English Major Courses

Fall 2021

ENGL 30101-02-03
Intro to Literary Studies
Laura Betz
TR 11:00-12:15
Sec 02 - Majors
Sec 03 - Freshmen

This course provides beginning English majors with experience in the analysis, interpretation, and appreciation of literary works of different kinds and eras. Texts assigned will vary from one section to another, but all sections will include significant attention to poetry, as well as treatment of at least one other genre (fiction, drama, non-fiction prose). Frequent writing about works studied will introduce students to the practice of critical argument and consideration of how to read criticism as well as literature critically.

 

ENGL 30101-04-05
Intro to Literary Studies
Cyraina Johnson-Roullier
TR 11:00-12:15
Sec 04 - Majors
Sec 05 - Freshmen

This course provides beginning English majors with experience in the analysis, interpretation, and appreciation of literary works of different kinds and eras. Texts assigned will vary from one section to another, but all sections will include attention to poetry and at least one other genre (fiction, drama, non-fiction prose). Frequent writing about works studied will introduce students to the practice of critical argument and consideration of how to read criticism as well as literature critically.

 

ENGL 30101-06-07
Intro to Literary Studies
Sandra Gustafson
MW 3:30-4:45
Sec 06 - Majors
Sec 07 - Freshmen

This course provides beginning English majors with experience in the analysis, interpretation, and appreciation of literary works of different kinds and eras. Texts assigned will vary from one section to another, but all sections will include attention to poetry and at least one other genre (fiction, drama, non-fiction prose). Frequent writing about works studied will introduce students to the practice of critical argument and consideration of how to read criticism as well as literature critically.

 

ENGL 30110-01-02
British Literary Traditions I
Tim Machan
MW 11:00-12:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated 

This course surveys a selection of literature written prior to the end of the seventeenth century. We will concentrate on a variety of authors who have come to be considered significant for a variety of reasons, whether for their artistic achievements, their commentary on society, or their contributions to notions of literary history. Although attention will be given to historical perspective, the course will emphasize close reading and classroom discussion. 

 

ENGL 30115-01-02
American Literary Traditions I
Laura Walls
MW 2:00-3:15 
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

"Nations are narratives" - so our historians tell us. That means the voices of a nation's artists and writers help to tell us who we are, even to create our very identity as a nation. So what are the narratives of our nation, the United States? This course traces the emergence of what we now know as "America" from the small and struggling British colonies of Virginia and New England, founded early in the 1600s on lands cultivated for millennia by Native Americans. We will consider the early "contact zones" in which settler societies from Europe met and mingled with indigenous Native American cultures, languages, and literatures; the institution of slavery as the foundation of American economies, and the growing contributions of free and enslaved African-Americans to the development of a distinctive American voice and literary tradition; and the literature of the American Revolution that established the United States as an independent nation. Finally, we will conclude with several works from the American Renaissance that characterize an emerging modern American literary tradition.

 

ENGL 30851
Poetry Writing
Joyelle McSweeney
MW 9:30-10:45

This is a course for students who are ready to immerse themselves in the strange contagious waters of poetry. We'll read across regions, languages, communities and time periods to connect to poetry's aesthetic, formal, and political urgencies and possibilities, and we'll write an array of poems of our own. Expect to write individual lyrics as well as prose poems, letters, verse plays, sound poems, collages, remixes, performance pieces, and verse plays, and to poke around in the traditional and digital media by which poems have been shared. I'll expect you to write in- and out- of class poems, work collaboratively on group projects and translations, present, perform, participate, offer kind supportive feedback on peer work., and propose and execute a final project of your own devising. Attendance is mandatory.

