Department of English
Course Descriptions for English courses Spring 2011
ENGS 013: Introduction to Fiction
This course will introduce students to the art of fiction through the study of the modern and contemporary short story and novella. Through extensive reading and discussion, students will consider and write about the basic elements of fiction (plot, setting, characterization, dialogue, etc.) while also considering the historical and cultural contexts in which the narratives were created. The course is designed to broaden students’ tastes and foster critical thinking while deepening appreciation of “that most basic human activity” – storytelling.
ENGS 022 British Literature Survey II
This course examines some of the canonical (and non-canonical) British works and writers from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. The course begins with the poetic and revolutionary spirit of the Romantics and continues through the nostalgic and satirical movement of Victorian poetry and drama, concluding with the deliberate attempt by many modernists to make sense of a reality in the wake of two world wars.
Students are expected to use and strengthen analytical and critical thinking skills to better understand the readings. They are expected to show a high degree of commitment to a) their academic work and b) the class as a whole through full participation and regular attendance.
ENGS 024: American Literature II
This course is designed to provide students with a broad view of the development and themes of American literary culture from 1865 to the present. We will read authors who have influenced and shaped the dominant voice of American literature, including Samuel Clemens, Henry James, T.S. Eliot, and Ernest Hemingway, but also authors whose work resonates in voices less often heard, such as Charles Chesnutt, Sui Sin Far, and Mary McCarthy. Our work will trace the development of an American Literary culture as we explore the cultural movements and influences that shaped and reshaped literary values and styles across the last 145 years.
ENGS 026: World Literature II
This course is an exploration of a broad selection of masterpieces of world literature, beginning with texts written around 1650 and ending with texts written in the late 20th century. The course traces patterns of, and shifts in, literary sensibility over a period encompassing three hundred years. Thus, our pursuits will mark shifts across historical periods (time) and across varying national geographies (space) or situations (social / political contexts). These shifts are indicators of intellectual struggles intended to A) preserve the best human thoughts that have been produced over time and B) to supplant ideas about the social organism that have weakened over time and so no longer serve their purposes well. We will consider how (technique / style) texts are written, focusing on each author’s handling of language to convey the text’s message(s). We will also examine the ways in which writers of different identities – based on class, race, gender, sexuality, religion and culture – have negotiated changes in history, as well as changes in the intellectual world’s expectations of what literature (fiction, drama, poetry, essays, travelogues) should accomplish. Furthermore, our study of world literature will pay particular attention to the nature of subjects deems suitable for literary address; even as we listen for what each author seems to be saying about the subject that he or she addresses. These endeavors in the reading of, in speaking and writing about, literature, aim to develop the student’s critical thinking skills.
ENGS 040 Fantasy Lit.: Before Tolkien
Fantasy literature has a rich and wonderful history, the roots of which began in the earliest fiction of Europe with the composition of poems such as Beowulf and Gawain and the Green Knight. J.R.R. Tolkien is considered the most influential author of modern fantasy and the most widely read author of the Twentieth Century. His life-time literary work in sub-creation marked a new era in the genre and culminated in his well-known mythological history of the elves, The Silmarillion. Though Tolkien produced something very different from what came before, he was influenced by a number of authors who had contributed to the cultural imagination and who provided him with a stock of fantastic images and themes for his Cauldron of Story.
In this class, we will direct our attention to those fantasy authors who came before the most creative author of our time. We will read texts by Andrew Lang, William Morris, Robert Browning, Lord Dunsany, George MacDonald, E. Nesbit and others. We will ask ourselves why fantasy and its mythological and folk antecedents serve as useful registers of cultural attitudes.
Anderson, Douglas A., Tales Before Tolkien
Dunsay, Lord. The King of Elfland’s Daughter
Heaney, Seamus. Beowulf
Lang, Andrew. The Red Fairy Book
MacDonald, George. The Princess and the Curdie
Morris, William. The House of the Wolfings
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Children of Hurin
Turgon. Tolkien Fan’s Medieval Reader
ENGS 042: Women in Literature
(Crosslists with WGST 076)
In this course we study women as writers and texts created by (mainly) women. This involves reading about women authors and reading fiction/non-fiction that addresses women’s situation in literature and/or society as a whole. We will discuss and investigate ways in which selected authors such as Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Leslie Silko illustrate women’s struggle for autonomy as individuals, as artists, as political beings, as spiritual beings, as sexual beings, as wives, and as mothers. Our perspective will be shaped by (but not limited to) theoretical viewpoints expressed by the authors that we study. We will focus on the 20th century but will also cover pivotal texts from earlier time-periods.
