Note on the University and College Literature Requirement: Students seeking to fulfill the literature requirement may also take courses offered by other language and literature departments (Romance languages, Asian languages, Classics, etc.). To obtain a complete list of all of these courses go to the class search page, then select the "literature" attribute and press control (on a Mac command) shift and select all departments.
Point-of-View in the Novel
Section 01: MW 12:30-1:45
Section 02: MW 3:30-4:45
This course will focus on the introduction to the novel as a form, a means to view the world of the author/artist and the reader. Literature is an art whereby one consciousness seeks to communicate with another consciousness. One of the artist's techniques for controlling this flow is the concept of point of view. We will explore various approaches and uses of this "framing" in some nineteenth and twentieth century novels. The goal is to use an understanding of point of view to more fully comprehend, enjoy, and sensitively read this popular genre. Texts: Henry James, Turn of the Screw; Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary; Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome; James Joyce, Dubliners; William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!; Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter; E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime; Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha; and Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America. Requirements: regular class participation; two short papers, a mid-term; and a final.
The Gothic Novel
"From ghoulies and ghosties/ And long-leggedy beasties/ And things that go bump in the night,/ Good Lord, deliver us!" Why do we enjoy being scared out of our wits? Since its inception in the late eighteenth century, generations have loved the Gothic Novel with its grotesque murders and bizarre terror. The course will study a number of the most celebrated Gothic tales from horrors in castles and monasteries (Lewis's The Monk) to mysterious love stories (Brontë's Wuthering Heights) to the eerie stories of the paranormal (Shelley's Frankenstein) to contemporary horror stories. The purpose will be to study the ways in which the Gothic Novel entertains us and what it is about us that loves to be entertained by the Gothic.
ENGL 20171 / PS 33400 – Crosslist
Rhetorics of Gender and Poverty
This course explores the rhetorical history and dynamics of what has been called the feminization of poverty, comparing statistics and stories in scholarly and popular media that often tell conflicting narratives of who is poor and why. We will ask how the picture of poverty has evolved over time exploring such representations as: Dorothea Lange's 1936 documentary photograph of the Migrant Mother, Ronald Reagan's 1976 caricature of the Welfare Queen, the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, and Katherine Boo's 2012 book Behind the Beautiful Forevers. What does poverty look like in modern media (news, books, films, theatre, etc.)? Who gets to tell that story? How can we contribute to that conversation? To what extent do these representations not only reflect but shape public opinion and public policy? These questions will be grounded in theories and research on the intersection of gender, poverty, race, and rhetoric. They will also be framed by students' original community-based research supported by local community partners whose social service addresses gender and poverty. Community engagement time is limited and flexible. Final projects may be composed as traditional research or creative works.
Introduction to Literature and Science
Literature and science are traditionally conceived of as two separate areas of inquiry: surely, there is nothing literary about science which deals in truth and nothing scientific about literature which deals in fiction, right? This course is designed to question these assumptions and explore the representational strategies that literature and science share in common, even as they are put to very different ends. We will investigate the themes of scientific exploration, savagism, primitivism, anthropomorphism, and evolution in the 19th and 20th centuries and how they operate in texts usually taught within the purview of the “literary.” Conversely, we will think about the function of narrative and the autobiographical self in texts usually studied in the fields of biology, ethology, and anthropology. We will read a wide range of literary and non-literary texts, including Henry David Thoreau’s The Maine Woods, Herman Melville’s Typee and The Encantadas, Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and Green Hills of Africa, Zora Neal Hurston’s Tell My Horse, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Niko Timbergen and Hugh Falkus’ Signs for Survival, and Jane Goodall’s In the Shadow of Man. By the end of the semester, students will come to appreciate the importance of representation in any knowledge-making enterprise, and they will be better equipped to face the pressing social, ecological, environmental, and political concerns that might face them outside the classroom.
To successfully complete the course, students will be required to submit a book review (15%), a research essay (20%), and a minimum of 6 informal responses as part of their participation grade (20%). Students will also be evaluated in the form of a midterm (20%) and a final exam (25%).
ENGL 20182 / ESS 33629 - Crosslist
Diversity in Young Adult Literature
In this course, we will challenge the single story/ies U.S. schools and curricula have told about books, characters, and cultural groups by focusing on literature by and about people from various populations that have been traditionally underrepresented in the United States. We will discuss young adult literature from parallel cultures (including possible works by and about African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino/as, Native Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, and other ethnic groups), as well as literature by and about populations traditionally defined by class, religion, ability, gender and sexuality. Course participants will investigate theoretical perspectives, issues, controversies, and educational implications for these texts, including race and racism, whiteness and privilege (in society and in the educational system), and critical literacy. As an extension of the course, we will also examine the young adult literature market and how contemporary media may reinforce or resist the stereotypes, labels, and single stories associated with these cultures. Possible texts include All American Boys, American Born Chinese (graphic novel), a Jacqueline Woodson novel, Openly Straight, a canonical text like To Kill a Mockingbird, Every Day, and several choice options, including a Classic/Newberry text, one text representing a non-abled bodied protagonist, and one contemporary text.
