University Seminars in Literature
ENGL 13186, Section 1 University Seminar: Writing Terror: Language, Politics, and African American Literature since WW II Toni Irving TR 11:00–12:15
This course explores the symbolic forms, material practices, and narrative strategies through which social fear is created, consensus is maintained, political agency is constructed, and the way writing by African Americans since World War II attempts to respond to and intervene in these events. We will analyze discursive practices, “the particular ways we talk about or understand the world,” and the impact of discourse on national narratives. What does language tell us about nation? How does the language we use create identity? Throughout the semester we will attend to the way language constructs and (not merely reflects) reality. We will consider novels, plays from the Black Arts Movement, poetry, non-fiction prose from the Civil Rights era, film, and music that spans the period under review. All of these texts locate violence through narration and speak from a position of having been narrated and edited by others. Likely texts: Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go; Petry, The Street; Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun; Baraka, The Dutchman; Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”; James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time; Ernest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men; and lyrics by Nina Simone, DMX, Dead Prez, Jay Z, and The Brand Nubians. There will be three essays and two revisions.
ENGL 13186, Section 2 University Seminar: Life-Writing: Autobiography and Subjectivity Barbara Green TR 11:00–12:15
Life-writing is a capacious term that can be used to describe a variety of private and public statements about the self. Some of these are easily recognizable as artistic representations of subjectivity (for example, memoirs, diaries, letters, self-portraits) and some less so (for example, legal testimony, graphic novels, blogs, oral narratives delivered on Oprah, even medical forms have been read as part of the complex project of articulating subjectivity). This course will attend to a wide variety of forms of life-writing in order to trace shifting notions of what counts as a self and track the complex project of defining and representing subjectivity. A broad range of critical approaches to subjectivity and definitions of the autobiographical project will assist us as we attempt to map changing notions of the self. Many, but not all, of our primary materials will be drawn from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: texts may include selections of writings by Wordsworth and Rousseau, Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus, Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Virginia Woolf’s Sketch of the Past, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, selections from Samuel Delany’s The Motion of Light in Water, photography by Cindy Sherman, Jo Spence and others, self-portraits by Frieda Kahlo, considerations of Web projects, My Space sites, political and legal testimony or “witnessing,” and other examples of autobiography “at work” will also be considered. Requirements: participation, short commentaries, and three essays of five pages each.
ENGL 13186, Section 3 University Seminar: American Modernisms Cyraina Johnson-Roullier TR 11:00–12:15
Discussions of the late nineteenth, early twentieth-century literary and cultural movement of modernism often center on those qualities of the movement described in the work of early modernist literary critics, such as Harry Levin or Edmund Wilson. Such examinations emphasize the modern movement’s experiments in form, structure, linguistic representation, characterization, etc., while paying much less attention to the role of the modernist movement in the larger context of a given culture. In this course, we will explore the significance of the modern movement from the perspective of American culture, as well as the manner and meaning of American literary participation in the movement. To that end, we will consider not only the work of authors generally accepted as modernists such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein; we will also consider the role of authors such as Sherwood Anderson and Waldo Frank, of the early Chicago Renaissance (1910–1925), and a number of authors from the Harlem Renaissance. We will examine the work of these authors not only in the context of modernism, but also as it relates to many issues of the day, including progressivism, primitivism, race and ethnicity, immigration, cosmopolitanism versus regionalism, and the importance of the vernacular, in addition to the question of “Americanness” and its importance to an understanding of American literature during this time. Considering these different vantage points in American literary modernism, we will try to imagine the contours of “American modernisms” and draw some conclusions about their significance within the larger modernist context. In so doing, we’ll seek to arrive at a more comprehensive, more nuanced perspective on the meaning of the modern in American literature and culture.
Course Texts: Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence; Willa Cather, O Pioneers!; Sherwood Anderson, Dark Laughter; Waldo Frank, Holiday; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Ernest Hemingway, Torrents of Spring; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Gertrude Stein, Three Lives; Jessie Fauset, Plum Bun; Jean Toomer, Cane; William Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom! Course Requirements: one 5-page essay, one 10-page essay, one mini-presentation, one group presentation.
ENGL 13186, Section 4 University Seminar: What’s “New” about the New Black Poetry? From The Black Arts Movement to Cave Canem Cornelius Eady TR 12:30–1:45
In this course we will examine and explore the recent emergence of young African American poets born in the mid to late 1970’s who are now in the process of adding their voices to the on-going conversation of American and African American Literature. In order to better understand their moment, the first few weeks of the class will concentrate on the poets and poetics of the Black Arts Movement, as well as the “lost generation” (as stated by poet Kevin Young): the writers between the end of the BAM movement in the mid 1970’s (which includes poets Rita Dove and Yusef Komunyakaa, among others), and start of the Dark Room Collective in Boston in the late 1980s.
Some of the questions we may ask and examine through our reading will be: “How is the concept of identity defined between these two close, yet slightly different generations?” and “What traditions, ideas and ideals are carried forward, and what (if any) are left behind?” A secondary concern of the course will be how the concept of “Movement” influences or hinders these writers. Hopefully, by the end of the semester, the student should have a better sense of how to read and interpret these writers, and the space they inhabit in American Letters. I also hope the course will prove to be a true adventure in reading and discussion.
ENGL 13186, Section 5 University Seminar: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Dolores Frese TR 2:00–3:15
An introduction to the seminar method of instruction, emphasizing the analysis of literary texts. Consult the instructor for details.
ENGL 13186, Section 8 University Seminar: Narrative and Memory Mary Burgess Smyth TR 12:30–1:45
This course will, in part, focus on honing your own critical reading and writing skills and approaches. We will be reading a series of texts — memoirs and novels — which have in common a concern with the nature of memory (often of traumatic memory) and the ways in which language can retrieve, accommodate, memorialize, and respond to the past. One of the themes that will emerge repeatedly is the instability of memory, as well as an emphasis on the uneasy connections and differences between fiction and memoir. The following are the texts to be covered in depth: Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved; Bernard Schlink, The Reader; Neil Jordan, Shade; Pat McCabe, The Butcher Boy; Seamus Deane, Reading in the Dark; Toni Morrison, Beloved. These main texts will be accompanied by a number of related articles, available in a course pack. I may add additional readings if I think it necessary. You will see that most of these articles concern the first two and the last of our texts. This is in part because there is not a lot of good secondary material on the Irish books we will be studying. You will also find, as you read the essays, that there is much in them that resonates with all of our texts. Please take the time to read carefully all of this material, as we progress; I will be discussing the articles with you in class. There will also be screenings of four films: extracts from Claude Lanzmann’s masterpiece Shoah; The Gray Zone; The Butcher Boy; and After ‘68.
ENGL 13186, Section 9 University Seminar: Biography/Autobiography: One’s Life Story Rev. Edward Malloy U 7:00–9:30 pm
In the course of the semester, we will seek to understand the uniqueness of particular historical persons through an analysis of their stories as created either by themselves or others. We will also be interested in what can be learned about that person’s cultural and historical context. Attendance is expected at each class. The students in the course are expected to contribute to the seminar discussions and to write papers on each assignment. All regular papers are to be two to three pages. The final paper is to be five to seven pages. It will provide an opportunity to tell one’s own story in light of the work of the semester. Readings will include Ernesto Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries; Antonia Felix, Condi; Felix Markham, Napoleon; Doris Pilkington, Rabbit Proof Fence; Malika Oufkir, Stolen Lives; John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage; Kathryn Spink, Mother Teresa; and Roald Dahl, Boy: Tales of Childhood.
The courses in this section, all numbered 20XXX, do not fulfill requirements for the English major. This is the place to look for Creative Writing courses that fulfill the University or College Fine Arts requirements and for Literature courses that fulfill the University or College Literature requirements.
20XXX-Level Creative Writing Courses
ENGL 20000 Introduction to Creative Writing Section 1, Jennifer Penkethman, MWF 9:35–10:25 Section 2, Monica Mody, MWF 3:00–3:50
This course is an introduction to writing fiction and poetry, beginning with short exercises which will lengthen with the semester. Coursework will include outside reading in both fiction and poetry, coverage of basic critical terms, and in-class discussion of student work. Regular attendance and participation are essential; you will also be required to attend several readings on campus. Exams will be in the form of writing assignments.
ENGL 20013 Fiction Writing Matthew Benedict MW 11:45–1:00
Have you ever finished reading a novel or a short story and thought: “I wish I could do that”? Or: “I think I can do that”? Or: “I want to do that”? Well, this course is for you.
