English Major Courses

SPRING 2020

ENGL 30101
Intro to Literary Studies
Susan Harris
TR 11:00-12:15
Sec 01 - Freshmen
Sec 02 - Unallocated

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
Intro to Literary Studies
Cyraina Johnson-Roullier 
MW 12:30-1:45
Sec 03 - Freshmen
Sec 04 - Unallocated

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 30111
British Literary Traditions II
Laura Betz
MW 11:00-12:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

This course focuses on major works of British literature from the end of the 17th century to the beginning of the 21st. We will examine a variety of poetry and prose genres, addressing key terms related to periodization (e.g., Romanticism, Modernism), genre (e.g., lyrical ballads, dramatic monologue), and various other aspects of literary technique. We will read texts in light of their historical and cultural contexts and work to foster skills of close literary analysis, both through class discussion and written assignments.

 

ENGL 30116
American Literary Traditions II
Francisco Robles
TR 3:30-4:45 
Sec 01 - Freshmen
Sec 02 - Unallocated

In this course, we will take a look at some of the most widely read and discussed authors of U.S. Literature, asking ourselves whether it is possible to understand these texts as a coherent, cogent body of literature. In so doing, we will understand the connections between "canon/tradition" and "innovation/experimentation," "center" and "margin," as well as the various contexts from which literature emerges, such as politics, culture, science, and history. We will focus on three major themes, and discuss a number of related issues and ideas: movement (thematically, formally, and historically) as a major force in U.S. Literature; questions of heritage, inheritance, and memory; and representation as an aesthetic and political feature of literature and life. Authors may include Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O'Connor, Gwendolyn Brooks, Hisaye Yamamoto, Tomás Rivera, Amiri Baraka, Robert Hayden, Toni Morrison, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, and Tommy Orange.

 

ENGL 30851
Poetry Writing
Orlando Menes
TR 11:00-12:15

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
Jake Schepers
MW 11:00-12:15

This course will give us a chance to “look under the hood” of storytelling and the writing of fiction. We will read a diverse array of contemporary writers and discuss a wide range of techniques and considerations that characterize fiction in order to develop both our own writing and our individual aesthetic interests, ideas, and styles. As an introduction to fiction writing, no prior knowledge of or experience with craft, tradition, or texts is necessary. What will be required is engaged participation, robust discussion, and weekly writing exercises, as well as two larger projects consisting of an essay about the state of fiction and a story portfolio consisting of four substantially revised short stories which will be due by semester’s end.

 

40xxx Level Courses

 

ENGL 40145  
Literary Theory
David Thomas
TR 9:30-10:45

In literature and the humanities, we use the term "theory" to demarcate a way of looking at things. For example, a gender theorist insists upon the importance of gender or sexual identities, a Marxist theorist emphasizes how economic conditions affect social and political realities, and a narrative theorist examines the importance of such matters as perspective and plotting in storytelling. Rather than promoting one theoretical perspective, this course surveys numerous styles of literary theory and criticism. Students will come to understand key features and issues in topics such as: Marxist theory; psychoanalysis; French and Anglo-American feminisms; gender theory and masculinity; structuralism and poststructuralism; postmodernism; history of sexuality; race and ethnicity studies; the development of literary canons; and disability theory. There is a great deal of sheer fun and surprise in learning about these various approaches. But such knowledge is also empowering, raising our consciousness concerning our own commitments and interests as readers. This course is therefore of special value to students anticipating subsequent thesis writing or graduate study in the humanities, social sciences, and law. Our main text is The Norton Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism (3rd Ed.). It's a typically huge Norton tome but worth the wrist damage as a superb launching point into all areas of literary and cultural theory. Graded coursework involves a midterm and a final exam, a paper documenting a point of theory controversy that interests you individually, and a paper in which you critique a theorist or apply a theoretical approach to a literary or cultural context of your choosing. Active participation is also important.

