 c. Gods and Monsters: Medieval Mythology. Fall 2014. Emma Maggie Solberg.

1002 c. Provocative Art. Fall 2014. Morten Hansen.

1004 {11} c. Film Noir. Fall 2014. Ann Louise Kibbie. (Same as Film Studies 1004.)

1026 {26} c. Fictions of Freedom. Fall 2014. Tess Chakkalakal. (Same as Africana Studies 1026 {16}.)

1048 {25} c. Contemporary Short Fiction in English. Fall 2014. Celeste Goodridge.

1049 c. The Literature of Adolescent Sexuality. Fall 2014. Sarah Braunstein. (Same as Gay and Lesbian Studies 1049 and Gender and Women’s Studies 1012.)

Introductory Courses in Literature

1100–1199 {104–110}. Primarily intended for first- and second-year students, and for juniors and seniors with no prior experience in college literature courses. (Specific content and focus of each course will vary with the instructor.)

1104 {104} c. From Page to Screen: Film Adaptation and Narrative. Spring 2015. Aviva Briefel.

Explores the topic of “adaptation,” specifically, the ways in which cinematic texts transform literary narratives into visual forms. Begins with the premise that every adaptation is an interpretation, a rewriting/rethinking of an original text that offers an analysis of that text. Central to class discussions is close attention to the differences and similarities in the ways in which written and visual texts approach narratives, the means through which each medium constructs and positions its audience, and the types of critical discourses that emerge around literature and film. May include works by Philip K. Dick, Charles Dickens, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, Anita Loos, Vladimir Nabokov, and Ridley Scott. (Same as Cinema Studies 1104 {104}.)

1105 {105} c. Introduction to Poetry. Fall 2014. Marilyn Reizbaum.

Aims to understand poetry’s varied workings, considering, most extensively, the basic materials—words, lines, metaphors, sentences—from which poems have traditionally been assembled. By studying closely the components of meter, diction, syntax and line, rhyme, and figure—in essence, how poems work—aims to see more clearly into the ends poems work for: meaning, rhapsody, transport, etc.

1110 {110} c. English Literature and Social Power. Fall 2014. David Collings.

Considers whether or not works of literature encode modes of social power, articulate styles of cultural entitlement, revise norms of behavior from the perspective of leisured domesticity, create satisfying narrative solutions to urban conflict, and absorb the difficulties of social life into the workings of individual consciousness. Do literary works reinforce fictions of social power, contest them, or both? Examines the relationship between ideology and literary form, placing both in the context of transformations in English culture from the early eighteenth through the early twentieth century. Discusses writings by Defoe, Pope, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens, and Woolf alongside critical and interpretive essays.

Courses in Composition

1060 {60} c. English Composition. Fall 2014. Aaron Kitch. Spring 2015. Elizabeth Muther.

Practice in developing the skills needed to write and revise college-level expository essays. Explores the close relationship between critical reading and writing. Assignment sequences and different modes of analysis and response enable students to write fully developed expository essays. Does not count toward the major or minor in English.

1070 c. The History of the English Language: Writing-Intensive Workshop. Spring 2015. Emma Maggie Solberg.

Intended for confident writers who want to ensure that they leave college speaking and writing not just proficiently, but also magnificently and irresistibly. Covers the science and history of the English language, beginning with its earliest tribal roots and following through to the innovations of today: the new words we say (like Google) and the new ways we say them (using the vocal fry register, for example). Learn the challenging art of rhetoric from the best: authors include Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain, and Zora Neale Hurston. Writing intensive.

Introductory Courses in Creative Writing

1225 {125} c. Introduction to Poetry Writing Workshop. Fall 2014. Anthony Walton.

Intensive study of the writing of poetry through the workshop method. Students expected to write in free verse and in form and to read deeply from an assigned list of poets.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

1228 {128} c. Introductory Fiction Workshop. Fall 2014. Sarah Braunstein.

Introduces the beginning fiction writer to the craft of fiction writing, with an emphasis on the literary short story. Studies a wide range of published stories as well as examines student work. Critical writings on craft introduce students to technical aspects of the form: character, dialogue, setting, point of view, scene, summary, etc. Exercises and short assignment lead to longer works. Expected to read, comment on, and discuss in depth each story that passes through the workshop, as well as to complete a major revision.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

Advanced Courses in Creative Writing

2853 {217} c. Advanced Fiction Workshop: The World in Prose. Spring 2014. Sarah Braunstein.

