University of Vermont

College of Arts and Sciences

First-Year Experience 2015-2016

English



ENGS 005A ~ Nineteenth-Century Monsters

Instructor: Sarah Alexander Assistant Professor of English  More . . .

British writers of the nineteenth century created some of the most memorable and enduring monsters-Frankenstein's monster, Mr. Hyde, Dracula. In this course we will study Victorian literary monsters in order to think about the ways that the Victorians conceived of identity and difference, self and other. We will consider Victorian depictions of monsters within the context of the immense social, ideological, and cultural changes that occurred over the course of the century. This course will examine a variety of monsters including mummies, vampires, human-animal hybrids, and grotesques, and we will think about how different forms of monstrosity reflect a culture's anxieties, fears, values, and desires. How do Victorian notions about monstrosity reflect Victorian anxieties and desires in relation to industrialism, scientific and technological developments, colonial expansion, and changing notions about gender roles and sexuality? How do Victorian fears and desires, as reflected in the monsters they created, compare to our own fears and desires?

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


ENGS 005B ~ Literary Western

Instructor: Sheila Boland Chira Senior Lecturer in English More . . .

Stories of how the West was won are embedded deep in our collective American consciousness. Tales of gunslingers and lawmen, cowboys and Indians, dance hall girls and ranchers' wives captivate us while raising enduring questions about American identity. We will saddle up and ride through the evolution of the American literary Western, from Owen Wister's 1902 classic novel, The Virginian, to genre-bending stories like Annie Proulx's 1997 "Brokeback Mountain." We will make stops along the way for fiction by Zitkala Sa, Jack Schaffer, Dorothy Johnson, Charles Portis, Cormac McCarthy, and Thomas King. We will explore the ways literary representations of the frontier have contributed to shifting notions of national and individual American identity. Tracking changes in cultural attitudes toward the western American landscape and its inhabitants will involve plenty of reading, discussion, and exploration of writing as a means of both discovering and expressing ideas. We will take a few side trips to the movies and may meet John Wayne, Ang Lee, and the Coen brothers along the way.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


ENGS 005C ~ Writer as Witness

Instructor: Gregory Bottoms Professor of English More . . .

This seminar and creative writing workshop will focus on first-person narratives in which the writer/character acts as a keen witness to and interpreter of the social, cultural, and political realities of our complicated, globalized world. We will read and write both nonfiction and fiction across the genres of personal essay, travel writing, oral history, literary journalism, prose poetry, and short fiction. Student-writers will be asked to think of writing as not just an aesthetic activity but a way to more fully engage, communicate, and understand this life we are in.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


ENGS 005D ~ Graphic Novels/Narrative Theory

Instructor: Daniel Fogel Professor of English More . . .

How do works of fiction function in all of their many dimensions-as entertainments, as representations of actual or imagined worlds, and as vehicles for understanding ourselves and others? The best contemporary graphic novels achieve the sustained narratives and the psychological and thematic complexity of traditional novels. In this seminar, we will read such graphic novels as Art Spiegelman's Maus, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis-both for their own sake and for the clear lens they provide for examining narrative theory, whose lessons we will also apply to select masterpieces of modern short fiction.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


ENGS 005E ~ Poetry: How Shall We Live?

Instructor: Huck Gutman Professor of English More . . .

In ancient Greece how to live an ethical life was the concern of philosophers.  Yet over many centuries, philosophy often turned away from ethical questions.  The domain of living, and especially how to live, was appropriated by poetry. This seminar will start with the Greeks-Plato, Homer and a study of ancient Greek philosophy-and then leap forward to look at poets of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.  Aside from Plato and Homer, the class will read the historian Pierre Hadot and the poets Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Anna Akhmatova, Yehuda Amichai, Pablo Neruda, and A. R. Ammons.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


ENGS 005F ~ What is Literature?

Instructor: Helen Scott Associate Professor of English More . . .

While the category "literature" may seem self-evident, it is both historically new and remarkably hard to define. This seminar explores the origins and development of the modern concept of a distinct realm of "literary" writing before turning to examples of the major genres-drama, narrative fiction, and poetry-by a historically and geographically diverse selection of writers in English. We will examine debates about literary interpretation and value while practicing close reading and contextualization of our selected works.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


ENGS 005G ~ The Medieval Short Story

Instructor: Jennifer Sisk Assistant Professor of English More . . .

The Middle Ages produced a multitude of texts that today would fall under the rubric of the "short story." While we tend to think of the short story as a contemporary mode of writing and not a mainstay of the literary past, brief narratives were a vital source of entertainment and instruction even centuries ago. In this course you'll explore these riches as you learn about medieval narrative genres and the cultural contexts in which they were produced. Over the course of the semester you'll read a wide range of short stories produced in medieval England: romances featuring knights, ladies, sorcery, and magic; miracle stories showcasing the powers of saints; bawdy tales of sexual and financial trickery; and colorful exempla that drive home moral lessons. This course will introduce you not only to medieval England and its literary traditions but also to the research and compositional methods you'll use in college when you write about literature.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


ENGS 005H ~ Toni Morrison

Instructor: Sarah Turner Senior Lecturer in English More . . .

Toni Morrison's canon thus far spans close to 40 years and contains ten novels, six children's books, a short story, three works of non-fiction, plus numerous pieces of scholarly and social criticism. This TAP course will consider a selection of her works and will explore her impact upon the American literary canon through a variety of written responses both traditional and non-traditional. As a class we will take advantage of the Writers' Workshop offerings this fall and attend lectures and readings by a number of writers and poets both on campus and in the community. Each week there will be a writing assignment due in class on Tuesdays.  In small groups or as a class, we will workshop those pieces and talk about the choices writers make. These pieces are works in progress and will be responded to as such.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


ENGS 005I ~ Reading the 80s

Instructor: Sean Witters Lecturer in English More . . .

This course will explore the "image culture" of the 1980s, its dramatization and celebration of excess, glamour, and nostalgia; its fantasies about annihilation (nuclear, pharmaceutical, existential...); and the ways in which the culture was haunted by issues, images, and identities it could not represent coherently. We will read major novels of the 1980s; including the classic trio of novels by the "Literary Brat Pack," Ellis, McInerney, and Janowitz; Toni Morrison's major novel of the decade, Beloved; and Don DeLillo's quintessential postmodern novel, White Noise. We will also read two works that are less prominent, but which offer cutting insights into media culture and social power during the period:  James Baldwin's Evidence of Things Not Seen and David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello's recently re-issued collection of essays on rap, Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present. We will juxtapose our readings against a selection of film and television from the period, including Back to the Future, Red Dawn, Miracle Mile, and Miami Vice. Our discussions and writing will ask students to think critically about reading and media culture of the past and present. Writing requirements include periodic journal entries, a midterm exam, and a final paper.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course

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