 

ENGL 40209
Chaucer
Michelle Karnes
TR 12:30-1:45
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

This course will introduce you to the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, the deservedly famous author from medieval England who had an exceptionally good sense of humor.  We will spend the majority of the class on Chaucer’s magnum opus, the Canterbury Tales, an ambitious collection of tales drawn from different countries and genres. We will also read works by other medieval authors to provide context. Throughout the course, you will hone your Middle English comprehension skills as you confront challenging, diverse, and sophisticated pieces of literature. Students will write two papers as well as several targeted analysis exercises. No prior knowledge of Middle English or medieval literature is expected.

 

ENGL 40257
Viral Shakespeare
Jesse Lander
MW 2:00-3:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

This course will explore the way in which Shakespeare's plays emerged out of a culture of commonplacing (the literary practice of collecting choice quotations in a commonplace book for subsequent use in the process of composition) and almost immediately underwent a process of remediation as stage performances were transformed into printed books sold to an eager reading public. Stage performance and print publication led to an extraordinary proliferation of Shakespearean media, and the course will consider the way in which film and new digital media have in turn reshaped and extended our understanding of Shakespeare. The course will be organized around seven case studies - A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, 1 Henry IV, King Lear, Macbeth, The Tempest - in each case we will consider the play's initial composition, earliest performance and first publication before going on to consider the ways in which the play has perpetuated itself in later times and places.

 

ENGL 40304
Jane Austen and Her World
Greg Kucich
TR 3:30-4:45
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

This course will entail the reading of all of Austen’s novels, in addition to selective readings of her juvenilia and letters.  One of our primary goals will involve situating Austen’s novels within the social and political contexts of her historical time.  We will thus complement the joy of reading Austen with the intellectual fascination of tracking how her writings relate to some of the major historical developments of her time, such as the French Revolution, the slave trade, the growth of empire, the expansion of war across the European continent, and the “revolution in female manners” advocated by Mary Wollstonecraft.   Readings of Austen will be supplemented with readings derived from these various historical contexts. We will also attend to the ways that Austen interacts with other major writers from her era, the age of British Romanticism. We will also periodically watch and discuss recent film versions of Austen’s novels. Students will gain not only a deepened appreciation of the wonderful complexity of Austen’s novels but also how these works emerge from and respond to the historical and cultural intricacies of British Romanticism.

 

ENGL 40322  
Reading Revolutions in the Eighteenth Century
Chris Fox
MW 12:30-1:45
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

At the end of the eighteenth century, reflecting on recent events in France,  Edmund Burke would isolate what he called “the most important of all revolutions . . . I mean a revolution in sentiments, manners and moral opinions.”  In a letter in 1818, John Adams would later ask: “But what do we mean by the American Revolution?  Do we mean the American war?  The Revolution was effected before the war commenced.  The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations.” Indeed, the “radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”  

Assuming that these kind of revolutionary changes took place in the eighteenth century, can we see them in the literature of the time?  That is the BIG QUESTION of this course, which will survey writings from the mid seventeenth century through Burke’s and Wollstonecraft’s times in the 1790s.  Among writers to be read: Marvell, Wycherley, Rochester, Behn, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Smollett, Johnson, Boswell, Burke and Wollstonecraft.  

Themes to be addressed include “Patriarchy and Power: The Battle of the Sexes,” “Monarchy and Empire: Politics and Patriarchy,” “Being Human: Are We Sociable Animals or Beasts of Prey?,” “The Choice of Life,”  “The Country and the City,” “The Family in Friction; or Patriarchy and Power, Part II,”  “From Being to Becoming: Consciousness and Selfhood,” and “From Subject to Citizen:  Enlightenment and Revolution.”  

ENGL 40502 
Yeats and Heaney
Barry McCrea
W 3:30-6:15
***This is a cross-listed course***

A study of the evolving poetic careers of the two most famous Irish poets of the early and late 20th century respectively, W. B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney. Emphasis will be on collective close reading rather than historical or political contexts. Reading load is an average of 50pgs per week, but requires intense preparation. In-class presentations also required.