 

ENGL 30853
Fiction Writing 
Steve Tomasula
TR 5:05-6:20

“If you don’t use your imagination,” author Ronald Sukenick once said, “someone else will use it for you.” All a person has to do to see how many people are trying to use our imaginations for (or against) us is look around. We live in a sea of narratives created by advertising (New and Improved!); politics (Fake News); churches (Adam and Eve); science (Survival of the Fittest); the music and entertainment industries and thousands of other entities and individuals (your friends, your family). This is a class in creating your own narratives. It is designed for those who have gone beyond the introductory courses and want to explore language as an art form to do what narrative has always done: using narrative to explore what you think, and to give a sense of something meaningful that we can believe in at our time and in our place. Unlike nonfiction, fictional narratives usually raise more questions than answers; unlike other kinds of writing, how a work of literature is written is as important as what’s said. But the course could also be called ‘having fun with story,’ as narratives in a variety of forms and shapes will be used to inform the work done in class, and students are invited to write narratives in ways that are surprising, or grow out of other forms, as well as polished, or more traditional. While all aspects of a narrative must work together, the course is organized in such a way as to highlight some of these aspects separately, e.g., perspective, form, narrative time. Throughout the emphasis will be on language, the medium of our art. Students will be asked to write “short-form” narratives (less than 5 ds pages); two “major” narratives (about 15 ds pages each); and several short, daily assignments.

40xxx Level Courses

ENGL 40154-01-02  
Feminist and Queer Literary Criticism
Sara Marcus
MW 9:30-10:45
Section 01 - Majors
Section 02 - Unallocated

Feminist and queer literary criticism and cultural theory, with an emphasis on the past half-century. How have gender and sexuality, as well as collective ideas about gender and sexuality, affected the creation and reception of literature and other art forms? We’ll spend the semester thinking with scholars, artists, writers, and activists who have taken up this question. Course materials will be a mix of literary, critical, and theoretical texts, including classic texts from second-wave feminist literary criticism and archival efforts; Black and Third World feminisms; Marxist feminism and feminist theology; clashing approaches to sexual practices and identities; feminist takes on psychoanalysis and deconstruction; and the genesis of queer theory and trans studies. Class will be entirely discussion-based; written work will include frequent reading responses, research-based term papers, and contributions to a class anthology.

 

ENGL 40190-01-02  
Critical Digital Studies
Ranjodh Dhaliwal
TR 9:30-10:45
Section 01 - Majors
Section 02 - Unallocated

This class introduces students to the many forms in which critical thought has been applied to digital computational systems. Literary critics have long argued that computers are inscription machines (think about reading or writing on disks!), and we shall take a look at the long tradition of literary scholarship trying to understand and think about computation. Thinking critically about these new media technologies, however, is a multidisciplinary undertaking, and we shall also dive into some other variants of media technology studies. To understand these other stories and histories of digitality, we will reach out to approaches that question the role of race, class, and gender in how digital systems have been envisioned, developed, used, and abused. Some hands-on media archaeology will be accompanied by readings that are a mix of science fiction, e-lit, and critical theory.

 

ENGL 40212
Introduction to Old Norse
Chris Abram
TR 11:00-12:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

"A person should be wise enough - but never too wise; life is most pleasant for those who know just enough". Old Norse proverb, from Hávamál. In this course, students will come to grips with Old Norse - a term that encompasses the medieval vernacular languages of Scandinavia and the vernacular literatures that flourished in Norway and Iceland between the Viking Age and the Reformation. The Old Norse literary corpus is remarkable for its breadth and variety, its literary quality and its cultural value: Norse manuscripts preserve our fullest record of pre-Christian mythology from northern Europe; traditional Germanic narrative and poetic traditions are uniquely well-represented in Old Norse versions, some of which date back to well before the Conversion; in the Icelandic sagas, one of Europe's most distinctive medieval genres, we see an unprecedented forerunner of "realistic" prose fiction. Knowledge of Old Norse also gives access to many primary sources relating to the perennially controversial and fascinating Vikings, who took their language as far afield as Russia, Rome, Reykjavik and Rouen. (And Old Norse was probably the first European language spoken in North America.) Over the course of a semester, we will learn the fundamentals of Old Norse grammar, syntax and vocabulary. Although it has some quirks, Old Norse is not a particularly difficult language to pick up, and students will soon be able to read a saga in the original. We will introduce students to the history and literature of medieval Scandinavia, using translations at first but gradually bringing in original language material as our mastery of Old Norse increases.This course will be assessed by means of regular grammar quizzes and translation exercises, and a final exam.

