Course Offerings

Undergraduate Course Offerings - Spring 2018

This list of Spring 2018 courses is being continually updated. You can find the complete English department course slate here. Check back here for more course descriptions throughout the registration period.

ENGL 1000 ~ Dean's Seminar: “Around the World in Eighty Days:” Representing Travel in Global Film and Literature
Wednesday, 12:45 – 3:15 pm
Prof. Daiya

This course offers you a way to take a trip around the world, and stay home! We will explore the modern experience of global travel, and the often hilarious, startling, unexpected, disappointing, and exhilarating cross-cultural encounters that can happen when we travel. Then, we will take a field trip, and write our own travelogue!

From Jules Vernes' classic Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) to Elizabeth Gilbert's runaway best-seller Eat, Pray, Love (2006), modern literature and films show that people travel for several different reasons: as representatives of colonizing empires, as tourists wishing to encounter and learn about a different culture, as study-abroad students, as immigrants to better prospects, as refugees fleeing civil war and conflict, as emotional refugees seeking self-discovery, as adventurers to experience the pleasure of cross-cultural encounters, among other reasons. Since the nineteenth century, large parts of the world's population have been traversing the globe in new and more complex ways, first because of colonialism and now because of globalization. We will study the aesthetic representation of travel as well as migration, tracing how it shapes cultural and gender identity in modern global writing and cinema. Our focus is primarily on film representations of travel, complemented by short selections of travel-writing and fiction. We will debate a range of questions: what happens to identities in travel? How does travel shape cross-cultural encounters, and how are those influenced by gender and class difference? We will look at representations of Jewish people who migrate to India, Frenchmen who circumnavigate the world, Nigerians who migrate to America, Americans who journey to South-east Asia, among others. In the process, we will raise questions about the relationship between history and literature/film, about the representation of gender and East-West relations, and about the pleasures and politics of travel in a globalized world.


ENGL 1000 ~ Dean’s Seminar: The Making of a Poem
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:10 – 12:25 pm
Prof. Chang

In this dean’s seminar, students will study seven American poems, written from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries, and investigate the making of each poem, how contemporary readers understood the poem, and how later generations of poets and scholars learned from the composition and reception history of each poem. Reading drafts of each poem alongside the poets’ letters and journals whenever possible, students will attempt to reconstruct the composition process in theory and practice and, further, consider how historical and cultural contexts influence how a poet writes a poem. Our reading list will include T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” Srikanth Reddy’s Voyager, and poems by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, and Marilyn Chin, and will be supplemented by essays on poetics and American culture.


ENGL 1340W ~ Essential Shakespeare
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:45 – 2:00 pm
Prof. Alexa Alice Joubin

Introduction to Shakespeare’s romance play, histories, tragedies, and comedies and their adaptations on screen. Explore themes such as travel, race, gender, sexuality, colonialism. This course is for everyone. No prior knowledge is required. Students will acquire essential tools for enjoying Shakespeare as both literary works and films Learn textual and film analytical skills, skills to carry out close reading and evidence-based argumentation, and understand Shakespeare’s and directors’ language and cinematic conventions.


ENGL 1365 ~ Literature and the Environment
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:35 – 10:25 am
Also register for one discussion section: ENGL 1365.30-.33
Prof. Jeffrey Cohen

This course explores how the natural world has been represented across time (from medieval literature to contemporary science fiction), and what the stakes of these depictions might be for environmental awareness and engagement. We explore together the value of sustained attention to environments within texts as well as the larger world. We emphasize environmental justice and how the environmental humanities might reach and persuade wide public audiences. The course focuses on what we can learn from close observation of the natural and built environments that surround us every day as well as in literature. This course satisfies the Critical Thinking and Oral Communication G-PACS.


ENGL 1510W ~ Introduction to American Literature I
Monday and Wednesday, 2:20 – 3:35 pm
Prof. Ormond Seavey

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.


ENGL 1511.10 ~ Introduction to American Literature II
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:45-2:00 pm
Prof. Evelyn Schreiber

This course considers definitions of personal trauma and how such trauma affects social interactions with other individuals and communities. Specifically, we will examine how individuals and communities in literary representations work through trauma to heal and move forward. In doing so, we answer the question, “What is American about American Literature?” The class utilizes cultural studies and psychoanalytic critical approaches to consider socially constructed identity and issues of race, class, and gender in texts of American authors. There are no papers or final exam.


ENGL 2210.10 ~ Techniques in Creative Writing: The Prose Poem
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:45-2:00 pm
Prof. David McAleavey
*DRAFT syllabus, in process*

Bulletin Information: Described as focusing on “The craft and technique of creative writing and/or theories of creative writing,” this course (whose topic and instructor may vary from semester to semester) satisfies a 3-credit-hour requirement for the major in Creative Writing and English. It is open to all interested students, not just those in that major.

