Courses

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 see 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.

ENGL 20192 – Narrative in Fiction and Film

What are stories? Where do they come from, how do they work, and 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. This course fulfills the Catholicism and the Disciplines core curriculum requirement.

ENGL 30115 – American Literary Traditions I

What can American literature before the 20th century teach us about the nation and the world? In this class we will explore American literature from the founding of the nation to the eve of the Civil War. How did early American literature teach us to pay attention and think critically? What are the stakes of “mis-reading” for the average citizen? To answer these questions, we will move from text (close reading) to context (broader geopolitical history) and in so doing uncover the relationship between the private crises of reading and the public crises of nationhood that has been so crucial to American literature since its inception. The writers and works we will study include: Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Jacobs, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville.

ENGL 30851 – Poetry Writing

In this class, we are going to write poetry, think about poetry, and talk about poetry from a number of different perspectives. We're going to read modern, contemporary, and not-so-contemporary poetry, as well as works that move across genres (prose poetry, poetic films), media (print, photography, the Internet, the desert of the real), and languages and cultures. We will consider what poetry means in this spectacular age, but we will also explore more pragmatic concerns: where does one find out about poets? Where does one publish poems? Where does one discuss new poetry? In addition to weekly writing exercises, we will engage in three longer projects allowing the students to develop and work on their own particular lines of aesthetic inquiry.

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 30008 – Non-Fiction Writing: Style and Fact

The quality that separates creative nonfiction from workaday prose is style. The quality that separates nonfiction from fiction is fact. In this course, we dive right into the complicated relationship between style and fact through Gonzo journalism, made-up memoir, ambiguous essays, and second-hand dream gossip, rigorously attending to well-wrought examples while also practicing our own exercises in style. Texts will include work by John D’Agata, Walter Benjamin, Vladimir Nabokov, Susan Sontag, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Beyoncé, Omer Fast, Samuel Delaney, and others.

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 in the last five years. We'll engage with historical, contemporary, and speculative definitions of latinidad, taking up the ideas and provocations offered by the books 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, and how latinidad can be inclusive as well as exclusive. With that in mind, 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. This semester, we’ll read texts by John Murillo, Juli Delgado Loprea, Roy G. Gumán, Oliver Baez Bendorf, Jamie Figueroa, Julia Alvarez, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, Xavier Aquino Navarro, and Darrel Alejandro Holnes.

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 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.

ENGL 20000-01-03 – Introduction to Creative Writing

This course will introduce you to the practice of writing creatively through an exploration of poetry, fiction, and theatre with an emphasis on hybrid or cross-genre works. If language is the material of writing -  and myth its history - we will read with an attention to how this material is utilized, sculpted, or broken. By engaging with a range of perspectives, aesthetics and media across cultures and languages, Intro to Creative Writing will assist you in discovering your aesthetic inclinations as you build a writing practice that is rooted in a global approach to reading, investigation and play. You will practice the art of accumulation and receptivity by writing in-class, to each other, and on your own. You will learn to workshop each other’s writing in the spirit of collaboration and support. By the end of this course, you will emerge with a short portfolio of revised work. Writers to be read may include Ovid, Vi Khi Nao, Jena Osman, Yi Sang, Amos Tutuola, Borges, Fred Moten, Yoko Tawada, Leslie Scalapino, Cecilia Vicuña, August Strindberg and Friederike Mayröcker, among others.

ENGL 20000-04-06 –  Introduction to Creative Writing

We live in a world of storytelling. Whether it’s ranting to a friend about our latest misadventures or trying to navigate the DMV we are essentially functioning by storytelling. How can we harness the language of the day to day to create evocative narratives? What transforms the mundane into stories that transform us? This course introduces students to multiple forms of creative writing, from poetry to creative nonfiction and screenwriting. The aim of this course is to give breadth to your understanding of what is defined as creative writing. We will focus less on what writing is, and more on the possibility of what it can be. By the end of the course students will have a revised portfolio of at least 3 pieces of writing.

 ENGL 20000-07-09 – Introduction to Creative Writing

In this introductory seminar, you will read fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction published within the last two decades, and you will cultivate a portfolio of original writing in more than one genre throughout the course of the semester. We will survey exciting literature from the United States and other parts of the world, with an emphasis on works that challenge accepted forms and styles. We will ask: What makes a story “good” or “bad”? What makes a poem “successful” or “unsuccessful”? What forces set these expectations and inform our tastes? And, more importantly perhaps: How do I come up with my own rules for good and bad, success and failure? How do I teach myself to write my own literature? To complement our spirited discussions, and achieve our ambitious goals, we will also talk about craft. We will examine the tools we have at our disposal as writers. You will develop your own definitions of craft elements - such as tone, plot, setting, rhythm, and syntax, etc. - and use them to revise your work, as well as critique your peers’, in meaningful ways. By the end of the course, you will acquire fundamental skills to become better writers and readers.

ENGL 20001-01-03 – Introduction to Fiction Writing

We will be reading contemporary short stories from the past decade including works by NoViolet Bulawayo, C Pam Zhang, Perceval Everett, as well as stories from the late 19th century and early-mid 20th including Anton Chekhov, Flannery O’Connor, Langston Hughes.