In this workshop-style course we’ll explore the craft as well as the artistic aspects of writing fiction. We’ll read a wide sample of contemporary short fiction as “writers,” meaning we’ll dissect the various techniques writers employ in the writing of their stories. We’ll also work on several in-class and out-of-class writing assignments (1–4 pages each) designed to practice those techniques. Students will then write three original short stories which will be read and discussed by other members of the class. At the end of the semester, students will complete a portfolio of revised work. And, in order to assist us in our explorations, we will be attending campus literary events, to hear “up close and personal” from actively publishing writers. Writing is a journey. Ours begins now.
ENGL 20018 Fiction Writing Valerie Sayers MW 1:30–2:45
In the first half of the semester, we’ll read contemporary fiction in both traditional and experimental modes, and you’ll try out a variety of narrative voices in short exercises. In the second half, student stories will become the assigned texts and we’ll function as a workshop, responding to each other’s fiction in written responses and in class. You’ll turn in two complete stories, each 10–25 pages, and, as a final assignment, one complete rewrite. Throughout the semester, we’ll question the connections between content and form, pop culture and literary history, commerce and art.
ENGL 20021 Fiction Writing: Writing Speculative Fiction Sarah Micklem MW 4:30–5:45
This course is for students interested in writing speculative fiction — whether historical, fantastical, or scientific — that gets beyond tired tropes of rocket ships and gadgets or wizards and dragons. Certain speculations are fundamental to many kinds of fiction, as writers ask themselves, with every sentence and scene they put on paper: What will these characters say and do, think and feel in a certain situation? How will they change? How will they change the situation? How is the story to be told? Who is telling it? Writers of speculative fiction must answer these questions at the same time that they pursue other questions that fascinate them (How does the nature of identity change if many people are duplicates? What will happen in New York City if the sea level rises four feet?). They must try to create convincing un-realities that immerse readers in what John Gardner called “the vivid and continuous dream” of fiction. Students will write short thought experiments, create interactive texts, and write two stories or novel chapters of 8– 20 pages. We will read fiction by writers such as Borges, Le Guin, Lem, Butler, and Gibson to examine their themes and the fictional techniques they use to explore ideas. Guest lecturers from other fields (such as anthropology, law, physics, engineering) will visit the class to discuss issues raised by their research.
ENGL 20040 Poetry Writing Joyelle McSweeney TR 3:30–4:45
If you are looking for a dynamic, creative community in which to explore traditional and innovative poetry forms and genres, while sharing your work with peers, this is the course for you. We will focus on contemporary poetry, but we will be mindful of the traditional vectors which spur innovation, as well as the potential of poetry to form hybrid genres with fiction, drama, essays, film, history, and song. We will use course readings to generate new texts, and we will practice giving productive feedback on each other’s work. Readings will include new works by young American poets as well as modern and contemporary works in translation from Mexico, Korea, Scandinavia, and elsewhere. Expect to encounter and create texts in a variety of media, including books, chapbooks, magazines, webjournals and archives, broadsides, performances, and so on. Assignments will include weekly poems, brief responses to course texts and peer work, presentations and collaborations, and a final project.
20XXX-Level Literature Courses
ENGL 20151 Literature of Sport Matthew Benedict MW 8:00–9:15
Sports and athletics have held prominent roles in human societies since the beginnings of civilization. Across centuries, nation states have used athletic competition for a variety of purposes, from paying homage to distant gods to demonstrating superiority over neighboring tribes and cultures. And the individuals, the “warriors,” who excel on those “fields of battle,” are venerated as heroes, champions, “gods.”
In this course, students will analyze a variety of literary texts related to sports and athletics. From depictions of wrestlers on temple walls in ancient Egypt to the poetry of Rudyard Kipling to Grantland Rice’s New York Herald Tribune “Four Horsemen” article to films/novels/non-fiction (e.g., Fever Pitch by Nick Hornsby, Counting Coup by Larry Colton, Chariots of Fire, and Hoop Dreams), the investigation of the literature of sport will cover a range of topics — race, gender, class, globalization, and the purposes and functions of athletic competition — including the rise of the “super-star” athlete as a “god.”
Required work: quizzes, two essays, “podtations,” midterm, final examination. Active class participation will be required of all students; the ongoing format of the course will be that of a seminar and not a lecture. (Students will be broken out into permanent “pods,” made up of 5–6 students each. At the end of each segment of the course, students will gather with their “podmates” and a single question will be posed to all pods. Each pod will, then, collectively compose an answer. Answers, “podtations,” will be given orally by one spokesperson from each pod to the entire class.)
ENGL 20214 Arthurian Literatures Dolores Frese TR 3:30–4:45
The large body of history, verse chronicle, heroic narrative, poetic romance, and prose fiction — all gathered under the canopy term “Arthurian Legend” — represents one of the most fascinating and most enduring literary phenomena of western culture. In this class, which will follow a lecture-discussion format, we will read a selection of writings that reflect the textual trace of Arthur from his earliest appearances in mytho-historical chronicles beginning in the sixth century and extending from the earliest medieval poetic and prose fictions featuring Arthur and the members of his court, through the great array of writers, past and present, who have tended these myths and legends with such imaginative care.
Our readings, which begin in the Middle Ages, will culminate with the “Arthurian revivals” of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the latter extending to theatrical and film texts ranging from “Camelot” and Eric Rohmer’s Perceval to Monty Python and Indiana Jones in their post-modern questing for the Holy Grail. In addition to attending ways in which the sheer pleasures-of-the-text have been constructed by these gifted authors, our own “literary quest” will involve questions of historical and social context, gender and genre, the history of reception, modes of literary representation including techniques of symbolic and allegorical figuration, and ways in which the theoretical and/or ideological positions of both writers and their audiences constrain and inspire the works they produce. While pondering how and why this vast body of myth and legend, clustered around the figure of Arthur, has managed to survive and thrive through such remarkably variant shifts of time, place, and circumstance; and while reflecting thoughtfully on our own investment in — or resistance to — the variety of assigned readings, each student will choose for particular close study an Arthurian hero, heroine, or villain (Lancelot, Gawain, Guinevere, Galahad, Merlin, Modred, etc.), as well as some mytho-historical theme like the Round Table, the Grail Quest, the Sword-in-the-
Stone, the Bride Quest, the Giant Combat, the Fatherless Boy, the Childless Queen, etc. etc., as this “character” or “motif” presents some specific problem in interpretation.
These “character studies” and thematic clusters will form the basis of two short essays, one due at mid term, one at end term. Specific topics, which will be shaped through individual consultation with the teacher, should, in the course of their critical argument, engage a variety of formal, stylistic, and rhetorical practices that have been employed by writers from the twelfth to the twentieth century as they conform to — and create fresh versions of — the plenitude of literary exemplars that characterize Arthurian Legend. Creative projects — individual or collective — are also welcome and, with the approval of the teacher, may be substituted for one of the essays. These alternative ways of investigating the materials of Arthurian Legend might include original poetic or prose compositions, dramatic presentations, graphic arts, videos, and/or musical performances, vocal or instrumental performances.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Attendance at all class sessions and intelligent participation in class discussion based on careful prior reading of the assigned material. Two short (8–12-page) essays, described above. Occasional reading quizzes (announced); midterm and final written exams.
TEXTS: [All readings in Modern English translation] Brief selections from the early historians of Britain, including Gildas (sixth century), Nennius (tenth century), and the Arthurian sections of Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain (twelfth century); an Arthurian romance by Chrétien de Troyes and two or three short poetic tales from the Lais of Marie de France (both twelfth century); two prose fictions from the thirteenth-century Welsh Mabinogion (one of them represents the earliest Arthurian story that survives in written form); The Quest of the Holy Grail (from the great thirteenth-century “Prose Lancelot”); Arthur and Gorlagon (a short Arthurian werewolf fiction originally composed in Latin); selected “Books” of Malory’s Morte Darthur; Tennyson’s Idylls of the King; and one twentieth-century fiction, chosen in discussion with the teacher.
