Semester Course Offerings

Spring 2021

Prof. Jane Shore 

 

 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 at least one new play among several we will attend.

Prof. Page 

 

 This course is an overview of three genres: poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. We will study the work of established writers and experiment with form through writing exercises and workshops where students will share original work. 

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement area of Arts.

Prof. Yun

 

 Introduction to Creative Writing explores the art and craft of two or more genres of writing. In this section, we will focus on fiction, creative non-fiction, and the narrative connections between these genres. 

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement area of Arts.

Prof. Frawley 

What do we mean when we refer to “the environment”? Do we mean “nature,” “wilderness,” “geography,” “ecology,” “the earth,” “the non-human world,” “the outdoors,” a “sense of place,” or something else? This introductory course will explore the many ways that literary texts, art, and even social media respond to and shape our understanding of environments and our environmental understanding. Throughout we will be on alert to the many ways that our contemporary culture both heightens and mutes our environmental awareness. 

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course fulfills Critical Thinking and Oral Communication GCRs.

Prof. Mitchell 

This class delves into a Movement known as New Journalism (NJ) that flourished during the 1960s and 1970s. NJ SPAWNED what came to be called “the Non-fiction novel”. These works foreground the idiosyncrasies of subjectivity as a value rather than a FAILURE of empiricism. The writers we will study placed their private visions as a framework for interpreting the POLITICAL life of the nation. Its leading practitioners wrote some of the most important cultural commentaries of the latter half of the 20th century including: In cold blood (Truman capote, 1966), hell’s angels (Hunter S. Thompson, 1967), armies of the night (Norman mailer, 1969), electric kool aid acid test (tom Wolfe, 1968), the white album (Joan Didion 1979), among others. Each writer cultivated their public presentation as an extension of their private visions of America; they worked to show how they actively filter stimulus and events of substantive note for the nation’s politics.

Prof. Shore


In “Around the World in 80 Poems” we will close read from an eclectic and idiosyncratic anthology of International Poetry and writing your OWN poems in response to them. Including poems from 20th and 21st century poets: Amorak (Inuit), Heaney, Boland, Celan, Walcott, Neruda, Cortazar, Vallejo, Szymborska, Rilke, Hikmet, Cavafy, Montale, Brutus, Bei Dao, Darwish, etc.

Prof. Stokes

 

In Introduction to Dramatic Writing, each student will write an original play for the stage, will work to create a personal body of new dramatic work based on writing prompts and exercises, will learn the language and techniques of new play dramaturgy, and will gain a deep understanding of the shape and challenges of a career in dramatic writing through collaboration and workshops of student work.

Inst. Lathrop

This course serves as an introduction to medieval and early modern English literature, from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the Abolition movement, with a primary focus on the idea of resistance. This survey will cover how resistance appears across a variety of genres (poetry, prose, drama), as well as historical documents such as speeches and letters. What might each genre tell us about how medieval and early modern writers used literature to resist or uphold societal expectations and political systems?"

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement. 

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities.

Inst. MacLeod

  

This introductory survey course will focus on English texts written in the period from the French Revolution to the First World War, also known as the long nineteenth century. We will cover that vast expanse of history with attention to themes of gender, race, class, national identity, and postcolonial critique. The syllabus is divided into three interrelated units: Women at Home, at Work, and at War. We will read novels, poetry, autobiographies, and other selected writings by women from the United Kingdom and throughout the British Empire, and trace the shifting societal roles of women at the height of the transatlantic slave trade, through the Industrial Revolution, and into the suffrage movement (1790s to 1920s). Authors of major texts will likely include Jane Austen, Mary Prince, Charlotte Brontë, and Virginia Woolf. Students will also work on a final project that engages with a historical film adaptation and/or historical novel of their choice.  

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement. 

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities.

Prof. Yun

 

Fiction Writing focuses on the foundational elements of craft, such as point of view, character development, voice, setting, and style. In this course, we will practice writing original fiction, read and analyze published fiction across numerous genres, and discuss student work-in-progress.

Prof. Bayard 

Fiction Writing encourages students to become better writers and readers of fiction and to build a deeper appreciation for the writer’s craft. The heart of the course is the writer’s workshop, where students read and critique each other’s work, but students will also be assigned targeted readings as well as in-class writing exercises.

Prof. Hamburger

In this course, we’ll explore three modes of fiction writing: flash fiction, short stories, and novels. Along the way, students will create their own original works of fiction to submit for review in workshop. We’ll also analyze samples from published authors and do writing exercises to come up with strategies to tell compelling stories with clear and satisfying plots, complex and dynamic characters, vivid settings, and surprising, evocative uses of language.

Prof. Chang 


This course will ask and answer the following questions: What is a poem? How are poems made? Where do we find poems? Why read and write poems? We will look at examples of poetry from the past and present, in other art forms, and in everyday life. Writing assignments will be modeled on these texts and cultural works. There will be in-class writing experiments, opportunities to attend readings by poets whose work we read, and regular workshops of student writing. Balancing rigor and play, this course is designed for beginners and welcomes readers, adventurous thinkers, and writers of other genres.

Prof. 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. 

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement. 

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities and Oral Communication.

Inst. Falk

 

What is the relationship between reading and writing? How do we understand constructions of fictional universes, and how do we build our own arguments about those literary constructions? ENGL 2511W addresses both levels of textual construction – creative and academic – as a hybrid literature and composition course, with a focus on twentieth and twenty-first century American texts. (Note that ENGL 2511W is a WID course.)

 

The phrase “textual construction” is intentionally broad, not only to signal our work with creative and academic texts but also to indicate this course’s interest in the construction of texts and the idea of construction within texts. Therefore, we will focus on pieces of American writing from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that lend themselves well to metafictional readings. That is, each of the assigned texts somehow reflects upon its own status as a textual construction, self-consciously and/or self-reflexively. Moreover, these texts often rely upon spatial metaphors to convey metafictional points. We will draw largely from narrative theory in our analyses.

How do literary depictions of edifices – of the erecting and navigating of houses, buildings, and other material structures – comment upon the act of writing? How do post-1900 American writers draw from gothic tale conventions in such depictions? How do we construct our own identities and realities, when we read and write? How do we establish a sense of place and mark our existence on the cultural and historical records of time, when we read and write? What tools are at the creative writer’s disposal? What tools do academic writers have? How do textual representations of space, place, and displacement build a sense of Americanness? How do Americans construct America? In “ENGL 2511W: Introduction to American Literature II – Textual Construction in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries,” we will read graphic memoirs, poems, short stories, plays, and novels to help us answer these questions and to sharpen our own academic writing.

 

Possible Texts Include:

  • Baldwin, James. Giovanni’s Room, 1956.
  • Barth, John. “Lost in the Funhouse,” 1968.
  • Carver, Raymond. “Cathedral,” 1983.
  • Chast, Roz. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, 2014.
  • Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street, 1984.
  • Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves, 2000.
  • Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom!, 1936.
  • McGuire, Richard. Here, 2014.
  • Merrill, James. “The Broken Home,” 1966.
  • Morrison, Toni. Home, 2012.
  • Okubo, Miné. Citizen 13660, 1946.
  • Plath, Sylvia. “The Hermit at Outermost House,” 1959.
  • ---. “Old Ladies’ Home,” 1959.
  • Rich, Adrienne. “The Fact of the Doorframe,” 1974.
  • Roethke, Theodore. “Root Cellar,” 1948.
  • Shepard, Sam. True West, 1980.

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement. 

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities.

Prof. Liontas


This course is designed for writers seeking to improve their craft as writers of short fiction, and those who are prepared to tackle longer, sustained narratives. Each week students will be presented with examples of published works, which will be used as inspiration and models for their own writing. Students will become more autonomous readers in small-group collaborative settings and will become stronger writers, honing their craft. Students will write, revise, and workshop new and original fiction. Prerequisite: ENGL 2460 .

Prof. Brown 

This is an intermediate poetry writing course for students who are interested in expanding the horizons of their creative comfort zones. Through generative activities and in-class investigations, we will hone our skills in the making, discussion, and formal analysis of poetry, focusing on our own work and that of published contemporary writers. As such, we'll do plenty of reading as well as writing.

Prof. James 

Influential black writers and literary trends of the twentieth century. How the Great Migration altered black American life and how black literature registered the concerns of the Civil Rights, Black Power, feminist, and anti-war movements. 

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities and Global or Cross Cultural.

Prof. Joubin 

The world needs good question askers as much as it needs good problem solvers. Before solving problems, we need to first identify the problems. 

How does literature function in civil society? This course introduces students to major schools of critical theory and to new ways of asking questions about culture and literature through a carefully curated selection of key writing—from influential, classic articulations to more current works. Students will gain fluency in the conceptual frameworks associated with structuralism, ecocriticism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, post-colonialism, and feminism, with an emphasis on critical race, gender, sexuality, queer, and disability studies. 

More importantly, students will learn how to apply theoretical tools to films and literary works in the interest of producing scholarship that instigates changes. Taking an intersectional approach, we will examine modern theoretical perspectives, a body of knowledge that continues to evolve in new directions. 

Specifically, we will explore challenging theoretical questions through a key figure in literary history, William Shakespeare, and his place in visual, filmic, and popular culture, on which students will practice their new skills. Contrasting modes of interpretation generate new ways of understanding of early modern and postmodern cultures. 

Since the theoretical texts are challenging enough, we anchor our study in one single author to make the number of variants more manageable. For many reasons, Shakespearean films and texts have historically been used as test cases in continuing philosophical debates over the nature of the humanistic enterprise. This seminar examines important theoretical developments in relation to modern culture (films) and premodern texts (Shakespeare). 

Through critical theories we will collectively reflect on our embodied vulnerability. No previous experience with film studies or Shakespeare is expected. 

This WID (writing-in-the-discipline) course fulfills the critical theory/cultural studies requirement for the English major.

Prof. Page 


Public Poetries is a Readings in Creative Writing course focused on the work of poets who’ve cultivated a public life for their poems for political, cultural, and/or artistic ends. We will immerse ourselves in the oeuvres of four major poets – W. B. Yeats (1865-1939), W. H. Auden (1907-1973), Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), and Anne Sexton (1928-1974) – to mark aesthetic and theoretical signposts of what constitutes “public poetry.” In investigating what constitutes and, indeed, instigates the public in writing and reading poems, my hope is that we’ll consider what role poetry plays in culture and society and what responsibilities poets can conceivably take on as artists, citizens, and private individuals. This course places equal importance on developing excellent close reading skills and on cultivating an ongoing inquiry into poem-making, self-making, and culture-making.

Prof. Kanter

Fundamentals of classical and contemporary dramaturgical practice, including analyzing plays, doing research, supporting directors and actors in rehearsal, writing program notes, and leading post-show discussions. Same as TRDA 3240.

Prof. Liontas

Each week, we discuss novels, how they are built, and how they are reimagined in film and multimedia. In our critique of texts translated to the big (or small) screen, we will apply theories of adaptation. Students must have access to both anchor texts and films, as we will view texts both synchronously and independently. This course is an advanced hybrid workshop designed for students who have a strong background in fiction writing and who are curious about writing novels. 

Prerequisite: ENGL 2560 .

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 (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 and knowledge of poetry and poetics collectively and individually and 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 Teri Cross Davis’s a more perfect union, Louise Glück’s The Wild Iris, and Tiana Nobile’s Cleave.

Prerequisite: ENGL 2570 .

 

Prof. Jones

This is a creative writing workshop, with class meeting twice a week. The 75 minutes of class time are devoted primarily to discussion of students’ work. Before class, in my office, I will meet individually with the students. From time to time, the class will discuss published stories, but our focus will be on student stories.

