Course Offerings

Course Offerings - Fall 2017


English 1000 Wallace
Dean’s Seminar: The Austen Phenomenon

Jane Austen has transcended the academic and literary world and become an icon of popular culture.  Her six completed novels exist in multiple editions and have spawned sequels, ‘mash-ups’ (eg Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), and hundreds of books and articles.  There are movies and television series based on the novels themselves and on works derived from the novels (Bridge Jones’s Diary, The Jane Austen Book Club).  Registration for annual meetings of the Jane Austen Society of North America sell out within hours.

What is the source of such popular appeal?  Does Austen’s small body of work provide answers to the extraordinary proliferation of imitations, merchandise, blogs?  In this course we will consider the Austen phenomenon by discussing the work of an author who described her own output as ‘the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory in which I work’ and the massive production around that output.



 English 1000.11 Schreiber 
Dean’s Seminar, “What’s New About New Plays?”: 

 This Dean’s seminar takes advantage of the theater offerings in Washington and asks the question:  What is new about new plays?  Are contemporary playwrights reworking classical themes or are their works entirely new entities?  What themes reappear and how are they presented?  The course also considers how classical plays are re-imagined for modern audiences.  For example, is a Shakespearean work staged in a different political or social milieu than the original production?  Why would directors make these types of artistic decisions?  What does it mean for plays to be culturally relevant?  How do new plays address race, class and gender issues? Students will consider who attends the theater and who will be in the audience in the future.  These questions form a large part of decisions about what plays are selected to be produced each year and the nature of those productions.  We will read at least three classical plays and three new plays as well as attend three plays.



English 1315 Dugan
Literature and the Financial Imagination

Is there a difference between art and economics, between writing well for its own reward and writing for monetary gain? And, if so, can you spot that difference in your own work and in others? In this course, we’ll begin to answer these questions by practicing our skill at observing great writing at its very highest level (deemed by many to be canonical works of literature) and we’ll then work towards transferring these observations to our own writing.  Along the way, we’ll explore different and often competing systems of value, including aesthetic, cultural, psychological, and monetary. Some authors, for instance, seem to argue that not everything that has value can be monetized. Some argue the reverse: everything has a price. Our goal will be to understand not only how these authors stylistically represent the relationship between art and economics but which ones we value the most and why.

Reading list includes: Poor Richard’s Almanac, Wolf of Wall Street, New Grub Street, The Interesting Narrative of Olauduh Equiano, The Hunger Games, Utopia, Brave New World, The Great Gatsby, and A Christmas Carol



English 1360:  Chu
Fantasy and Speculative Fiction:  
The Misfit's Journey.  How do modern writers adapt the conventions of fantasy narration and the bildungsroman--the novel of education--to address questions of identity, class, species, social dissent, and desire?  What common elements of the hero's journey are cited and subverted?  What happens when monsters speak and memory is lost?  Our course explores the connections between fantasy genres in the English literary canon (fairy tales, myths, medieval romance, and the gothic novel), coming of age themes in young adult fantasy fiction, and questions of history and memory.  Primary authors will include Mary Shelley, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Salman Rushdie.  No prerequisites.  Avid reading is required.  Approved for GPAC credit.


1411-10  Wallace
Introduction to English Literature II: Being English in a World of Conflict

A course introducing students to more than two hundred years of English literature poses a challenge:  how to provide a wide range of readings and yet construct some sort of theme that helps us develop a coherent understandings of a rich archive of texts.  This course finds shape and focus by considering how English literature from the Romantic era to the 20th century responds to or is informed by global conflicts.  Such a comprehensive theme allows us to look at Romantic writers reacting to the French revolution, Victorians on imperial projects, and the poetry of those who fought in World War I.  The reading list will consist of short poems (such as the war  of Wilfred Owen), excerpts from essays (such as Edmund Burke on the French Revolution), two novellas, and one full-length novel (Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities).  We will end with two plays famous for their wit—Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Tom Stoppards’s Arcadia—to consider whether these plays show traces of the conflicts we have discussed through the semester.


English 1510W Seavey
Introduction to American Literature I

Introduction to American Literature I offers an overview of significant literary and cultural texts from 1492 to approximately 1865.  Proceeding into a barely imaginable territory that Europeans began to investigate in 1492, the writers of the various periods in this course witnessed what has been called “the last and greatest of all human dreams.”  A portion of the Americas settled by English speaking immigrants gained political independence near the end of the Eighteenth Century.  The efforts of these writers to secure intellectual and literary independence and to deserve the world’s attention for their imaginative accomplishments constitute the greatest achievement of the United States.  Always beset by ethnic and cultural conflicts, the writers of these periods foreground an array of problems and resolutions living with one another.  Their issues remain our issues.


