Spring 2020 Course Descriptions

The following courses fulfill the pre-1800 requirement for all majors: ENGL 231ENGL 232, ENGL 432, and ENGL 433.


ENGL 212: The Craft of Literature

Denise Despres
MoWeFr 11:00-11:50 A.M.

This course cultivates an appreciation of language through the practice of close reading and creative writing.  Readings include short fiction and novels by Neil Gaimon, Edwidge Danticat, and Mark Haddon, among others.  Students should be prepared for a workshop intensive experience that requires constant, active participation, lots of writing, and plenty of revision.


ENGL 220: Introduction to English Studies

Tiffany MacBain
TuTh 9:30 - 10:50 A.M.

This course will introduce you to the discipline of English Studies. Most of us are here because we enjoy reading and writing. While our personal experiences with text can be productive starting points in textual analysis, the study of English requires discipline—in the twin senses of work ethic and mastery of a branch of knowledge. This course will explore what it means to study English at the university level: in short, it will introduce and help you to develop the essential skills of reading actively, critically, and creatively and of executing focused, substantive literary analyses. In addition, we will consider the nature and utility of English Studies, and we will practice skills, terms, and perspectives you will use in any English course.

ENGL 220 is designed to highlight sets of questions central to the discipline: What is a literary text? What is genre, and how do craft and form relate to content? How do literary texts reflect and influence the world around us? How might we engage meaningfully with text?  This course may challenge assumptions and beliefs you have about what it means to be an English major, about the value of different kinds of texts, and about the social and academic politics that influence the discipline and that the discipline will enable you to influence.


ENGL 220: Introduction to English Studies
Alison Tracy Hale
TuTh 11:00 A.M. - 12:20 P.M.

This course will introduce you to the discipline of English Studies. Most of us are here because we enjoy reading and writing. While our personal experiences with text can be productive starting points in textual analysis, the study of English requires discipline—in the twin senses of work ethic and mastery of a branch of knowledge. This course will explore what it means to study English at the university level: in short, it will introduce and help you to develop the essential skills of reading actively, critically, and creatively and of executing focused, substantive literary analyses. In addition, we will consider the nature and utility of English Studies, and we will practice skills, terms, and perspectives you will use in any English course.

ENGL 220 is designed to highlight sets of questions central to the discipline: What is a literary text? What is genre, and how do craft and form relate to content? How do literary texts reflect and influence the world around us? How might we engage meaningfully with text?  This course may challenge assumptions and beliefs you have about what it means to be an English major, about the value of different kinds of texts, and about the social and academic politics that influence the discipline and that the discipline will enable you to influence.


ENGL 227: Introduction to Fiction Writing
Ann Putnam
MoWe 2:00 - 3:20 P.M.

In this course you will write two 5-6 page stories, one 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. 


ENGL 228: Introduction to Writing Poetry
Natalie Scenters-Zapico
TuTh 12:30 - 1:50 P.M.

In her seminal essay "Make America Mongrel Again,” Carmen Giménez Smith writes, “ The world has to be changed from deep within its interior—the place where its secrets are held—and what better way than poetry, the art form that offers the most immediate access to interiority?”

Over the course of the semester we will focus on the work of Latina/o poets who through a study of deep interiority have become an integral part their communities’ politics, have created immediate social change, and entered the American literary canon. In this course you will refine your craft by working in a tight workshop atmosphere, in which we will work together to become fluent in literary craft terms and better understand poet’s aesthetic choices. We will bring poetry to the Tacoma community through the study of literary activism, and create chapbooks of our work in the Maker’s Lab which we will then showcase.


ENGL 231 Medieval and Renaissance Literature
John Wesley
MoWeFr 10:00 - 10:50 A.M.

Covering almost ten centuries, this course will introduce you to the literature written in Britain from the Anglo-Saxon invasion to the aftermath of the English Civil War—from the earliest texts written in the English language to the drama of William Shakespeare and the epic poetry of John Milton. The emphasis throughout will be on developing skills for textual analysis while at the same time gaining a critical appreciation for the relationship between literature, history, and culture. In our case, this will mean touching on the cultural transformations of Britain from the Christianization of its early (pagan) Germanic invaders to the religious and political revolutions of the seventeenth century, noting especially the causes and consequences of the Protestant Reformation. The stories you will encounter in this course are diverse in both form and content, and are engaged with massive cultural shifts in terms of heroic ideals, concepts of family and nation, gender and marriage, the relationship between the sacred and profane, the meaning of devotion, and the understanding of the cosmos. You will read works marked by strange aesthetic and cultural milieus far removed from our own, but also by desires, anxieties, and conflicts we share with this period, and which continue to shape both our imaginations and the stories we tell. The assignments for this course aim to give you a sense of both the remoteness and closeness of the medieval and Renaissance worlds.