Prof. Liontas

First and foremost, in this workshop we concern ourselves with the "authorial stance of the lived experience." We will engage in a relationship that Phillip Lopate likens to a friendship that “confides everything from gossip to wisdom” and is “based on identification, understanding, testiness, and companionship.” Sub-genres explored include autobiography & memoir, the personal-political essay, profiles, case studies, feature writing, and narratives that intentionally (sometimes dangerously) straddle the worlds of fiction and nonfiction. Students from all disciplines and levels are encouraged to join.

Prof. Wood

This is a course about how we tell the truth. For thousands of years, human beings have been writing nonfiction, and we’ll read widely from this history—everything from ancient Sumerian complaints to satirical Amazon reviews, from 18th century listicles to contemporary accounts of race riots. But this is also a course about why we tell the truth, which is to say it’s a course about what it means to be a curious and conscientious human being. As we create our own works of nonfiction, we’ll try to understand how a seemingly simple act—describing the world—can be a powerful tool for social and political change. 

Prof. Seavey

Continuation of ENGL 3480. Readings in significant eighteenth-century English and Continental writers—Dryden, Swift, Pope, Johnson, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and others—with emphasis on tracing the ways in which literary texts contain, perpetuate, and subvert social and political ideologies.

Prof. Moreland

In the 19th century, the first mature American novels were published. American writers thereby proclaimed their independence from the English novelistic tradition that had first emerged in the 18th century. By the 19th century, American novelists had largely overcome their lack of confidence, finally becoming convinced that it was pre-eminently important to focus on specifically American characters in clearly American settings. 

When William De Forest referenced in 1848 “The Great American Novel,” the very term itself insisted that American novels could indeed be great, indeed that some were already great—a concept that American novelists embraced. It was accepted that a novel in likely competition for that term would focus not only on American characters in American settings, but even more importantly on the American national character. De Forest suggested some novels as possible contenders, but he also acknowledged that the Great American novel might not yet have been written. Although the criticality of this term is demonstrated by its continued use in the 20th and 21st centuries, its foundation in the 19th century demonstrated a commitment to representing the country that American novelists perceived as “great” in its strengths but also its flaws. Indeed, the greatest American novelists necessarily focused on both in their pursuit of writing The Great American Novel.

Inst. Chakrabarti

 

This course will examine the contemporary representation of gender, sexuality, and politics in Bollywood cinema. We will historically investigate the various challenges that the Indian postcolonial feminist movement has had to face through the lens of Bollywood cinema. 

The course will examine how Bollywood cinema has, in the last two decades, addressed or neglected key issues of gender-based violence, LGBTQIA+ rights, and patriarchal nationalism. What solutions have they offered, and what alternatives have they imagined? These films will be read as texts that are attempting to take on and grapple with these issues with varying degrees of success. 

We shall watch a selection of popular Hindi cinema such as RaaziDangal, and Pink that have portrayed these issues within the parameters of melodrama and other generic conventions (and limitations) that dominate Bollywood cinema. The course will also engage with some alternative films such as My Brother…Nikhil, Aligarh, and Margarita with a Straw that pressure the boundaries of mainstream Bollywood cinema as they address topics such as HIV/AIDS, LGBTQIA+ experience, disability, and desire. We will take an intersectional approach that takes into account other modes of difference such as caste, class, and religion. Topics we will explore include: modern Indian masculinity, gender equality, sexual agency, and patriotic nationalism.

We will also engage these film representations with the works of postcolonial feminist thinkers such as Ania Loomba, Nivedita Menon, Ruth Vanita, Ulka Anjaria, and Gayatri Gopinath, among others.

 

This course is offered as a cross section with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. Listed as WGSS 3170-80

Prof. Moreland 

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed 

by madness, starving hysterical naked 

Angel headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly 

connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night. 

Howl, Allen Ginsberg 

Take a ride on the wild side through 1950s America. Your companions? The Beats and their fellow travelers: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, James Baldwin, John Updike, and Sylvia Plath. 

In this course, we will explore the “howling” literature of 1950s and early1960s America. Post-World War II America was intent on a return to pre-War “normalcy,” which was inevitably very narrowly defined. Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar and John Updike in Rabbit, Run present the costs paid by a female and a male protagonist, respectively, who attempt to fit into normative society while simultaneously resisting its pressures. Feeling constrained by these pressures to adjust their identities to the norm, they struggle mightily because they have no models or community to validate their resistance and offer a new way of being. 

In contrast, those who chose explicitly to deviate from the norm and to consciously resist social pressures accepted and even celebrated their ejection from the center into the margins of a society that they themselves largely rejected, perceiving themselves as “Beat” in the sense of the beatific and holy, while also perceiving themselves as “Beat” in the sense of being beaten down by normative society. 

These marginalized “others” were defined widely, for example in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sexual practices, use of drugs and alcohol, psychological state, socioeconomic class, and public and even private behavior, or combinations therein. 

Rendered invisible by normative society, the Beats, created a subculture in which they supported each other’s work and life choices, serving as models for each other and creating a supportive community. They gave themselves voice by means of literature, howling “No!” to the strictures of 1950s and early-1960s American society. 

In this course we will focus on the sub-culture of the Beats, exploring the literature that expressed their social marginalization and their expression of life lived on the margins. And we will locate the Beat movement in its historical context, focusing on the post-World War II return to normalcy on the one hand, while recognizing the counter-cultural movement of the Anti-Vietnam War movement on the other. 

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

Prof. McRuer

NOTE: this course will include a “live” element, meaning three of the writers we read will visit our class (virtually) and provide a public (virtual) reading of their new work. 

This course will explore some of the ways in which bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and gay people have creatively imagined identities and communities since the beginning of the contemporary gay liberation movement. Focusing on LGBT novels, short stories, and nonfiction prose written during the past four decades, we will consider in particular what is made possible and impossible by literary representation: how and why have writers used literary representations to explore what it means to be lesbian, bisexual, gay, or transgender? What historical and cultural conditions have encouraged such writing? If every way of perceiving is simultaneously a way of not perceiving, what identities, communities, and political possibilities have been constrained by available literary forms? How have certain writers responded to those constraints? We will attempt to remain attentive throughout to the cultural and political contexts from which these texts emerge and in which they are read. 

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

Prof. López

This course considers the fictional and non-fictional narratives, poetry, and drama of U.S. Latinx literature. It takes a historical view that stretches from the 17th century and an account of Spanish-colonial violence, travel, and imagination in what becomes Florida, the Sunshine State, to a volume of contemporary Chicanx poetry in which sounds, ideas, and typography represent human and even non-human desires for something we can call “the land.” This is to say that we will debate, propose, 

and range across the possible and very much messy periods of U.S. Latinx literature. In so doing, we will explore just how it is that the conjunction of Latinx and literature makes sense: how this organism, Latina/o literature, can manage to stage identities, turn the shape and force of words, and twist the plots of time and space, even as it bears and enjoys the burdens of being an “American” literary tradition. Latinx can mean something or someone in the United States (even before there was such a thing) of Mexican, Dominican, or Puerto Rican descent (even before there was such a thing); it can mean the way a short story, lyric poem, or dramatic performance behaves in creative, social ways toward (and especially against) these kinds of ethnic-racial-national signs. How does the poem “In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes,” say, or the novel Nilda offer us up examples of such literary behavior? How are the verbal, artistic materials of these texts sometimes sympathetic to, sometimes hostile to the very stories they tell and the very feelings they front? How are the frames we bring them (in history and theory), not to mention the frames they themselves offer up, maybe meaningful and superfluous all at once? These questions, unpacked, their pieces thrown around the room to see what intrigues, will inform the papers we will write and, crucially, revise, plus the group work we will do. 

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

Prof. James

This course is an exploration of award-winning and best-selling black women’s literature produced in the 21st century. For the purpose of our study this semester, we will consider works published in English from writers who live and work in the United States. While our primary focus is on fiction—both in traditional and experimental forms—we will also examine film, memoir and poetry. The readings will cover a range of topics: history and memory; sex and sexuality; beauty and the body; nature and the environment, and others. In addition, drawing on the current political moment, we will read selected literary texts related to black women and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

As we investigate this work, we will keep key questions in mind: What are the stories this newest generation of black women writers are telling? Why, from a cultural, historical, and sociopolitical point of view, are they telling them? What are the legacies and interventions? What choices are they making in the telling—in terms of form, content and structure? How do these writers explain their own projects? What is their literary philosophy? What does this work tell us about the futures of literary landscapes for black women? How and where is their work being interpreted and received? How does the reception of their work offer insight into how the publishing industry perceives and promotes ideas and expectations about black women and black women’s literature (for example, what the literature should or should not “do,” who the audiences are or are not). 

Possible authors/texts covered: Roxane Gay, Hunger; Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother; Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X; Yaa Gayasi, Homegoing; Dee Rees, Pariah; Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones; Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Heads of the Colored People; Claudia Rankine, Citizen; DeeShaw Philyaw; The Secret Lives of Church Ladies; Patrisse Cullors; When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give; Morgan Parker, There are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce; Margaret Wilkerson Sexton; The Revisioners; DaMaris Hill; A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing.

Prof. Page

Under the guidance of an instructor, students compose an original manuscript of poetry or short fiction accompanied by an essay situating their work in the contemporary context. Restricted to seniors in the BA in English and BA in Creative Writing and English programs.

Prof. Frawley 

Under the guidance of an instructor, the student writes a thesis on an approved topic. Open only to senior honors candidates in English. 

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement. Same As: ENGL 4250.

Prof. Frawley

For exceptional students, typically majors, whose academic objectives are not accommodated in regular courses. Students must obtain departmental approval and arrange for supervision by an appropriate member of the faculty. Permission of the supervising faculty required prior to enrollment

Prof. Seavey

Position of responsibility with a publication, educational project, firm, or cultural organization offering practical experience in research, writing, editing, etc. May be repeated for credit; a maximum of 3 credits may be counted toward the English major. Permission of the supervising faculty required prior to enrollment. P/NP grading only. Restricted to juniors and seniors in the English program.

Please also check out our Graduate Course Offerings, as they may be open to advanced undergraduate students.

Fall 2020

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?  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 Artistic Directors select to be produced each year and the nature of those productions.  We will read at least three classical plays and three new plays.  Attending plays will depend on the status of social distancing in DC and MD.  I have arranged with Artistic Directors in DC and NYC to have new play readings/rehearsals/performances streamed to us if live performances are not available.

This course is an overview of three genres: poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. We will study the work of established writers and experiment with form through writing exercises and workshops where students will share original work.

This course fulfills the G-PAC requirement of Arts

“Myths of Britain” is an introductory course that invites all students who are interested in cultural artifacts—things like books, music, drama, song, photographs, film, painting, sculpture, and even social media. In particular, we will be reading and consuming works by a diverse array of individuals, past and present, who are associated with, informed by, and often critical of the idea of “Britain,” an idea that casts a long shadow over the present.

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities and Global or Cross Cultural.

How do modern writers adapt the conventions of fantasy narration and the bildungsroman--the novel of education--to address questions of identity, class, gender, species, social dissent, and desire? We'll explore the connections between fantasy genres in the English literary canon (fairy tales, myth, medieval romance, and the gothic novel), coming of age themes in young adult fantasy, anime, magic realism, and speculative fiction.

This course has been approved as a GPAC Humanities course.

This course addresses major issues in Asian American culture and history through literary and cinematic texts. Topics include identity, gender, race, and intersectionality; stereotyping, exclusion laws, miscegenation, the internment of Japanese Americans; immigration, assimilation, and return; stereotyping, adoption, mixed-race families, transpacific families; racial melancholia; history, memory, and counter memory. Readings include texts by and about Asian Americans with ancestry from East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Philippines.

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course is designed to fulfill a Humanities/Critical Thinking GPAC requirement.