 

ENGL 40524 
Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury
Barbara Green
TR 12:30-1:45
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

The modernist feminist writer Virginia Woolf lived and worked with a loose collective of writers, painters, and social thinkers that we 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 - Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey and others - 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 will find that they can easily develop projects that engage more than one area of interest.

 

ENGL 40536
Modern, Postmodern and Post-Postmodern Poetry and Religion
Romana Huk
MW 12:30-1:45

This course will focus on the last 120 years in literary history, zeroing in on one particular problem - the writing of religious poetry - in order to probe the philosophical collisions that resulted in what we now call our "post-secular" era of thought. Beginning with Gerard Manley Hopkins at the end of the nineteenth-century and major modernists who continued to write powerfully after WWII - T.S. Eliot, David Jones, W. H. Auden - the syllabus will chart a course through the rapidly changing poetic forms of two further generations of poets working devotedly, if differently, out of various religious systems of belief. The many dilemmas of postmodernity include redefining the very notion of "belief" itself after the secular revelations of science and modernity; we will explore the theoretical issues involved in order to better understand what's at stake for each writer we encounter, among them Brian Coffey, Wendy Mulford, Fanny Howe and Hank Lazer. We will ask, among other things, why ancient mystical frameworks seemed newly hospitable, for some, in the face of postmodern suspicions about language and institutions, while for others embracing the sciences renewed faith; we will consider the crucial input of Judaism in Christianity's rethinkings of language and religious experience as well as consider how issues of race and gender inflect changing relationships between poetry and religion. Students will emerge conversant with major debates in contemporary literary theory as well as with developments in poetry since Hopkins; perhaps even more importantly, they will each have had the chance to research some particular aspect of our subject(s) that arouses passionate interest and results in an article-length term paper developed slowly over the course of the semester. In other words, this course offers students the exciting (and measured, not frantic) experience of writing toward publication, just as their professors do. In addition to the term-paper, seminar-level participation is expected, as well as two days of leading class discussion (partnered by a classmate or two). No prior expertise in reading poetry is necessary for this course. (Note: if you have taken my University Seminar, The Death and Return of God in Radical Poetry, you may not take this course; it shares too many of the same materials.)

 

ENGL 40590 
Race, Law and Utopia in Atlantic America
Cyraina Johnson-Roullier
MW 2:00-3:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

In his 2012 work What Was African American Literature?, Kenneth Warren writes: "When racial identity can no longer be law, it must become either history or memory - that is, it must be either what some people once were but that we no longer are, or the way we were once upon a time, which still informs the way we are." Both understandings of the meaning of race and its relation to identity suggest a problematic disjuncture between the past and the present that, in focusing on an imagined understanding, refuses all attempts to locate it in material reality. Following Warren's argument, once detached from the law, race and its relationship to identity are caught in an infinite loop, no longer completely accessible in the real time of the present, continually wavering between two radically different poles of being. In the absence of the law, pitted against which it derives its interpretive power, race ceases, for Warren, to be useful both as a critical tool and, more importantly, as the foundation for the field of African American literature. Yet this problem also poses a number of crucial questions, particularly when viewing the significance of race through the lens of modernity - one that might not only ask us to reconsider our historical perceptions of race, but which interrogates our present understanding of the term while simultaneously pointing to its future possibilities. How can the conversation on race be continued without becoming trapped in what seems to be an ongoing critical circle, endlessly vacillating between an irreparable past and a tentative future? Is it possible to think race beyond the idea of race? What does race actually mean? What might a new conception of race actually look like? Would it help us to break through familiar stereotypes tired from overuse to a new vision of racial and democratic possibility? This course will take a step backward to investigate these questions and others as a part of what may be called the utopic impulse and its emphasis on the imagination in a number of 19th-century American authors whose work participates in a broad yet under-acknowledged vision of race and Atlantic modernity. Grounding our analysis in a number of 16th, 17th and 18th political philosophical texts and drawing on the theories of Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida and others, as well as insights from critical race theory, theories of law and literature, and utopian studies, our goal will be to gain a more nuanced understanding of our racialized past, through which we can better hope to reimagine its potential for our collective democratic future. Course texts are to be determined, but will most likely include some of the following, either in their entirety or in the form of relevant excerpts: Plato's Republic; Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince; Thomas More, Utopia; Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis; James Harrington, Oceana; Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; Robert Filmer, Patriarcha, Or The Natural Power of Kings; John Locke, Two Treatises of Government; Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract or The Discourse on Inequality; Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America; Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia; Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations; Frances Wright, Views of Society and Manners in America; Nathaniel Hawthorne, Blithedale Romance; Moncure Conway, Pine and Palm; Walt Whitman, Democratic Vistas; Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Iola Leroy; Pauline Hopkins, Contending Forces or Of One Blood; Sutton Griggs Imperium in Imperio; W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk.

