Two Students Look At The Presentation Screen In An English Class

Every semester we offer an exciting and diverse set of courses, which provide our students with invaluable training in critical thinking, public speaking, and writing, while also expanding capacities for imaginative thinking, innovation, and leadership. 

The courses listed below are a recent sampling of what we offer in English in both literature and creative writing.

Please visit Class Search for our full range of courses, which include a large assortment of University Seminars, 20xxx-level courses in literature, and introductory (20xxx-level) creative writing classes – all designed to fulfill requirements in the Core Curriculum.  

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ENGL 20000 – Introduction to Creative Writing

This lively class introduces you to the writing of fiction, poetry and other genres. Students will study published works in various media, try their hands at writing in an array of forms and genres, share their work with others, and receive feedback that lets them improve their craft. By the end of the semester, you will have a facility with the forms, genres, and media of contemporary writing, a portfolio of work to build on in other courses or on your own.

ENGL 20001 – Introduction to Fiction Writing

This lively class introduces you to the writing of fiction. Students will study published works in various media, try their hands at writing in an array of forms and genres, share their work with others, and receive feedback that lets them improve their craft. By the end of the semester, you will have a facility with the forms, genres, and media of contemporary writing, a portfolio of work to build on in other courses or on your own.

ENGL 20008 –  Introduction to Creative Nonfiction

Writing creative nonfiction helps us tell meaningful stories about the world to one another. It allows us to respond to what we perceive and experience in the world, crafting our impressions into art. In this course, we will read and write in several genres of nonfiction, including personal essay, cultural criticism, literary journalism, object biography, and researched lyric essay. The class combines seminar-style discussion, frequent writing assignments, and regular opportunities to workshop one another's writing. Students can expect to read 50–125 pages a week and to write 20–30 pages of original work over the course of the semester, in addition to written responses to classmates' workshop submissions. Most of the writing assignments will require some reporting or research; there will also be one required revision. Readings may include works by Hanif Abdurraqib, Gloria Anzaldúa, James Baldwin, Eula Biss, Ashon Crawley, Joan Didion, Melissa Febos, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Kiese Laymon, Greil Marcus, Eileen Myles, Maggie Nelson, Jia Tolentino, Justin Torres, E.B. White, Ellen Willis, and Virginia Woolf.

ENGL 20192 – Narrative in Fiction and Film

What are stories? Where do they come from, how do they work, what do they do to us? This course will explore the hidden structures of all kinds of narratives, from nineteenth-century novels to Hollywood blockbusters. We will examine the ways in which our understanding of our own lives and their meaning is unconsciously shaped by certain narrative forms and assumptions.

ENGL 20215 – Introduction to Shakespeare

This course investigates five key Shakespeare plays — Richard III, Othello, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest — on the stage and the page. We will give detailed attention to core philosophical, theatrical, literary, and political questions in each play, and consider the contemporary global encounter with Shakespeare in multiple literary/linguistic traditions and media forms (film, graphic novel, digital media). No previous experience with Shakespeare is required. 

ENGL 20760 – Witnessing Climate Change

The Earth’s climate is changing faster than expected. Industrialization, fossil fuel use, consumption, and exploitation are radically transforming the planet we live on. In “Witnessing Climate Change,” we work to make sense of the science behind this planetary crisis and practice writing about it for the public. This is a large, writing-intensive, public-facing course that engages key contemporary issues and core ways of knowing from a values-oriented perspective, through large lectures and small group workshops. Readings include Jeff VanderMeer, Nukariik, Barry Lopez, Aldo Leopold, Wanda Coleman, J.M. Coetzee, and St. Francis, among others. Find out more at Please note: for this class students are required to sign up for a discussion section.

ENGL 30115 – American Literary Traditions I

"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

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.

ENGL 30859 –  Fiction Writing: Trauma, Disaster, Memory, and Resilience (For Our Times)

In her book, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story, Edwidge Danticat states that “we are all living dyingly.” The concept of death and/or dying is part of our collective and shared experience. It presents us with the larger possibilities on how to live, how to experience, how to persevere, and how to change. In this course we will examine the politics of trauma, disaster, and memory. We will read across genres in fiction, essays, and poetry in order to write work that contemplates memory as a locus for resilience. We will look at how writers are grappling with some of the more pressing issues of our time i.e., climate change, natural disaster, femicide, colonialism, war, among others. Students will write prose that looks to redress what it means to “live dyingly.” 