Traditional and nontraditional (Aristotelian and non-Aristotelian) approaches to the analysis of dramatic literature; literary and theatrical techniques used by playwrights.

Study of British authors from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution. These may include Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Swift, Gay, Johnson, and Gray.

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities.

This course provides a survey of British literature from the Romantic period to the twenty-first century. We will examine how writers from across more than 200 years responded to the major historical and cultural developments of their time, including imperialism, industrialism, democracy, urbanization, decolonization, and globalization. The course will cover fiction, non-fiction essays, plays, and poetry. In addition to familiarizing ourselves with literary history, we will study the significant developments that shaped the social and cultural map of nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain, which, in turn, shaped our contemporary position in history: the rise of the modern “individual,” class conflict, immigration, the growth of multiculturalism in Britain, changing gender norms, and the changes in global capitalist culture from the end of the French Revolution to Brexit. This is a reading intensive course. Students will have the chance to strengthen their close reading, discussion, editing, and revising skills, and to enhance their knowledge and use of literary-critical and cultural-studies terminology. Ideally, they will be able to apply the methods and labors of close-reading into a productive outlet for analyzing and writing about literary artifacts.

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities.

Fiction Writing focuses on the foundational elements of craft, such as point of view, character development, voice, setting, and style. In this course, we will practice writing original fiction, read and analyze published fiction across numerous genres, and discuss student work-in-progress.

This is the initial creative writing course at GW devoted solely to poetry. We will read poems, talk widely about poetry, sample various approaches and devices, and work towards a common critical vocabulary to help us think about poems more accurately and sensitively. Above all you will write poems. Most of our class time will be devoted to close examination of both established work and student poems; learning to read and talk about poetry more successfully should enable you to write poems with a better appreciation for your readers’ probable experience of your work, and your peers’ direct feedback should prove invaluable.

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.

 

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

 

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities and Oral Communication

Reading of significant works by modern American authors such as Wharton, Chopin, Crane, London, Frost, Morrison. Hughes, and Faulkner.

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities.

Intermediate Fiction Writing is a workshop-based course that builds and expands upon students' prior study of the foundational elements of fiction writing craft. Prerequisite: ENGL 2460.

This course surveys significant works of black American literature from the late eighteenth century to the turn of the twentieth century. Beginning with black writing produced in the age of the American Revolution, we will shift to the eras of slavery, abolition, Reconstruction, early feminism, and conclude with the Great Migration to the North. The selections include a range of forms: poetry, essays, fiction, and autobiography. We give particular emphasis to the slave narrative, which stands as the single most influential black American literary genre of the 19th century.

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Humanities and Global or Cross Cultural.

Theory provides an interpretive framework for understanding how the process of meaning-making works as a cultural product. How is meaning made? What interests does it disguise? How can we become discerning interpreters of culture and the arts that reflect it deepest concerns and values? By theorizing we expose the conditions in which others (and ourselves) live. Readings will primary focus on works produced during the period of late capitalism dominated by technological surveillance, the privatization of public commonwealth, information overload, historical amnesia, catastrophic human-made disasters. Books include: Jean Francois Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition, Don DeLillo’s White Noise, Frederick Jameson’s Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, Stephen best’s None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life, Alice Walker’s Meridian, Michel Foucault’s Discipline & Punish, & HBO’s limited television series “Chernobyl”.

Public Poetries is a Readings in Creative Writing course focused on the work of poets who’ve cultivated a public life for their poems for political, cultural, and/or artistic ends. We will immerse ourselves in the oeuvres of four major poets – W. B. Yeats (1865-1939), W. H. Auden (1907-1973), Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), and Anne Sexton (1928-1974) – to mark aesthetic and theoretical signposts of what constitutes “public poetry.” In investigating what constitutes and, indeed, instigates the public in writing and reading poems, my hope is that we’ll consider what role poetry plays in culture and society and what responsibilities poets can conceivably take on as artists, citizens, and private individuals. This course places equal importance on developing excellent close reading skills and on cultivating an ongoing inquiry into poem-making, self-making, and culture- making.

Further workshop study of the writing of fiction. Prerequisite: ENGL 2560 . May be repeated for credit with departmental approval.

This course focuses on craft elements in contemporary American memoir, including persona, voice, character development, structure, setting, and style. We will analyze literary practices, and students will write original creative nonfiction. This course includes a writing workshop component.

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement area of Oral Communication.

Topics announced prior to the registration period; may be repeated for credit provided the topic differs. Topics may include poetry and poetics; forms and methods in fiction; forms and methods in poetry; memoir and personal narratives; creative nonfiction; "Literature, Live"; avant-garde and experimental writing.

This course covers a wide variety of texts across many genres from approximately the eighth

through the fifteenth centuries, including religious and secular poems, riddles, romances, saints’ legends, mystical narratives, lyrics, civic drama, and social satires. While we will occasionally take a look at the original medieval languages and read some Middle English, we will typically read modern English translations. A particular theoretical emphasis on ecocriticism, the history of emotions, and affect theory will help guide our discussions, but students will have the freedom to range widely with theoretical lenses of their choosing, as well as to engage with texts outside of the traditional medieval European canon. Exploring what “the medieval” means in our contemporary consciousness and its importance to cultural discourse will also inform our class discussions. The goal of the course will not only be to gain the confidence to read and enjoy medieval texts but also to compose a solid portfolio of literary analyses by the end of the semester.

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

Through the lenses of critical race and gender theories, this course examines cinematic

representations of Shakespeare’s “problem” plays, Roman plays, histories, tragedies, and comedies, with a focus on the themes of race, gender, sexuality, class, and colonialism. These narratives have been screened--projected on the silver screen and filtered by various ideologies—since 1899. In particular, we will focus on racialized bodies, performance of gender and sexuality, disability narratives, feminist interventions, religious fault lines, class struggle, and intersectional identities.

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

Entering a period beset by national divisions over slavery and westward expansion, American writers between 1830 and 1865 sought to generate a national literature that might claim the independence which had been politically secured in the previous century. American writers like Poe, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Douglass, Stowe, Whitman, and Dickinson do succeed in generating a literature that adapts Romantic literary ideas to American political and cultural issues. It is a literature considering the intersections of inspiration, self-reliance, community solidarity, and personal responsibility. The legacy of these writers resonates with writers and readers down to our own time.

This is the first half of a broad survey of Anglophone American poetry from its beginnings to the present. In 3620, we will read from the 17th century up into the very early 20th century. The poets we will examine most closely in 3620 are the 19th-century writers Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, both of whom did crucial work from mid-century through the Civil War and in the decades after. However, we will start with earlier poets whose work has continuing artistic appeal and historical relevance, Anne Bradstreet (17th century) and Phillis Wheatley (18th century) among them. From the earlier part of the 19th-century, we will consider William Cullen Bryant, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Longfellow, and John Greenleaf Whittier; later poets will include Emma Lazarus, Edwin Arlington Robinson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

COURSE ATTRIBUTES: This course addresses the G-PAC requirement areas of Oral Communication.

Continuation of ENGL 3640. In this course, we will first focus on literary modernism in the context of the development and transformation of the American novel during the first decades of the twentieth century. A rejection of the values and experience of World War I, modernism was an artistic movement of extraordinary experimentation. Turning to the novels of later decades, we will explore in particular the second-generation naturalism which was a literary response to the Great Depression, World War II, and McCarthyism, among other critical sociocultural events. Then we will turn to the latter part of the century, focusing on the radical literary experimentation of postmodernism, which called into question the philosophical and literary realism associated with the novel since its18th-century formation. Taking a psychobiographical and sociocultural approach, we will examine the ways in which various American writers shaped their novels, and the ways in which the writers and their novels were "written" or encoded by American culture. We will also employ other theoretical approaches that will enable us to interrogate these novels in useful and significant ways. The books we will read are the following: Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Barth’s Lost in the Funhouse, and O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald each named the period of their young manhood, Hemingway by reference to “our time” and Fitzgerald by reference to the “jazz age.” Both Hemingway and Fitzgerald reflected personal and historical realities. Whereas Hemingway’s fiction of the 1920s and beyond are marked by disillusionment, pain, and trauma, Fitzgerald’s is marked first by the new freedoms seized by young people in the 1920s, and then by their cost in the 1930s. Hemingway’s personal experience of World War I and then the expatriate society inflected many of his works, sometimes by their presence and sometimes by their omission, as explained in his “Iceberg Theory” of writing. Fitzgerald, who did not fight in the war, felt that he had missed the most significant experience of his generation, and the war appears always in his fiction, if often by means of indirection. Fitzgerald chose, however, to focus his attention on the independence of young people, who rejected their parents’ strictures and relished the freedom and privacy granted by the automobile.

Both writers are most famous for their novels, and we will read two by each writer: Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night. Both Hemingway and Fitzgerald were also superb short story writers, a number of which we will read, along with Fitzgerald’s resonant essays.

In this class, you will discover how timely their work was to their own present when writing, and how timeless their work is in terms of their continuing significance.

Includes a significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression to satisfy the WID requirement.

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 is intended only for those senior English majors who have been selected for the English Honors Program. The seminar will help you get started on writing your honors thesis by focusing on basics of research in literary and cultural studies and on the broader work of writing and reading in the humanities.

Over the course of the semester students will develop a thesis proposal, outline, and first chapter; we will begin with seminar discussions on the practice of research and move midway through the semester to conducting writing workshops in which we’ll exchange and comment on drafts in small groups.

Please also check out our Graduate Course Offerings, as they may be open to advanced undergraduate students.

Spring 2020 Courses 

This list of courses is continually updated. You can find the complete English department course slate on the Registrar's Schedule of Classes. Check back for more course descriptions throughout the registration period.

Prof. Sten 

TR 12:45-2


This Dean's Seminar will look at writing based in Washington, DC, by nationally prominent authors in pivotal periods in U.S. history:  Early Years (Abigail Adams, Charles Dickens); the Civil War (Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott); the Gilded Age (Henry Adams and Mark Twain); the 1920s (Jean Toomer and Sinclair Lewis); the Great Depression and WWII (Langston Hughes; Gore Vidal); and the contemporary period (Edward P. Jones, George Pelecanos, among others).  Students will read and discuss these works each week in seminar fashion and also explore the history, culture, and visual landscape of the city, through museum visits, walking tours, and on-site research.  Requirements include two essays, occasional quizzes and questionnaires, a collaborative oral report, and a take-home final exam. 
Readings:
            Henry Adams, Democracy: An American Novel
            Gore Vidal, Washington, DC: A Novel
            Edward P. Jones, Lost in the City (stories)
            George Pelecanos, editor, DC Noir
            Christopher Sten, editor, Literary Capital: A Washington Reader

Prof. Shore 

TR  11:10-12:25

Prof. Wallace 

MW  11:10-12:25

Prof. Page 

MW 9:35-10:50 a.m.

This course will analyze elements of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction and will include three creative writing workshops.  Peer review and literary analysis are key components of the course.

Prof. Yun

TR  12:45-2 p.m.

Introduction to Creative Writing explores the art and craft of two or more genres of writing. In this section, we will focus on fiction, creative non-fiction, and the narrative connections between these genres.

Prof. Mitchell 

R  3:30-6 p.m.
This class examines the history of developments in the representation of indigenous peoples and other minorities in the Americas.  We will begin with the Spanish invasion of South America and Mexico (New Spain) and move to stories of encounters with Americans Indians during the European colonization of New England, Asian immigrant experiences in the South Seas and the American West, African slavery along the midwestern Fugitive Slave line, and Latino/a queer diasporas in the Southwest.  Theories of racial subjugation and nationalist exclusions will form the analytical framework for our deliberations including: Barbara Harlow’s Resistance Literature, Stephen Greenblatt’s New World Encounters, Gerald Home’s The White Pacific: U.S. Imperialism and Black Slavery in the South Seas After the Civil War, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.  We will also center our interests in the second half of the class on four influential novels that reteach American history from the perspective of indigenous and racialized immigrant experience: William Vollmann’s Fathers and Crows, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, James Michener’s Hawaii, Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Our goal will be to recognize the significant counter-histories that challenge dominant narratives of American nation identity as forming in the vacuum of a “waste and howling wilderness.”