English 1712: Daiya
Bollywood Cinema

In this film studies course, students and alumni can learn more about the world’s most widely consumed popular cinema: Bollywood Cinema.  From Coldplay and Beyonce’s music video "Hymn For the Weekend" to the Oscar-winning Danny Boyle film Slumdog Millionaire, Bollywood’s visual aesthetic has captured our imagination globally. This introductory discussion-based course aims to study key popular films from the sixties to the present in popular cinema in India, that have shaped dominant ideas about love, gender, family, duty, nationalism, and citizenship. At the same time, we will critically examine the formation of the concept “Bollywood” and explore how it engages both Hollywood cinema and the South Asian American diaspora in its recent avatars. Come and learn about a film archive that, since the 1950s, has been consumed around the world, from India, Pakistan to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Ukraine, Malaysia, Australia, UK and Nor​th America. Films we will watch include “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge,” “Om Shanti Om,” “Deewar,” "Rang de Basanti," and others.

Films with subtitles will be e-streamed on Blackboard, or available for renting on google play or amazon video; there are no prerequisites. The course counts for the English and Creative Writing major and minor, as well as Asian Studies major and minor. 


ENGL 2000 Cohen
Literature & the Environment (a sophomore colloquium)

This seminar explores how the nonhuman world is depicted in literature and film – and the value of sustained attentiveness to environments with these works and within the larger world. A special emphasis is placed upon environmental justice and future possibilities for the environmental humanities as modes of civic engagement. Much of the course will focus on what we can learn from close observation of the natural and built environments that surround us; how those environments are translated into narrative and what work those narratives accomplishes in the world; and how to speak effectively to an interested public about the issues with which the environmental humanities are concerned. This course satisfies the Critical Thinking and Oral Communication G-PACS


English 2560 Yun
Intermediate Fiction Writing

Intermediate Fiction Writing is a workshop-based course designed for students with previous fiction writing experience. Students will practice and reinforce the techniques, strategies, and craft of carefully constructed fiction through numerous short assignments, as well as write one short story to be discussed by the entire class. (Prerequisite: ENGL 2460 Fiction Writing.)


English 2660 Yun
Advanced Fiction Writing 

Advanced Fiction Writing is a workshop-intensive course that builds on previous courses in fiction writing and assumes familiarity with fundamental craft concepts. Students will focus on writing, revision, and analysis of craft in their own work and published work, as well as write two short stories to be discussed by the entire class. (Prerequisite: ENGL 2560 Intermediate Fiction Writing)


English 2800 DeWispelare
Literary Theory

This survey course introduces students to argumentative writings that are commonly grouped under the h heading “literary theory and cultural criticism.”  On one level, this is a course in the history of ideas.  One can even say that it is a course in the history of one very persistent and knotty philosophical problem: what, if any, is the nature of the relationship between “representation” and “reality?”  Put another way, what if any amount of “truth” can be located in the artistic, linguistic, and especially literary representations that we make of objects, individuals, communities, or the world? 

Some more specific versions of this question include: does language bear any relationship to the reality it purports to describe? Is there some “engine” or “spirit” (cf. Marx and Hegel) at the heart of culture that generates art independent of any  one artist’s intentions? Do cultural representations of specific groups of people have any mooring in reality, and if not, what autonomous cultural work do these representations do?  We will discuss these and other questions in this class, and students will gain familiarity with trenchant answers as proposed by thinkers from Plato to the Postmodernists, and beyond.

This course asks that students engage with readings that are short but frequently quite difficult, both linguistically and conceptually.  In addition to the texts on criticism, we will also be reading two works of fiction on which students will demo their new critical knowledge.  This is a WID course, and so students will also do a fair amount of argumentative writing and revision.  Take heart, by supporting each other and working as a group, you will find that the reading and writing are manageable and that there are great intellectual payoffs.


English 3210 Green Lewis
Readings in Creative Writing: Slow Reading Virginia Woolf

This is a new course designed for students who want to hone their writing skills through intense and close analysis of Woolf’s experimental work of the 1920s. We’ll read four of her novels, focusing on their formal accomplishment and overlap, and we will also consider their debt to other disciplines, such as painting and music. Although the focus of study will be narrow, our range of discussion will be wide. Topics of discussion will include Woolf’s representation of beauty; the shaping force of World War One; and the relationship in the novels between memory and identity. Assignments will call for creative as well as critical engagement.


English 3385 Page
American Memoir

American Memoir is a course  designed for students with an interest in creative writing and narrative structure.  It is both a literature course and a creative writing course, examining structural elements of contemporary American Memoir.  It includes a writing workshop component as well as a history of the genre.  Students will utilize literary strategies, constructing their own memoir material.  Oral presentations on memoirists are also required. No prerequisite.


English 3400 Dugan

Literature and the Financial Imagination

“I listen to money singing.”-Philip Larkin

How do we write about money? Is there an art to it? And what do artists have to say about its siren’s call? In this course, we’ll listen to “money singing” in and across a wide variety of literary texts (deemed by many to be canonical works of literature). Our goal will be to explore how it functions in literature as an index of value, a measure of power, a part of our identity, and as a tool to create change. Our goal will be to use these texts to think more deeply about our own personal and cultural investments in money and to practice writing about these issues in our own work. What do we think about money and its role in our life and why?

We’ll take an interdisciplinary approach: we’ll read literary texts closely, noting both their formal and stylistic values while also carefully considering the economic systems that made these books possible. Whether approaching these texts as a “humanities” major or as a “business” major, students will be encouraged to embrace another point of view on this complicated topic.