ENGS 050: Expository Writing
Sheila Boland Chira
The primary goal of this non-fiction writing workshop is to develop your skill and confidence as writers by practicing the essay form as it comes to us from the long tradition started by Michel de Montaigne in the sixteenth century who entitled the form using the French essai, meaning an attempt or a try. These are not the five paragraph essays you may have been taught to write in high school that begin with a three-part thesis and plod forward, point-by-point. Compelling essays are exploratory as well as assertive; they reveal a mind at work and invite the reader to engage with the idea or network of ideas that binds the parts together. Learning to write compelling essays will engage us in a rigorous process of writing, reading, researching, reflecting, and rewriting, which will result in three finished essays and a comprehensive writing portfolio. Our primary medium for this work is language, but we will experiment with the way language can be used to create images, arguments, reflections, and queries, and we will experiment with ways images and visual design can suggest ways of thinking through the ideas in our essays.
ENGS 053: Introduction to Creative Writing
This course will orient you in the forms of creative writing—both poetry and prose, both fiction and nonfiction—but it will first establish the different imperatives of such writing (description, explanation, exploration, argument) and how those fit with the various modes writing can take (lyric, narrative, exposition, dialogue). After all, not all prose tells a story; not all poetry describes a lyric moment; not all nonfiction is memoir. Some sustained initial attention will also be given to grammar and style, since all of these creative forms need be written in capable sentences of English.
In this course, we will work hard against three common misconceptions about “creative” writing. The first of these misconceptions has to do with the meaning of “creative,” which has to do with making, and not necessarily with being avant-garde or peculiar. The second, that creative writing must be about “expressing yourself,” will be countered by a consistent imperative to describe an external reality and to communicate clearly with an unknown reader. The third misconception, that creative writing is just a spontaneous effusion of inspiration, we will counteract with a serious practice of revision and with exercises designed to stimulate writing in the absence of the muse, who is imaginary anyway.
Writing assignments will be brief and weekly. Exemplary readings will also be brief but a semester-long commitment. Between one third and one quarter of class will be spent in workshop, critiquing the work of your classmates.
ENGS 053: Introduction to Creative Writing
This course will introduce students to the various forms of creative writing – creative nonfiction (the essay), fiction (the short story) and poetry (contemporary poetry written in English) – and will provide guided practice in the making of original work. Student reading and writing is divided more or less equally among these three areas of creative writing. Students will read and discuss works by contemporary experts as models for their own writing and will critique one another’s writing in a workshop format. While much of the subject-matter for creative writing may come from one’s personal experiences, the focus of this course will be on engaging the reader through clear, well-crafted and evocative work.
ENGS 053: Introduction to Creative Writing: Writing Experimental World Poetry
Participants in this course will study the tradition of experimentation in poetry by twentieth-century writers from across the globe. From the Surrealist and Concrete poets to the Beat and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets, students will explore the rich inheritance and legacy of avant-garde poetry but also delve into the ways such acts of literary resistance transform the genre of poetry itself and eventually create communities of readers. They will also attempt to theorize and create a poetic movement that matches in vitality and creativity our global examples.
ENGS 057: Race and Ethnicity in Literary Studies: Introduction to American Autobiography
Sheila Boland Chira
The American ideal of the individual as free and equal has long been compromised by culturally constructed categories of race and ethnicity. American autobiography has made significant contributions to social history and political thought, for it has offered individuals otherwise excluded from spheres of political representation and publication the opportunity to address the public in their own voices and to challenge deep-rooted assumptions. We will study the genre of autobiography while also writing autobiographically to explore how racial and ethnic ideology affects how we view others and ourselves. We will read selections by writers like Ben Franklin, Frederick Douglass, Zitkala Ša, Malcolm X, Maxine Hong Kingston, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Richard Rodriguez and Bliss Broyard. We will analyze these writers’ strategies for self-representation as we also think and write autobiographically.