Prerequisites: None, though prior experience in a creative writing course (e.g., ENGL 1210, Introduction to Creative Writing; ENGL 2470, Poetry Writing; or ENGL 2460, Fiction Writing) would be advantageous, as would any prior English Department course. This course requires both critical and creative writing from every student.

Required texts:
Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen (New Directions): 978-0811200073
Beth Archer Brombert et al., Dreaming the Miracle: Three French Prose Poets: Jacob, Ponge, Follain (White Pine Press): 978-1893996174
Lyn Hejinian, My Life and My Life in the Nineties (Wesleyan): 978-0819573513
David Lehman (ed.), Great American Prose Poems (Scribner): 978-0743243506
Claudia Rankine, Citizen (Graywolf Press): 978-1555976903
Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations (Norton):978-0393341829

NB: Additional works available on the Internet or on library reserve may also be assigned.

Recommended texts:
Brian Clements and Jamey Dunham (eds.), An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions): 978-0966575477
Stuart Friebert and David Young (eds.), Models of the Universe: An Anthology of the Prose Poem (Field Editions): 978-0932440693
Gary L. McDowell and F. Daniel Rzicznek (eds.), Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press): 978-0978984885


ENGL 2800W ~ Introduction to Critical Theory
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:10 – 12:25 pm
Prof. Robert McRuer

English 2800W introduce and briefly overview some of the major movements in critical theory—such as poststructuralism, postmodernism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, African American and Latina/o cultural theory, postcolonial theory, queer theory, and disability studies—that have brought us to the contemporary moment in the study of culture and society. As this list should suggest, a large part of the course will consider the “cultural turn” that literary study has taken over the past few decades. Some of the questions the class will pose are: what do we mean when we talk about such vexed terms as culture, identity, language, interpretation, meaning, theory, criticism, cultural studies? What does critical theory offer us as readers and writers, as participants in various cultures, as citizens? What does knowledge in and as democracy look like? How have the new social movements transformed knowledge in and out of the academy? How does power circulate through the production, consumption, and interpretation of culture?


ENGL 3210 ~ Readings: Life Stories
Monday and Wednesday, 9:35 to 10:50
Prof. Lisa Page

This course will examine life stories in literature, including the autobiographical novel, the roman a clef, the biography, the story cycle and the memoir. Students will consider the choice between fiction and nonfiction, the role of research, history, style, and narrative structure.


ENGL 3370 ~ Advanced Poetry Writing
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:45 – 2:00 pm
Prof. Chang

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 but forms that steal from and hybridize other genres in prose, film, and visual art. This course is designed for writers committed to developing their craft and knowledge of poetry and poetics collectively and individually and open to exploring what a poem can be. Students should expect to read and write weekly and workshop bi-weekly. In addition, we will read recently published collections of poetry, meeting their authors whenever possible. Texts will include: Vievee Francis, Forest Primeval, Lynn Melnick's Landscape with Sex and Violence, and Terrance Malick’s Badlands.


ENGL 3430 ~ The English Renaissance: Radical Books in the Age of Print
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:35 – 10:50 am
Prof. Holly Dugan

In this course, we’ll examine radical books in the English Renaissance, studying the rise of printing and the book itself as an important material object that radically changed how information was disseminated along with the aesthetic aspects of these particular texts that greatly influenced literary history. Students will work with edited modern editions, rare materials, and digitized sources; the course will provide an overview of book history and its role in shaping key aesthetic forms that have come define Renaissance writing (utopias, contact narratives, sonnet sequences, epic poetry, and polemical prose essays). Reading works like Wycliffe’s English Bible, Thomas More’s Utopia, Hariot’s Newfoundland of Virginia, Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella and “Defense of Poesy,” Bacon’s New Atlantis, Milton’s Aeropagitica and Paradise Lost, and Cavendish’s Blazing World, we’ll examine how “old” knowledge, “new” worlds, and new kinds of audiences intersected in the histories of these radical books.


ENGL 3441 ~ Shakespeare, Race, and Gender
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:20-3:35 pm
Prof. Alexa Alice Joubin

Ideologies about race, gender, and class intersect to shape Shakespeare’s plays and their afterlife on stage and on screen. We will do close readings of racial tensions and gendered representations in the plays and select performances. The class will reflect on the meanings of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity, identity formation, nationalism, and the distribution of power in societies.


