Fall 2013 Courses

  • Please note that for the 2013-14 academic year, official course numbers are now four digits. This page only shows the older three-digit course numbers. If you need to see both the old and the new numbers, consult the College Catalogue.
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  • Login to Blackboard. Instructional materials are available on a course-by-course basis.
010. Shakespeare's Afterlives
Aaron Kitch T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Romeo and Juliet as garden gnomes, Richard III as Adolf Hitler, King Lear as aging patriarch of an Iowa family farm...these are some of the ways that Shakespeare’s plays and characters have been adapted over the centuries. Reading plays from representative genres together with their adaptations, we examine the aesthetic, cultural, and political transformations of the Bard in prose, film, and other mediums. Readings include Oscar Wilde, Tom Stoppard, Jane Smiley, Marjorie Garber, and Arthur Philips, with a film by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love).
012. Homebodies: Geography as Identity in Fiction
Sarah Braunstein T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Where are you from? How does the place you’re born and raised inform your consciousness? Novels answer these questions more fully and deeply than any other kind of writing. This course investigates psychological, spiritual, cultural, historical, and political meanings of home. Students read novels, stories, and essays in which place is itself a character. We’ll ask: How do writers create vivid, palpable places? How does a book’s setting illuminate the (often secret) lives of its characters? A special focus will be on the coastline, on water, and on shape-shifting landscapes that draw attention to shifting identities. Through critical and creative assignments, students analyze creative prose and write their own. By experimenting with various stylistic techniques, and by visiting sites along the Maine coast, we seek to document our past homes in a new way—and to experience a new place as home. Readings may include Virginia Woolf, Denton Welsh, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Annie Dillard, Marilynn Robinson, Jamaica Kincaid, Bonnie Nadzam, Eowyn Ivy, and others.
013. Hawthorne
William Watterson M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Readings include selected short stories, Fanshawe, The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance, The House of the Seven Gables, The Marble Faun, Septimus Felton, and James Mellow’s Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times.
022. Transfigurations of Song
David Collings M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
A course in close reading. Explores poetry, primarily in the Romantic tradition, which dallies with the dangers of lyrical transport, whether in the form of fusion with the divine, aesthetic seduction, impossible quest, or physical transfiguration. Authors may include Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, Yeats, Crane, and Stevens.
023. Early European Representations of Islam
Emma Maggie Solberg T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
Introduces students to Islam in the medieval and early modern European imagination, covering a wide array of interdisciplinary sources: bitter religious polemic, eyewitness accounts of the Crusades, and fantastical travel narratives—written from both Christian and Muslim perspectives—as well as medieval and Renaissance European romances about Saracen knights and plays about Turkish tyrants. Texts include The Qur’an, Dante’s Inferno, The Song of Roland, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, and William Percy’s Mahomet and His Heaven.
024. After Kafka
Hilary Thompson T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
A look at contemporary global fiction with an eye for the influence of Franz Kafka (1883-1924). Investigates how and why current writers from around the world have acknowledged Kafka’s work as they have engaged with themes of modern alienation, modes of magical realism, ideas of existence’s absurdity, images of arbitrary authoritarian power, and questions of human/animal difference. Considers what it means for a writer to spawn an adjective as well as whether an international literary world grown ever more Kafka friendly is necessarily evidence of a world grown ever more Kafkaesque. Authors, in addition to Kafka, may include Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Can Xue, J. M. Coetzee, Yiyun Li, Haruki Murakami, and Jonathan Tel.
025. Contemporary Short Fiction in English
Celeste Goodridge T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
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.
026. Fictions of Freedom
Tess Chakkalakal T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
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.
029. Fact and Fiction
Brock Clarke M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
An introduction to the study and creation of various kinds of narrative forms (short story, travel essay, bildungsroman, detective fiction, environmental essay, satire, personal essay, etc.). Students write critical essays and use the readings in the class as models for their own short stories and works of creative nonfiction. Class members discuss a wide range of published canonical and contemporary narratives and workshop their own essays and stories. In doing so, the class dedicates itself to both the study of literature and the making of it.
060. English Composition
Belinda Kong 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.
105. Introduction to Poetry
Peter Coviello T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
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.