Reading list: Philip Larkin’s “Money,” Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale,” Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, Swift’s Modest Proposal, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Rowling’s Harry Potter, Coates’ Between the World and Me, Eggers The Circle, and Ellis’s American Psycho



ENG 3445 Alexa Alice Joubin
Shakespeare on Film

  Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted for the cinema since 1899 in multiple film genres, including silent film, film noire, Western, theatrical film, and Hollywood films.
  This course examines Shakespeare’s lesser-known romance play, histories, tragedies, and comedies and their adaptations on screen, with a focus on the themes of race, gender, sexuality, and colonialism.


English 3551 Green Lewis
The Nineteenth-century English novel: history and voice

This fast-paced course on the nineteenth-century novel will try to accomplish two goals: first, to give students a sense of the breadth and range of novels written in Britain during the nineteenth century; and second, to help students develop a finer ear for the different sounds of these authors—in other words, to examine some of the stylistic peculiarities that differentiate each author from the rest. The course will strive to balance historical context with close literary analysis. As part of that, we’ll occasionally look at nineteenth-century developments in the visual arts to inform ourselves about preoccupations of the day and the variety of their expression. Authors will include Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray, and Hardy. All students should come to class the first day having read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (any paper edition will do; be sure to bring it with you).


English 3560 Seavey
Escapes into Complicated Pasts: American Literature 1865-1920

By the end of the Civil War, American Literature had achieved a position as a national literature of international importance so the writers who would emerge into prominence in the following decades faced the challenge of sustaining the achievement of American literature in an era when their work could enjoy a new promise of prominence.  The writers of that period are noteworthy for their diversity—Mark Twain, Henry James, Henry Adams, William Dean Howells, Charles Chesnutt, Sarah Orne Jewett, Stephen Crane, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather.  Out of their work would come a new-found confidence mixed with longstanding national anxieties.  In their view, they had departed from the more secure and limited achievement of earlier American writers and launched forth into a variety of interlinked directions.  Their own past claimed their attention and invited a literature of self-reflection somehow combined with modes of depiction some of them would characterize as Realism.   


ENG 3730W: Daiya
Gender and Sexuality in Global Literature and Cinema

This course explores selected contemporary literary, graphic narrative, and film works from around the world, in dialogue with postcolonial, feminist, and queer theory.  Our course's keywords are: gender, sexuality, and social justice.  We will focus on different debates in global feminisms and the issue of access to political and social power; in good measure, we will focus on texts linked to Asia and Asian America, though our writers and filmmakers also come from England, Canada, and Iran.  Exploring fiction, memoir, and narrative as well as documentary films, we will ask: how do our aesthetic texts-modernist, postmodernist, and postcolonial-represent gendered identities and subjectivities, and how do they illuminate the experience of discrimination and inequity, at home and in the world?  In these stories, across genre and media, what is the link between gender and sexual difference and politics, human rights, and social justice?  What alternatives do they imagine in the world?  

Literary works we will look at include Carolyn Steedman's memoir Landscape for a Good Woman, Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel The Complete Persepolis, Bapsi Sidhwa's novel Cracking India, and Shyam Selvadurai's novel Funny Boy; films we will watch include "Angry Indian Goddesses," "Lemon Tree," "Appropriate Behavior," "Saving Face," and "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid."  Theorists of postcolonialism, feminism, and postcolonial queer studies we will engage include Sara Ahmed, David Eng, Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Lauren Berlant, Judith Butler, Chandra Mohanty, John Hawley, and others.


English 3826: Major Authors: Toni Morrison and William Faulkner --Schreiber

"Race, Memory, and Aesthetics"

This course links authors Toni Morrison and William Faulkner through the ways in which their fictional and discursive practices reflect on each other.  Specifically, we will examine how the texts of both authors reenact and resist racism and patriarchal structures; how they explore the ways in which memory and the past construct identity; and how they experiment with style.  We will consider the ways in which the texts illuminate a continuum in American literature through discussions of socially constructed identity and issues of race, class, and gender.  In addition, the class utilizes cultural studies, trauma studies, and psychoanalytic critical approaches to the texts of these authors. 

This course fulfills two English Major requirements:  After-1900 (C) and  Minority/Postcolonial (D).

Texts include: Light in AugustThe Sound and the FuryAbsalom, Absalom!, Song of SolomonThe Bluest EyeBelovedGod Help The Child


English 3917 Soltan
Jewish American Literature: The Jewish Novel

With the Norton Anthology of Jewish Literature as our source for critical essays and short stories, we will focus most of our attention on the impressive accomplishments of Jewish American novelists in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.   Humor, a sense of displacement in the larger culture, the spiritual burden of historical atrocity, and many other themes will preoccupy us as we analyze the writing of Saul Bellow, Cynthia Ozick, Rebecca Goldstein, Philip Roth, Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Chabon and others.


