Location: Bowdoin / English / Courses / Spring 2009


Spring 2009

019. Imaginary Plagues
Ann Kibbie M 8:30 - 9:25, W 8:30 - 9:25, F 8:30 - 9:25
Explores the representation of plagues and epidemic diseases in literature and film. Novels will include Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year, Albert Camus' The Plague and Jose Saramago's Blindness. Films will include Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets; Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake; and John Carpenter's The Thing (1982).

020. African American Children's Literature
Elizabeth Muther T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
Beginning with W. E. B. Du Bois's serial magazine of the 1920s, The Brownies' Book, explores a century of African American literature for and about children. Examines the strong tradition of child-narrated fiction for teens and adults from the 1960s and 70s by such writers as Ernest Gaines, Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, Louise Meriwether, and Ann Petry. Considers the emergence of a conscious Black Arts aesthetic in children's literature and its relationship to the flowering of muilticultural children's literature in recent decades. Explores prize-winning fiction and graphic narratives for middle readers and adolescents as well as the collaborations of writers and artists in the contemporary "golden age" of African American picture books.

021. Shakespeare's Afterlives
Aaron Kitch T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
Falstaff in the suburbs, Richard III in Nazi Germany, King Lear on an Iowa farm. Explores how England’s most famous author has been translated and appropriated over the centuries. Topics include political, aesthetic, and cultural meanings in the process of adapting Shakespeare as well as the media shift a play experiences as it moves from page to stage to image (and sometimes back again). In addition to reading representative plays by Shakespeare, authors may include W. H. Auden, Isak Denisen, Tom Stoppard, and Jane Smiley. Screenings of films may include Richard Loncraine’s Richard III and Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books.

022. Femmes Fatales, Lady Killers, and Other Dangerous Women
Aviva Briefel T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Explores a popular cinematic image: the dangerous—and sometimes deadly—woman. By analyzing a range of films from classical Hollywood cinema to the present day, explores the various forms that this female figure assumes: the femme fatale, the tragic mulatto, the jealous or vindictive woman, the murderous lesbian, the revenge seeker, etc. Examines why the various permutations of the dangerous female have attained such a prevalent place on the silver screen. What is so seductive about the deadly woman? Also introduces students to film criticism. Films may include Basic Instinct, Carrie, Double Indemnity, Fatal Attraction, Gilda, Kill Bill, Mildred Pierce, Sunset Boulevard, Thelma and Louise, and Vertigo.

023. Arab and Jew in Literature and Film
Marilyn Reizbaum M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
Considers the interface between Arabs and Jews as produced on page and screen. Offers both geographical and generic range, bringing into view texts that talk to each other across ethnic, religious, historical, and theoretical boundaries. When these two figures are placed in relation to each other, they must invoke the Middle East, in particular Palestine-Israel: discusses works in translation, fiction and poetry, form the broad region, and may include authors Anton Shammas, Mahmoud Darwish, Ronit Matalon, Shimon Ballas, Haim Hazazz; writers in English such as Naomi Shibab Nye, Ammiel Alcalay, Philip Roth, Edward Said, and Ella Shohat; films by Elia Suleiman (Chronicle of a Disappearance), Khleifi (Wedding in Galilee), Gitai (Kippur), Abu-Assad (Paradise Now), Kolirin (The Band's Visit), Kassovitz (Hate); and visual artists Mona Hatoum and Adi Nes.

060. English Composition
Mary Edsall T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
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.

060. English Composition
Tess Chakkalakal T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
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.

106. Introduction to Drama
William Watterson M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
Traces the development of dramatic form, character, and style from classical Greece through the Renaissance and Enlightenment to contemporary America and Africa. Explores the evolution of plot design, with special attention to the politics of playing, the shifting strategies of representing human agency, and contemporary relationships between the theater and a variety of forms of mass media. Authors may include Sophocles, Aristophanes, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Dryden, Ibsen, Wilde, Beckett, Mamet, and Churchill.

108. Introduction to Black Women's Literature
Guy Foster T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Examines the twin themes of love and sex as they relate to poems, stories, novels, and plays written by African American women from the nineteenth century to the contemporary era. Explores such issues as Reconstruction, the Great Migration, motherhood, sexism, group loyalty, racial authenticity, intra- and interracial desire, homosexuality, the intertextual unfolding of a literary tradition of black female writing, and how these writings relate to canonical African American male-authored texts and European American literary traditions. Students are expected to read texts closely, critically, and appreciatively. Possible authors: Harriet Jacobs, Frances Harper, Nella Larsen, Jessie Faucet, Ann Petry, Ntozake Shange, Suzan-Lori Parks, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Gayle Jones, Jamaica Kincaid, Terry McMillan, Sapphire, Lizzette Carter.