ENGL 232: British Romanticism and Its Psychedelic Legacies
George Erving
MoWeFr 11:00 - 11:50 A.M.

This version of “British Lit. II” focuses on literary art of the Romantic Period (late 18th C. to early 19th C.), especially its exploration of enduring philosophical questions relating to the nature of consciousness: to what extent does the mind create the reality it inhabits? What is the mind’s relationship to the body, and to the natural world? What is the significance of creativity, imagination, and art for our understanding of ourselves and the worldviews we create? The course then traces the legacy of Romanticism as it finds expression in the cultural revolution of the 1960s and the “Psychedelic Renaissance” that is underway in the early 21st Century.

Eng 247: Introduction to Popular Genres: Sleuthing Justice: Multi-Ethnic Detective Fiction
Mike Benveniste
TuTh 2:00 - 3:20 P.M.

How might detective fiction both promote and undercut such socially normative ‘"values?" How do such novels imagine the sources and exercise of power? How do they foreground the complex interplay of racial, ethnic, or gender identity with institutional power? How does the genre, from its inception, examine or critique assumptions about the neutrality of justice, or even suggest that institutions of justice maintain inequality? Further, how do writers of multi-ethnic detective fiction reimagine the lineaments of justice itself, and use the tropes of the genre to question some of its most basic beliefs?‚Äč 

Ostensibly defined by the upholding the order of justice, much detective fiction is actually committed to questioning that very concept. In this class, we will examine the ways in which writers from diverse backgrounds have utilized the genre to speculate about the nature of justice, agency, and, and social structure. Although the course will briefly limn the origins and initial conventions of the detective and noir genres - beginning briefly with works by Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allen Poe before turning its focus to the 20th and 21st C.s – our emphasis will be on the formal and thematic features that undergird the genre. Engaging the specific social histories that these fictions describe – and from which they arise – we will explore the myriad ways that the detective figure evolves in response to the historical vagaries of the mid-to-late twentieth century, factors which may include: labor antagonisms, anti-communism (specifically in its relationship to racial politics), the Civil Rights Movement, a transition to a largely consumer and information economy in the US, immigration and the rise of multiculturalism, and the proliferation of corporate culture and increasing stratification of social class. Amidst all of the seeming prosperity of the post-war boom, the detective frequently remains an outsider, economically disadvantaged, but none-the-less a self-employed specialist of the information economy, often upholding ‘values’ in which he/she doesn’t believe. The course may include novels from such writers as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Walter Mosley, Suki Kim, Megan Abbott, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Rudolfo Anaya.


ENGL 247: Introduction to Popular Genres: Afrofuturism
Regina Duthely
MoWeFr 11:00 - 11:50 A.M.

This course examines the theoretical foundations and aesthetics of Afrofuturism. The term Afrofuturism was coined in 1993 by scholar Mark Dery and is an all-encompassing term used to describe science fiction work (literature, music, art, etc.) that focuses on Afro-diasporic ways of being and knowing. We will examine the contours of the field of Afrofuturism and decenter traditional science fiction perspectives that erase the existence of people of color in their visions of future worlds. Scholar Alondra Nelson states, “Afrofuturism can be broadly defined as ‘African American voices’ with ‘other stories to tell about culture, technology and things to come’” (Nelson 9). Our course will explore these other stories of things to come. Afrofuturist authors speak into the legacies of colonialism and slavery as well as persistent inequality to examine their impact on imaginings of future worlds and the ongoing technological age. In our course we will read science fiction texts produced by Afrofuturist authors to study the ways that they reimagine the future from the perspectives of Afro-diasporic peoples in the New World. Readings may include texts by Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemisin, Nalo Hopkinson, Colson Whitehead, and Samuel Delany.


LTS 300: Latina/o Literatures
Natalie Scenters-Zapico
TuTh 2:00 - 3:20 P.M.


Latino literary and cultural productions have particularly provided a gateway into understanding the heterogeneity of Latino experiences in the U.S. While this course does not survey Latino literatures historically, it does introduce students to some of the most contemporary Latina/o literary productions and cultural expressions by situating these in their broader cultural, social, and political framework. Plays, short stories, novels, testimonies, poetry, autobiography, essays, and film serve to explore complex--and often silenced--histories, issues, and realities in present-day Latina/o communities. In this manner, the course looks at literature and cultural productions as a platform for cultural, social, individual, historical, and political expositions; a place where ideologies are contested, debated, and articulated; a site where subjectivities are problematized, enunciated, and made visible. Central to this course are questions pertaining to: the neoliberal market and the commodification of the Latino body; identity construction (and/or destruction); the intersections of sexuality, gender, and class in informing discourse; racisims; discourses of privilege; language and art as a conduit for the erasure of invisibilities; the intersections of systems of power in the literary; border politics, death and violence in the Latino experience; conditions of exile and diaspora; U.S. immigration politics and, among others, defiant Latina/o sexualities.


