FABLES AND FAIRY TALES: FICTION TEASING THE TRUTH
This course will explore the significance and uses of both fable and fairy tale, taking a global perspective. The shortest of short stories, fables tend to tell us bad news with comic conciseness. We will begin with the stories of Aesop, including the fabulous history of their supposed author. Fables relate human and animal, tying us to the reality of physical body and the world where we eat and get eaten. Fairy tales seem more concerned with emotion and aspiration for positive change, although “a fairy tale ending” is not always happy. Starting with the ancient Egyptian “Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor” and its encounter with a monster, we move to Aristophanes’ comedy The Birds After a couple of Ovid’s Metamorphoses we move to some of Pu Singling’s Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. Fairies come to us from ancient Persia; fresh enchantments arrive in Europe with the Arabian Nights. Perrault’s versions of “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty “established certain archetypal fairy tales in Western Europe; the versions of the brothers Grimm offer less elegant interpretations. Mother Goose and Scheherazade are fictional female sources of stories, but actual female authors emerge in print as named writers in the 1690s, taking the fairy tale’s examination of sex, gender and power in new directions. Fables and Fairy tales both offer a fresh look at morality. These narratives are strong, quick in transition, apt to surprise. They seem the essence of fiction itself. Modern examples include—but are not restricted to-- children’s stories like Beatrix Potter’s tales. Fable and Fairy tale may be skillfully blended within longer fictions, such as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, or Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Irrepressible, fable and fairy tale seem like the essence of fiction itself. Films are important carriers of these forms; students will choose the films that we show in the second half of the semester. .
Literature and Citizenship
What does it mean to be a citizen? Both a legal status and a way of being in a community, citizenship folds together central aspects of political identity and touches on some of our most urgent concerns today. We will begin the semester with George Saunders’s amazing new novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for fiction. We will then consider the philosophical, symbolic, existential, and narrative aspects of citizenship in classic works including Pericles’ funeral oration, a speech by Cicero, and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Works from America’s founding era, including the Declaration of Independence, Federalist 1 and 10, and Judith Sargent Murray’s “On the Equality of the Sexes,” followed by a cluster on the early republic, including writings by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman, and Abraham Lincoln, will round out our readings. At the end of the course we will briefly return to Lincoln in the Bardo, seeing it again through the light of class readings and discussions. There will be around 25 pages of writing for the course, with opportunities for revision.
Shakespeare’s Major Tragedies 2005
This seminar will examine the four tragedies upon which Shakespeare’s reputation most securely rests: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Our objectives will be to acquire an in-depth knowledge of Shakespeare’s four major tragedies; to become familiar with early modern English and develop an appreciation of the importance of linguistic history; to examine tragedy as a dramatic genre, as an experience, and as a cultural preoccupation; and to learn about Shakespeare’s age and his linguistic and cultural legacy. Along with our modern editions of Shakespeare, we will read Christopher Haigh’s Elizabeth I and a number of recent scholarly essays.
Master Writers from Latin America
This university seminar in English is designed to give first-year students an introduction to: (1) university writing, and (2) the reading, analysis, appreciation, and discussion of literary texts. The topic for this course is Master Writers from Latin America: Gabriel García Márquez, Rosario Ferré, Carlos Fuentes, Isabel Allende, Pablo Neruda, and Alfonsina Storni. These four fiction writers and two poets are some of the most celebrated and distinguished of the region; in fact, among these world-class authors are the Nobel laureates Gabriel García Márquez and Pablo Neruda, as well as one winner, Carlos Fuentes, of Spain’s Cervantes Prize, the equivalent of the Nobel in the Hispanic world. Apart from stressing cultural and literary appreciation, this course will also teach students the concepts and terminology required for any productive discussion of literature. So as to stimulate the students’ engagement with the texts, class discussions will cover a range of universal and humanistic themes. Course Requirements include response papers, four medium-length essays, group presentations, and reports on campus literary/cultural events.
In this course we will examine a range of novels which might loosely be understood as “spy fiction,” yet each of them has a very different understanding of what it means to spy. We will ask what these novels can tell us about the relationship between literature and history, and what they reveal about ways of looking and narrative point of view. We will be reading novels by (among others): G.K. Chesterton, Ian Fleming, Patricia Highsmith, John Le Carré, and George Orwell. This course will be discussion based and will require regular written assignments designed to hone critical reading skills.
The Extraordinary Americas: “Magic” and Reality in 20th and 21st-Century Latina/o and Latin-American Literature
What is the difference between reality and magic or reality and legend? What if magic were conceived of as an accepted part of reality? This course allows students to question the origins of essential myths through some of the most legendary accounts of the supernatural in 20th- and 21st-century literature of the Americas. Specifically, we will be focusing on work from such renowned voices as Junot Díaz, Sandra Cisneros, Rudolfo Anaya, Achy Obejas, Gabriel García Márquez and Alejo Carpentier. Students will engage in discussion and critical thinking on what constitutes the fantastic, the magical, the uncanny, the marvelous real, or the spiritual from colonial times to neoliberalism to a distant science-fictional future. Course requirements may include response papers, presentations, a short essay, and a longer final essay.