ENGL 3910W.10: Mitchell
Introduction to Disability Studies (CR 87238)

The field of Disability Studies approaches disability as a social and cultural process resulting in the exclusion of some bodily, cognitive, and/or sensory variations as opposed to a body gone wrong.  Disability, therefore, exists at the fraught intersection of environments, bodies, and beliefs.  This course neither explores medical etiologies (pathologies of bodies) nor does it approach disability as undesirable difference in need of repair, cure, or rehabilitation (although all of these may be part of disability experiences we investigate).  Rather we will analyze disability as aesthetics (the ways that some bodies make other bodies feel when sharing space), politics (social forces that threaten to devalue some bodies on behalf of other bodies), and systemic alternatives (how do


English 3980W McRuer
Transnational Film Studies and LGBTQ Cultures

The interdisciplinary field that has come to be called “queer” studies over the past two decades has always concerned itself with questions of representation: how are, for instance, lesbians and gay men, or bisexual or transgender people, represented in film, in novels, in other forms of media?  As the field has developed, these questions of representation have increasingly been linked to other, complex questions, involving political economy, globalization, and transnationalism: in what ways have lgbt people been incorporated into contemporary nation-states?  What identities and desires threaten “the nation” as it is currently (and variously) materialized in our world?  How have identities such as “gay” and “lesbian” circulated globally?  How have those recognizable minority identities come into contact and conflict with other ways of identifying around non-normative desires?  Have those identities at times functioned imperialistically, especially as “gay tourism” has become a recognizable part of global capitalism?  Conversely, what kinds of unexpected alliances have been shaped across borders as queer movements have globalized?  How have these movements theorized race, gender, class, and ability; what connections have been made with other movements organized, however contentiously, around identity? NOTE: This course is offered in collaboration with the Office for Study Abroad and will include a short-term study abroad component, with a week's attendance at the Mezipatra Queer Film Festival in Prague, Czech Republic.


English 3420 Cohen
Medieval Literature

Medieval Britain bestowed to the future texts so enthralling that we still read and love them: tales of heroes and monsters, love and remorse, knights and quests, protest and pleasure, magic and adventure. King Arthur, Beowulf, werewolves, and trolls are all medieval inventions. Some of the topics we will consider include the role of art in cultural conflict; medieval nature and ecology; the mysteries of human desire; the function of monsters; heroism and violence; the emergence of a united England and the myths that sustained the nation; the Crusades and the representation of Jews and Muslims; women and writing; and how the past imagined the future. Thecourse examines rich and enjoyable texts within their historical contexts, often as a means of challenging some assumptions about the Middle Ages, always with an eye towards the wonder these works elicit. Some of the texts we read: Beowulf, Icelandic sagaArthurian myths, Song of Roland, travel narratives, pilgrimage narratives, poems. We also have a Write Like a Scribe Day, with quills and parchment, and culminate the course with a digital project and presentation.



Course Offerings - Spring 2017

Literature, Film, and the Financial Imagination
Tuesday/Thursday 12:45 – 2:00 PM

Literature, Film, and the Financial Imagination
In the United States as in many other countries, the gap between rich and poor is higher at the present moment than it has ever been. Although in the imagination of the average American, a CEO makes 30 times more than most unskilled workers, in actual fact a CEO today garners 354 times more income.  What is life like at the sharp end of that huge divide?  What does it mean to live “hand to mouth” in bootstrap America, as the title of one recent bestseller describes it?  How have writers and filmmakers generated a “financial imagination,” representing not just money and exchange but human beings moving through the varied economies and geographies of uneven development that have brought us to this present moment?  Can our imaginations function otherwise?  How have literature and film in fact encouraged us to re-imagine the economies through which we move?  This course begins in the 21st century not long after a moment of global economic crisis, but then looks backward to the previous two turns-of-the-century.  We will examine how writers and thinkers have responded creatively to the rise of industrial capitalism and to slave economies, to the dominance of monopoly capitalism, and to the mass displacement and migration of workers at the end of the 19th century.  The course will end back at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, considering new forms of globalization, migration, and creative resistance under what has come to be called neoliberal capitalism.



Essential Shakespeare
Alexa Alice Joubin
T/TH 2:20-3:35

“Essential Shakespeare,” a general education course, introduces you to the riches and beauty of the world of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories. It is designed for everyone, and no prior knowledge is required. We will explore how Shakespeare and his company represented racial, cultural, and gender differences through travel, colonialism, and fantasy. As we identify key components of Shakespeare’s work, you will acquire essential tools for enjoying Shakespeare’s plays as both literary works and films. 



Introduction to English Literature I

If you speak or write English, your words are themselves a storehouse or archive packed with ideas and imaes developed over a long period.  Access to that archive of language can be found in the complex, contradictory development of English literature from 650 to 1800.  Both familiar and alien, writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dryden, and Johnson contribute to the complications you will disentangle.  This is also a WID class with continual writing opportunities.  



Gone Viral: Contagion and the Classics, 1700 to the Present
ROME 201 TR 12:45PM-2:00PM

This WID course introduces students to literary and cultural study by focusing on works that thematize concepts like “contagion,” “contact,” and “contamination.” Students will learn close reading techniques, exercise and improve their self-expression in writing, and become familiar with landmark texts in literary, film, art, and photographic history, all while interrogating the moving boundary that divides ideas of the “popular” and the “cultic” from the “classic” and “canonical.”