ENGL 3481 ~ The Eighteenth Century II: The Self in the Public Sphere, Irony and Politics: English and Comparative Literature 1720-1810
Monday and Wednesday, 12:45 – 2:00 pm
Prof. Seavey

As an age of political and intellectual revolutions breaks out, writers in the Eighteenth Century move to identify the self’s tenuous position in relation to society in essays, fiction, drama, and poetry. It is a story extending beyond Britain to France and the new United States. Narratives of social complication, self-discovery, cultural variation, and class consciousness appear to herald the coming of a newly modern world. Dialogue and drama infuse the literary expression of the period. Writers consist of Defoe, Sheridan, Fielding, Diderot, Johnson, Laclos, and Foster.


ENGL 3510 ~ Children’s Literature
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:45 – 2:00 pm
Professor Chu

What do children’s books teach about curiosity, initiative, rebellion, competition, kindness, and compassion? What do they teach about language, schooling, and national belonging? How do gods, wizards, and animals contribute to the reader’s psychic world? What do we learn from travel and from traveller’s tales? Can stories about minority children be classics? What exactly are classics? Beginning with classic children’s texts from the 19th century and rushing forward to the 21st, we’ll consider what Bruno Bettelheim has called “the uses of enchantment” in children’s literature. With readings by Alcott, Conan Doyle, Lewis, Pullman, and others.


ENGL 3520W ~ American Romanticism
Monday and Wednesday, 12:45 – 2:00 pm
Prof. Sten

This course focuses on the explosive “first flowering” of American literature in the period 1825-1865, a time when U.S. authors competed with their English and European counterparts for the public’s attention while attempting to establish a strong literary tradition of their own, one with “American” roots and expressive of regional and national interests. We will discuss the writings of several important authors from this period—including Poe, Emerson, Melville, Hawthorne, Harriet Jacobs, Whitman, and Dickinson—and examine what they contributed to the literary and cultural controversies of the day. We will also explore how their writings reflect significant historical and cultural developments, from the rise of a powerful middle class and efforts at reform--in education, religion, politics, gender relations, and class--to the deeply divisive conflicts over race and slavery and the outbreak of the Civil War.


ENGL 3610 ~ British Modernism
Monday and Wednesday, 2:20-3:35 pm
Prof. Jennifer Green-Lewis

The early decades of the twentieth century saw dramatic change in all kinds of cultural and literary production, as realism, with its promise of a world that might be represented through language, increasingly gave way to a focus on language itself as a world.

In our discussion of novels and poems from the period with which Modernism is associated (roughly 1900-1930), we will focus on the following topics: vision and knowledge; the idea of character; nostalgia, loss, and the concept of home; beauty; and urban culture. We will also consider the ways in which painting, photography, and music responded to the same questions with Modernist literature was preoccupied.

Authors include: Henry James, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, and David Jones.

This is an upper-level course for students who enjoy challenging material!


ENGL 3621 ~ Poetry Breaks Open: American Poetry II: Twentieth Century American Poetry
Tuesday and Thursday, 4:45-6:00 pm
Prof. David McAleavey

This course examines important books by eleven American poets from throughout the 20th century, who collectively disrupt the continuity and traditions of English-language poetry, starting with the Georgian, even Horatian lyrics of Robert Frost (just before WW I) through the Modernist constructions of T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, and Langston Hughes, and on through the post-WW II socially-conscious, Confessionalist, and Postmodern poetries of Brooks, Plath, Bishop, Ammons, and Ashbery.


ENGL 3650 ~ The Short Story
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:20 – 3:35 pm
Prof. Margaret Soltan

So, to make a long story short, this course will examine how writers go about condensing their fiction in such a way as to make it more powerful than a lengthy novel. We will mainly rely on one text -The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction- but we will supplement this with some other stories available online. We will also look at essays on the subject of the short story. We will try to account for the emotional/intellectual/aesthetic intensity of the well-crafted short story by reading with care some of the best of the lot. We will ask what makes them so good, with an eye not merely to the abstract delineation of prose techniques, but to the personal interest many of you may have in attempting, for yourselves, to write a good short story. This is very much a discussion-based class, and laptops are not allowed. Requirements: Essay-style midterm and final exam; final paper, 6-8 pages; occasional in-class writing; contribution to class discussion.