ENGL 327: Advanced Fiction Writing
Renee Simms
TuTh 3:30 - 4:50 P.M.

This is an advanced workshop in the writing and craft of fiction. You are expected to have written fiction before this semester and to have a firm command of grammar, syntax, prose composition, and to have read widely.

The work of the course is writing, reading the writing of your peers, responding to the writing of your peers, and reading and discussing the work of three prizewinning debut story collections, A Lucky Man, Heads of the Colored People, and Swimming in Hong Kong.

The heart of this class is the workshop. You will submit three manuscripts—two original stories and one revised story (submissions should be between 3,000-6,000 words).  Your final project will consist of the fully revised story and two letters: one that explains the revisions you’ve made in the revised story and a second letter explaining the revisions you will make in the second work.

ENGL 328 - Advanced Poetry Writing: Ecopoetry
William Kupinse
TuTh  2:00 - 3:20 P.M.

The Spring 2020 semester of Advanced Poetry Writing will bring an ecocritical approach to the study of poetry and to the writing of poems by workshop members. Working from the recognition that all poems—whether implicitly or explicitly—invoke a worldview with ecological implications, we will consider a range of environmental topics: ecopoetics, environmental justice, queer ecology, place attachment, climate change, the Anthropocene, and much more. Over the course of the semester, we will consider how poetry engages with the world around us, how innovative forms of expression can bear witness to both individual and collective experience, and how poetry can inform thought and inspire action during times of ecological crisis.

Since our writing develops to the fullest when we study the example of other writers, both established and emerging, ENGL 328 will explore a range of poems and poets with ecological commitments. We will begin with Tommy Pico’s book-length Nature Poem (2017) as a means of considering how one writes with a relationship to tradition, even if that tradition isn’t always what the writer might have hoped for. We will devote the greater part of our attention during the semester to the recent anthology Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (2018), studying writing that address topics ranging from food justice, to love poems in the time of the Anthropocene, to nature’s disregard for borders.

At the same time, we will be writing and revising our own poems, with assignments that balance opportunities for reflection on environmental topics of the poet’s own choosing with open subject, open form assignments. At times, we will move beyond the poetry classroom via a field trip to a Tacoma area environment, and perhaps even beyond our comfort zone in the form of a public poetry reading at the semester’s end.


ENGL 330: Irrealism: Fictional Worlds in Contemporary Speculative Fiction

Mike Benveniste
MoWe 2:00 - 3:20 P.M.

In his 1978 book, Ways of Worldmaking, philosopher Nelson Goodman outlined his theory of irrealism, asserting that the question of realism is moot because we inhabit worlds of our own making, such that there is no Reality, just plural versions thereof.  By most accounts, US culture, and hence literature, underwent a massive paradigm shift that challenged the very notion of objective reality in the years after WWII. In this period, intellectual and historical factors like the Cold war, the Civil Rights Movement, identity politics, post-industrialism, Postmodern/Poststructural and cultural theory, dispelled belief in objectivity and suggested that realism was a dangerous fantasy. Philosophically, speaking, though, perhaps Realism was beside the point all along, and fiction is best understood as a mode of speculating, fabrication, and conceptual experimentation. How then, might literature be relevant after realism? If literature does not represent reality, what does it do? What is the relationship between the real, the unreal, and the fictive? Because this period is paradoxically marked both by Postmodernism’s rejection of realism and ethnic literature’s reinvestment in the socio-political, we will study a multi-ethnic canon of writers in order to think about how literature imagines reality, and what value such alternative models of reality might have. How can "inrealistic" or "irrealistic" texts address social and historical problems? What does irrealism make possible? What is the function of fiction? And, as fiction, what is its socio-political value? We will contextualize our discussions with readings from narrative theory, unnatural narratology, philosophy, and theory of fiction, as we examine the use of irrealism by diverse writers of literary and genre fiction (like SciFi and CliFi) such as Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemison, Colson Whitehead, George Saunders, Chang Rae Lee, Sesshu Foster, Ishmael Reed, Charles Yu, Aimee Bender, Karen Tei Yamashita and Jeff VanderMeer.


ENGL 379: Theories of Language and the Law
Laura Krughoff
TuTh 9:30 - 10:50 P.M.

How do we know what makes language meaningful? Does meaning exist in words themselves and the grammatical structures that string them together into poems or stories or love letters? Does the intended meaning of the author matter? What role does the reader play in constructing the meaning of a phrase, a lyric, a line, or a letter? Do the answers to any of these questions change if we ask them not about a poem but about a matter of constitutional law?