ENGS 057: Introduction to Race and Ethnicity Literary Studies
This course is a study of U.S. minority voices in literature. It introduces students to the ways in which various American ethnic groups have employed story-telling, dramatic representation, poetry and the essay form to explore issues relating to their place as minorities in the national social fabric. We will examine how authors exploit literary conventions in each genre studied. At the same time, we will consider how these writers explode and / or go beyond those expectations, creating unconventional stylistic devices for literary self-representation; as these new methods of speaking emerge from their individual and collective minority experiences. We will thus have two primary foci. One will be to examine technical devices employed by each author as an individual and also as a voice of the particular minority group under which society categorizes him or her. The second will be to study thematic schemes prevalent in each of these works. The course is divided into four units, with each unit consisting of works by selected authors “representative” of one American ethnic group. I list them here in alphabetical order: African-American; Asian-American; Latino/na-American and Native-American. Selected material for each unit includes one or more of the following literary genres: novels, short fiction, plays, poetry and essays. There will be an exam at the conclusion of each course unit. Additionally, students will be required to write an eight-page essay theorizing their own perception (based on a close reading of two authors from two ethnic groups) of being categorized as a minority in American society.
ENGS 085: Text & Context
This lecture-format course is designed to prepare you for serious reading in subsequent literature courses. We will begin by moving quickly through some basic information about literary history, the terminology of literary study, and some key concepts in grammar and syntax. We will then work steadily and patiently on a handful of major interpretive difficulties. These interpretive hurdles fall into two categories: problems of the literal, sentence-level sense of the text, and problems of its more abstract, more general, more thematic meaning. (Part of our presumption here is the idea that a careful thematic reading is always based on a secure sense of the literal.)
In other words, if you have ever been thwarted or frustrated by Shakespeare’s elaborate soliloquies or Emily Dickinson’s puzzling lyrics, this course will help you sort them out. You will emerge from this course more confident with reading old and difficult texts, more surefooted when making claims about their meaning, and better versed in the fundamental terms and concepts of literary study.
Reading for this course will be in small portions, but you will be responsible for preparing the texts with extraordinary diligence. Most of the course grade will be derived from in-class exams and quizzes, with one short final paper.
ENGS 086: Critical Approaches to Literature
Your point of view effects what you see. Rarely, if ever, can you look at something from a purely objective position. Therefore, your perspective matters. As an introduction to literary theory, criticism and methodology, this class is focused on understanding the philosophical issues involved in our perspectives when reading texts. We will critically analyze both the most current theories and methods in the field as well as the earlier theories of literary analysis that make up the background for contemporary scholarship. By the conclusion of the semester you should have a basic understanding of the dominant methodologies in literary studies as well as an appreciation for how those methods relate to and broke from earlier forms of literary analysis. Furthermore, this class will serve as an introduction to the often dizzying terminology of literary criticism. Lastly, this class will be a place of both theory and practice in that we will not only analyze models of literary theory, we will also employ these models in the analysis of texts both literary and non-literary.
ENGS 096: Reading the American Wilderness.
Over the past 400 years, Americans have expressed ambivalence toward wilderness: early colonists reviled it as a “howling waste” or a “penalty impos’d,” and yet people sought in it opportunity and freedom. Two hundred years later, the Romantics glorified wilderness for its association with natural divinity, and yet on a national scale Americans were systematically depleting its resources. This course will examine some of the literary interpretations of wilderness that have challenged and reshaped American attitudes toward nature and identity, including how we characterize our relationships with nature today. Selected readings include several early colonial texts, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!, William Faulkner’s The Bear, Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man, and John Krakauer’s Into the Wild.
ENGS 096: The Beat Generation
This course will explore the Beat Generation as both a cultural and literary phenomenon and track the influence of the Beats from the late 1950s, through the 1960s and 70s, to their place in American culture and their literary legacy today. Authors include Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, John Clellon Holmes, Joyce Johnson, Diane Di Prima, Amiri Baraka, and Charles Bukowski. Students should be prepared to read one 200-300 page novel per week. Assignments include regular informal writings, weekly quizzes, two exams, and a multi-draft paper assignment.