ENGL 20513 and ENGL 20514 / IRST 30371 and IRST 18033 Introduction to Irish Writers Sean O’Brien MW 10:40–11:30 Lecture; F 10:40–11:30 Lab
This course is an introduction to selected Irish writers from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, including Swift, Edgeworth, Stoker, Joyce, and Yeats. Along with Irish writing in English, we will also look at several Irish-language works in translation. We will read the writers with special attention to Irish history, to Anglo-Irish relations, to the question of Irish identity and identities, to the emergence of nationalism, and to the rise of the modern Irish state and the crisis in the north. Since the excitement of the course is in the readings themselves, each student is expected to read the assigned texts and to come to class prepared. Each student is also expected to come to the weekly Friday group not only prepared, but prepared to say something intelligent, indeed, to do anything short of public mayhem to contribute to the discussion and to make the group a body unto itself. Each student will also take two tests along with a final, and write a short paper. Students who enroll in this course must also enroll in the corequisite discussion section, ENGL 22514, which is scheduled for Fridays at 10:40–11:30.
ENGL 20526 / IRST 30226 Writing Nations: Defining Englishness and Irishness in Victorian-Era Literature Heather Edwards TR 9:30–10:45
This course seeks to counter the view of English and Irish literature as unrelated during the Victorian period by exploring how both Irish and English writers of the period engage in the process of defining their respective countries and cultures. Certainly, in the Victorian era defining Ireland’s relationship to England was anything but simple. What becomes apparent by exploring Irish and English attempts to write about
their respective “nations” is not only the divergence in ways Irish and English writers characterized the relationship between the two countries but also how the process of defining Irish and English realities ultimately took different forms. Therefore, this course will not only explore how individual writers go about writing “nations” but how the forms these writings take also reveal certain intersections and divergences between what characterizes Irishness and Englishness.
ENGL 20576 Victorian Poetry Brooke Cameron MWF 9:35–10:25
This course is designed to introduce students to Victorian poetry and culture. We will study poems by canonical figures such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Matthew Arnold, Oscar Wilde, A. C. Swinburne, Thomas Hardy, D. G. Rossetti, and Christina Rossetti. We will also look at poems by lesser-known figures such as Amy Levy, Alice Meynell, Charlotte Mew, Lionel Johnson, Augusta Webster, and Michael Field. Selections from Victorian prose will help us understand all of these poems in relationship to nineteenth-century developments in literary and aesthetic theory. This course will also pursue several organizing themes and topics that preoccupied much of the Victorian imagination, such as social reform, the woman question, the crisis of faith, evolutionary science, empire, self and society, aestheticism, and modernity.
We will not only read poetry in its historical context, but will also focus on how poetry — through aesthetic, formal, and intellectual innovations — transformed this cultural landscape that is the Victorian era. A range of assignments and classroom activities are designed to further foster students’ critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Regular participation, including classroom discussion and four short in-class writing assignments (2 pages maximum), will allow students to position themselves within competing interpretations and arguments. Two formal papers (8–10 pages each) will give students an opportunity to apply their analytical and rhetorical skills as they develop their own interpretation of a text as situated within the relevant historical and cultural contexts. Ideally, this course will inspire students’ appreciation not only for Victorian poetry but also for the importance of literature and writing in their own lives. Course requirements: regular participation, two papers, a midterm exam, and a final exam. Required text: The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Poetry and Poetic Theory, concise edition.
ENGL 20603 Literatures of the Early Americas Javier Rodríguez MW 3:00–4:15
National borders mark our Americas today, but for the first European explorers the landscapes of their “new world” were uncharted and unbounded. The newly encountered land invited utopian dreams even as it became the arena for genocidal violence. To reconsider these moments of violence and possibility, we will approach early American literature intra-hemispherically, reading not just from the British colonial record, but also Spanish documents in English translation. We will read comparatively in order to ask key questions about American identity both then and now. For example, what do we learn when we juxtapose Cortés’s invasion of the Mexican empire with King Philip’s War in the New England colonies? To what degree do these legacies of imperialism still shape our modern world? What comparisons arise between the poetry of Anne Bradstreet and Sor Juna Inés de La Cruz; between the captivity adventures of Cabeza de Vaca and Mary Rowlandson? How might these contact points continue to shape our views of “others”? How have Native Nations across the Americas written or spoken about the loss of worlds? The authors and subjects noted above will serve as key markers, but we will also read primary works by William Bradford, Bernal Díaz, John Smith, William Apess, and others as we reconsider the literatures and histories of the Americas in a cross-national paradigm. Students will be expected to write three short papers, take a final exam, and participate actively in class.
ENGL 20608 The Real Contemporary Novel: American Fiction 2000–Present John Hess MWF 1:55–2:45
Many “Contemporary Fiction” classes conclude with works published around the time that you were born in the mid to late 1980s. This course focuses on novels published during the decade in which you are living and examines the interpretive difficulties raised by such works. Without being able to rely on an established history of scholarly criticism or their place among the so-called “great books” of civilization, the reader of contemporary novels must actively consider why these works are worth studying as well as how they function. The major aims of this course are to introduce you to these exciting novels and to provide you with the critical and interpretive framework for determining what contemporary literature is and why it matters. We will focus on eight novels and novellas examining the intersections between self and society and between literary art and the popular cultures of film, television, hip-hop, rock, and comic books. Readings include novels and novellas by Paul Auster, Don DeLillo, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, Jonathan Lethem, David Markson, and Toni Morrison. The course also includes a screening of the film adaptation of Foer’s Everything is Illuminated. Class discussion, student presentations, two 5–7- page papers and one 7–10-page paper are required.
ENGL 20609 Chicago in Words Todd Thorpe MWF 11:45–12:35
Early twentieth-century Chicago was famous for its railways and stockyards, jazz and gangsters. The city saw the creation of great industrial fortunes and the birth in 1905 of the Industrial Workers of the World. The literature taken up in this class brings the dynamic contradictions of the Chicago experience to life. We will look at work by Jane Addams, Nelson Algren, Sherwood Anderson, Gwendolyn Brooks, John Dos Passos, Carl Sandburg, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Ward, and Richard Wright, covering a range of literary expression from impassioned journalism, to poetry, novels, and drama. Each genre brings with it its own tradition, conventions, and representational strategies. We will accordingly pay close attention to questions of literary form as well as content. The class will reflect on the differences between genres as well as the relation of Chicago literature to the journalism, social advocacy, sociology, and the emerging urban theory also being written during this period. We will consider the relation of modernism to realism. We will look at the ways in which Chicago capitalism altered nature, challenged traditional forms of identity, and created new forms of urban community. We will spend a week exploring Chicago’s jazz and blues, while we will also look at the 1932 gangster film Scarface, screenplay by Chicago journalist and Oscar winner Ben Hecht. Chicago is a city of tremendous vitality and shocking brutality that has reinvented itself time and again, and the writers we will read have taken up this task of urban invention with a shared urgency and a wide range of voices. Students will be expected to contribute consistently to class discussion, to read poems aloud as we explore the connections between meter, poetic form, and jazz, and to present in small groups of 4–5 a dramatic scene from Big White Fog. The dramatic presentation will involve performing a section of the play and offering the class an imaginary staging of the play, with ideas concerning set design, lighting, and costumes. Course requirements: active class participation, short response papers, creative responses (poems), a class presentation of a scene from Big White Fog by Theodore Ward, and an 8–10-page paper.
ENGL 20707 American Novel John Staud MWF 9:35–10:25
We will read, discuss, and study selected novels of significance within the American literary tradition. As we explore these novels within their historical and cultural context, we will consider the various reasons for their place within the canon of American literature. Indeed, we will scrutinize the very nature of this literary canon and self-consciously reflect on the inevitably arbitrary nature of this, or any, reading list.
Even so, we will see, I hope, that these authors share deep engagement with ideas and themes common to American literature and do so through their art in ways that both teach and delight. Required Texts: Moby- Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Awakening, The Great Gatsby, Invisible Man, The Old Man and the Sea, The Bluest Eye.
ENGL 20709 God and Evil in Modern Literature Thomas Werge MWF 10:40–11:30
A study of selected modern writers whose concern with God and evil, faith and despair, and the reality and significance of suffering animates their writings. In considering the relationships between the religious imagination and experience and its expression in literature, we will discuss the ways in which writers envision the nature and purpose of narrative and of language itself as efficacious and even sacred or as ineffectual. Before dealing with particular modern writers, we will reflect on the presuppositions of the Bible and medieval thought and literature in relation to truth, faith, and narrative. Readings will be selected from the following: St Francis, Little Flowers; Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov; DeVries, The Blood of the Lamb; Melville, Billy Budd; Greene, The Power and the Glory or The End of the Affair; Flannery O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge or The Violent Bear It Away; Hammarskjold, Markings; Roth, Job; Kazantzakis, Saint Francis; Weil, Waiting for God; Hawthorne, Selected Tales; Wiesel, Night; and narratives by Primo Levi, Dinesen, and Updike.