Prof. Chu 

TR  11:10-12:25 p.m.

How do modern writers adapt the conventions of fantasy narration and the bildungsroman--the novel of education--to address questions of identity, class, gender, species, social dissent, and desire?  We'll explore the connections between fantasy genres in the English literary canon (fairy tales, myth, medieval romance, and the gothic novel), coming of age themes in young adult fantasy, anime, magic realism, and speculative fiction. 
            The course has no prerequisites, but UW20 or a similar course is recommended.
            This course has been approved as a GPAC Humanities course.
            Requirements:  3 papers, 1 midterm exam, up to 100 pages of reading per course meeting.
            Required Primary Texts (subject to change):  Tatar, The Classic Fairy Tales; Stone, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Renault, The King Must Die; Mitchell, Gilgamesh; Shelley, Frankenstein; Hartman, Seraphina;  Butler, Kindred.  Liu, The Paper Menagerie.

Prof. McAleavey

TR  9:35-10:50 a.m.


 In the Bulletin, ENGL 2210 is described as focusing on the “craft and technique of creative writing and/or theories of creative writing,” and it satisfies a 3-credit-hour requirement for the major in Creative Writing and English. It is open to all interested students, not just majors.
            For Spring 2020, we will approach that agenda by studying “prose poetry,” reading and writing “prose poems” or “poems in prose.” In the family of imaginative brief prose forms, prose poetry, flash (or “sudden”) fiction, and short works of creative nonfiction (including memoir, personal essay, etc.) are siblings. Cousins to this immediate family are the joke, the news item, the dream narrative, the autobiographical anecdote, and the letter (among others). But we’re looking at poems. In prose.
            “Prose,” in this context, refers to writing that is presented using the whole width of a physical column of type (usually the width of the page, minus margins on both sides), often justified on its right margin as well as its left. Poetry, in contrast, traditionally depends on lines (or stichs) whose length, determined by other means, is independent of the printed page. Traditionally, poems have been lineated.
            The rebellion which has become the genre (or sub-genre) of prose poetry engages with a challenge: how can a mere chunk of writing, a block of continuous prose, be considered poetry, since it is not lineated? We will address that question historically and inductively, by reading examples from the history of the prose poem, as well as practically and creatively, by writing our own defiant prose poems.

Prof. Chakrabarti

MW 2:20-3:35 PM

 

This is a survey course that provides an introduction to the Romantic and Victorian Periods of British Literature. In this course, we will read essays, novels, and poetry which were written by and/or talk about rebellious women. How does literature propagate rules as well as subvert them? What does the literature of these time periods tell us about the fast-changing ideas about ideal British femininity, and how were these ideals challenged? The course covers a broad range of texts, both canonical and non-canonical, which deal with issues of gender, class, race, and nationality. We will pay special attention to the ways in which these texts engage with rebellious femininity. This course will satisfy the WID requirement.

Texts will include Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Lady Susan by Jane Austen, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, among others.

Prof. Yun

TR 4:45-6 p.m.


Fiction Writing focuses on the foundational elements of craft, such as point of view, character development, setting, and style. In this section, we will practice writing original fiction, read and analyze published fiction, and discuss student work-in-progress.

Prof. Chang

MW 11:10-12:25 p.m.         

  
This course will ask and answer the following questions: What is a poem? How are poems made? Where do we find poems? Why read and write poems? We will look at examples of poetry from the past and present, in other art forms, and in everyday life. Writing assignments will be modeled on these texts and cultural works. There will be in-class writing experiments, opportunities to attend readings by poets whose work we read, and regular workshops of student writing. Balancing rigor and play, this course is designed for beginners and welcomes readers, adventurous thinkers, and writers of other genres.

Prof. Seavey

TR 12:45-2 p.m.
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.

Prof. Liontas 

TR  2:20-3:35 p.m.  

Workshop developing foundations of craft in fiction, focusing on character, escalation, place, voice, and selective detail.

Prof. Shore

TR 12:45 - 2:00PM

Prof. James 

TR  11:10-12:25 p.m.


This is a course designed to provide students with an introduction to some of the most influential African American writers of 20th century. Beginning with selected works from the 1920’s and 30’s, we will explore how the Great Migration north altered African American life and facilitated a “modern” black literature. We will end with the self-consciously political writing of the 1960’s and 70’s to examine how African American literature registered the concerns of the Civil Rights, Black Power, feminist and anti-war movements. Writers might include Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Loraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison.

Prof. Joubin

TR 12:45-2 p.m.         
           

How does literature function in civil society? This course introduces students to major schools of critical theory and to new ways of asking questions about culture and literature through a carefully curated selection of key writing—from influential, classic articulations to more current works. Students will gain fluency in the conceptual frameworks associated with structuralism, ecocriticism, psychoanalytic criticism, Marxism, post-colonialism, and feminism, with an emphasis on critical race, gender, sexuality, queer, and disability studies.
            More importantly, students will learn how to apply theoretical tools to literary works in the interest of producing scholarship that instigates changes. Taking an intersectional approach, we will examine modern theoretical perspectives, a body of knowledge that continues to evolve in new directions.

Prof. Page

MW  12:45-2 p.m.     

 

This course will examine life stories in literature, including the roman a clef,  the prose poem and the memoir, as well as autobiographical aspects of fiction. Craft, style, and content are the focus.   It is both a literature course and a creative writing course, with a writing workshop component.
 

Prof. Chang

MW 2:20-3:35 p.m.


Raymond Williams claims that “’nature’ is perhaps the most complex word in the English language.” An introduction to modern and contemporary environmental literature and writing, this course embraces the complexity of nature as a language and explores how writers have defined and figured nature as aesthetic tool and model, as sociocultural phenomenon, and as an ethical dilemma. What is nature and why do writers turn to nature? How does literary form absorb, reflect, and engage with the Anthropocene? What is our environment and where and when do we recognize nature in our own lives? We will read poems and prose that document the environment, grapple with climate change, and consider the sociocultural dynamics of environmental literature. We will also write often and variously and venture out into the “nature” of DC

Prof. Liontas 

Workshop exploring memoir and other forms of the genre, including profiles, case studies, and cultural criticism.  

Prof. Liontas 

MW  2:20-3:35


Hybrid workshop/literature course.  Students will have the opportunity to write toward their own novels, in addition to examining exemplary novels and their adaptations in film and media.

Prof. Dugan 

MW  11:10-12:25 p.m.


           How do we talk about money? Is there an art to it? And what do great artists have to say about this topic? In this course, we'll read a wide variety of literary texts (deemed by many to be canonical works of literature). Our goal will be to explore how money functions in these texts as an index of value, a measure of power, a part of our identity, and as a tool to create change. We'll then apply these insights and connect them to our own queries about art and economics, including our own personal and cultural investments in money. Students will practice analyzing, writing, and speaking about these topics at the very highest levels, honing their skills by working together to produce a podcast that explores literary and economic themes in these books.
            The reading list includes: a selection of contemporary poetry, Chaucer's "Pardoner's Tale," Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener, Butlers Parable of the Sower, Rowling's Harry Potter, Eggers' The Circle, Norris's McTeague, and Ellis's American Psych

Prof. Joubin

TR 2:20-3:35 p.m.


Shakespeare, Race and Gender:  Ideologies about race, gender, and class 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.

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

  • Explore concepts of difference and their implications
  • Learn skills of close reading and critical analysis
  • Hone library research skills
  • Evidence-based argumentation
  • Connect critical analysis to your professional life beyond the classroom

Prof. Dugan

MW  2:20-3:35 p.m.


In this course, students will study John Milton's literary history by exploring the influence--and limitations--of his literary epic Paradise Lost. How have artists engaged with this epic poem? What can we learn by studying these reimagined versions of Milton's vision of Paradise? And how do these adaptations change how we read Milton as a canonical author? Students will read Milton's Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and a selection of his prose and poetry alongside of Phillis Wheatley's poetry, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, William Blake's illustrations, Feldman's 2017 play Amanuensis, Or The Miltons, Pratchett & Gaiman's Good Omens, and Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series.

Prof. Seavey

MW 3:45-5 p.m.


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.

Prof. Green-Lewis 

MW 11:10-12:25 pm.
The Great War (1914-18) is often considered the catalyst for high modernism, but in its attention to the ordinary beauties of daily life, and its skepticism of such novelistic
fundamentals as plot and character, modernism also had notably pre-war roots. In our discussions of (mostly) British works from c. 1900-1930, we will focus on the following topics:
national, public, and private identity; vision and knowledge; the idea of “character”; nostalgia, loss, and the concept of home; beauty; and urban culture. Authors will include Henry James, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf.

Prof. McAleavey

TR  12:45-2 p.m.

 

BULLETIN DESCRIPTION: Close examination of major American poems since the early 20th century:Frost, Eliot, Stevens, Bishop, Hughes, Ashbery, and others

PREREQUISITES: None. However, the English Department strongly recommends a literature course,such as ENGL 1050 or one of the courses numbered in the 1300s through the 1800s, as a prerequisite upper-division English courses, such as this one.
OVERVIEW: This course examines books by ten American poets from throughout the 20th century who collectively disrupt the continuity and traditions of English-language poetry, starting with the somewhat Georgian lyrics of Robert Frost (starting before WW I), through the Modernist constructions of T.S. Eliot, 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.

Prof. Alcorn

TR 9:35-10:50 a.m.


This course will focus on the literature and culture of Ireland from early myth to the present.   Assigned readings will analyze major literary works while giving particular attention to the transformation of Irish culture, politics, and identity from the 18th to the 20th century.   Major authors include Heaney, Joyce, Yeats, O’Connor, O’Casey, Synge, and Farrell.

Prof. DeWispelare

MW  9:35-10:50 a.m.

The philosopher Jacques Rancière identifies a relationship between politics and aesthetics.  Politics only changes when some breach or insurrection causes it to change.  Similarly, aesthetic ideas and criteria only change when there is a deliberate break with and reordering of what has come before. 

 

This course is organized around the term “riot,” which is an evocative noun with complexly interlaced referents.  In the domain of the social and the economic, “riot” refers to “a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd.” In the domain of the aesthetic, the term “riot” has long named “a roaringly successful show, performer, etc” as well as “a person […] or thing which is extremely popular or makes a big impression.”  In contemporary anglophone vernacular, riot occurs in streets, in prisons, in protests, and in spaces of exceptional social combustibility—spaces that are nowadays increasingly “common” in three senses: recurrent, popular, and public.  Riot also occurs in aesthetic space: there are riots of color, riotous performances, riotous behavior, and riot as aesthetic judgment, as in, “the book was a riot.” This issue zeroes in on the varied meanings of riot in the period, as well as now. 

 

In order to approach these questions, over the course of the semester we will read eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts that attempt to describe or thematize popular mass movements, including riots.  We will also read contemporary texts that that rethink literary form in ‘riotous’ ways.  Taken together, we develop ways to speak about the relationship between aesthetic form and political content. 

 

Books may include the following, among others: Carlyle, The French Revolution, C.L.R. James, Black Jacobins, Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities and excerpts from Barnaby Rudge.  Brontë, Shirley, Zola Germinal, Conrad The Secret Agent.  A variety of cutting-edge contemporary experiments in form will also be included like Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, Vol. 1, Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl, Maggie Nelson’s Jane: A Murder, Christa Wolf’s One Day a Year, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, among others. 