 

ENGL 40234-01-02
Medieval Romance
Michelle Karnes
TR 2:00-3:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

This course will introduce you to medieval romance, one of the most popular genres of medieval literature and one that gives us some of the best-loved literary characters of all time, including Lancelot and Guenevere. We will study the genre of romance, including Arthurian romance and other varieties, from the genre’s inception. We will pay particular attention to the form of story-telling that it popularizes, the concept of love that it systematizes, and the notion of heroism on which it depends. We will read many texts in their original Middle English, but no prior knowledge of Middle English or medieval literature is expected.

 

ENGL 40304-01-02
Jane Austen and Her World
Ian Newman
TR 12:30-1:45
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

In this course we will read of all of Austen’s novels, supplemented by helpful contemporary texts, and critical commentary on the works. We will attend to Austen’s style (her elegance, her irony, her rudeness); her aesthetic principles; her political and social engagements, (her views on slavery and Empire, the “revolution in female manners” advocated by Mary Wollstonecraft, her critique of masculinity); the function of the marriage plot; and the relationship between the novel and the theatre. Students will gain an appreciation for the complexity of the work of one of the greatest novelists in the English language. They will also consider how these works respond to the historical moment in which they were written, and how and why these works resonate across time.

 

ENGL 40350-01-02
Dickens and Wilde
David Thomas
TR 11:00-12:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

This double-author course showcases what most readers would see as an "odd couple" among Victorian authors. Charles Dickens (1812-70) was the Shakespeare of his time, a prolific creator of memorable characters and incidents, at once comic and tragic. But post-Victorian critics often see him as a prime exponent of Victorian earnestness, sentimentality and even hypocrisy. And Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) 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 offences. Our principal texts by Dickens will probably be Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Our Mutual Friend. Our readings in Wilde will cover the gamut of his efforts but emphasize his society comedies and his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Graded coursework includes three papers and a final exam, along with reading quizzes and participation.  

 

ENGL 40370-01-02  
Theorizing Disability: The Romantics & Victorians
Essaka Joshua
TR 2:00-3:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

This course offers a theory-driven exploration of the literature on disability in the Romantic and Victorian eras. In this class, we will read Romantic and Victorian texts alongside modern disability theory (chapters and articles) to develop a disability studies lens as a critical approach. We will study Romantic and Victorian texts in dialogue and in topic groups. Key topics will include physical disability; deformity; communication disabilities; and dwarfism. Although intended as a companion course to Romantic and Victorian Disability, this class can be taken as a standalone. There is no overlap between the classes, and they can be taken in any order.

 

ENGL 40450-01-02 
British Romantic Drama and the Politics of the Public Theater
Greg Kucich
MW 12:30-1:45
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

"Dramatic genius... is kindling over the whole land." (Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine review; 1823)This class approaches British Romanticism through the spectacular fecundity of its staged drama, which is not usually considered in conventional assessments of the period. Alongside serious, often disturbing new tragedies, hilarious new comedies, and stunning revivals of Shakespeare, Romantic theater offered frenetic audiences a staggering range of experimental or fringe genres such as melodrama, Gothic drama, nautical drama, pantomime, and quadruped entertainments featuring live horses in cavalry charges and the herics of "Carlo the Wonder Dog" and "Jocko the Brazilian Monkey." We will explore the ingenious ways, both in print and on stage, playwrights utilized these and other stage practices to engage with the burning political issues of the time: the French Revolution, slavery, imperial might and global strife, women's rights, among others. Readings address major canonical figures-- Coleridge, Shelley, and Byron?as well as less well-known figures who ruled the stage, such as Joanna Baillie, Elizabeth Inchbald, "Monk" Lewis, and Hannah Cowley.