ENGL 20726 / CLAS 30022 Roman Literature and Culture Hildegund Müller MWF 1:55–2:45
This course surveys the leading works of ancient Roman literature and examines the cultural contexts in which they were written, received, and transmitted. Students read poetry and prose from many genres, and sample works from six hundred years of literary versatility that combined enormous originality with a literary tradition inherited from the Greeks. Among the authors introduced are Plautus, Lucretius, Catullus, Cicero, Horace, Livy, Lucan, Tacitus, Apuleius, Ammianus, and Augustine. Special attention is paid to the formal structures of Roman literary works, the cultural issue they raise, and the lasting value of Latin literature to the modern age. The course prepares students for more advanced study in classical literature and culture. Offered annually.
ENGL 20727 / MELC 20020 Revelation to Revolution: Arabic Literature in Global Context Joseph Amar MWF 3:00–3:50
This basic introduction to Arabic literature links the phenomenon of “literature” to the larger world of Islamic studies. The course emphasizes connections between Arabic literary tradition and that of other Semitic and western traditions. Topics include the idea of scripture, “Falasuufs” and the Renaissance, the literature of empire, Al-Andanus–Muslim Spain, mytho-poetics, rogues, and scoundrels. All readings are in English.
ENGL 20760 Twentieth-Century American Drama Julieann Ulin MW 4:30–5:45
This class will focus on key works of modern and contemporary American drama from three plays by Eugene O’Neill (Desire Under the Elms, The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey into Night) to Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize winning 2003 play Anna in the Tropics. In addition to critical readings and selected European plays on reserve, focal playwrights include Edward Albee, Sam Shepherd, Paula Vogel, Amiri Baraka, Luis Valdez, David Mamet, August Wilson, Josefina López, Yellow Robe, Anna Devere Smith, Eve Ensler, and Moisis Kaufmann. Requirements will include group staged scenes, journal entries on selected plays, and three 4-page papers. In addition, students are required to attend one campus play over the course of the semester and write a written critique of the production and performance.
ENGL 20819 Black Arts James Ford MW 4:30–5:45
This course offers a survey of black diasporic artistry. At the same time, it is an ongoing analysis of how these artists asked, “what constitutes the African diaspora” in divergent and convergent ways. The main goal of the course is not simply to label certain artists as part of this diasporic formation, but to understand how artists reflected upon their participation in it (and, in some ways, outside of it). We will focus primarily on this conversation’s development from the Interwar period of the twentieth century to the turn of the twenty-first century through poetry, prose fiction and nonfiction, film, television, and dance. From the United States, we will look at how creative intellectuals like the poet Langston Hughes, dancer and anthropologist Katherine Dunham, novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, fiction writer and essayist Richard Wright, and journalist Alex Haley used art to understand their relationship to black peoples in the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa, along with key events impacting those different geographies. But the course will also consider how black creative intellectuals outside the United States reflected on their relationship to the diaspora. These will include Algerian philosopher Frantz Fanon, Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén, Nigeran musican Fela Kuti, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott. In exploring different conceptions of diaspora, we will encounter other themes including the idea of overlapping diasporas, black nationalism, the body, and the significance of translation to cultural solidarity and difference.
ENGL 20900 / LIT 20900 Postmodern Fiction Gretchen Busl MWF 10:40–11:30
This course will explore some of the most playful and ingenious fiction of the late 20th century, drawing its inspiration from critic and author John Barth’s influential essay, The Literature of Exhaustion. We will first gain an understanding of the concept of postmodernism, before moving on to Barth’s essays and short stories. Next, we will read stories from one of the earliest and most influential postmodern writers, Argentinean Jorge Luis Borges. We will read a deceptively simple short novel by Barth’s ideal postmodern writer, Italian author Italo Calvino. We then move on to the predominantly French experimental fiction group, Oulipo, and will read a sample of the novels, stories, and poems they produced using inventive mathematical techniques and strict constraints. We will then consider the idea of self-conscious fiction, or metafiction, through a novel by Paul Auster. Lastly we turn to the short short stories known as ‘flash fiction’ of Lydia Davis and Donald Barthelme. All foreign texts are translated into English. The course requirements include an in-class presentation on a topic related to the course materials, a midterm take home exam, one 5-6 page paper on common metaphoric themes, and one 5-6 page critical review. Students who have completed the University requirement in Italian may elect to register for a one credit Language Across the Curriculum discussion section. Students choosing this option will do approximately 10-15 pages of additional reading per week, in Italian, and complete brief reflection papers. The LAC discussion section will be graded on a pass/fail basis and credited to the student’s transcript. Up to three LAC credits may be applied towards a major or minor in Italian.
ENGL 20952 / LLEA 33317 The Samurai in Classical Japanese Literature Michael Brownstein MW 1:30–2:45
The sword-wielding samurai warrior is perhaps the most familiar icon of pre-modern Japan, one that continues to influence how Japanese think of themselves and how others think of Japan even in modern times. Who were the samurai? How did they see themselves? How did other members of Japanese society see them in the past? How did the role and the image of the samurai change over time? To answer these questions, we will explore the depiction of samurai in various kinds of texts: episodes from quasi-historical chronicles, fourteenth-century Noh plays, seventeenth-century short stories, and eighteenth-century Kabuki and puppet plays (many Kabuki plays, a theater of live actors, were first written for the puppet theater). While some of these texts emphasize themes of loyalty, honor, and military prowess, others focus on the problems faced by samurai in their domestic lives during times of peace. The last part of the course will be devoted to the most famous of all stories, “The Revenge of the 47 Samurai.” Students will read eyewitness accounts of this vendetta, which occurred in 1702, and then explore how the well-known Kabuki/puppet play Chushingura (“A Treasury of Loyal Retainers,” 1748) dramatizes the conflicting opinions surrounding it. All readings will be English translation and no previous knowledge of Japan is required. This course satisfies the University Literature requirement.
ENGL 20953 / LLEA 33103 Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature Liangyan Ge MW 11:45–1:00
In this course we will read English translations of works in twentieth-century Chinese literature, especially short stories and plays written from the May 4th Movement in 1919 to the beginning of the Reform in the early eighties. We will discuss the literary expressions of China’s weal and woe in modern times and of the Chinese people’s frustrations and aspirations when their country was experiencing unprecedented social changes. No prior knowledge of the Chinese language or Chinese culture is required for taking the course.
ENGL 20954 / LLEA 33101 Heroism and Eroticism in Chinese Fiction Liangyan Ge MW 3:00–4:15
In this course we will read works in Chinese fiction from the late imperial periods. We will discuss the aesthetic features of such works and their cultural underpinnings, especially the infusion of Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist meanings. Particularly, we will focus on heroism and eroticism as two major themes in Chinese fiction and their specific expressions in each work. We will consider the transition from heroism to eroticism as a shift of narrative paradigm, which coincided with a general trend of “domestication” in traditional Chinese fiction. Through the readings and discussions, the students are expected to become familiar with pre-modern Chinese narrative tradition and acquainted with some aspects of Chinese culture. All the readings are in English translation, and no prior knowledge of China or the Chinese language is required.
ENGL 30203 / PLS 30203 Shakespeare: From Page to Stage Tom Roche and Robert Smith TR 9:30–10:45
Meet — or reacquaint yourself with — Shakespeare in a class that will examine his works from both literary and performative perspectives. Close textual readings of the plays will find realization in class performances of scenes and soliloquies. Co-taught by a former Chair of Princeton’s English Department and a professional actor trained in London and the US.
Required Courses for English Majors
In the following section, you’ll find courses, all numbered 30XXX, that are specifically required for the English major. The first course listed is ENGL 30101, “Introduction to Literary Studies.” If you are a newly declared major this semester, you should sign up for a section. If you took a “Methods” course under the old curriculum (prior to Fall 2006), you are not required to take an “Intro” section.
ENGL 30101 Introduction to Literary Studies Section 1, Maud Ellmann, MW 3:00–4:15 Section 2, Susan Harris, MW 1:30–2:45 Section 3, Sara Maurer, MW 4:30–5:45 Section 4, Orlando Menes, MW 11:45–1:00
Literary History Courses
English majors are required to take three Literary History (LH) courses, one LH-A, one LH-B, and one LH- C (see p. 2 above). If you declared the major before February 2006, the “Traditions” requirement is now described as the “Literary History” requirement; your “Traditions” courses count under the “Literary History” requirements.
