Spring 2010 Courses

020. Ghosts
Aviva Briefel T  11:30 - 12:55
TH 11:30 - 12:55
Mass-Faculty Room
Explores “actual” and metaphorical instances of ghosts in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary and cinematic contexts. Considers genres such as the Victorian ghost story, the gothic novella, and the horror film to grasp the various significations of a figure that is often defined by its ungraspability. Also introduces students to critical literature on ghosts. May include writings by Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sigmund Freud, and Henry James, as well as films by Alejandro Amenábar, Alfred Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan, and Robert Wise.
021. Trolls, Frogs, and Princesses: Fairy Tales and Retellings
Elizabeth Muther T  1:00 - 2:25
TH 1:00 - 2:25
Mass-Faculty Room
] Explores the resilience 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.
023. Addictions, Obsessions, Manias
Terri Nickel M  11:30 - 12:55
W  11:30 - 12:55
Traces the emergence of various pathological behaviors in selected nineteenth-century narratives. Explores how cultural and social structures take shape through regulation of and indulgence in bad habits. Topics include alcoholism, fetishism, kleptomania, gambling, smoking, using narcotics, shopping, and collecting. Texts may include Madame Bovary, John Barleycorn, McTeague, The Kreutzer Sonata, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Artificial Paradises, Against Nature, Death in Venice, and selected Sherlock Holmes’ stories.
060. English Composition
Ann Kibbie M  9:30 - 10:25
W  9:30 - 10:25
F  9:30 - 10:25
Mass-Faculty Room
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.
105. Introduction to Poetry
Marilyn Reizbaum M  1:00 - 2:25
W  1:00 - 2:25
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.
110. English Literature and Social Power
David Collings M  11:30 - 12:55
W  11:30 - 12:55
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.
130. Writing the Creative Narrative
Jane Brox T  6:30 - 9:25Mass-Faculty Room
Explores fiction and creative nonfiction with an emphasis on the elements of structure, voice, and style. Students will read and discuss published fiction and nonfiction and write their own narratives. Students are expected to participate fully in workshop discussions and critiques.
132. Making Stories
Michael Paterniti M  6:30 - 9:25Mass-McKeen Study
Focuses on how to make and tell stories--most importantly, your own. While the categorizations that divide fiction, poetry, and nonfiction continue to blur in our digital age, we will take our lead from a selection of American and international short stories, from the historical to the modern and multicultural, all with a keen writer's eye toward structure, plot, characterization, and other key narrative elements.
139. Nonfiction Writing: Creative Essays
Celeste Goodridge T  10:00 - 11:25
TH 10:00 - 11:25
Mass-Faculty Room
Explores a range of sub-genres within the rich universe of contemporary non-fiction forms, including personal narratives, travel writing, the new journalism, and research narratives in the New Yorker mode. Students will learn form and technique by engaging a variety of models within each sub-genre and will write and workshop their own creative narratives in these styles. Extensive experience in writing creative non-fiction is not required. Designed to introduce students to the forms and to help them strengthen their research and writing skills in a workshop context.
201. Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Mary Edsall M  2:30 - 3:55
W  2:30 - 3:55
Learn Middle English and enjoy and analyze a wide selection of the stories told on Chaucer’s great literary road trip. Includes a focus on medieval history, material culture, literary backgrounds, social codes, and social conflicts. Attention given to trends in Chaucer studies. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
215. Writing about Place
Jane Brox TH 1:00 - 3:55Mass-McKeen Study
An examination of sense of place through reading and creative writing. Students will read authors who write personally about place and also bring historical, scientific, or sociological perspectives to their work, such as Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, James Baldwin, Yi-Fu Tuan, and Elizabeth Bishop. Students will write both personal essays and essays centered on direct observation and reflection on the history and ecology of a particular place. Workshop discussion, critiques, and revision are an integral part.