ENGS 096: Austen Page & Film
Austen Page & Film examines the role Austen played during her own time as well as the role she continues to play within our contemporary cultural imagination by analyzing four of Austen's novels (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma) and by viewing faithful adaptations, reinterpretations and modernizations of each novel.
ENGS 096: The Epistemology of the Book Club
Toni Morrison claims that “novels are for talking about.” In a sense then, this course will both study and mimic the phenomenon of the book club; each week students will generate questions related to the text we are discussing. As well, as a class, we will consider the inclusion of the various texts on book club reading lists. What makes a ‘good’ book club selection? Who reads those choices? What does that say about us as a ‘reading’ culture? Why should we ‘read’ the book club phenomenon?
ENGS 096: Tolkien’s Middle-earth
Tolkien's Middle-earth explores the product of Tolkien’s imagination. Attention will be paid to major themes, images, and motifs found in The Lord of the Rings. Students will leave the class with a greater respect for Tolkien’s sub-creative and philological process as well as a sense of his place within the larger context of post-WW I British literature.
Shippey, Tom. The Road to Middle Earth
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings
---. Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
---. The Tolkien Reader
---. Smith of Wooten Major and Farmer Giles of Ham
ENGS 102 History of the English Language
This course uses literary representations to illustrate the flux of the language over time and across various geographical landscapes. We will begin with Caedmon’s hymn and early translations of the Bible and work our way through Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and arrive at some opinions as to what the language will look like a few years from now. History of the English Language serves to fulfill a category B requirement in English due to its emphasis on the pre-modern forms of the language and its literature- its phonetics, morphology, syntax and semantics. We will also address current issues: semiotics, orality, literacy, power, ideology, and language in cyberspace.
Barber, Charles. The English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993; 2000.
Lerer, Seth. Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language, 2007.
ENGS 105: Exploring Writing Centers
This course is a continuation of English 104: Tutoring Writing, which is offered in the fall. English 105 is open only to students who have completed English 104. Through readings, weekly journals, class discussions, and a self-designed writing project, tutors continue to explore how to work with writers. For much of the semester we focus on two aspects of identity: (1) how tutor and student identities shape the tutoring experience and (2) ways of imagining the identity of a writing center. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
ENGS 110: Gender and Sexuality in Literary Studies
Topic: A Queer Decade: Literature, Theory and Film since 2000
This course examinesnovels, autobiography, film, commentary, and critical theoryby gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender authors from 2000 to the present.We will address recent developments in queer criticism such as transgender theory, "homonormativity" and gay shame, and new approaches to history and narrative time. Prerequisites: 3 hours of ENGS; sophomore standing. Category A
ENGS 111: Reading Race, Seeing Race
How do we narrate and visualize race? How do narrative and visual depictions alter across different racial groups? This course will examine how American literature and popular culture construct certain “racial knowledges” in the formation of American identity. Through a comparative race approach (Whiteness Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Afro-Asian Studies), we will focus on a wide range of literary texts (novels, short stories, and plays) as well as interdisciplinary theoretical and personal essays and visual “texts” (feature films, music videos, television, and websites). We will also examine how various genres (including the passing narrative and comedy/satire) offer unique approaches to the narrative and visual representations of race and difference. Some themes and theoretical concerns we may explore include: history and memory, whiteness and multicultural angst, racial hauntings, identity passing, detection, and ethnic humor and satire. This is a reading intensive class. Requirements may include 1-2 short papers, unannounced quizzes, in-class presentation, Midterm, and Final. Additional film screening class is required. Category A and D
ENGS 112: Lives Online: Cybercultural Studies
Cybering, iPods, 3-D multiplayer gaming, flashmobs, video blogging and Web pages only twenty years ago these were only possible in science fiction stories. Today many of them are parts of our daily lives. How are these and other facets of our technologically-infused experiences influencing our culture and our lives? Cybercultural studies explores all of the aspects of our lives that we spend online, attempting to think critically about what these new forms of interaction, community, and identity mean for us as individuals and as a society. In this class we will examine prominent theories of cultural formation and organization and apply these theories to the lives more and more of us live online. Lives Online: Cybercultural Studies will provide students with a solid grounding in cultural studies theory, testing its limits and usefulness at the frontiers of cyberlife and cyberculture. Category A