 

ENGL 40609  
American Transcendentalism
Laura Walls
TR 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 40670  
Gender & Sexuality in American Drama
Susan Harris
TR 2:00-3:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

Ever since Nora Helmer walked out on her husband and slammed the door in Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play A Doll's House, modern drama has been closely connected with the struggles to redefine gender and sexuality that have shaped the twentieth and twenty-first century. In this course, we will look at how this story plays out on the American stage, as we examine the works of American playwrights who have participated in the many long-running debates about gender and sexuality in modern and contemporary America. We will read both canonical modern playwrights--Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Lorraine Hansberry, etc.?and a variety of contemporary playwrights, including but not necessarily limited to Tony Kushner, Larry Kramer, David Mamet, Sara Ruhl, Melissa George, and Susan Lori-Parks. Students will write at least two papers, keep a journal, and give at least one in-class presentation.

 

ENGL 40773
Caribbean Literature
Orlando Menes
T 3:30-6:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated
***This is a cross-listed course***

Caribbean Literature: From the Conquest to Post-Modernity is an undergraduate-level introduction to this regional literature, whether in English or in translation, and to the exciting ideas found in post-colonial theory. One important question that will be asked throughout the semester is whether these texts construct a single and unified Caribbean identity, despite the region's obvious linguistic, cultural, and racial heterogeneity. Writers whose texts we will be reading include Bartolomé de Las Casas, Shakespeare, Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, Jean Rhys, Alejo Carpentier, Claude McCay, Aimé Cesaire, and Derek Walcott.

 

ENGL 40840
The Black and Green Atlantic 
Chante Mouton Kinyon
MW 9:30-10:45

In the eighteenth century, parallels were drawn between the enslavement of African Americans and the marginalization of Irish Catholics in Ireland. Belfast newspaper the Northern Star published, William Cowper’s “The Negroe’s Complaint,” and Thomas Day and John Bicknell’s “The Dying Negro,” manufactured, propagandistic anti-slavery poems in an attempt to draw sympathy for enslaved African Americans and to also suggest that the Irish were metaphorically “slaves” in their own country. The practice of depicting the Irish and African Americans as equivalent or in comparison with each other continued throughout the nineteenth century, even after the end of the American Civil War. An illustration commenting on the travesty of the African American and Irish American vote was published in Harper’s Weekly December 1876. Captioned “The Ignorant Vote-Honors Are Easy,” by Thomas Nast, the cover is a good visual illustration in regards to how Irish Americans and African Americans were perceived in post-bellum America.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, competition for jobs and the steady Irish climb into whiteness distanced Irish Americans and African Americans, but that did not stop black American writers from  frequently making a case for Irish “freedom;” highlighting how the Irish struggle for civil rights in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland had been akin to the post-slavery African American quest for civil rights in the United States. And by the mid-twentieth century, African American forms and the African diaspora were influencing on how political activists in Northern Ireland approached the civil rights struggle there.

In this course we will explore African American and Irish texts. We will examine how black and Irish artists have gestured towards each other in literature, film, and music. Our goal is to concentrate on how these two cultures have intersected—their shared experiences—while also focusing on important differences between the two cultures. We will examine a broad range of texts, from the eighteenth century to the present, in order to determine the way in which the Irish and African Americans have been racialized. Our ultimate goal is to have a better grasp of the racialization processes in the transnational context.

