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 11:00-12:15
Section 02 – MW 2:00-3:15
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 20174 / ESS 33624 – Crosslist
Shakespeare and Tolkien: Literature in the Classroom
Central to this course is the study of Shakespeare and Tolkien, both of whom, while separated by over 300 years, nevertheless, stay in the mind? We will examine in-depth Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, and Lord of the Rings, aiming to hone your ability to read closely and carefully and to write strong literary analyses. We will also examine these works in the context of contemporary education (where, for example, students complain about reading in part because they lack the skills and patience to read long or difficult texts), aiming to address questions about the purpose of literature and issues of literacy in our schools today.
ENGL 20176 / IRLL 30101 – Crosslist
A Divine Vernacular: Old Irish
A Divine Vernacular: Old Irish Language and Literary Culture Early Irish sources record that at the Tower of Babel, when faced with the disordered confusion of languages Fénius Farsaid and Goídel Glas deployed a team of scholars to take “what was best of every language and what was wisest and finest”; from these choice linguistic elements they made the Irish language, Goídelc, ‘Gaelic’ or (Mod. Irish) ‘Gaeilge.’ These origin myths tell us that Irish was created to restore and preserve God’s language and heavenly speech, and that eventually it was brought from the Holy Land to Ireland, where Irish linguistic and literary culture flourished. Old Irish was at a very early period used extensively as a language of learning and literature: Irish is Europe’s oldest vernacular, or native, literary culture, and Old Irish texts are some of the most diverse and intriguing of the Middle Ages, as we will explore in this course. When the Irish began to create literature in their native language, what ideas, stories and aspects of their culture were they most interested in exploring? Operating in a culture with a vibrant oral, story-telling bardic culture, how did the Irish use their native language to preserve and develop these spoken traditions in writing?
In this course participants will divide their time between 1) learning the fundamentals of the Old Irish language (no previous experience necessary!) and 2) studying key texts which give us insight into medieval Irish thinking about the role and importance of language and literary culture. We will examine early heroic sagas, saints’ lives, myths about legendary poets and the act of literary creation, stories of pre-Christian women warriors and otherworldly prophets, monstrous human heroes and poems as diverse as those celebrating the natural world, praising God, recording fears about Viking raids and even pondering the difficulty of getting thoughts down on paper. All literary texts will be available in English translation, though as our Old Irish skills develop over the course of the semester, we will also increasingly engage with the texts in their original Old Irish forms.
No previous knowledge of Irish (modern or otherwise), or other medieval languages, is necessary for this course.
Course requirements will include completion of language exercises, translation of a text of the participant’s choosing (creative adaptations as well as linguistically precise translations are possible), a paper on any aspect of medieval Irish literary, linguistic or textual culture, and 1-2 exams.
Graduate students will be expected to undertake additional reading, writing and translation.
ENGL 20179 / IRLL 20116 – Crosslist
Modern Literature in Irish 1890-2008
This course offers an introduction to modern and contemporary Irish language literature. We will begin by tracing the influence of the Revival and cultural nationalism on the development of a modern literature in the Irish language. We will read key texts in the light of the national narrative, taking note of cultural change and contested identities in considering the specificities of a literature that can trace an unbroken line to what is often described as the oldest vernacular literature in Europe. Among the texts discussed will be work by Pearse, Ó Conaire, the Blasket autobiographies, Ó Cadhain, Ó Ríordáin, Ní Dhomhnaill, Mac Lochlainn among others. All texts will be read in translation. Relevant documentaries will also be used and shown in class to further illustrate and elucidate the work of particular authors.