An intensive writing workshop designed for students with experience, dedication, and a willingness to take risks with form, style, and content. Assigned readings include published fiction and critical writing on craft, but the central focus of conversation is on student work: producing it, understanding its parts, and learning to revise in the most radical sense, to re-see.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

2856 c. Writing Creative Nonfiction through Photography. Fall 2014 and Spring 2015.
Russ Rymer.

A nonfiction writing course using photography as a guide and tool. Students take photos (with any camera: digital, film, disposable, or smart phone) and do a lot of writing: blog posts, profiles, and full-length reported articles. Grapples with structure, metaphor, tone, voice, and pacing, letting photography interrogate the writing. What can such pictorial concerns as focus, composition, width and depth of field, and artist’s point of view tell us? Explores how music, movies, and poetry can also guide an approach to writing accomplished nonfiction. Admission is by acceptance. Submit for consideration an original piece or pieces adding up to 1000 words.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

Intermediate Seminars in English and American Literature

These seminars are open to both majors and non-majors—and are normally limited to sixteen students. They provide opportunities for students to focus intensively on critical reading and writing skills and to learn advanced research methods. Each seminar explores a unique topic while introducing students to literary theory and other critical paradigms and tools of literary studies. These seminars are not open to first semester first-year students.

2003 {219} c. Trolls, Frogs, and Princesses: Fairy Tales and Retellings. Fall 2014.
Elizabeth Muther.

Seminar. Explores the resiliency of fairy tales across cultural boundaries and historical time. Traces the genealogical origins of the classic tales, as well as their metamorphoses in historical and contemporary variants, fractured tales, and adaptations in literature and film. Engages a spectrum of related texts in literary and cultural theory and criticism.

2009 c. Shakespeare in Theory. Fall 2014. Aaron Kitch.

Seminar. What are the risks and rewards of reading Shakespeare through the lens of literary and cultural theory? Is theory always already alien to Shakespearean texts, or might those texts uncannily anticipate and even make possible contemporary theoretical ideas? How do we understand, for example, Slavoj Zizek’s claim that “Shakespeare without doubt has read Lacan”? Places representative plays and poems in conversation with psychoanalysis, postcolonial studies, queer theory, and cultural materialism and considers Hamlet, Henry V, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest in dialogue with secondary readings by Marx, Freud, Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, and Sedgwick, among others. Note: Fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.

2010 c. The Rise of the Novel. Spring 2015. Ann Louise Kibbie.

Seminar. While prose fiction pre-dates the eighteenth century, it is during this century that both writers and readers begin to construct the idea of “the novel” as we know it. Uses a variety of eighteenth-century novels to explore the evolution of what we call the novel and also explores various critical and theoretical approaches to the genre. Readings include Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Roxana, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, Ann Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest, Mary Wollstonecraft’s The Wrongs of Woman, and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, as well as a wide range of critical and theoretical essays.

Advanced Courses in English and American Literature

2104 c. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Fall 2014. Emma Maggie Solberg.

Explores the legends of King Arthur, Merlin, Queen Guinevere, and the Knights of the Round Table, progressing from the stories’ origins in medieval myth and romance through to their many Renaissance, Victorian, and modern revivals. Texts include: Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Thomas Malory, The Death of Arthur; Tennyson, Idylls of the King; Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Note: Fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.

2202 {226} c. Renaissance Sexualities. Spring 2015. Aaron Kitch.

How do Renaissance authors represent sexual desires and dilemmas? What strategies do authors use to represent, for instance, drives that have not been codified and labeled according to modern epistemologies? Topics include the inarticulacy of homoeroticism and other forms of attachment as they shape Shakespearean comedy, minor epic, and tragicomic romance, with special attention to the poetics of same-sex desire, and the erotics of theatrical performance by boy actors on the London stage. Authors include Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, John Ford, Thomas Crashaw, and Margaret Cavendish, with secondary readings by Eve Sedgwick, Jonathan Goldberg, and Laurie Shannon, among others. Note: Fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.

2305 c. Imagining London in Eighteenth-Century Literature. Fall 2014. Ann Louise Kibbie.

Focuses on journals, plays, poems, and novels in which London itself plays a vital role, including James Boswell’s London Journal, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, John Gay’s Trivia; or the Art of Walking the Streets of London, and Frances Burney’s Evelina. In addition to engaging in critical analysis of these literary texts, students learn how to use digital mapping, spatial analysis, and image markup to imagine eighteenth-century London and work collaboratively to create maps charting the movements of real people (such as Boswell) and fictional characters (such as Moll Flanders) within the city. Explores theaters, coffeehouses, shops, prisons, hospitals, parks, and other public spaces in order to contextualize, enrich, and question the literature. Note: Fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.

2352 {238} c. Natural Supernaturalism. Spring 2015. David Collings.

