The following courses fulfill the LCI (Literatures, Cultures, Identities) requirement: ENG 344, 447, 458, and 475
The following courses fulfill the pre-1800 requirement: ENG 221 and 360 (Milton)
English 202: Introduction to Creative Writing: Short Fiction
You will learn what goes into the making of short fiction, giving consideration to the process of your own creativity as well as to the techniques of theme, narrative, dialogue, description, characterization, point of view, symbol and metaphor, revision, etc. We will aim high, hoping to create literary art (not genre fiction) as we tell our tales, finding meaning for ourselves as well as offering it to our readers. Because writers of fiction read fiction (a lot!), you may find that your enthusiasm for reading stories is fueled by your development as a writer. An increased sophistication in reading imaginative literature and in developing creativity in diverse areas of life can be valuable aspects of this course for you.
English 202: Introduction to Creative Writing: Short Fiction
In this course you will write two 5-6 page stories, one Short Short and one Deep Revision, in addition to keeping a writer’s log and reading lots of short stories.You will have many opportunities to participate in panels, small group workshops, large group workshops, as well as many in-class writing sessions. Each day when you come to class you will know exactly what to expect, but you will also be surprised. So you'll need to be here every day--ready to do things you've never done before, remember things you've never remembered before, ready to write about things you didn't know you knew. All you need is a brave and willing heart.
English 203: Introduction to Writing: Poetry
Through writing your own poetry and through reading a variety of poets, you will explore the genre not only as an expressive art but also as a new way of seeing: a sharper condensation of yourself and of your world.
“Let us remember . . . that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.” --Christian Wiman, Editor of Poetry Magazine
In this class we are attempting literary art—hoping to find meaning for ourselves and to convey it to others. You will learn about meter, rhyme, imagery, free verse, and other forms and elements of poetry. Even if you do not intend to continue writing poems, you will come to a greater enjoyment of reading poetry and other imaginative work (novels, short stories, plays, etc.). You will also find that all of your writing (yes, even research papers) will be enhanced by your close attention in this class to language.
English 210: Introduction to English Studies
This class serves as an introduction to literary studies, and is required for English majors and minors. We will work across formal genres, including poetry, prose and drama, familiarizing students with the conventions of each genre, and attending to the relationship between form and content. As an introduction to literary studies, this course will also help students cultivate the skills required for literary analysis and interpretation, and we will utilize formal, cultural and historical analysis. We will consider how literature has been defined, historically, and pursue the question of what literature does. In this regard, we will also attend to the ways that various texts and authors negotiate their relationship to a perceived literary history, and the concept of the literary, as well as learning to engage such texts through rigorous textual analysis.
English 210: Introduction to English Studies
This course introduces students to the discipline of English Studies. Our aim is to develop a critical appreciation of English that is at once distinct from but related to the pleasure we derive from reading and writing. One way of understanding a particular discipline is through the kinds of questions it asks, so you may think of this class as an inquiry into what English is trying to do with, and find out about texts. Along the way, we will also engage with some questions about the discipline itself, such as: What is literature and why is it studied? Who or what decides whether a text is literary or not? How did English become a valid academic discipline, and what features of its origins continue to inform what we do today? How do we determine genre? What is the relationship between literature and culture? How have critical approaches to literary texts changed in the last hundred years or so? A variety of reading and writing assignments—including analytical essays, close readings, and creative writing—are designed to acquaint you with a sampling of some of the prominent issues, topics, activities and assignments that you will face at all levels of college English. Similarly, our reading of literary texts will draw from a broad range of periods and genres.
English 221: British Literature I
This course is an introduction to the literature of the Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, and Early Modern periods, providing students with the necessary historical and cultural contexts to analyze and appreciate early British literary expression. Contemporary readers will be challenged by the literary forms, ideals, and cultural assumptions at work in these texts; although I will provide preliminary lectures to supplement or focus the introductory material in The Norton Anthology, I expect discussion to take up a good deal of our class time. Through questioning and imaginative problem solving, the liberal arts student finds ways to comprehend and experience distant worlds, past and present. Astute readers often tell me that early literature requires them to learn a different kind of reading process. Reading in a manuscript and even in an early print culture was an active, rather than passive, process, for readers were accustomed to visualizing familiar rather than original narratives, fixing upon images and symbols to produce complex associations and meanings. A narrative technique like allegory, which is highly detailed and meditative, requires patience. A course in Early literature cannot cultivate an appreciation for early texts without encouraging students to try to read and see as did the original audiences who so valued these stories.