The Anglo-Irish Big House Novel
The term “big house” refers to the country mansions that English settlers built in Ireland as a part of England’s colonization of Ireland. “Anglo-Irish” refers to these settlers and their descendants. In this course, students will read nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century works that examine the Anglo-Irish big house and discuss the tense relationship between the native Irish and the Anglo-Irish. Students will read works that lament the fall of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy such as Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent as well as the incredibly sardonic Good Behaviour by Molly Keane. We will also investigate Seamus Deane’s suggestion that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a big house novel and examine how Elizabeth Bowen uses the supernatural to describe her experiences as an Anglo-Irish woman in the mid-twentieth century. Students will analyze the tenuous position of the Anglo-Irish class that resulted from them being neither the colonizing English nor the colonized Irish and thus disowned by both. This course will give students a foundation in modern and contemporary Irish literature, history, and culture.
ENGL 20191 / LIT 20906 – Crosslist
Friendship and Literature: Classical and Early Christian Perspectives
In the ancient world, both pagans and Christians considered friendship an important type of human relationship. By means of literature, they sought to explore how one achieves perfect friendships in the midst of the suffering and trials of human existence. This course will examine texts from Classical Greece to Late Antiquity. In our analysis, we will consider the following questions: 1.) What are the forms of friendship for the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Christians? 2.) How does the literary genre (ex. Poetry, philosophical dialogue, and epistle) shape the author’s presentation of friendship? 3.) What are the theological, philosophical, political, and social factors that contribute to each other’s understanding of friendship? 4.) Why does one seek to form friendships, and never seek to be alone in one’s life? All readings are in translation.
ENGL 20436/IRLL 20115-Crosslist
Irish Literature and Culture I
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 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 thinking about the identities of those who have more recently translated and edited the versions of the texts we will read, by questioning the different topics that scholars have chosen to explore, and by articulating our own responses to often arresting works from the Irish literary tradition, we will begin to understand the complexities and rich possibilities inherent in experiencing these literary masterpieces in a time and place very different from medieval or early modern Ireland. Participants will read both primary literary texts, which may include but are not limited to The Táin, stories from Early Irish Myths and Sagas, poems from An Duanaire: Poems of the Dispossessed, Merriman’s Midnight Court, as well as a number of critical essays. Participants will be required to write several short response papers, to compose discussion questions to help direct class conversations, and to write 2 papers (4-5 pp. and 6-7 pp.)
Tragedy: Ancient and Modern
This course will examine one of the oldest literary forms in Western culture, tragedy, comparing some of its earliest iterations in Greek and then Shakespearean drama with modern ideas of the “tragic” in contemporary drama, prose fiction, and philosophy. We will use tragedy as a test case for understanding how literary genres form, develop, and adapt over time to shifting political and social conditions. But tragedy also has always been more than a literary form. As its frequent appearance in newspaper headlines attest, “tragedy” implies a particular view of life. Our foray into tragic literature will probe how philosophers have grappled with the vexing questions this view of life raises: What does tragedy say about human freedom? Can tragedy exist in a progressive, technocratic society? And why, exactly, do we even find tragedies enjoyable?
Our discussions and assignments will apply the techniques of literary analysis to help us understand these texts in light of historical context, intellectual ideas, literary form, and aesthetics. The overarching goal of this course is to help us all, as a class: to learn how to read and engage with unfamiliar literary works; to think critically about their ideas, methods, and style; and- -most importantly- -to better appreciate literature and the pleasures it offers.
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex and Antigone; Shakespeare, Othello and Macbeth; Kirosawa, Throne of Blood (film); Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy (selections); Melville, Billy Budd and “Bartleby the Scriviner,”Ibsen, A Doll’s House; Miller, Death of a Salesman; Beckett, Waiting for Godot; Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao House.
ENGL 20720 / ILS 20303 – Crosslist
Lationa/o Poetry Now
This course offers an opportunity to read, discuss, and write about a generous sampling of contemporary American poetry by Latino/as, utilizing as its principal textbook an award-winning anthology: The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry. We will supplement the anthology with two full-length books, whose authors will be visiting our class during the semester, as well as a supplementary reader, some online video interviews with a number of the poets. We will focus mainly on a younger generation of writers, examining some of the themes and traits that characterize this poetry, but we'll also encounter poems that challenge and undermine what one might expect when one hears the term, "Latino poetry."
