Fall 2014 Courses

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ENGL 1001. Gods and Monsters: Medieval Mythology.
Introduces students to the Celtic, Germanic, and Norse mythologies that flourished in and around the British Isles before (and later, in spite of) the triumph of Christianity—the stories of gods (Thor and Loki), heroes (Beowulf and Cú Chulainn), and monsters (orcs, giants, and dragons) that are the blueprints of so many of our fairy tales and fantasies. Texts include: Beowulf; The White Book of Rhydderch and The Red Book of Hergest; The Prophecies of Merlin; The Tain; Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda; The Völsunga Saga.
ENGL 1002. Provocative Art.
Examines the history of avant-garde and experimental literature and art through the twentieth century, from Dada cabarets to Pussy Riot. Can art and literature really bring about political or social change? Can we talk about a tradition of provocative art or is each new provocation a break with the past? What happens when writers and artists start mixing different media and mixing highbrow with lowbrow? Works include surrealist poems and films; poetry by Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Rich, and Kenneth Goldsmith; essays and manifestos by André Breton, Antonin Artaud, John Cage, and Valerie Solanas; visual art by Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Robert Smithson; as well as punk and rap.
ENGL 1004. Film Noir.
A survey of film noir from the hard-boiled detective films of the 1940s to later films that attempt to re-imagine the genre. Films will include The Big Sleep; Murder, My Sweet; Double Indemnity; Gun Crazy; In a Lonely Place; and Chinatown. Readings will include some of the original novels that were adapted for the screen, as well as works of film criticism and/or theory. Includes mandatory evening film screenings: a choice of two screening times will be available for each film.
ENGL 1026. Fictions of Freedom.
Explores the ways in which the idea of American freedom has been defined both with and against slavery through readings of legal and literary texts. Students come to terms with the intersections between the political, literary, and historical concept of freedom and its relation to competing definitions of American citizenship.
ENGL 1048. Contemporary Short Fiction in English.
Examines some of the formal features of narrative: plot, character development, point of view, the role of the reader, and closure, arguing that short stories have different requirements of economy than longer narratives. Emphasizing Gothic elements and representations of transgression, power, secrets, dysfunctionality, and domestic arrangements, authors may include Tessa Hadley, Alice Munro, Colm Toibin, William Trevor, and Claire Keegan.
ENGL 1049. Literature of Adolescent Sexuality.
Adolescents may be too young and vulnerable to withstand life under adult rules, but too smart and full of emotion to stand the rules of childhood. The result can be chaos, passion, drama—especially in expressions of sexuality. In this First Year Writing Seminar we will examine artistic representations of adolescent sexual life during and after the great shift in sexual norms of the 1960s. Creative work—novels, short stories, narrative nonfiction, and films—will be our primary source material, with scholarly readings supporting our study. Students will write both analytic papers and creative prose.
ENGL 1060. English Composition.
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.
ENGL 1105. Introduction to Poetry.
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.
ENGL 1110. English Literature and Social Power.
Considers whether 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 centuries. Discusses writings by Defoe, Pope, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens, and Woolf alongside critical and interpretive essays.
ENGL 1225. Introduction to Poetry Writing Workshop.
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.
ENGL 1228. Introductory Fiction Workshop.
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 examine student work. Critical writings on craft will introduce students to technical aspects of the form: character, dialogue, setting, point of view, scene, summary, etc. Exercises and short assignment will lead to longer works. Everyone will be expected to read, comment on, and discuss in depth each story that passes through the workshop, as well as to complete a major revision.
ENGL 2003. Trolls, Frogs, and Princesses: Fairy Tales and Retellings.
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.
ENGL 2009. Shakespeare in Theory.
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 Žižek’s claim that “Shakespeare without doubt has read Lacan”? Placing representative plays and poems in conversation with psychoanalysis, postcolonial studies, queer theory, and cultural materialism, this intermediate seminar 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: This course fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.
ENGL 2104. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
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: This course fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.
ENGL 2305. Imagining London in Eighteenth-Century Literature.
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 will learn how to use digital mapping, spatial analysis, and image markup to imagine eighteenth-century London, and will work collaboratively to create maps charting the movements of real people (such as Boswell) and fictional characters (such as Moll Flanders) within the city. Theaters, coffeehouses, shops, prisons, hospitals, and parks are among the public spaces we will explore in order to contextualize, enrich, and question the literature.Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.
ENGL 2402. Victorian Race and Empire.
Examines Victorian constructions of racial difference and imperial relationships in literary texts ranging from the 1830s to the fin de siècle. Of central concern will be 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.
ENGL 2544. The Great American Novel in the Twentieth Century.
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.
ENGL 2600. African American Poetry.
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: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
ENGL 2854. Telling Environmental Stories.
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 includes study of several texts, including The Control of Nature, Cadillac Desert, Living Downstream, and Field Notes from a Catastrophe.
ENGL 2856. Writing Creative Nonfiction through Photography.
A nonfiction writing course using photography as a guide and tool. We will take some photos (with any camera: digital, film, disposable or cell phone). And we will do a lot of writing: blog posts, profiles, and full-length reported articles. As we grapple with structure, metaphor, tone, voice, and pacing, we will let photography interrogate our writing. What can such pictorial concerns as focus, composition, width and depth of field, and artist's point of view tell us? We will explore how music, movies, and poetry can also guide our approach to writing accomplished nonfiction. Admission by instructor's permission.
ENGL 3002. James Joyce Revolution.
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, Maud Ellmann.
ENGL 3004. African American LIterature and the Law.
Examines the intersections between literature and law through works of African American literature. Students investigate 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 that will be considered. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
ENGL 3017. Living Deliberately.
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.