126. Creative Nonfiction Writing
Jaed Coffin T 1:00 - 3:55
Explores a range of creative nonfiction from the personal essay to new journalism with an emphasis on the elements of structure, voice, and style. Students will read and discuss published nonfiction and write their own narratives. Students are expected to fully participate in weekly workshop discussions.
128. Introductory Fiction Workshop
Brock Clarke M 1:00 - 3:55
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.
200. Getting Real: The Development of Literary Realism
Marilyn Reizbaum M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
Examines the development of literary Realism in English letters. Considers the wider movement in the arts, in particular the visual arts, taking into account, in photography, for example, the scientific propositions that underlie certain theories of the “real” or “objective reality.” Touches on theoretical debates surrounding the genre. Authors may include Ruskin, Dickens, Hardy, Peter Brooks, Virginia Woolf, Sherwood Anderson, Susan Sontag, Erich Auerbach, Lorrie Moore, and Frederick Wiseman.
204. Introduction to Medieval British Literature
Emma Maggie Solberg T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Introduces students to the literature of medieval Britain, excluding Chaucer. The course begins with the first poem ever written in English (or rather Old English), continues through tribal sagas (Beowulf, the Welsh Mabinogian, the Irish Tain) and Arthurian romances (the Lais of Marie de France, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight), and concludes with extensive coverage of the literature of the fifteenth century: mystical theology (The Showings of Julian of Norwich, The Cloud of Unknowing), gory martyrdoms (Christina the Astonishing, the York Passion Play), lyric poetry ranging from the numinous to the obscene (anonymous and by poets including Dunbar and Skelton), the global travel narrative of Sir John Mandeville, and tales of Robin Hood. Students will gain a very rudimentary ability to translate Old English as well as reading proficiency in Middle English. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
210. Shakespeare's Comedies and Romances
William Watterson W 2:30 - 3:55, F 2:30 - 3:55
Examines A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest in light of Renaissance genre theory. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
216. Creative Writing: Poetry II
Anthony Walton M 6:30 - 9:25
Creative Writing: Poetry II
219. Trolls, Frogs, and Princesses: Fairy Tales and Retellings
Elizabeth Muther T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
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.
221. The Making of a Race: Latino Fictions
Nadia Celis M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
Explores the creation, representation and marketing of U.S. Latino/a identities in American literature and popular culture from the 1960s. Focuses on the experience of artists and writers of Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican origin, their negotiations with notions of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the United States, their role in the struggle for social rights, in cultural translation, and in the marketing of ethnic identities, as portrayed in a variety of works ranging from movies and songs to poetry and narrative. Authors include Pietri, Blades, Álvarez, Hijuelos, Braschi, Ovejas, Díaz, and Quiñones. Readings in English, discussions and writing in Spanish.
223. English Renaissance Drama
Aaron Kitch T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
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.
229. Milton
Ann Kibbie M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
A critical study of Milton’s major works in poetry and prose, with special emphasis on Paradise Lost. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for English majors.
237. Contesting the Commons
David Collings M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
Examines the attack on and defense of common right in the era of the Industrial Revolution in England. Discusses historical phenomena such as food riots, the enclosure of commons, the Luddite protests, the emergence of a mass radical movement, the massacre at Peterloo, and the formation of modern class relations. Focuses on radical poems by plebeians, artisans, and elite writers (Blake, Spence, Hone, Shelley, Clare), writings of the Luddites, popular radical journalism (Cobbett), and pivotal texts in the history of political and economic thought (Burke, Malthus, Marx), alongside readings in history and cultural theory.
245. Modernism/Modernity
Marilyn Reizbaum M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Examines the cruxes of the “modern,” and the term’s shift into a conceptual category rather than a temporal designation. Although not confined to a particular national or generic rubric, takes British works as a focus. Organized by movements or critical formations of the modern, i.e., modernisms, psychoanalysis, postmodernism, cultural critique. Readings of critical literature in conjunction with primary texts. Authors/directors/works may include T. S. Eliot, Joyce’s Dubliners, Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, Sontag’s On Photography, W. G. Sebald’s The Natural History of Destruction, Ian McEwen’s Enduring Love, Stevie Smith, Kureishi’s My Son the Fanatic, and Coetzee’s Disgrace.