Examines the Romantic attempt to blend aspects of the transcendental—such as the sublime, immortality, and divinity—with ordinary life, the forms of nature, and the resources of human consciousness. Discusses theories of the sublime, poetry of the English landscape, mountaintop experiences, tales of transfiguration, and evocations of intimacy with nature. Explores the difficulties of representing the transcendental in secular poetry and the consequences of natural supernaturalism for our own understanding of nature. Authors include Burke, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Kant, and Shelley. (Same as Environmental Studies 2438 {238}.)

2402 {242} c. Victorian Race and Empire. Fall 2014. Aviva Briefel.

Examines Victorian constructions of racial difference and imperial relationships in literary texts ranging from the 1830s to the fin de siècle. Focuses on issues of representation and racialized identity; fantasies about nationhood and colonialism; narratives of “adventure” at home and abroad; and images of gender and sexuality. Literary criticism central to discussions. Authors may include C. Brontë, Conrad, Doyle, Du Maurier, Haggard, Kipling, Marsh, and F. A. Steel. (Same as Gay and Lesbian Studies 2402 {241} and Gender and Women’s Studies 2402 {241}.)

2428 c - VPA. Introduction to Film Theory. Spring 2015. Ann Louise Kibbie.

A survey of some of the major currents in film theory from the early days of motion pictures to the present, including formalism, genre theory, auteur theory, psychoanalytic theory, feminist theory, and queer theory. Includes mandatory evening film screenings; a choice of two screening times will be available for each film. Note: Fulfills the film theory requirement for Cinema Studies minors. (Same as Cinema Studies 2428.)

2452 {246} c. Modern Drama and Performance. Spring 2015. Marilyn Reizbaum.

Examines dramatic trends of the modern period, beginning with a triumvirate of modern dramatists—Henrik Ibsen, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett—and draws lines from their work in drama of ideas, epic theatre, and absurdism to developments in the dramatic arts through the modern period into the twenty-first century. Includes plays by Lorraine Hansberry, Caryl Churchill, and Martin McDonagh. Readings staged. (Same as Gender and Women’s Studies 2262 {262} and Theater 2846 {246}.)

2456 c. The Modern Poem. Spring 2015. Marilyn Reizbaum.

Examines the modern poem’s turns in and out of traditional verse forms and free verse. Considers movements such as Imagism, Modernism, Beat poetry, prose poem, slam, and poets associated with them. Includes prose poetics such as those by Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Joseph Brodsky, Eavan Boland, Gwendolen Brooks, Robert Pinsky, Mark Strand, and the study of the mechanics of the poetry, including prosody.

2540 c. Literature of the American South. Spring 2015. Celeste Goodridge.

In The Mind of the South, Cash begins with the premise that “the south is another land, sharply differentiated from the rest of the American nation,” and he quotes Allen Tate’s description of the south as “Uncle Sam’s other province.” How does this view of the south as a world elsewhere color our readings of the literature? Does it create bias toward the people and the region? Faulkner repeatedly implied that being from the south was both a curse and a blessing (to question and unpack this binary). Examines Gothic elements in this work as well as representations of transgression, eccentricity, and otherness. Authors include: Capote, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Flannery O’Connor.

2544 c. The Great American Novel in the Twentieth Century. Fall 2014. Morten Hansen.

Examines the tradition of the great American novel across the twentieth century. Why are certain American novels considered “great,” and why does the genre of the novel invite aspirations to greatness? What makes the idea of the great American novel so resilient despite the many upheavals of the twentieth century, from the world wars through the revolutions of the 1960s to the invention of the Internet? How does the inclusion of ethnic-American literature into the American canon change how the great American novel is viewed? Novels include Willa Cather’s My Ántonia, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, as well as theoretical texts on the novel and the nation by Mikhail Bakhtin, Benedict Anderson, and Lawrence Buell.

[2570 {250} c - ESD. The Making of a Race: Latino Fictions.(Same as Latin American Studies 2005 {250} and Spanish 2505 {250}.)]

[2571 {221} c - ESD. The Making of a Race: Latino Fictions. (Same as Latin American Studies 3005 {305} and Spanish 3005 {305}.)]

2583 {264} c. Literature of the Civil War Era. Spring 2015. Tess Chakkalakal.

Examines literature published in the United States between 1861 and 1865, with particular emphasis on the wartime writings of Louisa May Alcott, William Wells Brown, Frederick Douglass, William Gilmore Simms, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman. Students also consider writings of less well-known writers of the period found in popular magazines such as Harper’s Monthly, The Atlantic Monthly, The Southern Illustrated News, and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors. (Same as Africana Studies 2583 {283}.)