On the Move: Migration in American Literature
In this class, we will examine the importance of migration in twentieth century U.S. Literature. We will consider how migration has been integral in telling or representing the American experience, particularly by investigating how movement has been used by authors to shape texts, ideas, and characters. In asking ourselves how the ideas of flux and movement impact both the content and the structure of a novel, we will reflect on how migration alters political ideas, ideals, and trends. Finally, we will explore the many ways that migration shapes or constructs our conceptions of homeland and region.
The Art of the Short Story in the U.S.
Our course will celebrate the history and impact of the American short story throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. We’ll pay particular attention to major literary movements from modernism to post-postmodernism, and to the connections between a story’s form and its content. We'll be keeping an eye on writers’ innovations and experiments as we explore the subjects they take on: power, poverty, immigration, labor, race, identity, and alienation.
We'll also think about the ways short stories resemble (and differ from) other literary forms, and even other art forms. We'll look at visual art to think about how critics have defined periods such as modernism and postmodernism, and how much those terms overlap in the fields of visual and literary arts. If schedules permits, we'll meet visual artists in residence at the Segura Arts Center and visit the Snite Museum. You'll also attend several readings by fiction writers and poets to think about the performance of literature as yet another art form.
We’ll read, discuss, and write about forty-five stories over the course of the semester. Perhaps most important, we’ll take pleasure—enormous pleasure, I hope––in a surprising, challenging, and satisfying literary art
What Is Nature Now?
Nature’s meaning has never been more important than now, during what one environmental thinker describes as the “most crucial decades in the history of the human species on earth.” This seminar will put our environmental moment in a larger context by exploring versions and visions of the natural world embodied in works of literature from the 20th and 21st centuries. Through study and discussion of poems, novels, and environmental non-fiction, we will consider the role of nature (or “Nature”) in its rich range of imaginative meanings, from Edenic escape to ecological responsibility, from nature poetry to “climate fiction” by novelists Margaret Atwood, T.C. Boyle, and Paolo Baciagalupi. Seminars proceed through collaborative conversation, so participation will be important. Students will be responsible for introducing our class discussion once or twice during the term, writing several short papers, and completing midterm and final examinations.
"Books as Data"
Contemporary literary criticism has a problem. We long ago gave up the idea that our task was to appreciate and explain a handful of great texts. We replaced that goal with a much more important and ambitious one: to understand cultural production as a whole by way of its (many) books. Even the ones that aren't so great. But how do we do that, when it takes days or years to come to grips with even one novel?
This is a course in the analysis of thousands or millions of books by way of computational methods. We will, in other words, treat books as data to be mined. But it doesn't assume any specific background in programming or computer science. Instead, we'll learn a handful of analytical techniques and read the best existing work in fields including literary history, media studies, information science, and sociology to help us understand what's possible when we apply computation to digital texts. The course thus serves as an introduction to computational methods in the humanities and prepares students to begin carrying out literary data analysis on their own.
This course counts toward the interdisciplinary minor in Computing and Digital Technologies. No prerequisites.
Point-of-View in the Novel
Section 01: MW 2:00-3:15
Section 02: MW 5:05-6:20
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.
William Shakespeare composed his plays over 400 years ago, and yet they continue to be performed, revised, adapted for contemporary audiences, sometimes far removed from their original shape. But when we transform a centuries-old piece of literature into a contemporary stage play, movie, high school curriculum, or comic book, what are the stakes? What do we gain—or lose—in the process of adaptation? This course will explore issues of form, content, and audience when adapting Shakespeare’s plays. We’ll read four plays—Hamlet, Macbeth, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest—and analyze a variety of adaptations ranging from live productions, YA fiction, and graphic novels to investigate how each of these texts responds to the original plays while also becoming literary creations in their own right. We will apply our growing knowledge by creating our own adaptations to share with one another.
Frankenstein in Contexts: Politics, Literature, Film, and Science
As part of a campus-wide bicentennial, this new course explores the impact of politics, literature, film, and science on the making of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and the novel’s impact on politics, literature, film, and science since its publication. While the novel remains at the center of the course throughout the semester, the course will consistently situate it in dynamic relation with the following relevant works: political theory by such writers as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Wollstonecraft and Godwin; literary texts by such authors as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, and Percy Shelley; scientific writings by such figures from Shelley’s time as Erasmus Darwin and Humphry Davy and more recent work in the history of science and bioethics; film and theatrical adaptations of the novel from the nineteenth century to the present. Students will assimilate this demanding amount of material through the division of the course into four broad categories of analysis: Political Theory and the French Revolution; Gender and Family; Race, Refugees, and Human Rights; History of Science and Bioethics.