As a group, we will spend time discussing binary metaphors like “contagious” and “viral,” “invasion” and “exposure,” and “panic” and “trend” as they relate to cultural commodities—books, films, artworks, ideas, and increasingly the self—as they are bought, sold, circulated, and re-circulated in print and digital networks. Indeed, the underlying premise of this introductory course is that these and other related metaphors are central to culture, economics, and politics (as well as the politics and economics of culture) in our unevenly globalizing and ever more meme-ified present. This course has no prerequisites. We will both “consume” and “savor” the different works we encounter, and so all curious students (culture vultures, shutterbugs, and art junkies alike) are invited to enroll.

Books (available at the Bookstore):  

Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year (1722), ISBN: 9780140437850

Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent (Oxford) (1800), ISBN: 9780199537556

Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince (1831), ISBN: 978-0140437492

Charlotte Brontë, Wuthering Heights (Broadview) (1845), ISBN: 9781551115320

Charles Dickens, Hard Times (Penguin) (1854), ISBN: 9780141439679

Bram Stoker, Dracula (Penguin) (1897), ISBN: 9780141439846

Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (Houghton Mifflin) (1925), ISBN:  9780156628709

J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (Penguin) (1980), ISBN: 9780143116929



ENGL 1611W.10

In this course students read selected key works of 20th and 21st century African American literature in a variety of genres (fiction, essays, poetry, drama). The course emphasizes literature's relationship to African American history, politics, and culture. Writing assignments will focus on sharpening students' abilities to produce strong arguments about literary works using appropriate textual evidence and secondary sources. Titles we'll read include DuBois, Souls of Black Folk; Larsen, Passing; Ellison, Invisible Man; and Rankine, Citizen. This course fills a WID requirement. This course is appropriate for students taking their first college lit course as well as for experienced students wanting to increase their knowledge of the rich traditions of African American literature. All are welcome.



Bollywood Cinema
Wed: 12.45 pm - 3.15 pm.  Films will be available on e-reserves through Blackboard, OR can be viewed at optional screenings to be held Tuesdays 6-9 pm.

This course is a selective, historical introduction to the industry of popular Hindi film known as Bollywood, with a special focus on the changing relationship between gender and nationalism in modern South Asia.  Bollywood is today the world’s largest producer of films; since the fifties, its consumption beyond India, in places as far flung as Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, UK, and North America, suggests that it is also the most widely consumed popular cinema in the world.  Bollywood cinema is based in Mumbai, India; yet, despite its name, the tradition of Bollywood cinema can be identified as having particular generic conventions and visual codes that are distinct from Hollywood.  Bollywood films are largely musicals; they are also well-known (and sometimes criticized) for their formulaic and “unrealistic” storylines, their simple moral codes (good vs. evil), and their typical heteronormative happy endings.

This course will introduce students to Bollywood through screenings of a range of films from the 1950s until today. We will place individual films within their larger political, social, and aesthetic contexts; simultaneously, we will develop a set of reading practices that allow us to find meaning in melodramatic texts which often appear resistant to interpretation. Topics discussed will include gender, sexuality, nationalism, modernity, religion, family, globalization, diaspora, heroism, and villainy.  While the overall approach will be multi-disciplinary, literary and filmic methodologies will be the primary lens through which the class is conducted.  There are no pre-requisites for the course. Films we will study include: Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Delhi-6, Rang de Basanti, Queen, Om Shanti Om, Deewar, Sholay, among others.

Required books include:
Tejaswini Ganti, Bollywood: A guidebook to popular Hindi cinema
Madhava Prasad, Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction
Coursepack (available at bookstore)



Introduction to Critical Theory

In Introduction to Critical Theory, our readings will range from the earliest work of literary criticism, to formalist, psychoanalytic, structuralist, post-modernist, post-colonialist, disability, and trauma theory. In all cases, we will use a small set of artistic “texts”—a play, a novel, a film, and a lyric poem—to explore what theory can and, perhaps just as importantly, what theory cannot help us to understand and appreciate about such works. Students will be asked to apply selected theoretical approaches in two papers, and their understanding of the assigned readings will be tested in two midterm exams.



Advanced Poetry Writing
Tu/Th 9:35am-10:50am, Monroe 351

This creative writing workshop considers poetry as an invitation for intensive engagement with experimentation, inquiry, and language. To this end, we will take seriously as poems not only received forms (from sonnets to free verse) but forms that steal from and hybridize other genres in prose, film and visual art, and performance. This course is designed for writers committed to developing their craft collectively and individually and is especially open to exploring what a poem can be. Students should expect to write and workshop weekly. In addition, we will read recently published collections of poetry, meeting their authors whenever possible. Texts will include: Jenny Johnson’s In Full Velvet; Peter Gizzi’s Archeophonics; Matthew Olzmann’s Contradictions in the Design; Bhanu Kapil’s Humaninimal, a Project for Future Children; and Terrance Malick’s Badlands.




A chance to unleash a creative writing mind that may have been stifled by too much education. The primary requirement is 56 pages of fiction writing during the semester. No text books.