ENGL 20723 / ILS 20302 – Crosslist
Latinos, Leadership & Literature
Recently a media news outlet raised the questions: “Who are the Latino leaders of today? Do Latinos need leaders?” Such questions are raised, of course, in the context of a continuing social marginalization of Latino communities in the United States. This class turns primarily to literary sources of varying genres to explore the issue of Latino leadership asking these same questions but others as well. What might be the characteristics of a successful Latino leadership? What constitutes failure? Are writers “cultural leaders?” Are Latinas the leadership of the future? What kind of an education best produces leadership for Latinos? Is there a special role for Notre Dame in such an endeavor? Among others we will read Franz Fanon, Ernesto Galarza, Américo Paredes, John Phillip Santos, Richard Rodriguez, Mario T. García and Esmeralda Santiago as well as having guest speakers on this question.
The Frankstein Myth
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus contributed to our pop-cultural memory one of the most harrowing and ubiquitous monsters of all time, leading to hundreds of adaptations, parodies, and homages from places as glamorous as Hollywood and as conventional as a Halloween costume. Why has this particular monster-myth endured? What makes the monster Frankenstein unique? And what can we learn about literature, its conventions, and its analysis in focusing on this figure? Our course explores these questions by tracing the Frankenstein myth across Greek tragedy, poetry, the novel, and film. The course begins by defining what features and functions the monster serves in literature and culture. We turn next to analyze representations of the Prometheus and Frankenstein myths in literature. The course ends by considering the significance of filmic adaptations of Frankenstein for our own time. Readings include Hesoid’s Theogony, Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, and various filmic adaptations such as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Students will complete three 2-page response papers, two 5-7 page papers, and a final exam.
The Young Adult Novel
Since the emergence of the young adult novel in the 1950s, there has been intense debate over how to approach and classify this category of fiction. While many readers label this genre as children’s literature due to its moralizing themes and relatively “unsophisticated” style, others deem this classification to be unsuitable due to the genre’s treatment of mature subjects such as gender, violence, and death. This tension is further amplified by some readers’ reluctance to approach these texts as serious literature due to their heavy reliance on the market and their “juvenile” target audience. Through an exploration of young adult novels from the 1950s to the present, and through an examination of what constitutes “literariness,” we will attempt to establish the extent to which these novels can be approached as full-fledged Literature. Can a genre of fiction driven primarily by marketing concerns and didacticism be capable of literary innovation? How can discussions of the young adult novel contribute to our understanding of the divide between low and high culture in other genres of fiction? After a brief exploration of these issues of literariness, we will use current techniques of literary analysis—including but not limited to close-reading, reader-response criticism, and the application of post-structuralist theories—to understand how young adult novels reinforce, challenge, or refute common cultural perceptions and ideologies. Particular attention will be given to the questions of gender, sexuality, and the body that are regularly raised by young adult novels. In order to facilitate an exploration of these questions, we will analyze texts by prominent young adult authors such as J.D. Salinger, Suzanne Collins, Stephen Chbosky, and Lois Lowry, among others.
Can literature and film help us understand issues of immediate significance, like climate change and species extinction? Can it help us to think about how to serve the needs of the present without compromising future generations? In this course we will explore how apocalyptic narrative compels heightened critical engagement with climate change, grounding our discussions in 21st-century texts such as novels by Margaret Atwood, Romesh Gunesekera, Cormac McCarthy, Barbara Kingsolver, and Manil Suri, and films such as Children of Men, The Road, and Beasts of the Southern Wild.