Each category will include readings, lectures, and discussion across the disciplinary frameworks (literature, film, politics, and science) established as modes of inquiry for this course. Students are also required to attend a film lab that will feature a significant number of films inspired by Frankenstein.
Writing assignments will consist of three 5-page papers, linked to the course’s main categories of analysis, and students will be required to utilize the interpretive tools of at least two of the course’s disciplinary frameworks for each paper. A final examination will enable students to integrate their considerable range of knowledge acquisition with their interdisciplinary thinking skills in understanding both the making and the impact of the Frankenstein story.
Human Rights and Its Discontents: Literature and Identity Politics
There are few notions more central to Western democracy than that of universal and inalienable human rights. As we see from the Declaration of Independence (1776), the first French Republic's Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789), and the much more recent Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafted by the United Nations in 1948, Western political thinkers have done a lot of "declaring" when it comes to this subject. But the idea that all humans have the same fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness often falls short, and the notion of "identity politics" - political positions based on group identities such as race, gender, and class - seeks to redress the shortcomings of liberal democratic governments.This course will examine how universal human rights and the identity-based claims about their incomplete application are mediated by texts. As mentioned above, the idea of universal human rights is a textual one, based in a series of "declarations" that are meant to have transformative power over nations and, in the case of the UN's declaration, the world at large. Beginning with these documents, this course will move on to explore how calls for better treatment of groups such as women, African Americans, immigrants, and LGBT citizens have taken different forms in nonfiction, life-writing, fiction, poetry, and finally social media. We will examine each genre for the persuasive powers it uniquely possesses due to its structural qualities, asking how texts take different shapes in order to better advocate for the basic rights and dignities of all human beings.
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.
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 New York
This course addresses a selection of the novels that have explored New York City as a central subject.
Uneasy Environments: Australasia and the American South
Occasionally, when we read a novel, poem, or short story, or watch a film or play, we are struck by the way that both natural and urban environments can suddenly seem to become a character of their own: they sneer, gnarl, and haunt, hanging over characters like a threat, unsettling them (and us). This course will explore twentieth century literature and film from the American south, Australia and New Zealand, which depict environments in such a way as to generate these uneasy feelings. Taking up classic texts, such as William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, and the 1951 film adaptation of Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as lesser known texts from Australasia such as Patrick White’s play The Season at Sarsaparilla and Jane Campion’s film The Piano, this course will explore the multiple ways that literary and dramatic representations of eerie, harsh, and macabre spaces help us to interrogate the more sinister aspects of life at the edges of society. Requirements: regular participation, short reading responses, a midterm exam, and a final essay.
American Literature, Sound, and Popular Music, 1860-1945
American life changed dramatically between the mid–19th century and the end of World War II: Millions of people moved to large cities, automobiles and streetcars replaced horse-drawn buggies, and new forms of mass media brought a vast world within reach. How did these changes show up in American literature and popular music? In this class, we will read key works of American prose (as well as some poetry) from the period’s principal literary movements, including realism, naturalism, modernism, and multimedia documentary. This period also saw a revolution in sound reproduction, with the advent of the phonograph and radio, so we will listen to musical works—Broadway tunes and blues songs, spirituals and symphonies—treating these both as primary sources and as theoretical texts to aid our analysis of literary works. We’ll pay particular attention to how segregation and other racial politics, changing roles for women, and the mass production of commodities influenced the art of this period. Our texts will include writing by Stephen Crane, W.E.B. Du Bois, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Harriet Jacobs, and Edith Wharton, as well as music by George M. Cohan, George Gershwin, Scott Joplin, Paul Robeson, and Bessie Smith. Course requirements will include two essays, presentations, and active participation in online and in-class discussions.
Intro to Literary Studies
Section 02 – Betz (MW 11:00-12:15)
Section 03 – Johnson-Roullier (MW 2:00-3:15)
Section 04 – Quesada (TR 2:00-3:15)
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.
British Literary Traditions I
This course is an intensive survey of literary history in England from the seventh to the seventeenth centuries. Early British literature is anything but dull. Dragon fights, scatological humor, scheming devils, cross-dressing, seduction poetry: it's all here.
You'll learn about major periods and authors during this long history, about changes in the English language, the development of genres, and key questions with which writers struggled. You will also develop your abilities to read, interpret, and think with poetry. To accomplish these goals, you must make three commitments: to read carefully with an openness to the power and pleasure of early literature, to express freely your thoughts about what you read, and to write (and rewrite) with passion and precision. Course requirements include short weekly writing assignments, two formal essays, a final exam, and regular, enthusiastic preparation.
American Literary Traditions I
This course is designed to introduce students to the critical study and aesthetic enjoyment of American literature up to 1865. We will examine a range of works from initial European contacts through the American Renaissance writings of Douglass, Emerson, Thoreau, 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, rhetorical styles, and narrative and poetic forms. In addition to the readings, the class requirements include regular attendance and active class participation; quizzes and short exercises; two essays; a midterm exam and a final exam.