128. Introductory Fiction Workshop
Margot Livesey M 6:30 - 9:25
Begins with an examination of some technical aspects of fiction writing. In particular, considers those that we tend to take for granted as readers and need to understand better as writers, e.g. point of view, characterization, dialogue, foreshadowing, scene, and summary. Students read and discuss published stories, and work through a series of exercises to write their own stories. Workshop discussion is an integral part of the course. Admission based on writing samples. Not open to students who have credit for English 69. Formerly English 66.

129. Advanced Fiction Workshop
Margot Livesey T 6:30 - 9:25
Presumes a familiarity with the mechanics of fiction and, ideally, previous experience in a fiction workshop. Uses published stories and stories by students to explore questions of voice and tone, structure and plot, how to deepen one’s characters, and how to make stories resonate at a higher level. Students write several stories during the semester and revise at least one. Workshop discussion and critiques are an integral part of the course. Formerly English 70.

203. Topics in Medieval Literature: Trilingual England
Mary Edsall M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
An introduction to the literature written in medieval England, with a focus on orality and literacy, and on the multilingualism of English culture in the Middle Ages. The world of medieval Europe was, at the least, bilingual, for Latin was the language of the Church and of the educated; moreover, in post-Norman England, French became the language of social and political power. Examines how different languages, discourses, and codes functioned in medieval English culture and considers works that depict exchanges between different cultures. Readings may include Bede, The Wanderer, The Dream of the Rood, The Song of Roland, The Play of Adam, Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, medieval lyrics and fabliaux, Chaucer, Mankind.

223. English Renaissance Drama
Aaron Kitch T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Explores the explosion of popular drama in London following the construction of the first permanent theaters in the 1560s. Pays special attention to the forms of drama that audiences liked best—those portraying revenge, marriage, middle-class ascendancy, and adultery. Topics include the cultural space of the theater, the structure of playing companies, and the cultivation of blank verse as a vehicle for theatrical expression. Students will master the styles of different playwrights, examine the topography of the Globe theater, and try out different staging techniques. Authors include Shakespeare, Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Middleton. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.

230. Theater and Theatricality in the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century
Ann Kibbie M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
An overview of the development of the theater from the re-opening of the playhouses in 1660 to the end of the eighteenth century, with special emphasis on the emergence of new dramatic modes such as Restoration comedy, heroic tragedy, “she-tragedy,” sentimental comedy, and opera. Other topics include the legacy of Puritan anxieties about theatricality; the introduction of actresses on the professional stage; adaptations of Shakespeare on the Restoration and eighteenth-century stage; other sites of public performance, such as the masquerade and the scaffold; and the representation of theatricality in the eighteenth-century novel. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.

233. Transatlantic Crossings
Terri Nickel T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Traces the circulation of narratives at the height of Britain’s colonial power in the Americas. Situates such literary commerce alongside the larger exchange of people and goods and focuses on the fluctuating nature of national, racial, and sexual identities in the circum-Atlantic world. Explores how literary texts attempted, and often failed, to sustain “Englishness” in the face of separation, revolution, or insurrection. Of special interest are figures who move across the Atlantic divide and exploit the possibility of multiple roles—sailors, pirates, freed or escaped slaves, female soldiers. Texts may include General History of the Pirates; The Woman of Colour; Moll Flanders; The History of Emily Montague; Obi, or the History of Three-Fingered Jack; The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; the Journals of Janet Schaw; The History of Mary Prince; The Female American.

244. Victorian Crime
Aviva Briefel T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
Investigates literary representations of criminality in Victorian England. Of central concern is the construction of social deviancy and criminal types; images of disciplinary figures, structures, and institutions; and the relationship between generic categories (the detective story, the Gothic tale, the sensation novel) and the period’s preoccupation with transgressive behavior and crime. Authors may include Braddon, Collins, Dickens, Doyle, Stevenson, and Wells.

248. The Modern Novel
Marilyn Reizbaum M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
A study of the modern impulse in the novel genre in English. Considers origins of the modern novel and developments such as modernism, postmodernism, realism, formalism, impressionism, the rise of short fiction. Focuses on individual or groups of authors and take into account theories of the novel, narrative theory, critical contexts. Topics shift and may include Philip Roth, Henry Roth, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Rebecca West, Dorothy Richardson, Lorrie Moore, Ford Madox Ford, J. M. Coetzee, W. G. Sebald, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Banville, Ian Watt, Peter Brook, and Franco Moretti. Formerly English 269.

254. Twentieth-Century American Poetry
Celeste Goodridge W 1:00 - 3:55
Readings of mid-century American poets followed by late century ones. Considers the validity of the term “confessional” to describe some of this poetry and examine performativity, autobiography, biography, and the mixing of high and low culture in this work. Authors may include Lowell, Bishop, Plath, Gluck, Doty and Clampitt. Formerly English 274. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.

270. African American Fiction: Short Stories
Elizabeth Muther F 1:30 - 4:25
Explorations of short fiction by African American writers from fugitive narratives to futurist science fiction. Focuses on strategies of cultural survival as mapped in narrative form—with special interest in trickster storytellers, alternative temporalities and double-voicing. Close attention paid to the exigencies of the short form, the experimental ground of the short story and its role for emerging writers, and notable anthologies and the role of stories in movement-making. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.