Introduction to Shakespeare
This course investigates five key Shakespeare plays - Richard III, Othello, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, The Tempest - on the stage and the page. We will give detailed attention to core philosophical, theatrical, literary, and political questions in each play, and consider the contemporary global encounter with Shakespeare in multiple literary/linguistic traditions and media forms (film, graphic novel, digital media). No previous experience with Shakespeare is required.
ENGL 20251 / MI 20114 – Crosslist
Deathsongs: Remembering the Lost in Medieval Elegy
Death, it is said, is the great equalizer. All things, from great to small, fade and pass away under the ravages of time. How we make sense of this reality, how we narrate and memorialize the lost, constitutes a central aspect of the human experience as well as reveals critical insights into the values, beliefs, and identities of those who survive to mourn and remember. It is also the special province of elegy, a genre of writing shared by many cultures throughout history that gives voice to this universal experience of mortality, decay, and ruin. In this course we will explore the development of elegy from its roots in Classical Antiquity to the Late-Middle Ages and the Early-Modern Period, paying special attention to how the desires and anxieties of the living are often inextricably woven into laments for the dead. In the process, we will also take up the broader question of elegy as a distinct genre, examining its forms and themes, as well as its evolving character over time and among different cultures.
Civilization and its Discontents in British Literature
This course takes "civilization and its discontents" as a guiding theme for reading British literature from the 18th-20th centuries. Many key texts from this time period explore, in various ways, one of Sigmund Freud's central arguments in Civilization and its Discontents (1930): that as human beings attain higher and higher degrees of civilization, which Freud defines as mastery over nature, space, and time, they do not gain happiness, as one might expect, but actually become more miserable. This claim and others in Freud's text will serve as touchstones in this course, but we will also perform our own investigation of how the literature of this time defines the terms "civilization" and "discontents," as well as important related terms like "happiness." Our reading list will feature a variety of genres (poetry, novels, essays, short stories) and will include many of the following authors: Samuel Johnson, William Wordsworth, William Blake, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Matthew Arnold, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf.
ENGL 20409 / IRLL 20120 - Crosslist
The Irish Short Story
The Short story continues to be among the most vibrant and exciting literary forms in the Irish language. This course explores the themes, motifs, approaches and various forms common to the Irish short story as well as the critical debates associated with the genre. We begin with a survey of the literary history and traumatic cultural politics of Ireland in the nineteenth century. In addition to comparing it to the American and French traditions, we consider the relationship between folklore and literature, the relationship between orality and print culture, tradition and modernity. Among the authors we read in detail are: George Moore, P.H. Pearse, James Joyce, Pádraic Ó Conaire, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Frank O'Connor, Sean O'Faolain, Liam Ó Flaithearta/Liam O'Flaherty, Seamus Ó Grianna, Seosamh Mac Grianna, Angela Bourke, Pádraic Breathnach, Seán Mac Mathúna, Micheál Ó Conghaile, Alan Titley, Dara Ó Conaola and Eilís Ní Dhuibhne. Stories are read primarily as literary texts that shed light on evolving cultural, political and social conditions and provide incisive insights into the Irish literary and cultural tradition. This course is an ideal introduction to literary criticism and cultural studies. No prior knowledge of Irish or Ireland is required. All texts will be available in English.
Global Voices in British and Irish Modernism
From immigration and exile to warfare, global issues have a significant impact on our daily lives. In this course, we focus on British and Irish authors who faced international challenges during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries: imperialist conflicts and abuses, total war, and the impending rise of Fascism. Set in locales ranging from London and Paris to the Belgian Congo and the Caribbean islands, these texts compel us to focus on a key query: How did Modernists adapt to the possibilities and dangers of a rapidly changing world, and how might these texts be relevant to our current social, economic, and cultural landscapes? This question will serve as an essential motif for the course, directing many of our preliminary investigations into how these works push the boundaries of national identity. We will also draw on multimedia such as film, audio clips, and the visual arts to enrich our study of these texts.
In addition to driving discussion, a global theme informs our approach to effective writing. For assignments including a midterm paper and final research paper, students are strongly encouraged to discover and pursue their own interests. Class sessions will establish critical resources and successful techniques for writing and research. As the semester progresses, we will develop a working definition of international Modernism and establish foundational tenets for literary analysis. Course readings include Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, among others.