 

ENGL 40546-01-02 
Women and Magazines
Barbara Green
TR 12:30-1:45
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

This course will explore women as producers (journalists, editors, illustrators) and consumers of modern periodicals including little magazines like The Little Review, slick magazines like Vanity Fair, fashion magazines like Vogue, women's domestic magazines like Good Housekeeping, feminist papers like Votes for Women or The Freewoman, and more. We'll pay special attention to modern women writers who made their living writing for magazines - Djuna Barnes, Rebecca West, or Jesse Fauset, for example - and explore the ways in which modern periodicals (both "big" and "little") considered the rise of modernism in relation to changing gender roles and feminist concerns. Since the periodical press has been called the medium that best "articulates the unevenness and reciprocities of evolving gender ideologies," we'll consider changing articulations of "modern" femininity in a wide range of periodical genres. We'll learn how to read modern periodicals from various angles, taking into consideration reception, circulation, seriality, temporality, illustration, and advertisement, and we'll meet the modern woman journalist and her close relations: "sob sisters," "agony aunts," "stunt girls." We'll be exploring new digital archives for the most part to access these early twentieth century publications. We will also read one novel in installments throughout the semester to more closely participate in the serial reading practices that would have organized an early twentieth-century reader's relationship with her favorite publication. Assignments will include one group presentation and linked essay, one essay of 8-10 pages, and a few shorter exercises.

 

ENGL 40609-01-02
Dilemmas of American Transcendentalism
Laura Walls
MW 5:05-6:20
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

When European Romanticism crossed the Atlantic, it precipitated American Transcendentalism, this nation's first great literary movement. The Transcendentalists were a loose group of rebels, dreamers, and freethinkers who, inspired by both the American Revolution and the new European philosophies, set about the immodest task of remaking America - and thence, they hoped, the world. Inspired by resistance to their radical ideas, these men and women - including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, Orestes Brownson, Bronson Alcott and his daughter Louisa May Alcott -launched a daring movement to renew American religion and philosophy and create a new and genuinely American literature - and, as if that weren't enough, to reform a nation shot through with the contradictions of slavery, economic inequality, social injustice and environmental destruction. Did they succeed? Was their idealism a noble dream destroyed by the violence of the Civil War? Or did their hard work bring real progress to an American society still indebted today to this band of dreamers? That's our dilemma: both answers are correct. How are we still living the consequences of their failures, and their successes? Can their dreams still speak to us today, in our own moment - shot through as it is with so many similar contradictions?

 

ENGL 40766-01-02
U.S. Poetry in Public, 1900 to Now
Matthew Kilbane
TR 3:30-4:45
Section 01: Unallocated
Section 02: Freshmen

What happens when poetry goes public? What can poems do in the world? And how do matters of urgent public import—matters of race, gender, class, war, and environmental collapse—shape the patterns of feeling and thought that poems make possible in the private recesses of our hearts and minds? These are just some of the questions we’ll take up in this survey of modern and contemporary American poetry. Our goal is to explore the past 120 years in verse by framing poems as performative, contagious, sometimes clamorous, always thoroughly social things: textual objects produced in and for particular communities of readers, built to travel on the tongue and in a variety of media, and often tasked with vital public work. From the modernist scandals of Dada New York to Amanda Gorman’s celebrated inaugural poem in 2021, our inquiry will pivot around key moments in U.S. literary history when poets transfixed and transformed public audiences. Central figures are likely to include T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, George Oppen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank O’Hara, Adrienne Rich, Claudia Rankine, and Layli Long Soldier, but we’ll read widely (and closely) across movements, schools, styles, and forms. As we wrestle with popular narratives about poetry’s cultural position in the U.S. (from handwringing concerns about poetry’s obsolescence to recent hype over the flourishing of poetry in digital spaces), we’ll also engage landmark statements from a variety of critical perspectives on the social life of poetry. Ultimately and together, though, we’ll come to our own conclusions about why poems matter, and where poetry is headed in the twenty-first century. 

 

ENGL 40771-01-02 
American Modernisms
Cyraina Johnson-Roullier
MW 2:00-3:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

When discussions of modernism and modernity focus on the late nineteenth, early twentieth centuries, they also 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 emphasized 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 specifically 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 American modernists, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway; we will also consider the role of authors such as Henry James and Edith Wharton, whose work bridges the late 19th-century and the modernism of the early 20th-century, and Theodore Dreiser , of the early Chicago Renaissance (1910-1925), as well as a number of authors from the Harlem Renaissance - all authors the consideration of whose work enlarges and expands traditional conceptions of American modernism. Along the way, we will examine pertinent issues such as social class, social mobility, gender relations, progressivism, primitivism, race and ethnicity, immigration, cosmopolitanism vs. regionalism, and the importance of the vernacular, especially as these inform the question of "Americanness" and its role in our understanding of American literature during this time. The overarching goal of our exploration will be the effort to arrive at a much more comprehensive, more nuanced perspective on the meaning and significance of the modern in American culture. In exploring these different vantage points in American literary modernity, we will seek to reimagine the contours of the modern in the American context from the perspective of "American modernisms," while drawing important conclusions about their significance within the larger modernist context.