225. Race and Representation in the English Renaissance
Aaron Kitch M  11:30 - 12:55
W  11:30 - 12:55
CT-16 Whiteside Room
Reconsiders the notoriously “white” English Renaissance in light of recent literary and cultural scholarship on race and cultural difference. Explores key strategies of authors from Philip Sidney to Aphra Behn in representing ethnic, religious, and cultural othernesss, as well as an emergent discourse of racial identity. Topics include England’s role in the nascent African slave trade, the poetic fetishization of the exotic, and transnational discourses of “discovery” that raised new questions about modes of English writing. Authors include Sidney, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Aphra Behn, Kim Hall, Gary Taylor, and bell hooks. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
231. Topics in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Poetry and Prose: Writing Lives
Ann Kibbie M  1:00 - 2:25
W  1:00 - 2:25
Mass-McKeen Study
Explores the representation of private life in the poetry and non-fiction prose of the period (including diaries, private journals, public and private letters, and biographical sketches), with an emphasis on the emergence of the modern author. Works include selections from the diary of Samuel Pepys, the autobiographical poetry of Alexander Pope, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s travel letters, Lord Chesterfield’s letters of advice to his illegitimate son, the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, selections from Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the English Poets, and James Boswell’s London Journal. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
243. Victorian Genders
Aviva Briefel T  2:30 - 3:55
TH 2:30 - 3:55
Investigates the literary and cultural construction of gender in Victorian England. Of central concern are fantasies of “ideal” femininity and masculinity, representations of unconventional gender roles and sexualities, and the dynamic relationship between literary genres and gender ideologies of the period. Authors may include Charlotte Bronte, Freud, Gissing, Hardy, Rider Haggard, Christina Rossetti, Ruskin, Schreiner, Tennyson, and Wilde.
252. American Intimacies: Sex and Love in Nineteenth-Century Literature
Peter Coviello T  11:30 - 12:55
TH 11:30 - 12:55
Homosexuality and its conceptual twin, heterosexuality, are surprisingly late coinages. So what was sex like before such concepts organized the sphere of intimate life in America? Was it a set of bodily practices? An aspect of a person’s identity? Was sexuality something an individual could be said to possess? What forms of contact, invest attachment, or imagination could even be counted as sex, and why? Authors may include Whitman, Thoreau, Jewett, Melville, Hawthorne, James, Douglas, Dickinson, and Joseph Smith. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
255. Contemporary Literature and Culture in English: Cold War Literature and Culture
Celeste Goodridge W  1:00 - 3:55Hatch Library-210
Explores different topics across genres in contemporary, post-1945 literature and culture in English. Focuses on how the literature and culture of this period both reflects and subverts the dominant ideologies of the period. Authors may include Capote, Salinger, Plath, Highsmith, Baldwin, Richard Yates, McCarthy, Albee, and Williams. Research projects required. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
258. Reconstructing the Nation
Tess Chakkalakal T  10:00 - 11:25
TH 10:00 - 11:25
Introduces students to American literature written between 1865 and 1910. Exploring a period marked by the end of the Civil War, Reconstruction, the “New” South, and Jim Crow, students engage with these historical developments through a reading of a wide range of novels, short stories, poems, and plays that take up political tensions between the North and South as well as questions of regional, racial, and national identity. Works by George Washington Cable, Charles Chesnutt, Lydia Maria Child, Sarah Orne Jewett, Mark Twain, Sutton E. Griggs, Emily Dickinson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, and Frank Norris constitute the “major” literary voices of the period, but also examines a number of “minor” works that are similarly, but perhaps more narrowly, concerned with questions of race and nation. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
270. African American Fiction: Childhood and Adolescence
Elizabeth Muther F  1:30 - 4:25Mass-Faculty Room
A century of short stories, novels, and graphic narratives by African American writers that engage the lives of children and adolescents, as well as narratives written explicitly for young readers. Theorizes historical constructions of African American childhood from the Harlem Renaissance era to the present. Examines the strong tradition of child-narrated fiction for teens and adults from the 1960s and 1970s 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 multicultural children’s literature in recent decades. Formerly English 275 (same as Africana Studies 275). Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
273. Writing China from Afar
Belinda Kong M  6:30 - 9:25Mass-Faculty Room
The telling of a nation’s history is often the concern not only of historical writings but also literary ones. Examines three shaping moments of twentieth-century China: the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), and the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement and massacre. Focuses specifically on contemporary literature by authors born and raised in China but since dispersed into a western diaspora. Critical issues include language choice and the role of translation; the truth claims of fiction vs. memoir; the relationship between history, literature, and the cultural politics of diasporic representations of origin; and the figure of the contemporary intellectual-writer vis-à-vis totalitarian violence. Authors may include Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing), Shan Sa, Dai Sijie, Hong Ying, Yan Geling, Zheng Yi, Yiyun Li, Gao Xingjian, Ha Jin, Annie Wang, and Ma Jian. Part of the Other Modernities course cluster. Formerly English 283.