ENGS 114: Doing Documentary
This is an advanced writing course in which students will undertake narrative documentary/literary journalism projects related to college life and the local community. The course will include readings in documentary narrative, research and writing exercises, and writing workshops of documentary narrative student drafts. Grade is based on a final portfolio of writing. Prerequisites: ENGS 050 or 053 or instructor permission. Category A
ENGS 114: Writing for Young Adults
This course will explore young adult literature (poetry, fiction, and non-fiction) whose primary audience is between 15-20 years old. We’ll look at market trends, research the target audience, and read widely in the genre (mostly contemporary pieces but with some attention to older works), all with the intention of producing a manuscript that is publishable. The class will be run as a discussion course with a workshop component, so students will be expected to both share their own writing in class and to analyze and discuss published works. A basic knowledge of writing techniques and tools is imperative; we will not be spending a lot of time on the fundamentals of creative writing. Prerequisites: ENGS 050 or 053 or instructor permission. Category A
ENGS 118: Advanced Writing: Fiction
This will not be a traditional fiction-writing workshop. Instead of asking each participant to sign up two or three times during the semester to have a story "workshopped," this class will emphasize regular "What if?" exercises to explore material and experiment with voice and form. Each week I'll give you a range of prompts. Choosing three of these prompts, you'll write three to four pages for each over the course of the week and then select the very best--most exciting, evocative, or intriguing for you--to bring to our next class meeting. There our discussion of everyone's best-for-the-week exercises will focus not only on craft but especially on the writing's possibilities: What seems to be at the heart of this piece? What are its associations, moods, concerns, and conflicts? Based on what is here, what could this be a story about? And based on what is here, what else might this be a story about? Out of these experiments, you'll develop for midterm one complete story draft and by the end of the semester two developed and polished short stories (or novel excerpts). Readings and writing prompts will be posted weekly on Blackboard. Students need also to be able to attend a fiction reading by one of the course authors, Bonnie Jo Campbell, on Wednesday, March 2, 5 pm. Prerequisite: English 53 or instructor permission. Category A
ENGS 119: Advanced Writing: Poetry
This course is designed to promote serious consideration of the occasions for poetry: the reasons why a thought or an argument might belong in verse, instead of in prose; the implicit requests a poet makes of his or her reader; and the ways to cultivate and manage the complexity of which verse is capable. While you work to hone your craft as a writer, this course will also help you think reflectively about your process of composition and revision, as well as your writing relationship to the poets of previous generations (and centuries).
One of the ways to construct this self-consciousness about poetry is the study of existing poetic genres—particular types of poems that have been written in each other’s context over the centuries, and in which you can participate as an artist aware of precedents and responses.
We’ll spend about half of our class time in workshop, discussing your work and the work of your peers. We will also read widely in several centuries’ worth of poems, for models, inspirations, and possibly counter-examples for your own work. Short assignments on specific topics will be submitted about once a week. Prerequisite: English 53 or instructor permission. Category A
ENGS 119: Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry
This course is for students who possess an introductory knowledge of the forms and techniques of writing poetry and who wish to further develop their skills at imaginative writing. As an intermediate-level of study, students should arrive with a fundamental commitment to studying and growing as writers of poetry. We will spend our time critiquing and discussing poems by participants in the course, but also reading and analyzing poems by published poets writing today. With hopes of absorbing models of literary excellence, we will study how poets, through metaphor and imagery, transform everyday experiences into artful language or, as a result of acute attention to lineation, syntax, and diction, render moments in our lives permanently compelling and memorable. Students will be expected to write poems weekly, based on assignments, and to exhibit a growing ability to critique poetry that is representative of their understanding of what makes a first-rate work of literary art. Prerequisite: English 53 or instructor permission. Category A