PHIL 640 TR 9:35AM - 10:50AM

Focused on The Canterbury Tales, this course examines Geoffrey Chaucer as an artist who can be hilarious, incisive, and deeply troubling. Diverse, scandalous, beautiful and rowdy, his stories remain relevant today --  and we will take some time to explore contemporary re-imaginings of the Tales, as well as Chaucer's medieval sources. We will pay special attention to Chaucer as an environmental writer who is also concerned with war and refugees. This course teaches you how to read and enjoy Middle English (a useful life skill that will never fail to impress friends and strangers). We will also spend a day learning to write Middle English sentences using quills and vellum. "Chaucer" welcomes anyone who wishes to enroll and assumes no prior knowledge of medieval literature.



Shakespeare, Race, and Gender
Alexa Alice Joubin
T/Th 12:45-2:00

"Shakespeare, Race, and Gender," a seminar, will explore how the early modern and modern ideologies about race, gender, class, religion and sexuality shape Shakespeare's plays and their afterlife on stage and on screen. You can hone your skills of close reading and evidence-based argumentation. You will also be able to connect critical analysis of historical texts to your professional life beyond the classroom. 



Shakespeare on Film 

Shakespeare on Film will explore the processes through which the works of a great Renaissance dramatist are transformed into powerful modern films. We will play close attention to the radical difference between the two media in an attempt to increase our understanding not only of a limited sub-genre of film, but also of the interpretive potentials programmed into Shakespeare’s play-texts and of the highly constructed nature of a medium that attempts to conceal its constructive procedures. There will be two major writing projects. Students will be required to watch a number of films through Blackboard. 



Shakespearean London

In this course, we’ll explore Shakespeare’s plays and their original performance context—early modern London, a city growing and changing along with its theatres. We’ll begin with Shakespeare’s famous journey from Stratford-upon-Avon to London. We’ll study not only how Shakespeare made his mark in London but also how London came to be a cultural capital. Using these frameworks, students will have the opportunity to put this knowledge to work in their own research about these plays in performance. Reading plays like Romeo & Juliet, Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, Part 1, Richard III, As You Like It, and Tis Pity She’s a Whore, we will explore how these diverse playtexts imagined London’s urban space. By the end of the course, students will have mastered the relationship between playtexts and performance, as well as learned more about Shakespeare, his plays, early modern London, and its entertainment industries.



The Eighteenth Century:  The Theatre of Politics, Sex, and Sentiment

In 1660, after two decades of Puritan rule, England regained its monarchy and its theatres, and both Court and stage enthusiastically embraced the spirit of liberty enabled by the new regime under Charles II.  Restoration drama became so transgressive that the Reverend Jeremy Collier declared that ‘nothing has gone farther in Debauching the Age than the Stage-Poets, and Playhouse.’  In response, dramatists made a swerve toward more ‘respectable’ or even sentimental representations, but there remained covert or coded resistance to regulating dramatic discourse.  All through the eighteenth century, the kind of culture wars now played out in electronic media were debated in playhouses, including issues of gender and sexuality, class hierarchies, and political partisanship.  

This course looks at a selection of playtexts produced during the long 18th century, considering both literary elements and the historical/cultural information conveyed in them.  Students will emerge from the course with a sense of how the modern theatre was born as well as knowledge of how the 18th century anticipated many of the ideological issues still debated in the 21st century.

This course fulfills the GPAC Oral Communications requirement.


Rights, Revolution, and Representation in British Romantic Writing, 1770-1850
ROME 204 TR 3:45PM-5:00PM

1.     revolution (noun) – To move in a circular course and end up where you began. The action of turning or revolving around some fixed point. 

2.     revolution (noun) – Change, upheaval, alteration.  The overthrow of an established social, political, or economic order by those previously subject to it.  

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again,” writes Thomas Paine in Common Sense (1776). Departing from Paine’s vision of revolutionary action—and understanding that “revolution” has two contradictory meanings, eternal return and violent breach—this course examines representations of society, sovereignty, and citizenship in literary and cultural products spawned by the American, French, Haitian, and Industrial Revolutions—four world-historical events whose class, racial, and gender dimensions (and failures) condition our present in remarkable ways. 

This course invites students who are interested in literature, politics, and the history of revolutionary thought and revolutionary self-assertion.  As we examine literary tropes like but not limited to “the mob,” “the rebel,” “the reactionary,” and “the tyrant” questions we will ask continually include: what are political rights and where do they reside?  How narrow are the definitions of bodies in which rights inhere?  And perhaps most importantly, how do representations of rights in literature and other art forms mediate political discussions surrounding rights?  In other words, what is the role of literature and art in shaping our conceptions of the “right” and the “just”? 

The transnational dimensions of these convulsive events and their representations will help us better understand the contradictions of our own period, a period in which, all at once, consumer capitalism thrives on buzzwords like “revolution” and “innovation,” and yet global class insurrection looms, the gender pay gap persists, police violence marks our public conversations surrounding race, nonnormative bodies struggle for legal rights, and ongoing humanitarian crises relating to (rightless) refugees, asylum-seekers, and forced economic migrants endure.  