English 267: Literature as Art
This course will look at the historical and theoretical background of the development of the modern short story to try to account for the intriguing fact that in America the short story came to full fruition as it did not in England. To that end, we will try to answer some of the following questions:
1) Why did Faulkner claim that the short story was harder to write than the novel?
2) Why did the famous literary critic Frank O’Connor say that it takes a better writer to write a short story than a novel?
3) If all this is true, why is the short story so often considered an “apprentice” art form—what a writer learns to write before s/he can learn to write a novel? Why are short stories so often undervalued?
4) Why were many modern writers so dissatisfied with the traditional plot-driven narrative? And why were so many short story writers criticized for this? “No plot, no story,” Katherine Anne Porter lamented. Why did so many modern short story writers bury the plot rather than use it to drive the story?
5) Why does the modern short story seem so plotless, so sketch-like? Why would modern writers be attracted to this form?
6) If you don’t have traditional plot to hold a story together, what device takes its place?
7) Other than length, what makes a short story short?
8) What is meant by the “flash of fireflies” given off by a short story? That shimmer of indefiniteness or mysterious expansion or dilation so often described? What does a writer do to create this effect?
English 267: Literature as Art
In this course, we explore literary aesthetics, paying particular attention to the ways in which literature often intersects with visual art forms such as painting, drama, sculpture, and drawing. Together, we read, watch, and look at a variety of texts, including novels, poems, films, literary and art theory, trial reports, paintings, photographs, and drawings. With each text, we gain a better understanding of what constitutes a work of art (both literary and visual), how a work of art is created, and how it is understood by others. Major texts may include the novels The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, the film The Lives of Others, and the graphic novel V for Vendetta by Alan Moore.
English 301: Intermediate Composition
This intermediate writing course designed for non-English majors focuses particularly on personal narrative, with a special emphasis on medical narratives. Designed for students who require or would like to take an upper-division writing course, the course moves beyond the basic argumentative and research writing skills learned in the SSI 1 and 2 courses. We concentrate on composing a strong, compelling personal statement by applying appropriate narrative and rhetorical techniques. The assigned course readings focus on autobiographical, journalistic, and historical narratives involving medical research, illness, and controversy. Texts may include Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the graphic memoir Bitter Medicine, and Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone.
English 307: Writing and Culture
In this course, students will grapple with the enigmatic term “culture” by examining how a variety of writers, theorists, and artists express and articulate their perceptions when producing or interacting with different cultural artifacts. Although our examination will include a number of distinct texts, ranging from Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia to the dense theory of Theodor Adorno, we will also become sensitive to the complex and nuanced overlap between literature, journalism, critical theory, photography, film, and the places in which we find these texts (bookstores, museums, the classroom, the Internet, etc.). In approaching culture through these different mediators and media, our main objectives will be to explore the fraught relationship between experience and expression and to consider the effects of integrating particular discourses of culture into our own writing. Because this course requires us to experience culture in a hands-on way, you will be required to attend a number of activities, including a museum visit and film viewing, on your own time. While this course satisfies the theory requirement for those students emphasizing in Writing, Rhetoric, and Culture, all majors are welcome.
English 342: Literary Genre: The Short Story Cycle
Located generically halfway between the short story collection and the novel, the short story cycle displays the compression of the former and the expansiveness of the latter. Organized around a central character, location, or theme, the stories function both independently and together as a single, novelistic enterprise. In this course, we will explore contemporary American short story cycles, asking, what is a short story cycle? How have its form and aims shifted over the past century? With its fragmented narrative arc and dilatory style, what is its appeal to writers and readers at this cultural moment? Course texts may include works by Sherwood Anderson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Junot Díaz, Edwidge Danticat, Jennifer Egan, and Denis Johnson.
English 344: Gender, Theory, and Modernism: The Androgynous Vision
World War I brought about a reimagining of the relationship between the sexes. The trauma of the war disrupted traditional performances of gender and this disruption was nowhere more thoroughly explored than in the literature of the modernist movement. Even writers like Hemingway, who spent much of his life constructing a super-masculine image, moved from the simple binary of man/woman toward a more complex androgynous vision. In this class we will explore the great writers of modernism, analyzing ways in which they frame gender. To build a foundation for this exploration we will briefly review the foundations of Western literary theory from Gorgias and Plato up through Sydney. We will then review the major movements in 20th century theory to contextualize recent works in gender theory. Using this foundation, we will apply theorists like Butler, Kristeva, Irigiray and Cixous to both canonical writers like Woolf, Stein, and Fitzgerald, and to less well-known writers like Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Djuna Barnes, and Mina Loy. We will close with a discussion of race and gender in Nella Larsen and Jean Toomer.