 

This course will fulfill the 1700-1900 distribution requirement for the English major.  

Prof. Khalid 

TR 2:20-3:35 p.m.


With the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 2019, we reflect on the various ways in which we relate to the cosmos and the world beyond our immediate physical reality. Science fiction helps us expand our conception of humanity’s place within the universe. This course will cover science fiction literature and film mostly from Britain and the global Anglophone 2 world produced between the late nineteenth-century and the present. This course will pay special attention to changing trends within the genre’s development over the past century. The course will examine how science fiction contends with significant political, historical, and social issues, notably war, militarization, climate change, reproductive rights, human rights, and the ethics of scientific experimentation. The course’s focus on science fiction texts and films will focus on how science fiction as a genre addresses issues of empire, imperialism, and race. In our study of various texts and films, we will pay attention to how the interpretation of science fiction texts is situated within a specific history of distribution and consumption of material by science fiction readers, writers, and publishers, from the earliest science fiction pulps to the massive convergence culture of sci-fi that encompasses books, film, television, internet fandom, and fandom culture and conferences across the globe. Readings will include works by H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, and John Wyndham, as well as works by science fiction writers from across the globe, such as Keki Daruwalla (India), Cixin Liu (China), and Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria), among others. The course will also include some films, notably Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Steven Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001), and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (2007), among others, which students will be required to watch and discuss in class. The course format is mixed lecture and discussion with one test, two formal papers, and regular informal writing due in class as part of the course’s participation grade. This course will train students to think and write critically about literature and film. The goal of the course is to help students learn about the evolution of science fiction as a genre and to understand how this genre offers important cultural and scientific commentary on our contemporary moment.

Prof. Green-Lewis 

MW  3:45-5 p.m.
(Cross listed with Honors 2054W)


This course focuses on the unanticipated horrors of World War One in order to show how  writers and artists of the early-20th century attempted to give new shape to new knowledge. We’ll read poetry, memoir, letters, and fiction: we’ll look at paintings, photographs, and war memorials; we’ll listen to music by Stravinsky, Britten, and working-class soldiers. We’ll talk about mud, rats, gas, and barbed wire. And we’ll also talk about love. We’ll be guided throughout by the question: What is the place of art and literature in an age of war?

Prof. Sten

MW  2:20-3:35 p.m.
            This course will explore themes of cultural conflict, border crossing, and transgressive behavior in the short stories and novels of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne.  In Melville’s Typee, or A Peep at Polynesian Life and “Benito Cereno,” the cultural conflict occurs when an innocent American enters a foreign world; in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables the conflicts are gendered and generational; and in Moby-Dick and The Blithedale Romance they are personal, ideological, or based on class and gender.  In each case, we will seek to establish the historical context of these conflicts and explore whether the author suggests any solutions.  As the semester progresses, we will also discuss how the thinking of Hawthorne and Melville (who became close friends in the early 1850s) might be compared and contrasted.  Finally, since several of these works are known as “romances” (gothic, demonic, historical, utopian) we will work to develop an understanding of these popular genres as well. 
            In addition to weekly readings, assignments include three papers and a take-home final examination.
Readings:   Melville: Typee, or a Peep at Polynesian Life; Moby-Dick, or The Whale; The Piazza Tales.    Hawthorne: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tales; The Scarlet Letter; The House of the Seven Gables; The Blithedale Romance

 

Prof. Hsy

TR  12:45-2 p.m.


            Game of Thrones, Black Panther, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter: in popular media, tales of heroism, romance, and magic set in a mythic past have enduring appeal. What are the literary origins that gave rise to such contemporary media? How do fantasies about the medieval past inform contemporary culture and global geopolitics?
            This course will examine how medieval storytelling traditions shape popular media (including film and TV, visual art, spoken word poetry, political activism, and fandom communities). We will read works of medieval literature and discover how these texts inform present-day cultural issues as wide-ranging as religious conflict, racial and ethnic identity, and the mysteries of love.
            Major texts include BeowulfVinland Sagas, Chaucer’s Canterbury TalesThe Book of Margery KempeSir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Shakespeare’s Othello.
            Contemporary media in this course will include Game of Thrones and Black Panther. We will consider how the Western medieval past is appropriated across Anglo-American, Indigenous, Asian American, Jewish, and Black diaspora contexts.

            Assignments include a close reading, a review of a work of popular media (such as a TV series, film, or graphic novel), and a final project that integrates literary analysis and contemporary scholarship.
            No previous experience with medieval literature is required. All medieval texts will be provided in modern English (or bilingual) translation.

            This course fulfills the pre-1700 requirement of the English major.

REQUIRED TEXTS: 

  • Puchner, Akbari, et al., eds. Norton Anthology of World Literature, Vol. B, 4th Edition (2018).
  • Kunz, trans. Vinland Sagas (2008).
  • Pollard and Rosenberg, eds. Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A Companion Reader, Vol. 2, 2nd Edition (2016).
  • Shakespeare (ed. Thompson). Othello, Revised 2nd Edition (2016).
     

 

Prof. McRuer

MW  12:45-2 p.m.

This section of Gender and Literature will focus on work by openly LGBT writers from Stonewall (1969) to the present.  In the process, we will consider the lesbian feminism and gay male music scene of the 1970s, the coming out novel as it coalesces in the 1980s, the emergence of trans and non-binary writing in the early 1990s into the present.  The course will include literature on the AIDS epidemic, on non-urban queer locations, and on the U.S.-Mexican borderlands.  The syllabus will include novels, short stories, and nonfiction prose by June Arnold, Andrew Holleran, Audre Lorde, John Fox, Kate Bornstein, Sarah Schulman, Manuel Muñoz, Jordy Rosenberg, and Garth Greenwell.

Prof. Mitchell 

MW 3:45-5 P.M.

Prof. Alcorn

TR  12:45-2 p.m.

 

The course explores madness as a condition of culture, as an adaptive cognitive style, and as a cognitive challenge.   Attention is given to concepts of psychosis, hysteria, trauma, loss and depression from a descriptive, medical,  historical  and socio-critical perspective.  An emphasis is given to literature before and after WWI which we will read as both a response to the madness of culture and a uniquely informative expression of oppression and suffering. 

Prof. López

TR 2:20-3:35 p.m.

 

We will study the invention of Florida from the 16th century to the present in travel narratives and novels, popular music and film—and more.  The course’s 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 and 2017’s The Florida Project cinematically imagine race, class, beaches, and amusement parks, and we’ll travel back to 19th-century accounts of how enslaved people used swamplands to invent new languages and destroy white supremacy.  Narratives 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 people, novels by Cuban Americans, and freestyle and Miami bass music from the 1980s and 1990s will all contribute to a classroom environment of conversation and projects that will demonstrate how literary and other cultural representations of Florida invoke this state of “metaregional” proportions: What happens in and around Florida has indeed never not just stayed there, within its conventional region, but has, in fact, also determined possibilities for compromising, critiquing, and creating well beyond its environmental, political, and aesthetic boundaries.

Prof. James

TR 3:45 - 5:00 pm 

This course is an exploration of award-winning black women’s literature produced in the 21st century.  For the purpose of our study this semester, we will consider works published in English from writers who live and work in the United States, and who have roots from across the African diaspora, including The U.S. South, Ghana, Nigeria, The Caribbean, California and New York City. These writers also identify across the spectrum of sexualities and gender embodiments: straight, queer and non-binary. The writers’ diasporic origins and diverse sexual/gender identifications will require that we complicate dominant understandings of what constitutes blackness and black “womanhood” and “femininity,” and think about the authors and their works through an intersectional lens. While our primary focus is on the novel—both in traditional and experimental forms—we will also examine film and memoir as narrative modes.

As we investigate this work, we will keep key questions in mind:  What are the stories this newest generation of black women diasporic writers are telling? Why, from a cultural, historical, and sociopolitical point of view, are they telling them? What are the legacies and interventions? What choices are they making in the telling—in terms of form, content and narrative structure? How do these writers explain their own projects? What is their literary philosophy? What does this work tell us about the futures of literary landscapes for black women? How and where is their work being interpreted and received? How does the reception of their work offer insight into the publishing industry perceives and promotes ideas and expectations about black women and black women’s literature (for example, what the literature should or should not “do,” who the audiences are or are not).

Possible authors/texts covered:  Roxane Gay, Hunger; Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother; Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X; Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing;  Chimamanda Adichie,  Half of a Yellow Sun; Dee Rees, Pariah; Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones;  Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Heads of the Colored People; Claudia Rankine, Citizen; Tayari Jones, An American Marriage; Toni Morrison, A Mercy

Fall 2019 Courses 

This list of courses is continually updated. You can find the complete English department course slate on the Registrar's Schedule of Classes. Check back for more course descriptions throughout the registration period.

Prof. Evelyn Schreiber

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:45 pm to 2:00 pm.

 

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 at least one new play among several we will attend.

 

Highlights of the Fall 2018 Course: 

 

*Attend Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury at the Woolly Mammoth Theater, where we will meet with Artistic Director Maria Goyannes.  According to theater critic Mark Abramson, the play “has made a big splash and has appeared on many critics’ best-of-the-year lists.”  Last summer, it had sold-out runs at the Soho Rep off-Broadway and was a great success at Berkeley Rep and received the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn prize given annually to a female dramatist.  Fairview, based on a true story, reveals “the notion of how whites view middle-class black family life [with] scathing scrutiny.” 

 

*Several actors will visit our class to discuss their acting method and experiences in current performances.

*We will participate in a Master Class in Directing.

*We will read, discuss, and act out scenes from:  Oedipus the King by Sophocles; Oedipus El Rey by Luis Alfaro; At Home at the Zoo by Edward Albee; Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett; Othello by William Shakespeare; A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry; Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris; and Escaped Alone by Carly Churchill.

Prof. Jung Yun 

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm.

Introduction to Creative Writing explores the art and craft of two or more genres of writing. In this section, we will focus on fiction, creative non-fiction, and the narrative connections between these genres.

Prof. Holly Dugan 

Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:10 am - 12:25 pm. 

 

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 explore these questions by observing great writing at its very highest level (deemed by many to be canonical works of literature) and by connecting 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 on our syllabus, for instance, argue strenuously that not everything that has value can be monetized. Others 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. 

 

Along the way, students will learn how to write short, elegant, clear, persuasive, and passionate arguments about art by practicing the art of reading: learning how to appreciate difficult literature (ie books we recognize as having value even though we may not like or enjoy them) and to use these works of art as prompts to examine our own beliefs about money and art.

 

Works will include: Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas, Jordan Belfort’s The Wolf of Wall Street, Thomas More’s Utopia, Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol 

Prof. Daniel DeWispelare 

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:35 am - 10:50 am.

 

This introductory course invites all students who are interested in the ways we study cultural artifacts—things like books, music, drama, song, photographs, film, painting, sculpture, and even social media.  In particular, we will be reading and consuming works by a diverse array of individuals, past and present, who are associated with or informed by ideas of “Britain,” an idea that casts a long shadow over the present. 

 

Specifically, we will consider the idea of “Britain” as a starting point for more general discussions about myth and culture.  Because the exportation of the English language has accompanied British and American imperial practice over the past five centuries, British myths and mythmaking have influenced the story of anglophone globalization as well as global cultural history itself.  Some of the myths that we will track during the semester include, but are not limited to: mythological myths, like those pertaining to Boudica and King Arthur, dramatic myths like those surrounding Shakespeare and the stage more generally, economic myths like those undergirding the work of Adam Smith and the other grandfathers of neoliberalism, not to mention ecological imperial myths, which have long provided an alibi for British expansion.  The year is 2019 and so our conversations about culture’s tentacles will be informed by ongoing discussions surrounding the long histories of Brexit, decolonialism, race, gender, class, environmentalism, the cultural now, and, of course, our cultural future.  