277. Writing the South Asian Diaspora
David Collings T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Examines English writing emerging from dispersed communities of South Asia (primarily India and Pakistan), including those in Trinidad, the Persian Gulf, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Considers cultural dislocation, individualism, assimilation, and the potential loss of tradition; the performance of South Asian transnational identities in multicultural spaces; the ironies of writing the homeland from afar; the uses of exoticism; the implications of cross-ethnic intimacies; the intersections of these themes with gender, sexuality, and class; and the politics of literary representation. Authors may include Naipaul, Ghosh, Mukherjee, Suleri, Kureishi, Syal, and Lahiri

282. Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory
David Collings T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
Introduces a range of new questions that, over the last three decades, have challenged the fundamental assumptions of literary and cultural studies: How are notions of authorship, greatness, or “high” art shaped by other forms of social power? How might literary modes of reading apply to forms of cultural expression other than literature, including popular culture? To what extent is any text consistent with itself, or does it inevitably undermine its key concepts in the course of articulating them? Do texts that encode social privilege—whether of class, gender, race, nationality, or sexuality—resist it as well? How reliable are the oppositions that anchor critical reading, such as male/female, white/black, home/exile, straight/gay? Where is meaning (or an unsettling non-meaning) to be found: in the text itself, symptoms of its unconscious desire, its relation to prior texts, its implication in contemporary discourses, or its intervention into its historical moment? Examines theoretical statements of these and other questions and applies them in experimental readings of short texts chosen in conjunction with the class.

288. Fiction Without Borders
Tess Chakkalakal T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Explores the effects of globalization—the economic integration of national markets—on the production of literature in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. As trading blocs in Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean are being formed and consolidated, a growing number of literary texts are being produced that focus on the social and cultural consequences of economic globalization. This literature confronts both the possibilities and pitfalls of this new global era by addressing issues of immigration, multiculturalism, ethnic identity, and Americanization through provocative experiments with narrative form. Readings cover a broad geographical terrain—from Zadie Smith’s and V. S. Naipaul’s reflections on diasporic communities to the perils and pleasures of border-crossings described in the fictions of Gayl Jones, Nurrudin Farah, Michael Ondaatje, and Tayeb Salih.

316. Shakespeare's Sonnets
William Watterson M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Close reading of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets and the appended narrative poem “A Lover’s Complaint,” which accompanies them in the editio princeps of 1609. Required texts include the “New Arden” edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1997) edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones, and Helen Vendler’s The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1998). Critical issues examined include the dating of the sonnets, the order in which they appear, their rhetorical and architectural strategies, and their historical and autobiographical content. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.

325. Henry James and Others
Celeste Goodridge T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Recent James criticism has focused on James’s homosexuality and its influence on his aesthetic and choice of subjects. Examines what is at stake in a Queer James, “queer” here referring both to James’s homosexuality and to perceptions of him as different, perverse, odd, awkward, and other. Readings of representative James texts and a number of other authors he influenced. Examines confluence between his work and his contemporary E. M. Forster’s, as well as his influence on Alan Hollinghurst, a contemporary British author who acknowledged James’s influence, and David Levitt, a contemporary American author whose his kinship with James is apparent. Also considers the influence of James’s life as art, as seen in novels by Colm Toibin and David Lodge that re-imagine James’s biography. Students required to read criticism of James and critical theory. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.

327. White Negroes
Guy Foster T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Close readings of literary and filmic texts that interrogate widespread beliefs in the fixity of racial categories and the broad assumptions these beliefs often engender. Investigates “whiteness” and “blackness” as unstable and fractured ideological constructs—constructs that, while socially and historically produced, are no less “real” in their tangible effects, whether internal or external. Includes works by Charles Chesnutt, Sinclair Lewis, Nella Larsen, Norman Mailer, Anne McClintock, Jack Kerouac, John Howard Griffin, Andrea Lee, Sandra Bernhard, and Warren Beatty. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.

328. Black Literary History and the Archive
Gabrielle Foreman M 5:40 - 8:35
Examines the lives of two well-known nineteenth-century women writers, Harriet Jacobs and Harriet Wilson, as a means to train students in the tools of literary recovery. How do we resurrect the lives of people who were considered unimportant, those whose contributions were dismissed and buried? What does this tell us about what is considered valuable, what gets archived and what constitutes "memory." How is this connected to what's been passed down as canonical? As we expand the contours of the canon, we will also reflect on our own sense of the scope and shape of African American historical memory and the ways in which we organize (literary) history. How do we interpret religion, resistance and labor activities that that fall "outside" of conventional narratives about African American experience? This class will take on these larger questions as we spend a great deal of time doing archival work in nineteenth-century newspapers, census records and beyond. The class will culminate in a trip to (either) Boston or New Hampshire to examine records that are only available in archives housed there.