ENGL 3810.10 ~ The Novels of Don DeLillo
Tuesday and Thursday 11:10 – 12:25
Prof. Margaret Soltan

The recent release of previously withheld CIA documents on the assassination of President Kennedy has renewed interest in one of Don DeLillo's most controversial novels, Libra, which not only imagines one possible scenario of the event, but suggests its meaning for Americans, and for American history. All of DeLillo's celebrated novels try to puzzle out the meaning of America in the 20th and 21st century, so to study him (we will read a selection of his best work, including Libra, White Noise, Mao II, The Names, Great Jones Street, and Underworld) is to understand our contemporary political and spiritual reality with depth and subtlety. It is also to encounter one of the great prose stylists of our time, a writer influenced by James Joyce, Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, and Saul Bellow. DeLillo's writing is exciting, topical, controversial, and provocative; and this discussion-intensive course (this is a no laptop class) will freely inquire into his recurrent themes and signature verbal style. Requirements: Essay-style midterm and final exam; final paper of 6-8 pages; occasional in-class writing; contribution to class discussion.


ENGL 3810.12 ~ Disability and Film
Tuesday, 3:30 – 6:00 pm
Prof. Mitchell

Disability (the existence of, or social belief in, an impaired body that is stigmatized) exists at a paradoxical crossroads in film history. First, we tend to watch disabled characters in films all the time yet screen them out of our minds as a specific minority population. Second, many of the most innovative films are based on efforts to portray disabled lives in their gritty encounters with ablest worlds. We will examine this paradox in order to make ourselves more aware of the specific cultural situatedness of people with disabilities as well as to better attend to the ways in which disability fuels filmic creativity. The vast majority of films we will watch attempt to use visual, audio, and editing alterations in order to capture the unique experiences of disabled lives; along the way we will also think about the particular social predicaments people with disabilities have faced in a culture designed for a narrow range of bodily capacities, forms, and aesthetics.


ENGL 3810.13 ~ Pirates, Slaves, Witches
Monday and Wednesday, 4:45 – 6:00 pm
Prof. Barnett-Woods

This course is designed for advanced undergraduates and will critically engage your historical and literary understanding of the eighteenth-century Caribbean. It will discuss issues that have cultural relevance to the present day, from the formation of the “pirate” as a renegade underdog of the imperial frontier, to the more serious matters of racial discrimination and African displacement during the transatlantic slave trade. This course will historically follow the rise and fall of the British imperial reign in the Caribbean, from its start in the late seventeenth century with a discussion of indigenous Caribbean groups, Spanish imperial contact, and Cromwell’s “Western Design.” The course will conclude its literary history with the abolition of slavery in 1836. A final segment of the course will read through examples of contemporary Caribbean literature. This segment will encourage you to consider how present-day authors wrestle with the legacies of slavery and an imperial past.

Throughout the duration of the course, readers will traverse the Caribbean Sea on pirate vessels, witness the rise of Abolition and the end of slavery, consider the economics of empire, and be privy to moments of African and creole resistance in the forms of Voodoo and Obeah. Though a literary course, it will interweave relevant historical and cultural components to create a dynamic understanding of eighteenth-century Anglophone Caribbean literature.


ENGL 3810W ~ Riot, Strike, Riot: Toward a Literary History of Mass Action
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:10 – 12:25 pm
Prof. DeWispelare

Joshua Clover, author of the much-discussed book Riot, Strike, Riot: The New Era of Uprisings (2016), declares our historical moment to be a new era of global uprisings spurred on by those whom the economy has structurally excluded, made futureless, immiserated, and dispossessed. “The new era of riots has roots in Watts, Newark, and Detroit,” Clover writes, “it passes through Tiananmen Square in 1989 and Los Angeles in 1992, arriving in the global present of São Paulo, Gezi Park, San Lázaro. The protorevolutionary riot of Tahrir Square, the nearly permanent riot of Exarcheia, the reactionary turn of Euromaidan. In the twilit core: Clichy-sous-Bois, Tottenham, Oakland, Ferguson, Baltimore. Too many to count” (3).

With an eye toward comprehending our turbulent political and economic moment, this course invites students to study the long history of mass political action as it appears in literature. Students in this course will seek the even deeper roots of our new era of riots by reading literary texts and political tracts that attempt to represent what the legendary social historian E.P. Thompson called “the moral economy of the crowd.” In so doing, we will try to clarify the ways in which literature provides us with terms and tropes for grasping insurrectionary politics that are brought about by the mass, the mob, the throng, the assemblage, and the people, all terms of varying valence that clue us in to an author’s judgment of the insurrection itself. Our primary readings will describe Diggers, Luddites, bread rioters, mutineers, "swing rioters," “black Jacobins,” and Chartists, not to mention the history of the police. We will read depictions of radical mass action in Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge, Charlotte Brontë's Shirley, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North, South, George Eliot’s Felix Holt, The Radical, Zola’s L’Assommoir and Germinal, and others. In addition to a wide array of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century fiction and poetry that thematizes riot and strike, students will also read social and economic historiography as well as contemporary writings by Clover, The Invisible Committee, and Tiqqun, all of whom theorize the historical conditions under which riot and strike make history.