 

The books that will be assigned for the course are included below.  Be advised: you will not be required to purchase all of these texts.  Instead, you will choose to engage with six of the nine texts, as well as two of four films, depending on your interests. 

 

Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Fletcher Christian and Robert Bligh, Mutiny on the Bounty

Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings

Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant

Professor Maria Frawley 

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm.

 

What do we mean when we refer to “the environment”? Do we mean “nature,” “wilderness,” “geography,” “ecology,” “the earth,” “the non-human world,” “the outdoors,” a “sense of place,” or something else? This introductory course will explore the many ways that literary texts, art, and even social media respond to and shape our understanding of environments and our environmental understanding.   We will read widely, starting with works of literature from writers first responding to the industrial revolution and moving to more contemporary essayists responding to the perils of climate change or the promises of sustainability. Throughout we will be on alert to the many ways that our contemporary culture both heightens and mutes our environmental awareness.  Through a range of short, creative assignments, students will practice writing clear and compelling prose for a variety of audiences; will develop their analytic skills through close-reading exercises; and in small groups will have opportunities to develop capacities for public presentation. Recognizing that students from all majors may have interests in environmental literature, creative final projects will be designed to facilitate making connections, exploring the value of literary study and the humanities more generally to other fields, whether in the sciences, the world of policy and business, engineering, law, or in medicine. Meeting on the Mount Vernon Campus will enable us to on occasion get outside together to experience for ourselves some of the observational techniques we’ve identified in the writers and artists we are studying. We will meet twice a week in a discussion-based, active learning format, and the course fulfills Critical Thinking and Oral Communication GCRs.

Prof. David McAleavey

Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:35 am - 10: 50 am.

 

Bulletin information: Focusing on the “craft and technique of creative writing and/or theories of creative writing,” this course satisfies a requirement for the major in Creative Writing as well as the G-PAC Arts requirement for CCAS. It is open to all interested students, not just majors.

 

Prerequisites: None. Prior experience in a college-level Creative Writing or literature course might admittedly be advantageous, since every student must produce both critical and creative writing. That said, this course nonetheless offers a valid way to begin the study of Creative Writing.

 

General description: This is a hybrid course, being both a Creative Writing course which will require you to compose original works whose merits will certainly affect your grade, and a readings course designed to foster close reading skills that will assist you not only in this but also in other Creative Writing and literature courses – and in all your future writing. This is not a general introduction to creative writing, but rather an investigation of the large topic of genre, in particular from the writer’s standpoint, through a consideration of work done in an innovative and even revolutionary mode.

 

We will be studying “prose poetry,” reading and writing “prose poems” or “poems in prose.” In the family of brief imaginative prose forms, prose poetry is the sibling of both flash fiction and numerous varieties of short creative nonfiction (including memoir, personal essay, etc.). Related to these are the joke, the news item, the dream narrative, the autobiographical anecdote, and the letter (among others). But we’re looking at poems. In prose.

 

“Prose,” in this context, refers to writing that is presented using the whole width of a physical column of type (perhaps the printable width of the page), often justified on its right margin as well as its left. Poetry, in contrast, traditionally depends on lines (or stichs) whose length, determined by other means, is independent of the printed page. Traditionally, poems have been lineated. The rebellion which has become the genre of prose poetry engages with a challenge: how can a mere chunk of writing, a block of continuous prose, be considered poetry, since it is not lineated? We will address that question historically and inductively, by reading examples from the history of the prose poem, as well as practically and creatively, by writing our own defiant prose poems.

Prof. Jung Yun 

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm.

 

Fiction Writing focuses on the foundational elements of craft, such as point of view, character development, setting, and style. In this section, we will practice writing original fiction, read and analyze published fiction, and discuss student work-in-progress.

Prof. Jennifer Chang

Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:10 am - 12:25 pm. 

 

This course will ask and answer the following questions: What is a poem? How are poems made? Where are poems found? Why read and write poems? We will look at examples of poetry in the past and present, in music and visual art, and in everyday life. Writing assignments will be modeled on these texts and cultural works. There will be in-class writing experiments, occasional visits with poets whose work we've read, and regular workshops of student writing. Balancing rigor and play, this course is designed for beginners and welcomes readers, adventurous thinkers, and writers of other genres.

Prof. Alexa Alice Joubin 

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:20 pm - 3:35 pm. 

 

How does literature apply to your life, values, and goals beyond the classroom? This course introduces students to major schools of critical theory and to new ways of asking questions about culture and literature. Students will gain fluency in the conceptual frameworks associated with psychoanalytic criticism, structuralism, Marxism, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, feminism, and ecocriticism, with an emphasis on critical race, gender, sexuality, queer, and disability studies.

 

This course invites you to explore these urgent questions through a key figure in literary history, William Shakespeare, and his place in visual, filmic, and popular culture, on which students will practice their new critical knowledge. For many reasons, Shakespearean texts have been used as test cases in important theoretical developments. We will discover how Shakespeare helps us rethink notions of race and gender, among other issues of identity. Contrasting modes of interpretation generate new ways of understanding of early modern and postmodern cultures.

 

Since the theoretical texts are challenging enough, we anchor our study in one single author to make the number of variants more manageable. Short assignments may include concept papers, scene analyses, a research presentation, and an annotated bibliography.

 

No previous experience with Shakespeare is expected, but note that this is a WID course. This course fulfills the critical theory/cultural studies requirement for the English major.

Prof. David McAleavey

Monday and Wednesdays, 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm.

 

An examination of the folk and fairy tales collected and manipulated by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, of the mature Modernist poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, and of Float, a postmodern collection of disparate writings by Anne Carson (poet, essayist, classicist). This course will expand the student’s close reading abilities, will consider a variety of narrative strategies and touch on theories of narrative, and will ask what we mean by “savvy,” that knowledge or wisdom or way of behaving that so empowers (almost as if by magic!) whoever possesses or displays it, and what connections it might have to what we usually consider “savage,” that brutal, blunt, and somehow “earlier” stage of “civilization” – though perhaps savagery is more ubiquitous and quotidian than we like to admit. By juxtaposing these very different texts, we will investigate their common features, find terms for their uniqueness, and experiment with the creative writing strategies which they suggest.

 

Official Bulletin description of ENGL 3210: Intensive reading of one to three texts selected by the instructor with the goal of learning to read as a writer and developing close reading skills. Authors and texts vary. May be repeated for credit provided course coverage differs.

 

This course satisfies a requirement for the Creative Writing and English major. Both critical and creative work will be expected of all students. There are no prerequisites; the course is open to all.

Prof. Chang

Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:20 pm - 3:35 pm. 

 

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 those committed to developing their craft and knowledge of poetry and open to exploring what a poem can be. Students should have taken at least one previous creative writing workshop and should expect to read and write weekly and workshop bi-weekly. The course culminates in a final project of the student’s design. In addition, we will read poems across cultures and history, as well as recently published collections of poetry, meeting their authors whenever possible. 

Prof. Jonathan Hsy 

Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:10 am - 12:25 pm. 

 

This course examines travel narratives and life-writing by medieval authors (women and men) with an emphasis on identity transformations. How did medieval people transgress boundaries of language, culture, religion, gender, or sexuality? How did authors in Britain (writing in Latin, English, French, and Welsh) adapt to a dynamic world of perpetual change? Major authors include Marie de France, Gwerful Mechain, Geoffrey Chaucer, Margery Kempe, Sir Thomas Malory, and conversion narratives by Christians, Muslims, and Jews.

 

Assignments include close readings, comparative analysis, and a final essay integrating literary analysis and theory.

 

All texts will be read in (or provided with) modern English translations. No previous experience with medieval literature is required.

 

This course can fulfill the pre-1700 requirement of the English major.

 

This course is open to English majors as well as non-majors.

Prof. Holly Dugan 

Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:20 pm - 3:35 pm. 

 

In this course, we’ll study Renaissance books as material objects and as literary works of art. Reading works by Tyndale, More, Pizan, Spenser, Burton, Bacon, Cavendish, and Milton, we’ll examine how the book as an object came to define the Renaissance and its influence, while also learning how book history shapes our interaction with these creative—and radical—works of art. 

 

Students will spend time researching in GWU’s special collections, learning about the history of early printed texts alongside the study of Renaissance literature. Students will then work together to apply this knowledge to one of our holdings in special collection. The course culminates in a semester-long research project, writing a “biography” of one of GWU’s Renaissance rare books, exploring its history of authorship, publication, readership and ownership (especially in terms of how it came to be part of our university’s collection). 

Prof. Tara Ghoshal Wallace 

Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:20 pm - 3:35 pm. 

 

This course looks at a selection of playtexts produced during the long eighteenth century (1660-1800).  While we will certainly consider what might be called purely ‘literary’ or ‘aesthetic’ elements, we will read these texts as part of the culture that produced them, and the culture they produced.  These include military and political conflicts, ideological conflicts (especially regarding gender and class), and conflicts about what could or should be represented on stage.  In other words, 18th-century theatre engages in the political and cultural polemics expected of popular media.

In part, these plays trace the trajectory from Restoration libertinism to Georgian domesticity, and perhaps from aristocratic to bourgeois values, but our discussions will also address the limitations of those dichotomies.

 

This course satisfies WID and Oral Communication requirements.

Prof. Evelyn Schreiber

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:10 am - 12:25 pm. 

"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. 

 

TEXTS:

William Faulkner, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!

Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Beloved, God Help the Child

Additional Materials posted on Blackboard

Prof. Jonathan Hsy

Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm.

 

What is English? What does it mean to be an English speaker in a particular time and place? This course explores the internal variety of the English language from Old English riddles and epics to forms of digital storytelling in global Anglophone media. Surveying thousands of years in the history of English and its users, we will explore how language ideologies intersect with gender, class, regional identity, race, and disability. We will also be mindful of how technological change over time alters the creation, transmission, and interpretation of texts. Literary authors (in chronological order) include Geoffrey Chaucer, Sir Thomas Malory, Queen Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Anzaldúa, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Amy Tan.

 

This course is open to English majors as well as non-majors.

 

Assignments include translation exercises, close reading, literary annotation, and a personal language memoir.

 

This can fulfill the literary theory and/or cultural studies requirement of the English major.

 

This course is open to English majors as well as non-majors.

Prof. Robert McRuer 

Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm.  

 

“Disability studies” describes a diverse array of projects, located primarily in the humanities but speaking to and with the social sciences, that challenge the ways in which “normalcy” and “abnormalcy” have been deployed to conceptualize physical and mental difference. Speaking back to medical models of disability that would position people with disabilities as only objects of knowledge, disability studies considers not only how disability functions symbolically in culture but also how people with disabilities have themselves been shapers of culture. 

 

This course serves as an introduction to this field.  We will examine a wide variety of texts in order to pose a series of overlapping questions: how does disability studies complicate and extend theories of embodiment, including (centrally) feminist and queer theories?  How have specific subcultures (people living with AIDS, Deaf subcultures) appropriated, contested, or expanded the meanings of “ability” and “disability”?  What cultural forces and what uses of language have served to unite disparate groups such as the blind, people who use wheelchairs, and people with chronic diseases?   How have discourses of sympathy, compensation, and accommodation been deployed to constrain or empower people with disabilities?  How does disability studies challenge our current sense of what it means to live in a multicultural society?

Prof. Patricia Chu

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:45-2:00 p.m.

 

Asians have been coming to the U.S. since 1849, but remain a minority in this country.  Why?

In 1878, the U.S. Congress created a new legal category, "aliens ineligible to citizenship," for the sole purpose of excluding Chinese from entering the U.S. or gaining citizenship on the basis of their race.  Consequent legal maneuvers extended these and similar exclusions to others of Japanese, Korean, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Filipino descent.  Throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century, perceptions of Asian Americans in America have been shaped by U.S. foreign policy, by the Orientalist perception of Asians as unassimilable aliens, by a suspicion of "orientals" borrowed from European colonialism and re-framed for American use. 