English 360: Major Authors: Milton
John Milton wrote Paradise Lost in order to “justify the ways of God to men” (PL, I.26), which takes the reader from hell to heaven, and everywhere in between. This is the epic to end all epics—the story not only of human destiny, but also of the origins of epic itself. Here is the first war, the first love affair, and the first hero. What could have prompted such an ambitious endeavor? As it turns out, Milton was throughout his life preoccupied with questions of vocation, and particularly his own development as an author: “it is my lot,” he writes at a young age, “to have been born a poet” (Ad Patrem). This is a high calling, for Milton believes that a poet “ought himself to be a true poem, that is, a composition and pattern of the best and honorablest things—not presuming to sing high praises of heroic men or famous cities, unless he have himself the experience and the practice of all that is praiseworthy” (Apology for Smectymnuus). Milton challenges his readers to do the same, but never out of thoughtless obedience to culturally dominant ideology. Never one to shy from controversy, Milton writes elsewhere in favor of divorce, of getting rid of hierarchies within the church, of regicide, and of republican government. How and to what extent do these views give shape to Milton’s poetry? We will devote the first half of the semester to Milton’s early poetry, as well as to his most contentious prose tracts, before we turn, finally, to Paradise Lost. Throughout, we will situate Milton’s work in its various political, religious, and literary contexts, and discuss some of the most famous critical problems and debates raised by Paradise Lost these last 300 years.
English 402: Advanced Creative Writing: Fiction
In this course, you will deepen your ability to write and revise short stories. You are expected to have a firm grasp of the basic elements of fiction—plot, character, structure, point of view, timeline, setting, and tone—and a nascent understanding of your writerly identity. At the same time, the lessons of Fiction 101 bear repeating in this class: reading makes writers; participation in workshop benefits the reader as much as the writer; the art of revision distinguishes the advanced writer from the beginner. We read cranky yet indispensable authorities on the craft of writing such as John Gardner, Jerome Stern, and Madison Smartt Bell. We adopt four literary journals as class texts, which the class discusses in an online forum. Most importantly, we workshop near-weekly and read, write, and revise like mad.
English 403: Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry
A subset of the genre of Found Art, Found Poetry involves the selection, curation, and presentation of existing “non-poetic” texts as poems. At its most basic level, found poetry reveals how the conceptual framing of a text influences its reception; borrowing an analogous example from the world of visual art, we see that Marcel Duchamp’s installation of a urinal into the space of an art gallery raises a host of questions, among them: Can a utilitarian object function as a work of high art? Who is the artist to be credited, Duchamp or the factory workers who produced the functional object? What role does titling the object (as “Fountain”) play?
The most basic form of found poetry is to take an existing text and curate it similarly as Duchamp did his “Fountain”; perhaps the division of the text into line breaks would be comparable to the placing of a visual object into a gallery or museum space and attaching an explanatory card listing date of creation, material composition, etc. More complex forms of found poetry might involve taking a piece of a pre-existing text and adding text of the poet’s own creation to that, or perhaps creating a collage by combining pieces of multiple texts that the author has selection. Once again, cultural analogues can be adduced in other genres; think, for example, of the sampling of beats and hooks that characterizes most hip-hop music. Collage—and its close companion, pastiche—also characterize much modernist poetry; we’ll look at two great modernist works, Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead and T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, to see what insight their careful study can tell us about the process of artistic assemblage.
Perhaps what found poetry reveals is the inherent borrowing in all acts of poetic production. As much as writers strive for originality, all poets work in a medium—language—that preexists them. The negotiation between affirming pre-existing units and patterns of language and asserting our own contributions is a tricky process and ultimately what this class is all about.: some assignments will employ Found Poetry as a prompt for students’ creation and revision of their own poetic work, while others will allow complete artistic freedom.