ENGL 3912 ~ Disability and the Holocaust
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:20 – 3:35 pm
Prof. Mitchell

In the 1980s, nearly four decades after the formal end of World War II, a group of German and American historians began connecting the genocide of 6 million Jewish (as well as Slavs and gay) people in the Holocaust to the mass killings of nearly 300,000 disabled people in psychiatric hospitals, clinics, and institutions. The “euthanasia murders” (Operation T4) began in October 1939 nearly a year and a half before the implementation of the “final solution” in Nazi death camps. The research caused a great deal of debate amongst Holocaust scholars due to the fact that medical killings were treated separately from those prosecuted for Nazi war crimes during the Nuremburg trials. Many believe that physician supervised killings in medical institutions counted as “treatment” for those classified as “lives unworthy of life” (i.e. those diagnosed with physical, cognitive, and sensory disorders and, in the terms of the time, incapable of productive labor). This past September, following decades of disability activism, the first state supported memorial to those killed in the T4 program opened in Berlin. The class will grapple with questions of the relationship of these mass medical murders to Holocaust genocide, the struggle to publically memorialize the T4 killings in Germany, as well as consider how this history affects the lives of German disabled people today.


ENGL 3915 ~ Madness and Literature
Monday and Wednesday, 4:45 – 6:00 pm
Prof. Alcorn

This course will explore narratives of “madness” in their various forms with particular attention to the disconnects between cultural demands and their unruly resistances. We will explore women’s resistance to state demands, in texts such as Antigone, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Breuer’s Anna O. Subsequently we will explore madness as a response to cultural insanity and read texts variously termed psychotic, Schreber’s Memoirs of My Mental Illness and Kafka’s Metamorphosis. We will also explore assertions made about bipolar experiences as conducive to creativity, and trauma as necessary cultural testimonies to violence. Course readings will link medical discourses of illness to notions of creativity and literature.


ENGL 3930 ~ Topics in Latina/o Literature and Culture: Florida Fictions: Swamps, Fugitives, and Exiles
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:45 - 2:00 pm
Prof. López

The invention of Florida from the 16th century to the present in travel narratives and novels, popular music and film—and more! The course spirit is that it’s in art and writing that the “Sunshine State” emerges powerfully as a metonym for the living, beautiful, and criminal place that is America in and beyond the eras of European settler colonialism, African slavery and resistance, and indigenous creativity and uprising. We’ll watch how 2016’s Moonlight cinematically imagines black beaches, swimming, and love, and we’ll travel back to 19th-century accounts of how enslaved people used swamplands to invent new languages and destroy white supremacy. Modernist-era photographs of the Everglades will invite us to theorize how that thriving space of indeterminate water-land mixtures has resisted and housed human and nonhuman “travelers” like hurricanes, alligators, and Christian missionaries. And more: autobiographies by Miccosukee and Seminole women and men, novels by Cuban exiles, and freestyle and Miami bass music from the 1980s and 1990s will all contribute to a classroom environment of conversation and projects that will include a paper and digital assignment.


ENGL 3940.80/AMST 3950.81 ~ Post-Civil Rights Black Literature and Culture
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:35 – 10:50 am
Prof. Gayle Wald

Post-civil rights is a term used to describe African American art and performance in the contemporary era, in which struggles over race and racial justice take new forms and respond to new challenges, including the notion that the nation is "post-race." This course examines how black American artists—primarily writers but also fine artists, musicians, and film/TV producers—have defined, critiqued, and engaged with concepts of post-ness in their work. It is also concerned with how a generation born after legal desegregation views the "golden age" of civil rights and Black Power. Featured writers/artists include: Ta-Nehasi Coates, Claudia Rankine, Ava DuVernay, Colson Whitehead, Jesmyn Ward, Chimananda Adichie, Kara Walker, and Solange. Gayle Wald is professor of English and American studies. Her most recent book is a cultural history of the groundbreaking public TV show "Soul!" (1968-73).


ENGL 3950 ~ Black Studies and Cultural Theory: Black Women Writers
Tuesday and Thursday, 3:45 – 5:00 pm
Prof. James

This course will examine black women writers from the United States, Africa and the Caribbean, from the late 20th century to the present, with a primary emphasis on the novel. We will pay particular attention to black women's fiction as a site for exploring the intersections of gender, race, nation and history. Writers might include Jamaica Kincaid, Toni Morrison, Danzy Senna, Chimananda Adichie, Octavia Butler, NoViolet Bulawayo, Roxane Gay, Dolen Perkins, Taiye Selasi and others.