Laclos, Dangerous Liaisons (1782)

William Godwin, Caleb Williams (1794), ISBN: 9781551112497

Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria, Or, the Wrongs of Women (1798): 9781554810222

Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent (1800), ISBN: 9780199537556

Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities (1859), ISBN: 9780141439600

Émeric Bergeaud, Stella: A Novel of the Haitian Revolution (1859): 978-1479892402

Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (1963), ISBN: 9780143039907

Ian Baucom, Specters of the Atlantic (2005), ISBN: 9780822335962

Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History (2009), ISBN: 9780822959786   



British Modernism: The Shock of the New

The early decades of the twentieth century in Britain saw an extraordinary shift of emphasis in all kinds of cultural and literary production, as realism, with its promise of a world that might be more or less accurately represented through language, gave way to a focus on language itself as world. The Great War is often touted as the chasm marking off the Victorian from the modern world, but Modernism--with its attention to the uncertainties of life, its suspicions of the known, its skepticism regarding such novelistic fundamentals as plot and character—also grows out of the pre-war world of such writers as Joseph Conrad and Henry James. In this course we will see that Modernism has a discernible literary history that helps later readers to be made ready for its demands and difficulties, and in our discussions of works from the period with which Modernism is associated (c. 1900-1930) we will focus on the following topics: national, public, and private identity; the idea of “character”; loss; beauty; and urban culture.
Authors: Conrad, James, Joyce, Woolf, Lawrence, Eliot, and Jones.



American Novel II (20th Century)                                            
TR 3:45-5:00 pm

Course description:
This course will feature several popular American novels, with emphasis on the rise of Modernism in the work of Cather, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner, and the emergence of social realism, expressionism, and the absurd in the work of Nathanael West, Ralph Ellison, Kurt Vonnegut, and Toni Morrison in the decades of the 1930s through the 1970s.  Much of the writing early in the century focuses on Midwest provincialism and Americans’ search for a more cosmopolitan life in east or west coast cities or in Europe.  But the Depression and WWII marked a turn toward writing informed by social conscience and longstanding conflicts stemming from differences of race, ethnicity, class, and gender.  We will explore these works with one eye on history and culture and the other on aesthetics and narrative form, in an effort to understand the evolution of the novel as a form of expression and social remediation.  Key themes include the struggle for identity and success in a fluid, changing nation; the conflict between traditional values and modernity; the rise of popular culture and the romance of money; and the search for love, family, and “home.”


Literature and Medicine
MW 2:20-3:35, Philips 623

Course Description
This course will examine the experience of illness as it is determined by historical, social, and psychological contexts.  Attention is given to narrative as a mode of both understanding and managing illness, pain, loss, and the injustice of suffering.   Illness, both physical and mental, calls upon us to rewrite our life story and renew our sense of internal agency.



Topics: Transatlantic Literature in English

Other courses focus on English, European, or American writing.  But this course considers the ways that since the time of Columbus, Europeans have been inventing America just as much as discovering it.  And in turn from the time that there were recognizably American writers, they have crossed the Atlantic literally and imaginatively to identify themselves in relation to European or English connections.  Beginning with Thomas More’s Utopia, which is set in a recently discovered island found by a shipmate of Amerigo Vespucci, this course follows interactions across the Atlantic as late as the first conflict in Vietnam.  There are novels and stories by Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, O. E. Rolvaag, and Graham Greene.  There is even a movie, The Third Man, whose script is by Graham Greene, which exposes the hopeful but fumbling American intervention in a Europe devastated by World War II,  with a well-meaning but naïve American popular writer looking for an old friend in Vienna.  


3826: Major Authors: Toni Morrison and William Faulkner
"Race, Memory, and Aesthetics"

This course links authors Toni Morrison and William Faulkner through the ways in which their fictional and discursive practices reflect on each other.  Specifically, we will examine how the texts of both authors reenact and resist racism and patriarchal structures; how they explore the ways in which memory and the past construct identity; and how they experiment with style.  We will consider the ways in which the texts illuminate a continuum in American literature through discussions of socially constructed identity and issues of race, class, and gender.  In addition, the class utilizes cultural studies, trauma studies, and psychoanalytic critical approaches to the texts of these authors.  

This course fulfills two English Major requirements:  After-1900 (C) and  Minority/Postcolonial (D).

Texts include: Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Beloved, God Help The Child.


6120: Advanced Theory
Film Theory in a Global/Queer Context
Thursday 6:10-8:00 PM

This graduate seminar does not presume an extensive familiarity with film theory; the first third of the course is in fact designed to develop that basic familiarity.  Once students have acquired a critical vocabulary for approaching the study of film, the second two-thirds of the course will shift to the intersections of film studies and queer theory, locating those intersections in a global context.  The course will include an interrogation of specific forms, including melodrama and pornography, or specific analytics or approaches, including camp.  As we pivot towards queer theory in a global context, we will consider the shifts that took place with the rise of New Queer Cinema in the 1990s.  Some of the theorists this course will spotlight include Richard Dyer, Patricia White, Anneke Smelik, Alexander Doty, Matthew Tinkcom, Laura Kipnis, Linda Williams, B. Ruby Rich, Kara Keeling, Gayatri Gopinath, Jennifer Christine Nash, Jonathan Goldberg, Carla Marcantonio, Karl Schoonover, and Rosalind Galt.  A selection of films, both from classical Hollywood cinema and from contemporary queer cinema, will accompany our readings.