ENGL 30110 British Literary Traditions I Katherine Zieman MWF 10:40–11:30 Friday discussion sections are listed as ENGL 32110.
This course provides an introduction to British literature from its earliest recorded forms through the seventeenth century — from Beowulf to John Milton’s Paradise Lost — geared towards familiarizing you with its key literary conventions and some of its linguistic challenges. As we survey the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, John Donne, and William Shakespeare, among others, we will focus on literary forms and genres of the medieval and Early Modern periods, including lyric, epic, romance, and drama; we will also attend to the historical contexts in which these writers worked and to their own meditations on what “literature” could be or could do in their respective cultures. Course requirements: regular quizzes and short writing assignments, two short essays, a midterm and a final exam.
ENGL 30115 American Literary Traditions I Sandra Gustafson TR 12:30–1:45
This course is designed to introduce students to the critical study and aesthetic enjoyment of early American literature. The phrase “early American literature” raises a number of questions. What does it mean to call writings produced by European colonials “American”? In what sense are oral genres such as Native American creation tales or Puritan sermons “literature”? And perhaps most importantly, in what sense is this literature “early”? What is “punctual” American literature? Taking the question “what is early American literature” as our starting point, we will examine a range of works from initial European contacts with the (to them) New World through the American Renaissance writings of Emerson, Melville, Hawthorne, and Dickinson. Themes and practices of voice will provide a common interpretive framework for our readings. We will explore the literatures of America with particular attention to oral traditions, vernacular influences, and narrative and poetic forms.
Course objectives include introducing you to the major themes and texts in American literature before 1865; familiarizing you with the primary tools of literary study, including key concepts (such as allegory and Romanticism) and important research tools (such as the OED and the MLA Bibliography); developing skills of close reading, attention to literary form and historical context, and literary argumentation; and developing the ability to write an effective interpretive essay. Requirements include regular attendance and active class participation (10%); quizzes and short exercises (15%); a midterm exam (25%); a research paper (25%); and a final exam (25%).
ENGL 30116 American Literary Traditions II Jacqueline Brogan MW 1:30–2:45
The emphasis of this course will focus on the plurality of American literary traditions and their interesting intersections. Consequently, we will read not only works by men and women and by members of different ethnic groups, but also works representing different genres. We will spend significant time on five novels (written by Mark Twain, Kate Chopin, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alice Walker), five shorts stories (by Stephen Crane, Jean Toomer, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin and Flannery O’Connor), and a variety of poems, ranging from those by Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens, to Elizabeth Bishop and Adrienne Rich, concluding with Lorna Dee Cervantes, Li-Young Lee, and Joy Harjo. The course will be demanding, but rewarding, especially as it seeks to explore the various contradictions and rich overlappings of our rich American literary heritage. Course Requirements: class attendance and discussion, two papers, a midterm, and a final (worth 25% each).
Texts: Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Flying Africans; Ghost Dance Songs; Stephen Crane, The Open Boat; Kate Chopin, The Awakening; Robert Frost, selected poems; Jean Toomer, Karintha; Ernest Hemingway, Big Two-Hearted River or Indian Camp; Wallace Stevens, selected poems; William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; James Baldwin, Sonny’s Blues; Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find; Elizabeth Bishop, selected poems; Alice Walker, The Color Purple; selected poems by Adrienne Rich, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Li- Young Lee, and Joy Harjo.
Electives for English Majors
Courses in the following section count toward the five electives that are required for the English major. These include 308XX-level creative writing courses and 40XXX-level literature electives. To register for any English major elective, you must have already completed ENGL 30101 “Introduction to Literary Studies.”
ENGL 30850, Section 1 Fiction Writing for English Majors Matthew Benedict TR 9:30–10:45
Between my finger and my thumb, The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.
—Seamus Heaney, “Digging”
This class will be a workshop on student prose writing, designed for and limited to English majors. In the first segment of the course, we will be looking at several contemporary short stories. “Looking at” in terms of how a fiction writer “looks at” short fiction. We will examine how the stories are (and are not!) constructed, what narrative techniques are (and are not!) employed by their authors, what the authors are (and are not!) “saying” in their works. The second segment of the course will be a workshop in which student-generated stories will be discussed. There will be short (1–4 page) writing assignments at the beginning of the semester; afterwards, students will be expected to produce two (possibly three) full-length short stories. Active class participation will be expected, as will oral and written critiques of student work. At semester’s end, students will submit a portfolio of their revised work. We will also be attending campus literary events as announced. This course can fulfill the University Fine Arts requirement or serve as an English major elective.
ENGL 30850, Section 2 Fiction Writing for English Majors Orlando Menes MW 3:00–4:15
This class will assume that writing prose can be a kind of exploration — of genre, narrative, media, language, tradition, technology and (gulp!) that mysterious thing we call Society. We will explore a wide range of styles and aesthetics through reading, writing, and viewing assignments, and, most importantly, through engagement with student work. Assignments will include such arcane forms as the epistolary story and captivity narrative as well ultra-new trans-media formats for storytelling that don’t even have names yet. To fuel our endeavors, we will read prose pieces from all over the world, with writers including (but not be limited to) Denis Johnson, Roberto Bolano, Jean Genet, Claudia Rankine, and Joy Williams. This course can fulfill the University Fine Arts requirement or serve as an English major elective.
ENGL 30852 Poetry Writing for English Majors Cornelius Eady TR 3:30–4:45
This class is a reading and writing workshop. You will be required to write and revise your work with your classmates. Good poets take in the world, and through the poets we will read, and the prompts and exercises you will be given, you will be encouraged to go out and examine it. Students will be required to
write and revise poems, leading to a portfolio of revised work as a final project, keep a writers’ journal, write response papers to the books we read (there will be at least four, plus hand-outs), attend at least one reading, and commit to memory a poem to be recited by the end of the semester. This course can fulfill the University Fine Arts requirement or serve as an English major elective.
ENGL 40132 Novel Graphics and Graphic Novels Joyelle McSweeney TR 12:30–1:45
This course will explore novel combinations of image and text in various genres and from various periods and parts of the world. The purpose of this wide-ranging analysis will be to fuel creative projects of our own. Potential genres under study will include poster art, collage, photo-essays, performance notation, cartography, hypertext, illumination, artists’ books, and, of course, the graphic novel. Course work will include brief homework responses, creative projects exploring the genres and media under study, presentations on works from the University Special Collections and on-line archives, and a final project requiring you to draw on course examples to develop a hybrid format of your own.
We will read works from the Library’s Special Collections, historical works such as Max Ernst’s Hundred Headless Woman, and contemporary works such as Art Spiegelman’s Shadow of No Towers. Reading texts in a variety of genres and from a variety of periods and cultures will give us ample opportunity to discuss the various contexts a given text may enjoy, and the comparative approach will also allow us to isolate commonalities and contrasts in techniques across cultures and time periods. This in turn will allow students to become adept in the various critical terms required to make comparative assessments. All the in-class work in our course will be oral in nature. The students will be expected to account for assigned texts in impromptu discussion and apply critical terminology in real-time discourse with peers. Moreover, they will be required to give a presentation on a text they select from the University’s Special Collections. Students will also be expected to apply critical terminology in discussion of peer work.
ENGL 40194 Writing Center Theory and Practice Connie Mick and John Duffy W 6:00–8:00
This course will introduce the writing and tutoring processes to students interested in Writing Center teaching. The course will involve readings, practice tutoring sessions, and observations in the University Writing Center. In lieu of a final paper, students will draft a conference proposal for the National Conference on Peer Tutoring. The course is graded pass/fail, is worth one credit, and is for new Writing Center tutors only.
ENGL 40226 Shakespeare I Paul Rathburn MW 11:45–1:00
In this course we will read, in roughly chronological order, the plays from the first half of Shakespeare’s career as dramatist. Beginning with Two Gentlemen of Verona and concluding with Henry V, we will cover eighteen plays over the course of the semester. Though comedy and history dominate the syllabus, Titus Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet provide two notable examples of tragedy. This course is paired with “Shakespeare II” (Spring 2009), which covers the second half of the Shakespeare canon, but students are not required to take both semesters. Requirements will include a midterm, a final, several passage analyses, and one 5–7 page paper.