 

ENGL 40850
Advanced Fiction Writing 
Joyelle McSweeney
MW 3:30-4:45 

In this course, students will generate, draft, and revise their own prose-projects-in-progress; lead workshops of their own drafts; and contribute generously to workshops of peer projects. To expand our sense of possibility, we’ll read works of modern and contemporary literature and contemplate some of the ‘stranger forms’ of prose writing; to expand our technical skills, we’ll try our hands at one or more of these stranger forms, such as  translation, adaptation, ghost story, haunted house, lyric essay, pataphysics, style-driven writing, craft essay, prose-poem sequence, etc. 

 

ENGL 40852
Advanced Fiction Writing II
Joyelle McSweeney
MW 3:30-4:45

This course is intended for students who have already taken an Advanced Fiction Writing and who are seriously interested in writing fiction. In this course, students will generate, draft, and revise their own prose-projects-in-progress; lead workshops of their own drafts; and contribute generously to workshops of peer projects. To expand our sense of possibility, we’ll read works of modern and contemporary literature and contemplate some of the ‘stranger forms’ of prose writing; to expand our technical skills, we’ll try our hands at one or more of these stranger forms, such as  translation, adaptation, ghost story, haunted house, lyric essay, pataphysics, style-driven writing, craft essay, prose-poem sequence, etc. 

 

ENGL 40855
Advanced Fiction Writing III
Joyelle McSweeney
MW 3:30-4:45

This course is intended for students who have already taken an Advanced Fiction Writing and who are seriously interested in writing fiction. In this course, students will generate, draft, and revise their own prose-projects-in-progress; lead workshops of their own drafts; and contribute generously to workshops of peer projects. To expand our sense of possibility, we’ll read works of modern and contemporary literature and contemplate some of the ‘stranger forms’ of prose writing; to expand our technical skills, we’ll try our hands at one or more of these stranger forms, such as  translation, adaptation, ghost story, haunted house, lyric essay, pataphysics, style-driven writing, craft essay, prose-poem sequence, etc. 

 

ENGL 40921  
Reading the Body Politic: Literature as Moral Thermometer
Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
TR 11:00-12:15
Sec 01 - Majors
Sec 02 - Unallocated

In this course we will examine the strange intimacy between experience and writing as it manifests in literature that engages notions of the body, language, community, memory and history. We will ask: How do experiences of violence, oppression, anxiety and indignity manifest in language? How do current and past humanitarian crises across the globe impact the production and study of literature? How does literature resist, update or corroborate the fantasy of the American Dream? What does it mean to be American? How do writers invent linguistic structures in order to document community histories and respond to personal, political, social, economic and moral crisis? Can literature be a resource for intersectional coalition building? In order to inhabit these questions, we will read texts that explore the outer limits of language. What the margins of language offers writers is the necessary distance from which to exert pressure on centralizing forms of speech, to expose subtle forms of censorship, and to record and respond to historical crises. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are—the very grammar of those narratives—shapes our perception of self and world. Manipulating grammar, targeting limiting or exclusionary forms of speech, can lead to a shift in consciousness both for the writer and the reader. That kind of rigor allows literature to have an impact on the social body. That kind of rigor allows us to probe what’s been kept off limits and obscured by secrecy or state-sanctioned violence. That kind of rigor allows us to think of literature as a practice of “beloved community.” We will read authors who navigate the subtle constraints placed on our speech in order to bring previously invisible forms of suffering into the realm of public discourse. Readings will include works by authors such as Alexander Chee, Ocean Vuong, Natalie Diaz, Solmaz Sharif, Roger Reeves, Claudia Rankine, Natasha Tretheway, Tommy Orange, Viet Than Nguyen, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kevin Young, Jericho Brown, June Jordan, Lucille Clifton, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Susan Abulhawa, Zeyn Joukhadar, Randa Jarrar, Naomi Shihab Nye, and theorists/thinkers James Baldwin, Edward Said, Judith Butler, Sara Ahmad, Jasbir K. Puar and Elaine Scarry.