2600 {261} c. African American Poetry. Fall 2014. Elizabeth Muther.

African American poetry as counter-memory—from Wheatley to the present—with a focus on oral traditions, activist literary discourses, trauma and healing, and productive communities. Special emphasis on the past century: dialect and masking; the Harlem Renaissance; Brown, Brooks, and Hayden at mid-century; the Black Arts Movement; black feminism; and contemporary voices. Note: Fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors. (Same as Africana Studies 2600 {261}.)

2604 c. African American Literature and Visual Culture. Spring 2015. Elizabeth Muther.

Explores creative collaborations and cross currents in African American literary and visual arts over the past century. Considers the problems of minstrelsy, masking, and caricature—as well as instruments of militant image-making in both literary and visual forms. Topics of special interest include uplift and documentary photography; modernist resistance languages of the Harlem Renaissance; shadows, silhouettes, and invisibility; comic strips and graphic narratives; and contemporary images—prints, texts, and illustrations—that introduce alternative socio-political allegories. Taught in conjunction with a special exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. (Same as Africana Studies 2604.)

2704 c. The Rise of Global Literature. Spring 2015. Morten Hansen.

Examines the rise of transnational literatures, from Goethe’s coining of the phrase “world literature” (“Weltlitteratur”) to contemporary literature of globalization. Focuses on how literature has reacted to the way the world has changed and grown smaller during the last two centuries through readings of novels, novellas, plays, poems, and films, as well as theoretical texts. How does literature stage encounters across cultural and national boundaries? Is it possible for a literary text to represent the whole globe? Special emphasis on the rise of world literature, colonization and its aftermath, global rewritings of the literary tradition, and the emergent spaces of globalization. Authors include Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Wole Soyinka, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Aimé Césaire, Jean Rhys, and Kiran Desai.

2841 {282} c. Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Spring 2015. Aaron Kitch.

Explores some of the most important and compelling schools of literary and cultural theory from the past two centuries as they have defined modern and postmodern intellectual life. Situates critical movements such as psychoanalysis, feminism, structuralism, deconstruction, race theory, and cultural studies in their historical and intellectual context while examining both textual and non-textual case studies. Students will develop research projects based on our readings but tailored to their own interests and knowledge. Authors include Marx, Freud, Adorno, Benjamin, Lacan, Foucault, Jameson, Eagleton, Butler, Sedgwick, and Zizek.

2854 {213} c. Telling Environmental Stories. Fall 2014. Anthony Walton.

Intended for students with a demonstrated interest in environmental studies, as an introduction to several modes of storytelling, which communicate ideas, historical narratives, personal experiences, and scientific and social issues in this increasingly important area of study and concern. Explores various techniques, challenges, and pleasures of storytelling, and examines some of the demands and responsibilities involved in the conveyance of different types of information with clarity and accuracy in nonfiction narrative. Engages student writing through the workshop method and incorporates study of several texts, including The Control of Nature, Cadillac Desert, Living Downstream, and Field Notes from a Catastrophe. (Same as Environmental Studies 2423 {216}.)

2900 c. Reconstruction and Reunion. Spring 2015. Tess Chakkalakal and Patrick Rael.

An interdisciplinary introduction from the perspectives of art history, literary history, and history to the political, economic, and social questions arising from American Reconstruction (1866-1877) and Reunion (1878-1900) following the Civil War between the North and South. Readings delve into a wide array of primary and secondary sources, including photographs, novels, poetry, and government documents to understand the fierce political debates rooted in Reconstruction that continue to occupy conceptions of America. (Same as Africana Studies 2142 and History 2142.)

2901 c - IP. World Science Fiction. Spring 2015. Arielle Saiber.

Explores the local, global, and universal natures of the speculative genre of science fiction (SF) from the early twentieth century through the present. Highlights works from the Golden Age (late 1930s-50s), the New Wave of the 1960s and 70s, cyberpunk in the 1980s, and today’s various sub-genres and cross-over incarnations. Approaches the genre as a mode of thought-experimentation and world-building that problematizes actual and possible political, cultural, natural, human, and techno-scientific realities. Among the themes included are the human-machine interface, environmental apocalypse, the alien, and time travel. Readings include short stories from nearly every continent (a number of which are accompanied by film or other media) and literary criticism. Integral to the course is an exhibition of Latin American SF at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and a number of conversations with writers, artists, filmmakers, and scholars of SF from around the world. Conducted in English. Counts for the major in English, but not for the Italian minor or romance languages major. (Same as Italian 2500.)