ENGL 40324 Garden to Ecosystem: Nature Poetry, 1650–2008 John Sitter TR 2:00–3:15
What is “nature poetry”? Nature is, says one writer, “perhaps the most complex word in the language.” For our purposes it will primarily mean the found rather than the built environment, as we study poetry seeing and celebrating the natural world from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Andrew Marvell, Anne Finch) to the present moment (Gary Snyder, Pattiann Rogers). But large historical questions about the changing, sometimes contradictory meanings of Nature will also be with us as we compare poetic representations across four centuries. For example: Does Nature include humans? Is it an ideal or a collection of facts? If it often means the opposite of Art, why have so many thinkers seen the world as a vast poem or the poem as a miniature world? How does the old stereotype of Nature as feminine and Culture as masculine undergo revision in the work of modern women poets? How can poetry help in reimagining human ethics and aesthetics in an age of ecological challenge?
These kinds of questions and close reading of poems will inform our discussions of individual works and of how literary experience differs from other kinds of experience. (“Green in nature is one thing, green in literature another,” wrote Virginia Woolf.) Other writers to be studied will include some of the following: Alexander Pope, Charlotte Smith, William Wordsworth, John Clare, Emily Dickinson, G. M. Hopkins, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, Robinson Jeffers, Ted Hughes, Maxine Kumin, A. R. Ammons, Wendell Berry, Seamus Heaney, and Mary Oliver.
This course will be conducted essentially as a seminar. Members will be expected to engage regularly in discussion and to give two or three oral reports over the course of the term. Written work will include several short papers, a longer essay, a midterm, and a final examination.
ENGL 40350 Dickens and Wilde David Thomas TR 9:30–10:45
This double-author course showcases two very different literary stylists of the Victorian period. Charles Dickens was the Shakespeare of his moment, a prolific creator of memorable characters and incidents, at once comic and tragic. But post-Victorian critics sometimes tend to see him as a prime exponent of Victorian earnestness, sentimentality, and even hypocrisy. And Oscar Wilde was, well, the Wilde of Victorian Britain: he was so dazzling that even those who wished to hate him often had to give up and laugh with him. But his life took a classically tragic form after his public humiliation and imprisonment for homosexual offenses. Our goals are both historical and literary. Regarding history, we will take stock of key differences between the early- and mid-Victorian moment of Dickens and the late-Victorian, fin-de- siècle moment of Wilde. We will examine characteristic rhetorical devices in these authors to see how those devices intersect with the broader cultural work of these writers’ texts. In what ways, for instance, does Dickens’s reputation for sentimentality proceed from his specific way with caricature and melodrama? And how does Wilde employ epigram and aphorism to provoke and, at the same time, amuse his readership? If we learn enough, we will discover the genuine complexity of Dickens’s human vision and the surprising earnestness of Wilde’s. Likely texts by Dickens are Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Our Mutual Friend. Our reading in Wilde will emphasize his society comedies and his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Graded coursework includes three papers and regular reading quizzes.
ENGL 40416 / IRLL 30108 Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Irish Literature in Translation Sarah McKibben MW 11:45–1:00
This course will introduce you to the vibrant contemporary literature in Irish (Gaelic) from the Gaelic Revival, which sought to rescue the language from extinction, right up to the present. This course will focus on developing your ability to read, analyze, and write about literature with care and precision. You will do a LOT of writing, both graded and ungraded, to become a stronger reader and writer. In the process, we’ll consider the particular excitement and difficulty of writing in (and about!) a minority language that also happens to be the first official language of Ireland, as well as debates about identity, belonging, symbolization, history, anglicization, assimilation, and hybridity, the new prominence of women writers, and ongoing challenges to stereotypes about Irish as tradition-bound (rather than, say, tradition- enabled), puritanical or pre-modern.
ENGL 40417 / IRLL 30307 The Irish Tradition I Hugh Fogarty TR 3:30–4:45
Ireland possesses the oldest vernacular literary tradition in Europe, spanning over 1500 years to the present day. This course will provide a survey of the origins and development of that literary tradition through more than a millennium from its beginnings until the seventeenth century, when political circumstances led to the collapse of the highly developed native system of learning, poetry, and patronage. The development of the Irish literary tradition will be traced against this background of political and cultural upheavals from approximately 500 to 1650.
ENGL 40507 / IRLL 30107 The Hidden Ireland Peter McQuillan TR 12:30–1:45
The Hidden Ireland denotes both a book and a concept. The book was written by Daniel Corkery in 1924 and was an immediate success as it encapsulated a version of Irish history which had not hitherto been available to the general public; it is still considered to be a classic of its kind. The concept promoted the notion that history should emanate from “below” and should not be confined to the elites and governing classes. Both book and concept have had a profound impact on our understanding of Irish identity, Irish history, and Irish literature. This course will examine the book in depth and utilize it to open a window on the hidden Ireland of the eighteenth century. The cultural, historical, and literary issues which are raised by the book will be studied in the context of the poetry of the period. Poetry will be read in translation.
ENGL 40513 Culture and Politics of Northern Ireland Mary Burgess Smyth TR 3:30–4:45
This course explores the politics of culture and the cultures of politics in the North of Ireland during the twentieth century. Using a multiplicity of genres — drama, fiction, poetry, film, painting, and documentary material — we will unravel the history behind partition, the causes of the troubles, and the nature of the conflict. Among the key moments or events upon which we will concentrate are the Somme, the sinking of the Titanic, Bloody Sunday, the hunger strikes, Drumcree, the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and the Shankill Butchers. Certain key themes will stretch through our semester’s work. Among these are sectarianism, the relationship between violence and culture, the role of religion in the state, borders, hatred, identity, and issues of social and political justice. Some of the writers whose work we will read are Seamus Heaney,
Frank McGuinness, Sam Thompson, John Montague, Seamus Deane, Eoin MacNamee, Robert MacLiam Wilson, Colin McCann, and Thomas Kinsella. This class is discussion-based and will involve student presentations and engaged participation. There will also be a mid-term essay and a final written examination.
ENGL 40527 and ENGL 41527 / FTT 40246 and FTT 41246 Issues in Film and Media: Of Guests and Aliens: Transnational Immigration and the Politics of Multiculturalism in European Cinema Harry Karahalios TR 2:00–3:15 Lecture W 9:00–11:00 pm Film screenings, Browning Cinema, DPAC
The globalization of capital and labor over the course of the twentieth century has created a paradox where the transnationalization of capital, and advances in communication and technology promote a porosity of borders which increases and even advocates the mobility of people, while at the same time individual nation-states consciously control their borders in an attempt to contain the presumed homogeneity of their cultures. This is particularly evident in Europe, where European national borders have become unstable due to geopolitical changes like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Balkan wars, and the constant growth of the European Union.
This seminar will examine fundamental aspects of immigration in the European Union and the way they are represented in contemporary European film. With this in mind, we will examine the paradox where on the one hand the European Union in its constant growth promotes a cosmopolitan, borderless society, while on the other hand it attempts to curb what it considers an invasion by the immigrant other. We will juxtapose the legacies of the French, English, and German post-colonial and immigrant cultures to the immigration wave of the early 1990s which has affected the southern European countries of Spain, Italy and Greece. The massive influx of immigrants to these countries is challenging their preconceived notions of homogeneously imagined communities. We will spend the last part of the semester concentrating on subtler issues of nation, gender, politics, and religion, and the possible solutions that directors offer in the beginning of the twenty-first century as a way of escaping the ideological and cultural impasse of the end of the twentieth century.
Students who have completed the Notre Dame language requirement in Spanish are eligible to sign up for an additional single credit discussion section as part of the Languages across the Curriculum (LAC) initiative in the College of Arts and Letters. Choosing this option means that students will do some additional reading in Spanish language material (approximately 10 to 15 pages per week) and meet once a week with the instructor, who will guide a discussion in Spanish and grade some brief writing assignments. The LAC discussion section in Spanish associated with this course will be graded on a pass/fail basis and credited to the student’s transcript.