 

ENGL 40850
Advanced Fiction Writing 
Steve Tomasula
TR 2:00-3:15 

This is a course in writing fiction for students who have moved beyond the introductory level, and are looking for a way to come into their own as authors. The course focuses on the development of individual student-authors, and so asks them to develop an awareness of contemporary fiction and exemplify, through their own writing, their place in this literary landscape. Just as it is difficult to be a musician without seeing other live musicians play, or a visual artist without looking at the art, ideas, and methods of other working artists, so it is difficult to be an author without reading as authors read, and interacting in the conversation of other, living practitioners. As such, students are asked to identify a literary “conversation” or tradition, or family of works that their own writing extends and/or takes part in; they are asked to think of fiction in terms of the forms they use and how this form will contribute to the aesthetic experience and ideas they are striving to convey.  No one style or type of fiction is advocated over another; in fact, students are encouraged to find their own voice, perspective, and subject matter, and to develop a form suited to their work.  However, students will be expected to write fiction that demonstrates awareness of the difference between writing as an art form and formula entertainment. The goal of the course is for each student to emerge with a manuscript at the level of a beginning author writing as a literary artist.

 

ENGL 40852
Advanced Fiction Writing II
Steve Tomasula
TR 2:00-3:15

This course is intended for students who have already taken an Advanced Fiction Writing and who are seriously interested in writing fiction.

This is a course in writing fiction for students who have moved beyond the introductory level, and are looking for a way to come into their own as authors. The course focuses on the development of individual student-authors, and so asks them to develop an awareness of contemporary fiction and exemplify, through their own writing, their place in this literary landscape. Just as it is difficult to be a musician without seeing other live musicians play, or a visual artist without looking at the art, ideas, and methods of other working artists, so it is difficult to be an author without reading as authors read, and interacting in the conversation of other, living practitioners. As such, students are asked to identify a literary “conversation” or tradition, or family of works that their own writing extends and/or takes part in; they are asked to think of fiction in terms of the forms they use and how this form will contribute to the aesthetic experience and ideas they are striving to convey.  No one style or type of fiction is advocated over another; in fact, students are encouraged to find their own voice, perspective, and subject matter, and to develop a form suited to their work.  However, students will be expected to write fiction that demonstrates awareness of the difference between writing as an art form and formula entertainment. The goal of the course is for each student to emerge with a manuscript at the level of a beginning author writing as a literary artist.

 

ENGL 40855
Advanced Fiction Writing III
Steve Tomasula
TR 2:00-3:15

This course is intended for students who have already taken an Advanced Fiction Writing and who are seriously interested in writing fiction.

This is a course in writing fiction for students who have moved beyond the introductory level, and are looking for a way to come into their own as authors. The course focuses on the development of individual student-authors, and so asks them to develop an awareness of contemporary fiction and exemplify, through their own writing, their place in this literary landscape. Just as it is difficult to be a musician without seeing other live musicians play, or a visual artist without looking at the art, ideas, and methods of other working artists, so it is difficult to be an author without reading as authors read, and interacting in the conversation of other, living practitioners. As such, students are asked to identify a literary “conversation” or tradition, or family of works that their own writing extends and/or takes part in; they are asked to think of fiction in terms of the forms they use and how this form will contribute to the aesthetic experience and ideas they are striving to convey.  No one style or type of fiction is advocated over another; in fact, students are encouraged to find their own voice, perspective, and subject matter, and to develop a form suited to their work.  However, students will be expected to write fiction that demonstrates awareness of the difference between writing as an art form and formula entertainment. The goal of the course is for each student to emerge with a manuscript at the level of a beginning author writing as a literary artist.