English 447: Critical Whiteness Studies
Critical Whiteness Studies is a disciplinary subfield of English Studies that identifies “white” as a “race,” a corrective to the tradition of Anglo-American denial of its own racial construction(s), and that grapples with the implications of rendering “whiteness” visible. One such implication is the acknowledgement that with “whiteness” comes privilege; in turn, privilege can motivate discriminatory and supremacist practices. Scholar Gregory Jay (with Sandra Elaine Jones) identifies the drive of Whiteness Studies “to create a ‘critical multiculturalism’ as an alternative to the ‘celebratory multiculturalism’ popular since the 1970s and still largely influential in our [American] classrooms (especially K-12)." To understand “formations of race and ethnicity in the United States, as well as the interactions or struggles among groups categorized by such concepts,” one must also study racial whiteness. In the nineteenth century, no topic so much as race piqued the curiosity and heightened the anxieties of the American mind. Foundational to all racial constructions was the idea—indeed, the imagined default—of whiteness: writes contemporary historian Reginald Horsman, “the concept of a distinct, superior Anglo-Saxon race, with innate endowments enabling it to achieve a perfection of governmental institutions and world dominance, was a product of the first half of the nineteenth century.” Students of ENGL447 will track the emergence of “whiteness” as a potent category and symbol of the age, to develop an understanding of the history, function, and effects of racial thinking upon literature and the society it influences and reflects. We will read primary texts authored by “white” and “non-white” authors across the century, as well as contemporary secondary texts, arranged into units designed to focus our study on certain pairings, with the expectation that these boundaries will prove permeable.
English 458: US Fiction after 1945: Race, Realism and Cold War Culture
By most accounts, US culture, and hence literature, underwent a massive paradigm shift which challenged the very notion of reality in the years after WWII. Doubtless, in this period – formerly known as the Postmodern – historical factors like the Cold war, the Civil Rights Movement, identity politics, post-industrialism, accelerated technological transformation and the ‘end of ideology’ altered the way that writers and intellectuals understood their social reality, and influenced their response to it. Empirically speaking, one of the defining features of this era is the historically unprecedented diversity of its novelists. In this course, we will study a multi-ethnic canon of writers from 1945 to the present in order to think about literature as a tactical response to its social conflict, with a particular focus on the ways that ethnic writers in the post-war period have used the novel to address inequality. Spanning novels from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man to Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, we will see that the novel, while certainly mediated by the structures and ideologies of its historical moment, can also be a site of innovation as it confronts new problems. Because this period is paradoxically marked both by Postmodernism’s rejection of realism and ethnic literature’s reinvestment in the socio-political, we will place these writers alongside Postmodern stalwarts like DonDelillo or Thomas Pynchon, to pursue the slippery question of what realism might mean in contemporary literature. Other novelists may include Karen Tei Yamashita, Colson Whitehead, Salvador Plascencia, John Rechy, Ishmael Reed, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, E.L. Doctorow, Mohsin Hamid, Richard Powers, Bharati Mukherjee and Jonathan Safran Foer. NOTE: This course will involve an extremely substantial reading load, sometimes averaging as much as 350 pages per week, and will also cover challenging readings in contemporary theory and narratology.
English 471: Auteur Theory: Hitchcock
At its advent during the 1950s in the French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma, la politique des auteurs (the author policy) was both a revelatory and controversial approach to film criticism. Simply put, it suggested that the films of “great” directors exhibited a unified set of thematic and aesthetic concerns. The principle aim of the policy was to uplift cinema as a serious art form at a time when audiences (particularly Hollywood audiences) regarded popular film merely as entertainment. Recast as the auteur theory by Andrew Sarris in 1962, it remained the focus of heated debates among film critics and scholars for decades. The auteur theory not only laid the foundation for academic film studies, but also gave directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, and Nicholas Ray the critical attention needed to sustain their legacies in both popular and scholarly arenas.
This semester, we will encounter and explore the knotty questions that auteurism invokes through the “perfect” representation of it: Alfred Hitchcock. Known for his idiosyncratic and innovative film technique and narration, as well as his deeply collaborative efforts with producers, editors, writers, actors, and composers, Hitchcock created visual texts that simultaneously fixed and blurred the definition of “auteur.” His prolific career—which spanned silent and sound film, British and Hollywood studios, pre- and postwar contexts, cinematic and televisual media—provides an illuminating set of documents (film, television, scripts, storyboards, interviews, etc.) through which to study the auteur theory and the social contexts that complicate and challenge it. Evening film screenings are required.
English 475: The Irish Literary Revival
"Did that play of mine send out / Certain men the English shot?” asks Yeats in his poem “Man and the Echo,” musing whether the one-act Cathleen ni Houlihan was responsible for the 1916 Easter Rising. Whether or not we accept a causal relationship between a single literary text and a given political event ("If Yeats had saved his pencil-lead / would certain men have stayed in bed?" Paul Muldoon has answered), that the literature produced in Ireland from the late nineteenth-century through the end of World War II shaped Ireland’s politics and its sense of national identity is undeniable. This course will examine the development of Irish literature written in English during this period, and our reading will include poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction. We will consider a wide range of writers, but particular emphasis will be given to J. M. Synge, Lady Gregory, W. B. Yeats, and James Joyce. Course requirements include regular participation in class discussion, a seminar presentation, a midterm essay, and a final research paper. Please note: English 223 is only a suggested precursor, and not a required prerequisite, for this course.