ENGS 137: Survey of Renaissance Literature
The early modern period is an enormously interesting time in literary and cultural history. It is a period marked by monumental changes and turmoil. Much of this turmoil either establishes or exposes many of the core, ongoing problems of the modern cultural condition. And yet,
in seeming so tantalizing close to our own experience, early modern texts have an uncanny distance that is both (paradoxically) alluring and perplexing. This class is will be advanced introduction to some of the enigmatic literature, as well as art and culture, of early modern England and Europe. The focus of the class is on the idea that the relationship between
individual subjects and their communities was not only changing, but was changing and contested in literary and artistic discourse as well as within the actions and experiences of subjects in everyday life. As a result, we will read an eclectic group of texts, examining not
only how writers and artists understood this issue, but how (through the accounts of modern historians) common (if strange and a-typical) people experienced this relationship between self-definition and the larger community. Category B
ENGS 138: Milton’s Paradise Lost
The focus of this course will be a slow, in-depth reading of Milton’s great epic, Paradise Lost. We will give special attention to the poem’s unique way of making its religious and philosophical arguments concerning such matters as the nature of God, the presence of evil, the problem of suffering, and the possibilities of free will. Other readings for the course will be drawn from the Bible, Stanley Fish’s Surprised by Sin, Elaine Pagels’ Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, and Karen Armstrong’s A History of God. Category B
ENGS 156: 19th Century American Literary Cultures
Mary Louise Kete
Cultures may be defined by geography, language, time, beliefs or practices. This course examines the role played by literature in the formation of American cultural identity during the 19th century. In other words, we will be investigating how reading, writing, buying, selling, giving, receiving literature contributed to the ways that 19th century people were able to imagine themselves as American. This course focuses on three critical terms (culture, literature and America) while pursuing two objectives. The first is to survey the work of some of the most important writers of the century. The second is to explore the role played by reading and writing in the attempts of people to make sense of themselves. We will be focusing on three distinctive literary communities: one bound by time: (ante-bellum New England), a second bound by geography (Concord, Massachusetts) and a third bound by shared practice (mourning). Category C
ENGS 163: Black Popular Culture
This course traces the history and development of African American popular culture forms and styles; examines the experience of African Americans in U.S. mainstream entertainment industries; and studies debates about the role of popular culture in shaping American racial ideologies and interracial relations. We'll unearth the roots of black expressive styles in slavery and Jim Crow segregation and study how they've been absorbed into American culture. We'll ask: Why have black song, dance, laughter, talk, and style been so infectious? What kinds of black images have been spawned by popular culture, and how have consumers of those images responded to them? Given that black language, black bodies, and the black voice have been so crucial to the American national imagination, why have African Americans been forced to struggle for power and full participation in the national culture industries? What does black popular culture tell us about the ways black people live and think? What does it conceal, obscure, and distort? How does black popular culture shape and inform national politics, education, and civic discourse? Category D
ENGS 179: D2:African Women Authors
This course is a study of texts by selected African women writers. The course’s focus is on examining how these women inscribe definitive versions of African womanhood into global literary debates. We will explore how the woman writer’s perception of African individuality intervenes in Africanist patriarchal debates concerning specific African contexts. We will consider how women’s literary voices serve as agents of change, demanding critical dialogues that reflect women’s perceptions of historical factors that complicate their own gendered individual and collective aspirations toward self-fulfillment. Our interest will, as well, be in exploring how women’s voices participate in arguments that represent national and international pre-occupations. Further, we will want to listen for indications of how the feminine inscription of selfhood interrupt enduring images of the African cultural landscape, creating new ways of seeing, and of representing, what might be understood to be a more “accurate” “African” identity; one that captures multiple layers of “African-ness;” and thus depicts individual identities that often hinge on intersections involving ethnicity, class, nationality, gender and race.