American Women Write the (Post) Colonial
In this course, we will explore the diverse expressions of the (post)colonial experience from a myriad of voices that constitute African women’s writing. Traversing various landscapes through African women’s writing will allow to us entry into their significant, yet often overlooked, perspectives on history, power, identity, and agency. We will focus primarily on the novel and short fiction as the genres of focus, along with one book of poems and one film. Undoubtedly, questions regarding the (post)colonial, gender/the body, race, nation, class, modernity, space, exile, violence, resistance, war, and language will arise. Informed by various theories, we will attempt to define and grapple with these terms. Specifically we will deconstruct the postcolonial as a gendered experience, study various postulations on “third world” and African feminisms, learn to recognize significant themes that appear inter-textually, offer our own analysis of the profound work we have collectively examined, and enjoy the company/challenge of our own diverse standpoints. Writers whose work we will study may include: Ama Ata Aidoo, Buchi Emecheta, Mariama Ba, Yvonne Vera, Bessie Head, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Leila Aboulela, Sindiwe Magona, and others.
Poetry as a way of knowing
In this course we will study the development of 20th-century American poetry through its many phases including avant-garde, Objectivist, confessional, Beat, and Projectivist poetries. While exploring the range of poetic schools and styles, we will also focus our readings on a question that plagues several of these poets: what ways of knowing are made possible by poetry? what does poetry know that other forms of writing do not? And how do different ways of writing poetry correspond to different ways of knowing? To answer these questions, we will read essays by poets who explicitly discuss these questions. In addition, we will develop close reading skills with which to analyze particular poetic styles. By the end of the course, students will combine close analysis of the “poetics” exemplified by a particular poem with a broader understanding of the corresponding form of knowledge. For instance, we will examine how the line breaks in T.S. Eliot’s late poems are determined primarily by fixed meter, which in turn suggests his tendency to privilege the mind and spirit over the bodily senses. Other poets particularly interested in these questions include Ezra Pound, H.D., Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Carl Rakosi, Robert Creeley and Denise Levertov. In addition to analyzing the formal and thematic characteristics in each poet’s work, we will read selections from philosophers who have proposed different theories for how poetry gives us knowledge, or for what values are implicit in various forms of knowing. Some of these thinkers include Martin Buber (for whom dialogue is a primary form of knowledge), Martha Nussbaum (who explores love as a form of knowledge), and Wendell Berry (who seeks embodied knowledge).
Shakespeare, Religion & Politics
In the modern world, we tend to think of religion and politics as separate spheres. Recent movements, however—from the Arab spring to the increasing influence of religious figures on American politics—might caution us otherwise. The “Great Separation” of religion and politics is often traced to various processes of secularization in the Renaissance, of which Shakespearean drama is said to be a catalyst. Shakespeare, we are told, discovered “the human” free from dogma and superstition. But the Renaissance was also a period of enormous religious fervor, speculation, and contention. In this class, we will explore how Renaissance dramatists, alongside theologians and philosophers, conceived of the relation between drama and the religious / political imagination, and how their work might speak to our contemporary moment. In particular, we will consider how creative art might function alongside or parallel to religion, as a seed-bed of the political imaginary, and how that might force us to reconsider the relation between church and state today. Readings will be drawn primarily from Shakespeare—including Hamlet, Richard II, and The Winter’s Tale—but we will also examine plays by Marlowe, as well as the writings of figures like Augustine, Plato, Calvin, Machiavelli, and Hobbes.
Hebrew Bible: Exodus 20:2-17, Exodus 31-34 (Golden Calf and Ten Commandments); 1 Samuel 8 (Kingship as Idolatry); 2 Kings 5 (Naaman the Syrian)
New Testament: John 1:1-5; 3:14-5 (the brazen serpent) 1 Corinthians 10
Plato, Republic, 491a-521a.
Augustine, The City of God, 6.1-8.
Calvin, Institutes, 1.11-2; 2.1-2
Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
Shakespeare, Richard II
Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy 1.Preface-1.2, 1.7, 1.9-1.16, 3.1, 3.3, 3.30, 3.49
Montaigne, “On Custom”
Marlowe, The Jew of Malta
Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Hobbes, Leviathan, chp. 1-5; 12-4; 16-8; 37, 45
Shakespeare, Winter’s Tale