ENGL 20436 / IRLL 20115 – Crosslist
Great Irish Writers I (Survey 1)
Ireland can lay claim to one of the most extensive, unique, and oldest literatures in Europe. By engaging with a wide range of literary texts (saints' lives, poetry, myth and legend, prose epic, laments, placelore and travel literature) from the medieval and early modern periods (ca. 800-1800), participants will consider how changing social, cultural, literary and intellectual contexts, in terms of both authors and audiences, have dramatically transformed Ireland's literature over the centuries. By looking at authors ranging from heroic bards and literary monks to lamenting wives and satirizing schoolmasters, we will examine the dynamics of production and the voices that speak to us from Ireland's past. Additionally, by considering the different topics that scholars have chosen to explore, and by articulating our own, contemporary responses to often arresting works from the Irish literary tradition, we will begin to understand the complexities and rich possibilities for appreciating Irish literature in our own time and place. Participants will read both primary literary texts, which may include but are not limited to the Lives of St. Patrick and St. Brigit, The Táin, excerpts from The Acallam, stories from Early Irish Myths and Sagas, a selection of Old Irish verse, poems from An Duanaire: Poems of the Dispossessed, Merriman's Midnight Court, as well as a number of critical essays.
Novels of London
In the Sherlock Holmes story “The Scandal of Bohemia,” Irene Adler dresses in men’s clothes to walk alone in London and outsmarts the detective. Over a hundred years later, an adaptation of the story on BBC’s Sherlock makes Irene Adler a London dominatrix dependent on her smart phone. Why? This course explains how one Irene Adler became the other by examining gender, technology, and London as they evolved in British novels from 1900 to the present day.
Comparison of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories and BBC’s Sherlock set the stage. We’ll then read novels by early 20th-century literary icons H. G. Wells and Virginia Woolf, who, in very different ways, imagine the city, men and women’s places within it, and the consequences of new technologies, from telegrams and automobiles to airplanes. The second half of the semester will be devoted to literature of our time. These contemporary novels will most likely include Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and Tom McCarthy’s Remainder. When possible, we’ll pay additional attention to how our novels, both popular and experimental, find another life in film.
Detectives and Reporters: Investigating Media
Even in the newly labeled post-truth era, it is indisputable that both media technologies and the mass media play an integral role in shaping American democracy. But what are media and what do they actually do? How do different media forms correlate with how we perceive our world and make sense of ongoing political and social issues? Moreover, why are so many contemporary artists anxious about the status of truth and obsessed with forms of documentation and tropes of direct, unrehearsed recording? In this course we will study a selection of texts that are about finding and presenting knowledge. We will unpack the paradox of a “true story” and examine a number of socially-minded investigative thrillers, detective stories, and docudramas. We will together examine what these kinds of artworks do and unpack how they model ways of thinking about our participation in the information worlds around us. This will include examining how we think about the relationship of fiction and nonfiction sources. By considering how a variety of novels, films, television programs, graphic novels, and news reports frame (or reframe) a number of important social issues and historical events, we will think critically about the interrelationship of media, the media, and the cultural work of narrative art.
Possible course texts include:
Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, James Agee and Walker Evans’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; the films Zero Dark Thirty, All the President’s Men, Stories We Tell, the graphic novels The Icognegro, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, and The Dark Knight Returns; the television shows The Wire and Orange is the New Black.
ENGL 20720 / ILS 20303 – Crosslist
Latino/a Poetry Now
This course offers an opportunity to read, discuss, and write about contemporary American poetry by Latino/as, utilizing as its principal text the anthology: The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry. We will supplement this multi-author volume with one single-author full-length book and one more slender single-author ?chapbook? by two poets, respectively, who are slated to visit our class as special guests. There will also be a special module on Latino/a poetry inspired by Latino/a art. We will also be relying significantly on a series of online video interviews conducted here at Notre Dame to add to our knowledge of the poets. We will focus on a younger generation of writers, examining some of the themes and traits that characterize this poetry. But we'll also encounter poetry that challenges and undermines what one might expect when one hears the term, "Latino/a poetry."
Searching for America: Literature about New York
“The collision and the intermingling of these millions of foreign-born people representing so many races, creeds, and nationalities make New York a permanent exhibit of the phenomenon of one world.” E.B. White, “Here is New York”
For E. B. White, the diversity of the city of New York represents a single world. In this class we will consider the diversity of New York as a test case for the people who make up the United States. By reading from novels, poems, plays, and autobiographies about New York, we will encounter many characters who differ from one another in many ways – creed, race, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background – and ask what makes each of them an American. The reading list covers the time period between the 17th and the 21st centuries and will be organized thematically rather than chronologically. Among the texts will be Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (both the play and the HBO miniseries), Washington Irving’s A History of New York, Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth, and Allan Ginsburg’s Howl. Through these and other works, we will identify the particular concerns and conditions that shape the lives of New Yorkers, analyze how they are represented and how they interact with one another, and discuss how each part of this complex mosaic contributes to the whole of the city and of America. Class work will include in-class discussion, individual presentations, and written assignments.