As with any study of literature, students will be trained in methods of effective reading. How do you read a literary text at a sophisticated level? We will explore each author’s handling of conventional literary devices to create a story that is uniquely told. We will consider such technical devices as symbolism, allusions, imagery, narrative voice, dialogue / speech patterns, and irony. Additionally, we will examine themes and motifs that emerge from the construction of texts as evident in the stylistic elements that each author employs. These endeavors in the reading of, in speaking and writing about, literature aim to develop the student’s critical thinking skills. While the course’s interest is in advancing close studies of writing by five African women: Ama Ata Aidoo, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Buchi Emecheta and Bessie Head; our literary praxis will generally be informed by, and tussle with, the theory and criticism of African women’s writing propounded in Ketu Katrak’s Politics of the Female Body and in Lokangaka Losambe’s Borderline Movements in African Fiction. For the semester, students can expect to write one 10-page paper, weekly online discussion posts, daily quizzes and two exams. Category D
ENGS 179: D2:African Drama
This course will examine major trends in the development of African drama from the pre-colonial period to the present. The following topics will be covered: Sources of influence on African drama, drama and pre-colonial experience in Africa, movement of transition in African drama, drama and post-colonial experience in Africa, and African dramaturgy. Authors will include Wole Soyinka , Clark-Bekederemo, Athol Fugard, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Sony Labou Tansi. Category D
ENGS 167: Woolf, Faulkner and Morrison
Two Nobel prizes, two appearances on Oprah's book club -- they 'must' be good!
Toni Morrison wrote her Master's thesis on the work of William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf; echoes of their work appear in her work -- modernist tendencies, postmodernist explorations, colonialism, postcolonialism, slavery, feminism, infanticide, suicide, the American gothic, ghosts.
This course will read Woolf and Faulkner in their own right and then move onto reading a selection of Morrison's novels through the lens of the earlier writers. Students are asked to engage with the novels as well as with a range of critical texts as a way to enter into a dialogue with the three writers and their overlapping concerns.
Requirements include a heavy reading load, student-led discussions, active participation, and the occasional paper. Category D
ENGS 222: Dante
This course attempts a reasonable engagement with Dante and his major work The Divine Comedy that is made up of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. We read his early narrative and poetry in the Vita nuova (The New Life) and sample Virgil’s Aeneid to gain some insight into his choice of Virgil as his guide in the first half of the poem. The course is strongly based on discussion and student initiative. In addition to careful reading of Dante’s texts, students make weekly Blackboard postings, participate in three group reports, write a short essay, and a longer semester end essay. Background reading in critical essays and commentaries is expected.
To insure a reasonable background in Dante to allow for sufficient growth as informed readers, students are asked to read or reread Inferno, preferably in Prof. Simone’s readers edition, before the first class. An in-class written background quiz will be given on the first day of class. Senior standing required. Category B
ENGS 242: The Culture of Sentiment and the Problem of American Identity
Mary Louise Kete
The prominence of the “tea-party” in today’s political landscape has brought new attention to the questions “Who is an American?” and “What is America?” This course will examine the role that sentimentality has played historically in answering these questions. Our primary focus will be on the literature of 19th-century America---including the works of major figures such Lincoln, Stowe and Whitman . We will also be testing the limits and possibilities of recent theoretical accounts of the power of sentiment. This course is reading and writing intensive. Prerequisites include English 86 and at least one course in American literature or film at any level.
Senior standing required. Depending on the nature of one’s final project, this can fulfill either the English Department’s distribution category C or category A.
ENGS 252: The Literature(s) of Montreal
Just 90 minutes from Burlington lies one of the great literary cities of the world, Montreal. Home to writers working not only in French and English, but other languages as well, Montreal continues to play a central role in national and international literary culture.
In this course, we will examine some of the most important works to come out of Montreal, drawing primarily from texts published during the 20th and 21st centuries. At least 50% of the texts will be works originally written in French that have been translated into English. Topics we will consider will include the influence of Montreal’s multilingual and multicultural history on the city’s literary history, work by writers from immigrant communities, the relationship between politics and literary expression, and the importance of particular neighbourhoods in the literatures of Montreal.
Our course will also meet several times through the semester with students from a parallel senior History seminar being taught on The History of Montreal. Given our proximity to the border, both of these senior seminars will involve a mandatory field trip to Montreal. Plans for the trip are still in development, but we are hoping it will be an overnight trip giving us two full days to explore and read the city. ENGS 086, 6 hrs intermediate English and a course in Canadian Literature (ENGS 180, 182, 005); Category D
ENGS 282: Travel Writing
This will be an advanced writing workshop in travel narrative. Students will read various contemporary writers as models of literary travel narrative and write both short exercises and longer creative essays and stories. Since this is meant as a capstone seminar for serious and committed writers, at least one creative writing course from 114-120 should be completed by the start of the class. Prerequisites: ENGS 086, 6 hours at the intermediate level and 3 hours advanced writing. Senior Standing. Category A
ENGS 282: Taste and Judgment
The way to become good citizens of the world is by not judging other people. Why then do humans exercise judgment? Is it a universal faculty of the mind, or just a power accorded by leisure, as "taste" can be based on distinctions inscribed by "class"? Are there good and bad types of judgment?