This course introduces Asian American literature as a tradition that questions mainstream constructions of Asian American race and ethnicity and provides alternative accounts of Asian American experiences.  We'll discuss the roots of the term "Asian American"; the Chinese exclusion acts; Japanese American internment; feminist, national, and postcolonial influences; transnational migration and adoption; theories of narrative, genre, mourning, melancholia, and loss.

Texts will be a subset of these:

Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters or Carlos Bulosan, America Is In the Heart. 

Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly;  Dance and the Railroad

Ken Liu, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories.

John Okada, No No Boy

Bui Thi, The Best We Could Do

Madeleine Thien, Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Jane Jeong Trenka, The Language of Blood or Deann Borshay Liem, First Person Plural.  (film)

H. T. Tsiang, And China Has Hands.

Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats

Alice Wu, Saving Face.  (film)

CRN: 97479

Prof. Robert McRuer 

Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:45 pm - 5:00 pm.  

 

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?

This film studies course will consider how questions of queer representation intersect with questions of queer globalization(s).  Please note that this course will travel to Prague, Czech Republic for a week in November; there will be an additional layer of registration (with the Office for Study Abroad) in November.

Spring 2019 Courses

This list of courses is continually updated. You can find the complete English department course slate on the Registrar's Schedule of Classes. Check back for more course descriptions throughout the registration period.

Prof. Jung Yun 

 

Introduction to Creative Writing explores the art and craft of two or more genres of writing. In this section, we will focus on fiction, creative non-fiction, and the narrative connections between these genres. 

Prof. David Mitchell

This class examines the history of developments in the representation of indigenous peoples and other minorities in the Americas.  We will begin with the Spanish invasion of South America and Mexico (New Spain) and move to stories of encounters with Americans Indians during the European colonization of New England, Asian immigrant experiences in the South Seas and the American West, African slavery along the midwestern Fugitive Slave line, and Latino/a queer diasporas in the Southwest.  Theories of racial subjugation and nationalist exclusions will form the analytical framework for our deliberations including: Barbara Harlow’s Resistance Literature, Stephen Greenblatt’s New World Encounters, Gerald Home’s The White Pacific: U.S. Imperialism and Black Slavery in the South Seas After the Civil War,and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.  We will also center our interests in the second half of the class on four influential novels that reteach American history from the perspective of indigenous and racialized immigrant experience: Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, James Michener’s Hawaii, Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.  Finally, we will conclude with a work of award-winning poetry pertaining to Latino/a experience, Adrienne Rich’s An Atlas of the Difficult World, that returns us full circle to the Mexican world in the U.S.  Our goal will be to recognize the significant counter-histories that challenge dominant narratives of American nation identity as forming in the vacuum of a “waste and howling wilderness.”

 

Prof. Alexa 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. Acquire essential tools for enjoying Shakespeare as both literary works and films. Learn textual and film analytical skills. Understand Shakespeare’s and directors’ language and cinematic conventions. 

 

Plays include Coriolanus, Macbeth, Richard III, Titus Andronicus, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and King Lear.

 

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.

This course is also a writing course, specifically a Writing in the Disciplines (WID) course, so issues of composition both of these texts and of the students are foregrounded.

Prof. Gayle Wald

Someonewe are not sure who—once said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” The "problem" of music, it would seem, is that, unlike a building or a poem, it does not "represent" anything. In this course, which is aimed at creative writing majors and minors but open to interested students, we will confront this conundrum head on, by reading and writing about music, and sometimes even reading about writing. We’ll pay attention to the “musical detail,” or the language we have to invent to represent sound and its particular affective power. 

 

Primarily we’ll focus on creative non-fiction, but we will also examine some fiction and poetry. We will begin by thinking about how and what we hear, and then move on to examples of how various writers, most contemporary but some not, have attempted to write about music. Students will be expected to participate in class discussion and in occasional workshops, as well as to perform at least one “Critical Karaoke” during the course of the semester. Readings may include works by the following: Ellen Willis, George Bernard Shaw, Ralph Ellison, Bob Dylan, David Hadju, Carl Wilson, Will Friedwald,Gina Arnold, Jessica Hopper, Alexandra Vazquez, Doreen St. Felix.

Prof. Jung Yun 

Fiction Writing focuses on the foundational elements of craft, such as point of view, character development, setting, and style. In this section, we will practice writing original fiction, read and analyze published fiction, and discuss student work-in-progress.Fiction Writing focuses on the foundational elements of craft, such as point of view, character development, setting, and style. In this section, we will practice writing original fiction, read and analyze published fiction, and discuss student work-in-progress.

Prof. David McAleavey

An examination of the folk and fairy tales collected and manipulated by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, of the mature Modernist poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, and of Float, a postmodern collection of disparate writings by Anne Carson (poet, essayist, classicist). This course will expand the student’s close reading abilities, will consider a variety of narrative strategies and touch on theories of narrative, and will ask what we mean by “savvy,” that knowledge or wisdom or way of behaving that so empowers (almost as if by magic!) whoever possesses or displays it, and what connections it might have to what we usually consider “savage,” that brutal, blunt, and somehow “earlier” stage of “civilization” – though perhaps savagery is more ubiquitous and quotidian than we like to admit. By juxtaposing these very different texts, we will investigate their common features, find terms for their uniqueness, and experiment with the creative writing strategies which they suggest.

 

Both critical and creative work will be expected of all students. Three books must be purchased (two paperbacks, and one which is an assemblage of 22 chapbooks held in a plastic sleeve).

Prof. Jonathan Hsy

Why does “The Father of English Poetry” matter today? This course offers an introduction to the life and works of multifaceted English author Geoffrey Chaucer and his diverse legacy in contemporary popular culture (including such media as spoken word performances, graphic novels, children’s books, and musical adaptations). Not only will we enjoy the beauty, humor, and depth of Chaucer’s poetry in the original Middle English language, but we will also explore some of his lesser-known writings in prose (including legal and scientific treatises). Can Chaucer’s medieval texts challenge modern-day assumptions about gender, race, justice, scientific knowledge, and religious difference? How did Chaucer’s literary experiments in an emergent literary language influence generations of later writers, artists, and activists?

 

Requirements: class participation, translation exercises, close reading, final essay with revision, and one in-class presentation. One option for the final essay is to examine a modern Chaucer adaptation (such as a work of visual art, film, music recording, or work in some other medium).

 

No previous knowledge of Middle English is required.

 

This course fulfills the pre-1700 requirement of the English major.

Prof. Patricia 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 traveler’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.  No prerequisites, but Engl. 40 or any introductory-level English course offered by this department is recommended.  Avid reading required.  Authors may include Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, C.S. Lewis, Hugh Lofting, Philip Pullman, Witi Ihimaera, Maria Tatar, and Laurence Yep.

Prof. Ormond 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.  In addition, this course satisfies CCAS requirements for oral competency, so assignments keyed to oral competency are incorporated into the requirements.    

Prof. Christopher Sten

This course focuses on American literature's "coming of age" in the period 1825 to the end of the American Civil War in 1865.  At this time U.S. authors had to compete with well-known English and European authors, while at the same time trying to establish a separate literary identity, one with "American" cultural roots and expressive of "American" issues and values (freedom, independent-mindedness, experimentation, the embrace of everyday language and new forms). We will explore what is distinctive about some of the best of the writings from this period--by Poe, Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville, Jacobs, Whitman, and Dickinson--and see how the authors helped to shape or contributed to the literary and cultural controversies of the day.  In addition, we will examine how these writings reflect important historical and cultural developments, from the rise of Jacksonian democracy and efforts at reform--in education, gender relations, social and political theory, and spiritual life--to the deeply divisive conflicts over race and slavery leading up to the Civil War and after.  This is a WID course requiring three papers and a take-home final exam.

Prof. Jennifer Green Lewis

The early decades of the twentieth century saw change 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, increasingly gave way to a focus on language itself as world. The Great War (1914-18) is often considered the chasm marking off the Victorian from the modern world, but in this class we will see that literary modernism also had pre-war roots.

In our discussions of (mostly) British works from about 1900-1930, we will focus on the following topics: national, public, and private identity; vision and knowledge; the idea of “character”; loss, nostalgia, and the concept of home; beauty; and urban culture. There will be challenging readings, varied writing assignments, and some poetry and prose you may want to keep for the rest of your life . . . 

Prof. David 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 Romany, Russian, and gay) people in the Holocaust to the mass killings of 300,000 disabled people in psychiatric hospitals, clinics, and institutions.  The “euthanasia murders” began in October 1939 nearly a year and a half before the advent 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). In 2011, 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 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.  The highlight of our reflections will be a visit to Berlin during spring break to experience the historical sites about which we have been reading: the Topography of Terror, the Jewish Museum, Otto Weidt’s Blindenwerkstatt, The Wannsee Konferenz Haus, the Brandenburg Gedenkstatte, the PsychiatriemuseumSachsenhausen concentration camp, and Bernburg Psychiatric Hospital. 

 

Fall 2018 Courses

This list of courses is continually updated. You can find the complete English department course slate on the Registrar's Schedule of Classes. Check back for more course descriptions throughout the registration period.

 

Tuesday and Thursday, 12:45 - 2:00 pm
Prof. Evelyn Schreiber

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? 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 two new plays.

Monday and Wednesday, 12:45 - 2:00 pm
Prof. Holly Dugan

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 introductory 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, argue that not everything that has value can be monetized. Others 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.

Students will learn how to write short, elegant, clear, persuasive, and passionate arguments about literature. We will do this by practicing the art of reading: learning how to appreciate difficult literature (ie books that we see have value even though we may not like or enjoy them) while examining a personal point of view about the links between financial and artistic imagination.

Texts include: Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas, Jordan Belfort’s Wolf of Wall Street, Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games, Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World, and Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Monday and Wednesday, 2:20 - 3:35 pm
Prof. Patricia Chu

How do modern writers adapt the conventions of fantasy narration and the bildungsroman--the novel of education--to address questions of identity, class, gender, species, social dissent, and desire? We'll explore the connections between fantasy genres in the English literary canon (fairy tales, myth, medieval romance, and the gothic novel), coming of age themes in young adult fantasy, and dystopian and magic realist fiction.

Texts include: Maria Tatar, The Classic Fairy Tales, Brian Stone, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Mary Renault, The King Must Die, Stephen Mitchell, Gilgamesh, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Rachel Hartman Seraphina, George Orwell, 1984: A Novel, and Ruth Ozeki A Tale for the Time Being.

Tuesday and Thursday, 9:35-10:50 am
Prof. Tara Wallace

This course surveys texts from two of the traditional units of British Literature: the Romantic period (roughly 1785 to 1832) and the Victorian period (1832 to 1901). We will read some of the major poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Keats among the Romantics, Tennyson and Browning among the Victorians); three novels (Austen’s Persuasion from the Romantic period, Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Gaskell’s North and South from the Victorian period); essays on the British Empire and on the Woman Question; and two late-Victorian plays by Anglo-Irish writers Wilde and Shaw. We will finish the semester with a look at a few poems from the World War I period. Our discussions will consider the political, social, and cultural context of these works, including the Napoleonic wars, the industrial revolution, and the British empire. This course satisfies the WID requirement.

Tuesday and Thursday 3:45 - 5:00 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.

Wednesday 12:45 - 3:15 pm
Professor Kavita Daiya

This course is a selective, historical introduction to the industry of popular Hindi film known as Bollywood. Bollywood is today the world’s largest producer of films; since the fifties, its consumption beyond India, in places from Pakistan to Kenya, Nigeria, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, UK, and North America, suggests that it is also the most widely consumed popular cinema. Based in Mumbai, India, Bollywood, despite its name, has its own generic conventions, identity, and visual codes, distinct from Hollywood. Bollywood films are musicals well-known (and sometimes criticized) for their formulaic and “unrealistic” storylines, their simple moral codes (good vs. evil), and their typical happy endings.