ENGL 40606 Mark Twain and the American Imagination Thomas Werge MWF 12:50–1:40
A study of Twain’s life and writings in light of the history of ideas and the literary, political, philosophical, and religious currents of nineteenth-century American culture. We will also consider such figures as Harte, Stowe, Douglass, and Lincoln, who illuminate Twain’s style and social and moral preoccupations. Special concerns: Twain’s place in the tensions between conventional literary forms and the emerging American vernacular; his vision and critique of American democracy, slavery, “exceptionalism,” and later
geopolitical expansionism; his medievalism, including Joan of Arc, and larger interpretations of history; his treatment of women, individualism, and the family; and the later gnosticism of #44, The Mysterious Stranger. We will also address the current (and perennial) discussions of unity and pluralism in American culture, as in Garry Wills’s delineation of an underlying American identity in Under God and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s fear of “balkanization” in The Disuniting of America. Readings: selected shorter works, including Diary of Adam and Eve; Innocents Abroad; Life on the Mississippi; Tom Sawyer; Huckleberry Finn; A Connecticut Yankee; Pudd’nhead Wilson; #44, The Mysterious Stranger; and selections from the Autobiography.
ENGL 40702 American Film: Images of Women William Krier TR 3:30–4:45
This course is about images — the images of women created by men. The center of our inquiry will be the dynamics between the maker and the made, particularly between directors and actresses and characters. From one perspective we can locate in these images certain needs, fears, hopes, desires, and passions of the makers. From the other side of the dynamic we can explore the interface between the real — the living woman — and the scripted versions of women. Why have men created these types of women, and how have actresses translated these images? We will rely on a genre approach, especially the inventions found in romance comedy and film noir. These genres explore the narrative possibilities to be found in what we might call “the loose woman,” that is, a woman who is economically and emotionally free. What becomes of such women in these stories? Films may include It Happened One Night, Maltese Falcon, The Lady Eve, The Last Seduction, Body Heat, High Noon, Thelma and Louise, The Hours, Zero Effect. There will be one- page response papers, two exams, and a paper about a film chosen by the student. There is no “lab” for the course. Netflix and the ND library will suit our needs.
ENGL 40728 “Our America”: Exploring the Hyphen in African-American Literature Toni Irving TR 2:00–3:15
This interdisciplinary course is interested in the shaping of national identity and the historical, cultural, political, and moral assumptions about America that facilitate such a shaping. We will read twentieth- century social science and African American literature with a focus on how subjectivity is created, rights are developed, social citizenship is constructed, and Americanness is determined. We will use critical race theory to explore the relationship between literature, history, and law; the American obsession with race; the function of welfare, prisons, and houses; and competing representations of entitlement. What is the relationship between social policy and black subjectivity, social perceptions, and political practice? In light of the way blackness is often construed as the ultimate sign of race in America, how do the texts we will read approach the American political landscape to offer a critique of power, identity, and social subjectivity in a manner that interrogates whiteness and its ascribed universality? Course texts may include work by Lorraine Hansberry, Linda Faye Williams, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, David Roediger, Chester Himes, and Ralph Ellison. Requirements: two essays, one team project, and an oral presentation.
ENGL 40734 / AMST 43140 Post 9/11 American Fiction and Culture Collin Meissner TR 11:00–12:15
In speaking of the after-effects of the first World War, the American novelist Henry James said “The war has used up words; they have weakened, they have deteriorated like motor car tires; they have, like millions of other things, been more overstrained and knocked about and voided of the happy semblance during the last six months than in all the long ages before, and we are now confronted with a depreciation of all our terms, or, otherwise speaking, with a loss of expression through increase of limpness, that may well make us wonder what ghosts will be left to walk.” Writers such as Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, and Phillip Roth, the authors of the 9/11 Commission Report, film makers, politicians, and intellectuals have all portrayed the post 9/11 world in language similar to James’s post-apocalyptic vision. This course looks at contemporary American culture and society and asks whether or not there is a definable post 9/11 narrative and aesthetic. We’ll address the ways in which the world has changed since 9/11 and how those changes have impacted daily life, local communities, the national consciousness, and global affairs. Discussion of these changes will be situated in our examination of major, post 9/11 novels, works of art, film and other media, formal governmental publication and policies, and religious writings. This course will have some short writing assignments, class presentation, and a final research paper.
ENGL 40744 Southern Fiction Valerie Sayers MW 4:30–5:45
Readings in twentieth-century Southern fiction from 1900–1960, including Kate Chopin, Jean Toomer, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O’Connor, and Eudora Welty. We will examine both the recurring subjects of the Jim Crow era — “sin, sex, and segregation,” in the old Southern phrase — and the stylistic innovations of the writers. We’ll pay special attention to contemporary criticism that explores the period from historical, political, and cultural perspectives.
ENGL 40746 Homes and Haunts in Twentieth-Century American Literature Julieann Ulin MW 3:00–4:15
This course will examine plays, novels, short stories, and poetry set in tenements, asylums, prisons, boarding houses, and haunted houses, and will attend to these texts alongside contemporaneous social and political ideologies of home. Focal authors include Crane, James, Wharton, Hemingway, Faulkner, Nabokov, Morrison, O’Neill, Plath, Kesey, Welty, McCullers, Malamud, Brooks, Cunningham, Alexie, and Alvarez. Students will write weekly response papers and one 12–15 page research paper which will be designed in consultation with me over the course of the semester. As the primary purpose of this course is to develop a strong critical appreciation for literature, it is a reading-intensive class. You should expect consistent weekly reading of approximately 150–200 pages. You will be expected to have all readings for a given class meeting done beforehand so that you will be able to benefit to the utmost from ideas raised during lecture, and also contribute your own observations — properly informed by your reading — when called upon to do so. The class will operate as a combination of lecture and discussion, and a healthy, vigorous dialogue spanning over the various meetings and authors studied will be expected. Regular attendance is a vital component of the class; more than three unexcused absences will adversely affect your final grade.
ENGL 40751 Literatures of Immigration: The Latino/a Transnational Experience Javier Rodríguez MW 11:45–1:00
The literature of Latina/o immigration and migration brings together a range of contemporary concerns, from identity to the transnational, to definitions of the literary. How does international movement inflect notions of American identity? How do writers create and describe communities in constant movement? How are struggles against poverty interwoven with discussions of gender and cultural discrimination? How might literature itself respond to these concerns? Finally, how do these experiences shape our conceptions of the literary itself? In this course, we will read a range of recent materials, dealing with immigration between Mexico and Latin America and the United States, as well as with intra-national migration. Key texts will include Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil’s Highway; Julia Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents; Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban; Tomas Rivera, ...and the Earth did not devour him; Luis Rodriguez, Music of the Mill; and Elva Treviño Hart, Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child. In addition, we will draw upon various critical readings such as María Herrera Sobek’s Northward Bound: The Mexican Immigrant Experience in Ballad and Song. Students will write a variety of in-class projects, produce three full-length essays, and take a final exam.
ENGL 40770 American Modernism Cyraina Johnson-Roullier TR 2:00–3:15
Discussions of the late nineteenth-, early twentieth-century literary and cultural movement of modernism often center on those qualities of the movement described in the work of early modernist literary critics, such as Harry Levin or Edmund Wilson. Such examinations emphasize the modernist movement’s experiments in form, structure, linguistic representation, characterization, etc., while paying much less attention to the role of the modernist movement in the larger context of a given culture. In this course, we will explore the significance of the modernist movement from the perspective of American culture, as well as the manner and meaning of American literary participation in the movement. To that end, we will consider not only the work of authors generally accepted as modernists, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein; we will also consider the role of authors such as Sherwood Anderson and Waldo Frank, of the early Chicago Renaissance (1910–1925), and a number of authors from the Harlem Renaissance. We will examine the work of these authors not only in the context of modernism, but also as it relates to many issues of the day, including progressivism, primitivism, race and ethnicity, immigration, cosmopolitanism vs. regionalism, and the importance of the vernacular, in addition to the question of “Americanness” and its importance to an understanding of American literature during this time. Considering these different vantage points in American literary modernism, we will try to imagine the contours of “American modernisms,” and draw some conclusions about their significance within the larger modernist context. In so doing, we’ll seek to arrive at a more comprehensive, more nuanced perspective on the meaning of the modern in American literature and culture. Course texts: Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence; Willa Cather, O Pioneers!; Sherwood Anderson, Dark Laughter; Waldo Frank, Holiday; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Ernest Hemingway, Torrents of Spring; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Gertrude Stein, Three Lives; Jessie Fauset, Plum Bun; Jean Toomer, Cane; William Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom! Course Requirements: two 10-page essays, one mini-presentation, one larger presentation
ENGL 40780 Literature of the Fin-de-Siècle Brooke Cameron MWF 1:55–2:45
For Victorians, the end of the nineteenth century was a time of instability and anxiety as well as possibility. This period, known as fin-de-siècle, witnessed an explosion in sexual and gender transgression, as embodied by dandies and decadents. This time period was also one in which there were great political and economic conflicts in the form of growing labor and socialist movements. The fin-de-siècle also observed the birth of the New Woman who lobbied for sexual, economic, and social equality. And this period also saw the emergence of a new aesthetic movement, with its radical philosophy of “art for art’s sake.” This course will consider a range of literary texts that are representative of the political, cultural, and aesthetic innovations that define the fin-de-siècle. These texts will be organized according to the following four thematic sections: 1) Socialism and Labor Politics; 2) the Aesthetic Movement; 3) Decadents and Dandies; and 4) the New Woman. We will begin with William Morris’s New From Nowhere and then, by section two, move on to poetry by Michael Field and Amy Levy. Our discussions of Oscar Wilde’s prose and novel The Picture of Dorian Gray will carry us into section three, where we will also consider prose by Max Beerbohm and Arthur Symons. The course will conclude with Ella Hepworth Dixon’s novel The Story of a Modern Woman as wells as stories by Victoria Cross and Olive Schreiner. Scholarly criticism and selections from Victorian writings will help us to read these texts in response to one another and as situated within their respective historical and cultural contexts.