250. The Making of a Race: Latino Fictions
Nadia Celis M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
Explores the creation, representation, and marketing of U.S. Latino/a identities in American literature and popular culture from the 1960s. Focuses on the experience of artists and writers of Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican origin; their negotiations with notions of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the United States; and their role in the struggle for social rights, in cultural translation, and in the marketing of ethnic identities, as portrayed in a variety of works ranging from movies and songs to poetry and narrative. Authors include Pietri, Blades, Álvarez, Hijuelos, Braschi, Ovejas, Díaz, and Quiñones. Readings and writing in English, discussions in Spanish. Spanish speaking skills required.
270. African American Fiction: Humor and Resistance
Elizabeth Muther W 1:00 - 3:55
Explores rich traditions of African American humor in fiction, comics, graphic narratives, and film. Considers strategies of cultural survival and liberation, as well as folkloric sources, trickster storytellers, comic double-voicing, and the lampooning of racial ideologies. Close attention will be paid to modes of burlesque, caricature, tragicomedy, satire, and parody in historical and contemporary contexts, including such writers and performers as Charles Chesnutt, Bert Williams, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Pryor, Ishmael Reed, Aaron McGruder, Dave Chappelle, and Suzan-Lori Parks. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
275. Asian America: History, Society, Literature
Nancy Riley T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
Focuses on Asian American experiences from an interdisciplinary perspective, including history, English, Asian Studies, and sociology. Examines major issues in the experience of Asian Americans including immigration, the politics of racial/ethnic formation and identity, the political and economic forces that have shaped the lives of Asians in the U.S., historical experiences and influences on today's situation, and ways that Asian Americans have resisted and accommodated these influences. Uses a variety of lenses to gain critical perspective, including history, social relations and practices, and cultural production.
276. Queer Race
Guy Foster T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
How does the concept of “queerness” signify in cultural texts that are ostensibly about the struggle for racial equality? And vice versa, how does the concept of “racialization” signify in cultural texts that are ostensibly about the struggle for LGBT recognition and justice? While some of this work tends to reduce “queer” to traditional sexual minorities like lesbigay and trans folk while downplaying racial considerations, others tend to limit the category “race” to people of color like blacks while downplaying questions about sexuality. Such critical and creative gestures often place “queer” and “race” in opposition rather than as intersecting phenomena. Students examine the theoretical and cultural assumptions of such gestures, and their implications, through close readings of selected works in both the LGBT and African American literary traditions. Note: This course fulfills the literature of the Americas requirement for English majors.
280. The Animal and the Human
Hilary Thompson T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
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.
289. The Horror Film in Context
Aviva Briefel T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
Examines the genre of the horror film in a range of cultural, theoretical, and literary contexts. Considers the ways in which horror films represent violence, fear, and paranoia; their creation of identity categories; their intersection with contemporary politics; and their participation in such major literary and cinematic genres as the gothic, comedy, and family drama. Texts may include works by Craven, Cronenberg, De Palma, Freud, Hitchcock, Kristeva, Kubrick, Poe, Romero, and Shelley.
339. The End of Blackness?
Guy Foster T 6:30 - 9:25
Seminar. What makes a work of literature “black”? Is it the fact that its author can be clearly identified in racial terms, its subject matter, or its main characters? What if only one of these things can be determined, but not the others? How has the passing of Jim Crow segregation, the election of the first African American president, as well as changing racial norms impacted the coherence and legibility of the African American literary tradition? Students engage scholarly debates on these matters, as well as analyze past and present works of literature that aid us in examining some of the key assumptions that have (re)defined the field, including questions of literary mode, genre, and style. Possible authors: Toni Morrison, Percival Everett, Colson Whitehead, Debra Dickerson, among others.
370. Jane Austen and Company
Ann Kibbie M 10:00 - 11:25, W 10:00 - 11:25
Examines Austen’s major works, from "Northanger Abbey" to "Persuasion," by pairing each novel either with a work by one of her major literary influences (such as Frances Burney’s "Evelina" and Ann Radcliffe’s "The Romance of the Forest"), or with a later work (such as Charlotte Bronte’s "Jane Eyre") that responds to and challenges Austen’s own novelistic practice. Will also examine major currents in Austen criticism.