This lecture 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 rebellion, politics, nationalism, modernity, religion, gender, sexuality, globalization, cinephilia, heroism and villainy. At the same time, we will consider how technologies of filmmaking, practices of visual representation, and generic features such as stars, storylines, and song-and-dance sequences contribute to the centrality of popular film in Indian life. 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.

Required Texts:
Tejaswini Ganti, Bollywood: A guidebook to popular Hindi cinema
Madhava Prasad, Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction

Tuesday and Thursday, 3:45 - 5:00 pm
Prof. David McAleavey

In the Bulletin, ENGL 2210 is described as focusing on the “craft and technique of creative writing and/or theories of creative writing,” and it satisfies a 3-credit-hour requirement for the major in Creative Writing and English. It is open to all interested students, not just majors.

For Fall 2018, we will approach that agenda by studying “prose poetry,” reading and writing “prose poems” or “poems in prose.” In the family of imaginative brief prose forms, prose poetry, flash (or “sudden”) fiction, and short works of creative nonfiction (including memoir, personal essay, etc.) are siblings. Cousins to this immediate family are the joke, the news item, the dream narrative, the autobiographical anecdote, and the letter (among others). But we’re looking at poems. In prose.

“Prose,” in this context, refers to writing that is presented using the whole width of a physical column of type (usually the width of the page, minus margins on both sides), often justified on its right margin as well as its left. Poetry, in contrast, traditionally depends on lines (or stichs) whose length, determined by other means, is independent of the printed page. Traditionally, poems have been lineated.

The rebellion which has become the genre (or sub-genre) of prose poetry engages with a challenge: how can a mere chunk of writing, a block of continuous prose, be considered poetry, since it is not lineated? We will address that question historically and inductively, by reading examples from the history of the prose poem, as well as practically and creatively, by writing our own defiant prose poems.

TIME
Prof. Jonathan Hsy

What’s the point of literature, or any form of art? Can reading a novel change your understanding of the world? How can poem inspire violence or social transformation? How does literature apply to your life, values, and goals beyond the classroom?

This course invites you to explore urgent questions through a key figure in literary history: Geoffrey Chaucer. Although he is known to most people as a comic poet, the author wrote in a surprising array of genres: epic, romance, saint’s life, love lyric, elegy, and scientific treatise. In this class, we’ll discover how Chaucer helps present-day readers rethink notions of gender, sexuality, social class, and identity (including race, ethnicity, and disability). We will trace how varied modes of reading—feminist, crip, queer, psychoanalytic, and postcolonial, to name a few—generate new ways of understanding all aspects of culture (past and present).

Short assignments include response papers, an analytical essay, and an annotated bibliography. The final paper (which you will write and revise in stages) requires you to synthesize more than one critical perspective to discuss a literary work.

No previous experience with Chaucer is expected, but note we will read Chaucer’s works in the original Middle English. This course fulfills the critical theory/cultural studies requirement for the English major.

Monday and Wednesday, 2:20 - 3:35 pm
Prof. Jennifer Green-Lewis

This course is for students who want to hone their reading skills through intense close analysis of Woolf’s experimental work of the 1920s. We’ll slow-read three of her novels, focusing on their formal accomplishment and overlap. 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 cultural influence of World War One; and the relationship in the novels between memory and identity. Written assignments will include journal writing, critical analyses, and creative projects drawing on Woolf’s work.

Monday and Wednesday, 11:10 - 12:25 pm
Prof. Lisa Page

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.

Monday and Wednesday 3:45 - 5:00 pm
Prof. Ormond Seavey

Alien but familiar also, the writers of Early American Literature begin but do not complete the exploration of all the central preoccupations of American literature. A brave new world separated by the ocean from other regions, early America posed considerable interpretive challenges for writers between the early seventeenth century and 1830. There might be treasure to discover, or there might be other cultures to decipher. It might serve as a refuge for Puritans and other adventurers. The indigenous inhabitants of this multicultural gumbo of a place greeted those who arrived with a mixture of diplomatic caution, acceptance, and hostility. The physical world of the new world offered a level of variety and novelty unfamiliar to European settlers. Eventually the advent of political independence for part of British America required adaptation into new social practices which would both derive from and depart from English and European practice. Writers treated include Cabeza de Vaca, Bradford, Winthrop, Sewall, Saffin, Pain, Church. Franklin, Crevecoeur, Jefferson, Irving, Cooper.

Tuesday and Thursday, 11:10-12: 25 pm
Prof. DeWispelare

2018 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In order to celebrate Shelley’s provocative contribution to cultural life, this class on British Romantic writing will study the mass popularity and long afterlife of the literary tradition with which Frankenstein is most often associated: the Gothic. The central question of the Gothic is why audiences take pleasure in aesthetic objects that provoke fright. From ghost stories to hauntings to abductions to occultism to monstrous composites like Frankenstein’s creature: where can one locate the source of aesthetic pleasure in novels, poetry, and plays that stage these things? Is it suspense, exoticism, terror without danger? As we study examples of gothic literature from the period between roughly 1750 and 1850, and set in a wide variety of global locales, we will learn that the gothic was one of the most popular and common types of fictive writing. Indeed, not only was the Gothic a very lucrative section of the book market, as the success of the Minerva Press and its mostly female authors show, Gothic literature also created a certain hysteria regarding reading practices and cultural consumption. Should impressionable young readers really be reading frightful and scandalous texts like these?

Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (1763)
Clara Reeve, The Old English Baron (1778)
William Beckford, Vathek (1786)
Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
Matthew Lewis, The Monk (1796)
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)
James Hogg, Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)

…and more…

Monday and Wednesday, 11:10 - 12:25 pm
Prof. Jennifer Green-Lewis

This fast-paced and demanding course will give you a sense of the breadth and range of novels written in Britain during the nineteenth century. It will also help you develop an ear for the different sounds of these authors by examining the stylistic peculiarities that differentiate each author from the rest. Most important, it will answer your question: If you could read only five novels in your life, which five should you choose?

In addition to reading works by Bronte, Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray and Hardy, we will look at developments in the visual arts to inform ourselves about preoccupations of the nineteenth century. All students should come to class the first day having read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or, at a bare minimum, seen the movie. The first book we’ll read will be Jane Eyre. Please note this course has a heavy reading load; if you can read one or two of the works over the summer, please do so.

Monday and Wednesday, 12:45 - 2:00 pm
Prof. Ormond Seavey.

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.

Tuesday and Thursday, 2:20 - 3:35 pm
Prof. Liz Moser

America is a country born from protest. Yet, as much as we might claim that protest and resistance is our birthright, it is easy to miss calls from the many marginalized voices within our society. In order to explore this alternate cannon, this course will approach contemporary American literature on the subject of protest and resistance from a wide variety of minority perspectives. Together we will address literary protests along lines of racial discrimination, gender politics and non-binary sexuality, class conflict, immigration and nationality, and antiwar movements. Texts include Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Colson Whitehead’s alternative history novel The Underground Railroad, and Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Vietnam War spy novel The Sympathizer among others.

Required Texts: Atwood, Margaret, The Handmaid’s Tale
Beatty, Paul, The White Boy Shuffle
Erdrich, Louise, The Round House
Feinberg, Leslie, Stone Butch Blues
Lahiri, Jhumpa, The Lowland
Nguyen, Viet Thanh, The Sympathizer
Whitehead, Colson, The Underground Railroad
Yamashita, Karen Tei, Tropic of Orange

Tuesday and Thursday, 11:10 - 12:25 pm
Prof. Evelyn 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.

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

Monday and Wednesday, 12:45 - 2:00 pm
Prof. Jonathan Hsy

Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Vikings, Harry Potter: in popular media, tales of heroism, romance, and magic set in the medieval past have enduring appeal. What are the literary origins that gave rise to such contemporary media? How do fantasies about the medieval past influence contemporary culture and global geopolitics?

This course will examine how medieval storytelling traditions shape popular media (including film and TV, visual art, spoken word poetry, political activism, and fandom communities). We will read works of medieval literature and discover how these texts inform present-day cultural issues as wide-ranging as religious conflict, ethnic identity, and the mysteries of love.

Major medieval texts include Beowulf, Vinland Sagas, Marco Polo’s Description of the World, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, The Book of Margery Kempe, Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, and Shakespeare’s Othello.

Contemporary media in this course will include the Game of Thrones franchise and its global audience reception. We will consider how the Western medieval past is appropriated across Anglo-American, indigenous, Asian American, Jewish, and African diaspora contexts.

Assignments include a close reading, a public-facing review of a work of popular media (such as a TV series, film, or graphic novel), and a final project that integrates literary analysis and contemporary scholarship.

No previous experience with medieval literature is required. All medieval texts will be provided in modern English (or bilingual) translation.

This course fulfills the pre-1700 requirement of the English major.

Monday and Wednesday, 11:10 - 12:25 pm
Prof. David Mitchell

This course will explore the systemic, historical disenfranchisement of disabled people in the U.S. and other global locations. Students will leave with an ability to analyze how bodily capacity, appearance, and functionality are all normative aspects of what it means to be a citizen and how the provision of public supports are leveraged against some of the most vulnerable populations in modern nation states.

Tuesday and Thursday, 4:45 - 6:00 pm
Prof. Patricia Chu

Asians have been coming to America since 1849, but the writings of the immigrants and their descendents didn’t become “Asian American” until the word was coined, and students demanded courses in Asian American Studies, in 1968. In fact, there was no such racial group in 1878 when the United States Congress created a new legal category, “aliens ineligible to citizenship,” just for Chinese, and then began to pass laws that also excluded other Asians and Pacific Islanders from immigration and citizenship—setting them apart from Europeans and placing them into a middle category, neither white nor black.

Asian Americanist scholars argue that the treatment of Asian Americans in America has always been shaped by U.S. foreign policy objectives, by the Orientalist perception of Asians as unassimilable aliens, and by a suspicion of “orientals” borrowed from European colonialism and re-framed just for America. In response, Asian American writers have turned from writing only about their efforts to claim identities as fully American citizens to questioning American “exceptionalism” and to reconceiving themselves as citizens of the world. Or have they?

This course introduces Asian American literature as a tradition that questions mainstream constructions of Asian American race and ethnicity and provides alternative accounts of Asian American experiences. We’ll discuss the political roots of the terms “Asian American” and “Asian American literature”; Chinese immigration and exclusion; Japanese American internment narratives; feminist, national, and postcolonial influences; adoption and mixed race families; theories of narrative, genre, mourning, melancholia, and loss.

Texts include: David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly or Chinglish; Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy; Deanne Borshay Liem, First Person Plural (film); Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being; Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathiser; Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You; Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

Monday and Wednesday, 12:45-2:00 pm
Prof. Robert McRuer

English 3980: 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?

This film studies course will consider how questions of queer representation intersect with questions of queer globalization(s). From November 7-15, we will travel to Prague, Czech Republic to attend Mezipatra: Queer Film Festival along with students in Professor Kateřina Kolářová’s class.

Monday 9:00 - 11:30 am
Prof. Tony López

This course teaches English Honors students the basics, complexities, and pleasures of research in literary and cultural studies with a view toward writing the senior-year honors thesis. It covers everything from how to choose texts and topics to how to do archival research and make sense of the print and digital differences in the materials encountered along the way. Our ultimate goal is to perfect research practices en route to drafting a thesis chapter by the end of the term. With that in mind, the course will also include writing workshops in which we’ll exchange and comment on drafts in small groups to make as much progress on the thesis as possible by December.