Students in this course will become aware of the various conventions of genres such as literary realism, utopian fiction, aesthetic poetry, the short story, and prose writing. Students will also learn to recognize how a literary text employs a range of aesthetic, formal, stylistic, and rhetorical strategies, and how these interconnect to make the text an organic whole. A range of assignments and classroom activities provide students with the opportunity to develop these technical and analytical skills. Regular participation, including classroom discussion and four short response papers (2 typed pages maximum), cultivates an environment of on-going and collaborative learning. The group presentation (2–3 students) teaches students to appreciate as well as to assess the claims of literary scholars. The short paper (8–10 pages) gives students an opportunity to draw on these rhetorical skills as they propose their own contextualized interpretation of a text. In the final paper (12 pages), students develop their own researched and critically informed argument as positioned within a community of literary scholarship. Ideally, students will emerge from this course with an appreciation not only for fin-de-siècle literature but also for the importance of literary practices and strategies within their own daily lives.
Course requirements include regular participation, two papers, a presentation, a final exam. Required texts: William Morris’s New From Nowhere, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Ella Hepworth Dixon’s The Story of a Modern Woman (Broadview edition), The Fin de Siècle (eds. Ledger and Luckhurst). Additional readings on e-reserves.
ENGL 40805 / IRST 40312 Identity, Gender, Irish Poetry Briona Nic Dhiarmada TR 5:00–6:15
This course interrogates issues of gender and identity in the work of contemporary Irish women poets. We examine the ways in which contemporary poets write from a constellation of identities - sexual, cultural and linguistic and will focus in particular on the ways how question as they articulate versions of identity in specific cultural and literary forms. Drawing on recent theoretical work in gender studies, feminist theory and postcolonial studies, among others, this course examines texts which question and problematize essentialist notions of cultural and gender identity. We will also explores tensions inherent in the articulation of a cross-cultural sexual identity and the specificity of linguistic and cultural inheritance in contemporary Irish-language writing. We read, among others, poets such as Eavan Boland, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Máire Mhac an tSaoi , Maedhbh McGuckian, Paula Meehan, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.
ENGL 40850 Advanced Fiction Writing Johannes Göransson TR 9:30–10:45
This is a course in writing short fiction for students who have moved beyond the introductory level. It is conducted through a discussion format centered on fiction written by students in the class, in the context of prose and poetry by notable contemporary authors. Students will be encouraged to think of fiction in terms of the form used to express it: how form creates aesthetic experience and conveys ideas. No one style or type of fiction is advocated over another; in fact, students are encouraged to find their own voice, their own subject matter. However, students will be expected to write fiction that demonstrates an awareness of the difference between serious literature and formula entertainment. Over the semester, students will present three short fictions for class discussion. Alongside the stories written by students in the class, we will be reading a variety of published short works from a course pack that emphasizes solutions working writers have used to stretch the boundaries of traditional forms (fiction by, for example, William Gass, Michael Martone, Lydia Davis). Additional work will include a detailed critique of each piece submitted for discussion, analysis of reading assignments, and attendance at readings given by visiting authors. At the end of the term, students will turn in a portfolio of the stories they have written and revised during the semester.
ENGL 40948 / CLAS 40350 The Myths of the Greeks and Romans Isabelle Torrance TR 12:30–1:45
This advanced course investigates the mythologies of Greece and Rome and traces their transmission to and influence on modern literature and art. Special attention is given to the wide range of media in which ancient stories about gods and heroes were expressed and communicated, and to the process by which these marvelous stories survived in later literature and the visual arts, inspiring writers and artists to adapt them to their own purposes. Current theories at the forefront of scholarship in the humanities are explored for their value in interpreting myths.
Senior Research Seminars
These 43XXX-level research seminars are intended primarily for senior English majors, although English majors in the Honors Concentration can take one of these seminars as an elective during the second semester of their Junior year (please consult with Honors Concentration coordinators and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for registration information). There are no special pre-registration procedures for research seminars; you can sign up for them during your regular Web registration time.
ENGL 43105 Seminar: The Devotional Lyric Susannah Monta TR 12:30–1:45
Following the Reformation-era’s massive upheavals came the greatest flowering of devotional poetry in the English language. This body of literature offers its readers the opportunity to explore questions pertaining broadly to the study of religion and literature and to the study of lyric. Early modern devotional poetry oscillates between eros and agape, private and communal modes of expression, guilt and pride, doubt and faith, evanescence and transcendence, mutability and permanence, femininity and masculinity, success and failure, and agency and helpless passivity. We’ll follow devotional poets through their many oscillations and turns by combining careful close reading of the poetry with the study of relevant historical, aesthetic, and theological contexts. Students will learn to read lyric poetry skillfully and sensitively, to think carefully about relationships between lyric and religion, and to write incisively and persuasively about lyric. Our authors will likely include William Alabaster, Richard Crashaw, John Donne, George Herbert, Robert
Herrick, Anne Locke, Andrew Marvell, Mary Sidney, Robert Southwell, Thomas Traherne, and Henry Vaughan; we may also read some work from earlier and later periods.
There will be three major course requirements:
1. Regular short written responses to assigned readings
2. A poet project
3. An 8–10-page focused interpretive essay on a topic of the student’s choosing.
ENGL 43409 Seminar: Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury Barbara Green TR 12:30–1:45
The modernist feminist writer Virginia Woolf lived and worked with a loose collective of writers, painters, and social thinkers that we now call the “Bloomsbury Group” (though many members of the group disliked the phrase). We will look at the novels, essays, art, and political writings of some of the members of Bloomsbury — including works by Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell — to explore the complex moments of cross-fertilization, critique, and revision that define their encounters. In addition, we will attend to a few areas that have dominated discussions of Bloomsbury modernism: ideas of nation, “civilization,” and critiques of Empire; the formation of literary modernism’s often tense relation to mass culture; the development of modern discourses of sexuality; the relationship between literature and the modern metropolis; and explorations of women’s “experience” of modernity. Because members of the Bloomsbury Group worked in a number of fields beyond the literary — painting, economics, social thought, publishing, and interior design to name a few — students often find that they can easily develop projects that engage more than one area of interest. Requirements include one seminar paper (written in stages in consultation with me) of at least 20 pages, and one presentation.
ENGL 43721 Seminar: Twentieth-Century American Fiction Jacqueline Brogan MW 11:45–1:00
In this course we will study the interconnections among six of our best fiction writers of the past century. Although these six authors could erroneously be divided along the lines of gender and race, as well as chronologically (roughly pre- and post-War), the sometimes painful intersections between these various authors and these texts in particular reveal the dynamic aesthetic and moral development of American fiction from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to Morrison’s Jazz.
Texts: Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby; “The Crack Up”; Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises; The Garden of Eden; William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury; Absolom! Absolom!; Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God; Alice Walker: The Color Purple; The Temple of My Familiar; Toni Morrison: Sula; Jazz. Recommended: Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night; Hemingway’s To Have and Not Have Not, Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy, Morrison’s Playing in the Dark.
Requirements: three shorter papers (4-5 pages), one longer paper (8-10 pages), and a final exam.