279. Asian America's Aging
Belinda Kong T  11:30 - 12:55
TH 11:30 - 12:55
Mass-McKeen Study
Asian American literature is dominated by voices of youth: the child narrator and the "bildungsroman" genre have long been used by writers to tell not only personal coming-of-age stories but also that of Asian America itself, as a relative newcomer into the American nation-state and its cultural landscape. Focuses instead on the latecoming figure of the aged narrator in recent Asian American fiction, who constellates themes of dislocation and reclamation, memory, and the body rather than those of maturation and heritage. Explores old age as a vehicle for engaging contemporary issues of globalization and diaspora; historical trauma and cultural memory; life and biopolitics. Examines these works within the paradigm of transnational Asian America, which goes beyond the United States as geographical frame to shed light on the new diasporic identities and cultural politics emerging from twentieth-century global transits. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
280. The Animal and the Human
Hilary Thompson T  1:00 - 2:25
TH 1:00 - 2:25
Considers the changing philosophical and political significance of representations of the animal and of human/animal interactions in modern and contemporary literature. Focuses on global fiction and investigates the role of the animal in the theories and philosophies of psychoanalysis, biopolitics, shamanism, and animism.
282. Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory
Aaron Kitch M  2:30 - 3:55
W  2:30 - 3:55
Mass-Faculty Room
Explores a range of critical methodologies that enhance our understanding of literature and allow us to question some presumptions about literary authorship, textual production, and the reading experience. Examines fundamental relations between subject and object, the sensuous and the conceptual, and the universal and particular. Without privileging any particular critical paradigm, engages modes of interpretation associated with Marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and cultural studies. Representative literary works read, less to label them as responsive to one or another theoretical paradigm than to consider how they “speak theory” in their own right. Authors include Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Freud, Derrida, Foucault, Woolf, and Agamben.
284. Reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
Tess Chakkalakal T  2:30 - 3:55
TH 2:30 - 3:55
Mass-Faculty Room
Introduces students to the controversial history of reader responses to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel, "Uncle Tom’s Cabin." Students engage with various theoretical approaches—reader response theory, feminist, African Americanist, and historicist—to the novel, then turn to the novel itself and produce their own literary interpretation. In order to do so, students examine the conditions of the novel’s original production. By visiting various historic locations, the Stowe House on Federal Street, the First Parish on Maine Street, Special Collections of the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, students compare the novel’s original historical context to the history that the novel produced. Aside from reading Stowe’s antislavery fiction, students also read works produced with and against "Uncle Tom’s Cabin."
314. Talking about Yourself in the Middle Ages
Mary Edsall M  10:00 - 11:25
W  10:00 - 11:25
Mass-McKeen Study
Examines a variety of autobiographical, biographical, and literary texts from Late Antiquity to the late Middle Ages. Considers how narrative genres and social constructions shaped how people wrote about life experience. Themes structuring discussion and research will include the impacts of orality and literacy on character depiction, self-fashioning through reading and memory practices, medieval principles of psychology, and the question of the discovery of the individual. Texts may include Augustine’s Confessions, The Memoirs of Guibert of Nogent, The Tristan Legend, the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Christine de Pizan’s Vision, Richard Rolle’s Fire of Love, Chaucer’s House of Fame, the Showings of Julian of Norwich, and The Book of Margery Kempe. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
335. Living in the Ruins
David Collings M  2:30 - 3:55
W  2:30 - 3:55
Mass-McKeen Study
Examines literature, primarily written after 1945, that depicts life in a world that is enduring, or has endured, a military, cultural, moral, or environmental disaster (such as global climate change). Discusses what transpires when time continues to pass but the future does not arrive, when the world renews itself only in marginal or unsuspected ways. Considers themes such as generalized and muted trauma; the possibilities of accepting or resisting global disarray; the estrangement of home or familiar histories; the radical disorientation of the self; and the adequacy of established literary genres to capture key themes. Discsses literary texts by such authors as Beckett, Levi, Abe, Dick, Ballard, Robinson, Coetzee, Sebald, Butler, and Boyle; movies such as "Children of Men"; and theoretical and critical writings on course themes.
338. Sex and the Word: Freud, Psychoanalysis, American Literature
Peter Coviello W  1:00 - 3:55Searles-127
An examination of one of the great theorists of intimacy and its vexations, and of the provision his works make—or might make—for the study of literature. Aims not to produce successfully “Freudian” readings of given texts, or to assign one or another of Freud’s categories of pathology to fictional characters, but to test what sort of purchase Freud’s varied investigations—of language and desire, of loss and transformation, and especially of the intricate relations of gender and sexuality to one another, and to the very experience of selfhood—might afford us in our encounter with the pleasures and problems of modern fiction. Authors will include Freud and many of his critics, as well as Henry James, Nella Larsen, Willa Cather, James Baldwin, and others. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.