This creative writing course will be grounded in learning and practicing story craft anchored in the short story form. Classes will consist of close readings of short stories, lectures, in-class writing and sharing, and workshopping each other’s work. Students will learn to identify and explain how writers are using elements of craft (plot, character, setting, point of view, diction, etc.) to convey or confuse meaning. Students will practice employing these tools in their own works, as well as in workshopping others’ works. Students will leave class with a polished portfolio of two pieces with a short craft essay for each and a working journal full of exercises and notes on craft.

 ENGL 20001-04-06 – Introduction to Fiction Writing

This course aims to provide an introduction to fiction writing, focusing on how authors build plots and employ subtexts. We will read short stories and novels written by various writers, and analyze these works together, through which students will be able to develop their crafts. Students are expected to participate in and lead discussion, and provide feedback on peers’ works. Students will leave the course not only with an understanding of fiction writing, but also with self-portraits of themselves as writers who are aware of their own voices.

To give you a sense of what we will be reading over the course of the semester, selections will include: stories by Yi Sang, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Kate Chopin, Katherine Mansfield, Jhumpa Lahiri, and C Pam Zhang.

 ENGL 20002-04-06 – Introduction to Poetry Writing

This course will provide an introduction to writing and critiquing poetry, an exposure to and appreciation for a variety of poetic styles, and a means with which you can strengthen your relationship with language, making you a sharper reader of craft and poetic techniques.

As a citizen in our poetic community, you will become an eager reader of your peers' poems and you will use our workshops as a way of generously helping others hone their craft and improve their writing—which will then help you sharpen your own writing abilities.

Students will be expected to write, workshop, and revise their own poems during the course of the semester.

By combining texts that are both creative and critical, this course will help you cultivate your own thoughts about poetry, its function, its abilities, and assist in your discovery of  its place in our larger societal community and within your own life.

 ENGL 20008-01-03 –  Introduction to Creative Nonfiction

How does a writer transmute observation, research, and experience into an engaging narrative? This course will introduce the practice of creative nonfiction through reading, writing, and workshop. We will read work by Joan Didion, John McPhee, Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace, Guy Davenport, Maggie Nelson, Susan Sontag, Ta-Nahesi Coates, and one long-form piece that we will select together. We will write literary journalism, cultural criticism, personal essays, and memoir. There will be opportunities to explore more experimental forms such as the lyric essay and hybrid genres for those who wish. We will learn techniques for the compassionate critique of our writing and that of our peers while navigating the process of revision and editing to produce the best work of which we are capable.

 ENGL 30851 –  Poetry Writing

In this class, we are going to write poetry, think about poetry and talk about poetry from a number of different perspectives. We're going to read modern, contemporary and not-so-contemporary poetry, as well as works that move across genres (prose poetry, poetic films), media (print, photography, the Internet, the desert of the real), and languages and cultures. We will consider what poetry means in this spectacular age, but we will also explore more pragmatic concerns: where does one find out about poets? Where does one publish poems? Where does one discuss new poetry? In addition to weekly writing exercises, we will engage in three longer projects allowing the students to develop and work on their own particular lines of aesthetic inquiry.

ENGL 30853 – Fiction Writing

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.

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 40850 –  Advanced Fiction Writing

This is an intensive course in the writing and craft of short fiction. This class assumes that students already have a solid understanding of and practice in basic fiction writing, and that they are serious and active writers of fiction. This course will provide an opportunity for writers to refine their voice and experiment with different aesthetic strategies. Additionally this course will focus on various forms of fiction and narrative techniques and consider the formation of a literary community.

Our focus in this class will be on, primarily, the contemporary short story in creation, execution, revision and publishing.  Students will develop skills as active readers and writers while paying attention not only to craft and form, but also to thematic content amplified by them.  This is primarily a workshop class, but active reading produces good writing.

ENGL 40852 – Advanced Fiction Writing II

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

This is an intensive course in the writing and craft of short fiction. This class assumes that students already have a solid understanding of and practice in basic fiction writing, and that they are serious and active writers of fiction. This course will provide an opportunity for writers to refine their voice and experiment with different aesthetic strategies. Additionally this course will focus on various forms of fiction and narrative techniques and consider the formation of a literary community.

Our focus in this class will be on, primarily, the contemporary short story in creation, execution, revision and publishing.  Students will develop skills as active readers and writers while paying attention not only to craft and form, but also to thematic content amplified by them.  This is primarily a workshop class, but active reading produces good writing.

 ENGL 40855 – Advanced Fiction Writing III

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

This is an intensive course in the writing and craft of short fiction. This class assumes that students already have a solid understanding of and practice in basic fiction writing, and that they are serious and active writers of fiction. This course will provide an opportunity for writers to refine their voice and experiment with different aesthetic strategies. Additionally this course will focus on various forms of fiction and narrative techniques and consider the formation of a literary community.

Our focus in this class will be on, primarily, the contemporary short story in creation, execution, revision and publishing.  Students will develop skills as active readers and writers while paying attention not only to craft and form, but also to thematic content amplified by them.  This is primarily a workshop class, but active reading produces good writing.