Course readings will aim at making spirited connections between classic texts of the Western literary tradition and contemporary works: from the Bible and Romantic-Enlightenment literary traditions, to a book about the candy industry, at least one film, some music criticism, and other aspects of popular culture. Senior standing required. Category C
ENGS 282: Contemporary Asian American Literature and Culture
This course will examine some of the critical issues and debates in contemporary representations of Asian America in literature, film and media, and popular culture. Through a survey of some of the key texts published since the Immigration Act of 1965, we will investigate how “Asian America” is a highly contested and constantly changing category of ethnic and national identity. How do these authors tell stories of Asian America? How do we reconcile the diversity of Asian American histories in the formation of Asian America as a cohesive, political group? Some areas we will examine include: claiming visibility, politics of representation, new immigrant voices, deconstructing the model minority, and future directions. This is a reading and writing intensive class. Requirements may include weekly response papers, in-class presentation, and final paper. Senior standing required. Category D
ENGS 282: Sexual Dissidence and American Culture
American rhetoric celebrates the idea of freedom to dissent, to disagree, to differ from others--but what happens when that dissent is sexual? How are those who resist sexual and gender norms represented, and how do they represent themselves? Drawing on novels, films, cartoons, poetry, essays, journalism, and other historical materials from The Scarlet Letter to the present, this course will consider such topics as adultery; reproduction, transgender identity; promiscuity; obscenity; and lesbian, gay, and bi sexual experience. Much of the semester will address nineteenth- and early twentieth-century materials, tracing the historical roots of today’s discourses about sexuality. Prerequisites: ENGS 86, 6 hours of 100 level ENGS, senior standing required. Category D
ENGS 320: Shakespeare and Tragedy
Instructor permission required; Graduate standing only; Category B
This course will explore three of Shakespeare’s most famous works—Hamlet,Macbeth, andKing Lear—in the context of tragedy as both a literary and a philosophical concept (I use the word philosophical in its broadest possible sense; we will see that it encompasses everything from ethics to political history and theory to psychoanalysis to gender studies to religion and religious history to anthropology). Along with those plays, we will also read and / or watch other works (plays, films, literary criticism, philosophical texts) that help us to understand “tragic experience” (or, conversely, might problematize whatever notions we think we have). Other primary texts will include: Sophocles’Oedipus Rex, Tom Stoppard’sRosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Christopher Nolan’sMemento, Roman Polanski’sChinatown, and the Book of Job; critical / theoretical texts will include: Aristotle’sPoetics, Nietzsche’sBirth of Tragedy, Rene Girard’sViolence and the Sacred, Stephen Booth’sKing Lear, Macbeth, Indefinition, and Tragedy, Janet Adelman’sSuffocating Mothers, and Stanley Cavell’sDisowning Knowledge.
ENGS 320: Charles Dickens
Instructor permission required; Graduate standing only; Category C
This seminar will focus on the life and work of the “Inimitable Boz,” the most popular novelist of the Victorian period. In addition to reading several of Dickens’s novels, we will study key pieces of his journalism and short fiction in order to consider his work’s relationship to realism, genre, and narrative form. Readings will be arranged chronologically so that we can track both Dickens’s development as a writer and the ways that his writing reflected and commented on contemporary issues such as gender and domestic ideology, industrialism, social reform, science and technology, and commodity culture.
ENGS 330: Black Identities
Instructor permission required; Graduate standing only
This course examines the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality, as well as the ways these concepts subvert and (re)shape identities in African American , Caribbean and African literatures. Authors include Olaudah Equiano, Toni Morrison, Nella Larsen, Wole Soyinka, Isidore Okpewho, Derek Walcott, Claude Mckay, Alice Walker, and Mariama Ba. Films such as Ethnic notions, Sankofa, Neria, and Flame will also be discussed in the course. Graduate standing required.
Last modified November 07 2011 10:54 AM