ENGL 40196 – Theories of Media and Technology

This course offers a multidisciplinary introduction to the vast variety of theoretical approaches used to understand media and technologies. From film, TV, and video games to computers, the internet, and social media, we will study different methods and concepts that help us understand our mediated condition(s) better. Moving historically and geographically, we will also encounter the many ways in which the term 'media' itself gets deployed and critiqued in scholarship. We will plug some of these (critical) theoretical understandings of media and culture into the longer histories of politics, philosophy, language, and literature. And finally, we will ask what studies of media and mediation can do for our comprehension of the politico-economic, sociocultural, racial, and environmental crises surrounding us today.

ENGL 40197 – Latinx Literature Now        

In this course we will read novels and books of poetry published within the last two years. We'll engage with historical, contemporary, and speculative definitions of latinidad, taking up the ideas and provocations offered by the texts we'll read over the semester. In particular, we will focus on how latinidad works as both a conceptual category as well as an on-the-ground practice of living in community, an identity marker as well as a way of imagining the world. We will also think about how latinidad is inclusive as well as exclusive. We’ll use the texts we read together to consider how race, ethnicity, migration, gender, sexuality, politics, and religion inform historical, present, and future meanings of latinidad. 

ENGL 40209 – Chaucer

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. 

ENGL 40365 – Romantic & Victorian Disability

This course investigates the cultural meanings attached to extraordinary bodies and minds. Cultural and literary scholarship has extensively explored issues connected with identities derived from race, gender, and sexuality. Only recently have concepts of bodily identity, impairment, stigma, monstrosity, marginalization, deformity, deviance, and difference begun to cohere around disability as a concept. Discussions of these issues are now part of a discipline called Disability Studies. We will cover topics such as communication, inclusion, passing, medical attitudes, social stigma, normalcy, life narratives, bodily representation, mental impairment, the politics of charity, community and collective culture, the built environment, and empowerment.

ENGL 40529 – Gender and Irish Drama

In this course, we will examine the relationship between national and sexual politics through our study of gender and twentieth-century Irish drama. Beginning with the first controversies surrounding the representation of women on the Irish stage at the beginning of the twentieth century, we will study representations of gender and sexuality in the major canonical figures of the Irish renaissance — W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, Sean O'Casey — while investigating lesser-known female and queer Irish playwrights from that time such as Lady Augusta Gregory, Lennox Robinson, and Teresa Deevy. We will also look at how the treatment of gender and sexuality changes in the work of postwar and contemporary Irish playwrights.

ENGL 40850 –  Advanced Fiction Writing

Advanced Fiction Writing is an advanced workshop for students with a serious commitment to writing fiction. This course will look to examine contemporary conversations regarding race, diaspora, trauma, and ecological disaster, for us to - as Chris Abani notes - redress the art of an existential wound. We will read a range of contemporary authors, either story collections or novels. Discussions will also include contemporary publishing practices, placing work in literary journals, and pursuing writing beyond undergraduate study i.e., graduate programs. By reading as practitioners of the art of fiction, students will engage in productive critiques via antiracist workshop practices and lead class discussion framing. The emphasis will be the individualized reading of student work with the goal to refine their authorial “voice.”

ENGL 40873 – James Baldwin: From the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter

The 2016 film I Am Not Your Negro encourages a new generation to explore the life and work of James Baldwin (1924–1987). Directed by Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck, I Am Not Your Negro is a provocative documentary that envisions a book Baldwin never finished by providing insight into Baldwin’s relationship with three men who were assassinated before their 40th birthdays — Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In this course, we will interrogate questions of race, sexuality, violence, and migration. Our current political moment encourages the examination of these issues while Baldwin’s life and work provide the ideal vantage point for their investigation. Using I Am Not Your Negro as our starting point, Baldwin’s life and work will allow us the opportunity to explore transatlantic discourses on nationality, sexuality, race, gender, and religion. We will also explore the work of other writers including Richard Wright, Frantz Fanon, Audre Lorde, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.