2970–2973 {291–294} c. Intermediate Independent Study in English. The Department.

2999 {299} c. Intermediate Collaborative Study in English. The Department.

Advanced Seminars in English and American Literature

3000–3999 {300–350}. Advanced Literary Study.

English courses (numbered 3000–3999 {300–399}) are advanced seminars. Students who take them are normally English majors and are strongly encouraged to take one intermediate seminar (at the 2000 {200} level) before registering for these courses. Their content and perspective varies—the emphasis may be thematic, historical, generic, biographical, etc. All require extensive reading in primary and collateral materials.

3002 {323} c. The James Joyce Revolution. Fall 2014. Marilyn Reizbaum.

An examination of James Joyce’s signal contributions to modern writing and critical theories. Reading includes the major works (Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses), essays by Joyce, and writings by others who testify to the Joyce mystique: e.g., Oliver St. John Gogarty, T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Jacques Derrida, Seamus Heaney, and Maud Ellmann.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 2000–2969 {200–289} in English.

3004 {326} c. African American Literature and the Law. Fall 2014. Tess Chakkalakal.

Examines the intersections between literature and law through works of African American literature. Investigates the influence of landmark legal cases—Dred Scott, Plessy v. Fergusson, Brown v. Board of Education, Loving v. Virginia—on the production and dissemination of particular works of American and African American literature. Works by Charles Chesnutt, Ralph Ellison, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass are among those considered. Note: Fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors. (Same as Africana Studies 3004 {326}.)

Prerequisite: One course numbered 2000–2969 {200–289} in English or Africana studies.

3017 {346} c. Living Deliberately. Fall 2014. David Collings.

Explores a range of possibilities for taking up Thoreau’s challenge to “live deliberately,” for cultivating an ethics in a world without guarantees. Examines various projects for grasping the essential conditions of existence, overcoming ignorance and despair, assuming an infinite responsibility to others, and sustaining the human against impossible odds. Considers the place of such projects in relation to the negative ethics of crime or addiction, the dubious implications of ethical heroism, the intimate risks of political commitment, and the potential loss of a viable future in the era of climate change. Drawing on novels, memoirs, ecological writing, theories of sexual practice, and philosophical ethics, considers such authors as Thoreau, Forster, Genet, Gordimer, Sapphire, Anita Desai, Kidder, and McKibben, as well as Nietzsche, Levinas, Foucault, Derrida, Halperin, Zizek, and Soni.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 2000–2969 {200–289} in English.

3023 c. Literature and Natural Philosophy from Plato to Shakespeare. Spring 2015. Emma Maggie Solberg.

Explores mind-bending texts written before the invention of the categories of “literature” and “science” as we now understand them—interdisciplinary texts that challenge us to reexamine many of our most basic assumptions about the difference between truth and fantasy. Focuses on literary descriptions of what we would call “imaginary” places, tribes, animals, and diseases. Teaches advanced methods of analysis, research, and academic argument. Authors include Plato, Chaucer, Dante, and Shakespeare. Note: Fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 2000–2969 {200–289} in English.

3024 {320} c. Victorian Epics. Spring 2015. Aviva Briefel.

Examines one of the foremost literary forms of the Victorian period: the long novel. By focusing on a few central texts, investigates the ways in which narrative length shapes stories about wide-ranging issues related to nationalism, science, technology, and empire, as well as allegedly “local” issues regarding domesticity, familial relations, personal adornment, and romance. Authors may include Charles Dickens, George Eliot, William Thackeray, and Anthony Trollope. (Same as Gender and Women’s Studies 3320 {320}.)

Prerequisite: One course numbered 2000–2969 {200–289} in English.

3025 c. Faulkner and His Literary Descendants. Spring 2015. Morten Hansen.

What is it about Faulkner’s novels that have inspired so many and such different novelists? How do Faulkner’s novels, and those of his descendants, stage the interplay between the local and the global? What does it mean to create your own literary world, as Faulkner did with Yoknapatawpha County? Situates the works of William Faulkner in relation to a range of authors who take their cues from Faulkner’s complex narrative structures, shifting perspectives, meditations on race, and attention to regional detail. Explores theories of literary influence from Harold Bloom to Édouard Glissant. Novels include Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying; Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!; and Go Down, Moses, as well as One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez; Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz; and A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 2000–2969 {200–289} in English.

4000–4003 {401–404} c. Advanced Independent Study in English. The Department.

4029 {405} c. Advanced Collaborative Study in English. The Department.

4050–4051 c. Honors Project in English. The Department.


Online Catalogue content is current as of August 1, 2014. For most current course information, use the online course finder. Also see Addenda.