English 497: The Writing Internship
The Writing Internship combines internship work with traditional coursework, giving students the unique opportunity to begin the transition from college to what might feel like the daunting “real world.” Past students have participated in a wide range internships, including copy editing and layout for publishers of children's books, editing for local and national magazines, and public relations for local businesses or not-for-profit organizations. Bringing together experience and reflection, students in this class will practice and reflect upon the professional writing they might encounter upon graduation. Each student will locate and secure an off-campus writing internship (8-10 hours/week for a total of 120 hours over the semester). In addition, we will meet each week, focusing on writing and work-shopping in several genres (e.g. cover letters and resumes), read about relevant work-place issues, and participate in discussions about work-management strategies.
All interested students should speak with Prof. Priti Joshi (email@example.com) immediately to begin the process of finding an appropriate internship to coincide with the Spring semester.
Connections 302: Knights, Pilgrims and Mystics
My students often view the Middle Ages (the period that traditional historians locate between late Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance, roughly the 5th to the 15th centuries) as primitive and static. To the contrary, the Middle Ages was a period of cross-cultural contact, and religious and cultural syncretism, witnessing the spread of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam through the travel of missionaries, pilgrims, and mounted warriors. Merchants and monks, pilgrims seeking illumination through contact with holy relics and shrines, feudal lords and ordinary folk performed religious rites or sought adventure, figuring in medieval stories in all three traditions. Connections 302 introduces students to one thread of this global narrative: the medieval stories, material artifacts, and historical sources in the Western Christian tradition that invites us to explore the roots of our contemporary fascination with the Arthurian knight’s quest, pilgrimage, and the interior journey of the mystic. These archetypal journeys will undoubtedly seem somewhat familiar to you. Most students have a rudimentary knowledge of the cult of chivalry, medieval quest narratives, courtly love, feudalism, and religious or chivalric icons, whether saints such as Joan of Arc, or knights like Percival and Sir Lancelot. These institutions, storybook characters and historical personages, visual and literary conventions, still influence us through retellings of the Arthurian romances, new fantasy fiction (from Harry Potter to the Da Vinci Code), the gaming and film industry.
Connections 304: The Invention of Britishness
Priti Joshi (English) and David Smith (History)
This course, team-taught by a historian and literary scholar, takes up the question of what it means to be British. Beginning with the premise that Britishness is not innate, static or ever permanent, but rather “invented” and constantly constructed and disassembled, we will trace the development of British national identity from its origins in the eighteenth century to the present. We will read both historical and literary works that elucidate the changing meaning of “Britishness” as the state expanded and collided with its counterparts on the British Isles and its imperial subjects in other countries. A primary area of concern is the formation of “racial” identities as they intersect with class and gender identities. Some of the questions this course will take up: Is there such a thing as a “Briton”? What role has the monarchy played in the consolidation of Britishness? What role have the colonies and empire played in British identity? How has Britishness altered with the shrinking of the empire? Have literary writers merely reflected existing notions of the nation or have they intervened in debates?
SSI2 133: Not Just Fun and Games: Sport and Society in the Americas
Many of us turn to sport as an escape from the pressures and concerns of everyday life, a space apart from society’s daily grind. This course, however, will explore the myriad ways that sport in enmeshed in the social world: the interplay of sports and sporting culture with socio-political conflict and ideology. Honing in on the three major sports of the Americas – baseball, soccer, and boxing – we will examine their interaction with shifting historical and social contexts in order to query the role of identity, economy, class and politics both on and off the field. Drawing on writing and film about sport, as well as sporting events themselves, students will learn the rudiments of critical analysis and argumentation, and together we will see just how permeable are the boundaries between sport and society.
SSI2 160: Modernism: Early 20th Century Art, Literature, and Music
In this course we will examine the literature, art, and music of the Modernist movement. Focusing on the most important figures—Picasso, Woolf, Eliot, Stravinsky, etc.—we will trace the development of a style that pushed the boundaries of all the arts as it attempted to understand a radically changing world. You will become fluent in your ability to distinguish between the multiple movements within Modernism—Imagism, Cubism, Surrealism, the Harlem Renaissance, Bauhaus, etc.—and you will even try your hand at some of their techniques. We will ponder our dreams with Freud, sing “off-key” with Stravinsky, turn the world into geometry with Picasso, and figure out why Frank Lloyd Wright would stick a house right on top of a waterfall. While offering a broad view of the period, this course aims, above all, to ignite the imagination while demanding critical thinking and expert writing.