Transnational England: Adaptation: Disability and the Middle Ages

Open to graduate students and BA/MA students.

In the Middle Ages the term "disability" did not exist (one could even claim the concept had not yet invented). How did medieval people perceive modes of embodied variance that we might call disability today (blindness, deafness, paraplegia, chronic illness)? What technologies and social structures did medieval communities adopt to accommodate bodies marked as deformed, impaired, eccentric, extraordinary, or disruptive?

This course explores how literature composed in medieval Europe understands human variety. Through major literary genres such as romance, saints' lives, lyric poetry, travel writing, chronicles, and first-person narratives, we will trace how literature shapes attitudes toward embodiment and forms of relationality.

In addition to exploring complex meanings of disability in medieval culture, will consider the surprising role that medieval literature has played in shaping disability communities in the present: e.g., the ethics of blind advocacy, political expressions of Deaf culture, and ironic fodder for people with dwarfism.

Major medieval authors will include women and men from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds: Geoffrey Chaucer, Christine de Pizan, Gerald of Wales, John Gower, Robert Henryson, Thomas Hoccleve, Margery Kempe, Marie de France, Gwerful Mechain, Meir of Norwich, and Teresa de Cartagena.

Modern writers may include Brenda Brueggemann, Theresa Hyak Kyung Cha, John Howard Griffin, and George R.R. Martin.

All medieval texts not in Middle English will be read in modern translation.

Assignments include a new peer-reviewed keyword entry for the Digital Medieval Disability Glossary and a final project that integrates medieval literature and contemporary disability scholarship.


Adams et al. (eds): Keywords for Disability Studies. ISBN 1479839523.
Cha: Dictee. ISBN 0520261291.
Chaucer (ed. Mann): Canterbury Tales. ISBN 014042234X.
Griffin: Scattered Shadows. ISBN 1570755396.
Gerald of Wales (tr. O’Meara): History and Topography of Ireland. ISBN 0140444238.
Hoccleve (ed. Ellis): My Compiante and Other Poems. ISBN 085989701X.
Kempe (tr. Bale): Book of Margery Kempe. ISBN 0199686645.
Marie de France (tr. Gilbert): Poetry. ISBN 0393932680.
Martin: A Game of Thrones [novel]. ISBN 0553386794.
Teresa de Cartagena (tr. Seidenspinner-Nuñez): Writings. ISBN 0859914461.



Conceptualizing Genders (Writing Women in the Renaissance

In this course, we'll examine the emergence of early modern women writers through a variety of archival encounters—including print and manuscript sources, as well as comparative and digital approaches to canonical authors. All are welcome and no prior knowledge of the renaissance is necessary. Students will practice and develop traditional and digital archival skills including early modern paleography, transcription, and tagging as well as researching, editing, and curating collections of women’s writing. Students will also study and practice how to connect scholarly expertise and research on women’s writing with broader, non-specialist audiences through traditional academic writing as well as other formats. We’ll examine emerging digital projects about the renaissance and the role of gender in shaping the contours of the project. We'll read works by Mary Wroth, Amelia Lanyer, Louise Labe (in translation), Catherine de Medici (in translation), Elizabeth I, Christine de Pizan (in translation), Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn, and Elizabeth Cary as well as a variety of manuscript sources by anonymous writers, most likely women. By the end of the course, students will have analyzed of how gender shapes the canon of Renaissance literature; worked with primary archival materials; and engaging with them using one of the three core scholarly methods studied in the course.



Wednesdays: 4.10-6 pm.

This course explores 10 great contemporary works of global Anglophone fiction, graphic narratives, and theory that attempt to take the measure of our times.  The twentieth century was, as noted scholars like Zygmunt Bauman and Hannah Arendt have noted, an era of migration.  As more people have left their birthplace than at any other point in human history, whole cultures and communities have been reinvented by the movement of people across regional and national borders.  In complex ways, women and children have borne the brunt of these changes.  This course explores the literary representation of this brave new world in which the ceaseless movement of people-due to war or work, love or study, pleasure or dispossession-has altered conceptions of belonging, community, and agency. 

We study representations of migration through key postcolonial Anglophone literatures and graphic narratives primarily, though not exclusively, from Asia.  How gender, sexuality, religion, and race inhabit and inflect these stories about belonging will be central to our investigation. We will conclude with a discussion of two international films that speak to our interest in gender, diaspora, and migration. In the process, this course invites us to consider contemporary aesthetic explorations of the gendered experience of decolonization, migration, and globalization.  Texts we will read include:

Vishwajyoti Ghosh, ed., This Side, That Side: Restorying Partition
Marjane Satrapi, The Complete Persepolis
Zia Haider Rahman, In the Light of What We Know
Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth
Chimamanda Adichie, Americanah
Michael Ondaatje, Anil’s Ghost
Nadine Gordimer, None to Accompany Me
Viet Thanh Ngyuen, The Sympathizer
Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy
Lisa Lowe, The Intimacy of Four Continents

Open to BA/MA students, and graduate students interested in international issues, gender studies, or Asia.  No pre-requisites. Meets Wednesdays 4-6 pm.