These questions are questions about interpretation; i.e., they are theoretical questions. Contrary to common wisdom, theory isn’t a sphere separate from real world action, application, and consequence. What we think we’re doing when we interpret language has enormous consequence, and nowhere is that more visible than in debates over how to interpret the U.S. Constitution. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia left an indelible mark on Constitutional interpretation with his theory of “originalism.” In this course we will investigate the literary theory underpinning Scalia’s argument for an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution, and we’ll simultaneously explore other and alternative theoretical positions on what it means to interpret not just the language of the law, but language in general.

In this course we will read Scalia’s book A Matter of Interpretation and other scholars of constitutional law, but we will also read a wide range of literary theory to explore formalist, intentionalist, affective, and deconstructionist theories of interpretation. Before we do any of this, however, we will kick off our investigation of theories of meaning with the 2011 novel Embassytown by the British sci-fi author and scholar of international law China Miéville to see how questions of language theory are both enacted and explored in this work of speculative fiction. 


ENGL 381 – Major Authors: Katherine Mansfield and her Circle

William Kupinse 
We 4:00 - 6:50 P.M.

Shortly after Katherine Mansfield’s death from tuberculosis in 1923, her friend and sometimes rival Virginia Woolf confided in her diary that Mansfield’s prose was “the only writing I have ever been jealous of.” Mansfield’s talent was indeed formidable, and despite her short career, she left behind a remarkable legacy of short fiction, poetry, essays, journals, and letters.  Modernism, the literary revolution that both reflected and effected the profound transformations of the early twentieth-century, would have looked quite different without Katherine Mansfield.  Born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1888, Mansfield emigrated to England at the age of nineteen, where she would soon make a name for herself as a contributor to O. R. Orage’s The New Age, one of the quirkiest and most influential of the periodicals in which modernism was incubated.  Over the next decade, she went on to publish several important collections of short fiction: In a German Pension, Prelude, Bliss and Other Stories.  As her tuberculosis worsened, Mansfield lived variously in Italy, Switzerland, and France.  Throughout these changes of address, Mansfield maintained a precarious living penning book reviews and stories for the periodical press; saw through to publication The Garden Party and Other Stories, the final book she published in her lifetime; and discussed at length the writer’s craft in her rich and luminous letters. 

This course will explore the many aspects of this fascinating, fierce, and brilliant modernist: the prolific contributor to journals such as The New Age, Rhythm, and The Atheneum; the cultural critic whose interrogations of patriarchy and heteronormativity have made her a pivotal figure in early 20th-century studies of feminism and queer theory; the expatriate whose colonial experience gave her special insight into European imperialism; and, most of all, the innovator who expanded the boundaries of what language could accomplish. 

In addition to reading Mansfield’s major works of fiction and poetry, we will consider her letters, journals, and essays.  We will complement our study of these primary texts with Kathleen Jones’s biography, Katherine Mansfield: The Storyteller, and select critical works by Gerri Kimber and other Mansfield scholars.  Finally, we will attend to Mansfield’s literary circle by reading works by D. H. Lawrence (who modeled the character Gudrun in Women in Love after Mansfield), John Middleton Murray (Mansfield’s famously awful second husband), and, of course, Virginia Woolf.  Course requirements for this discussion-based seminar include midsemester and final essays and a presentation.

This course confers 300-level credit within the English major/minor, and is also cross-listed with Gender & Queer Studies.


ENGL 397:  The Writing Internship
Priti Joshi
Tu 5:00 - 7:50 P.M.

The Writing Internship offers academic credit (1 unit) for an internship; the course is different from standard English courses in that it combines internship work with classroom reflection, thus providing students the unique opportunity to begin the transition from college to the “real world.”  Students registered in this class will have a placement in an off-campus internship (from 8-10 hours/week for a total of 120 hours over the semester); in addition to the internship, students registered in the class will meet once-a-week (Tuesdays from 5:00-7:50pm) for discussion on work-place issues, translating your major into marketable skills, developing strategies for managing a search and promoting yourself, and more. Bringing together experience and reflection, students in this class will practice and develop the professional writing skills they will encounter upon graduation. (Past students have interned in a number of positions, 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).

 In order to register for the class, a student must have secured an off-campus internship. Thus, you will not actually register for the class until January (the last day to register – and secure that internship – is Jan 28, 2020). Securing an internship is not as daunting as it sounds as CES has a lot of excellent resources, and staff in that office and I are here to support you in your search. (We will hold an event in November to aid you in starting the search – look out for an announcement). Interested students should contact Prof. Priti Joshi (pjoshi@pugetsound.edu) so as to be informed about resources for finding an internship.


ENGL 432: Senior Seminar: British Romanticism and the Mental Nature of Reality
George Erving
MoWe 3:30 - 4:50 P.M.

This Senior Experience Seminar first explores the works of several authors from the Romantic Period in Britain (William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley), each of whom sought to bring about a revolution in our understanding of human consciousness. These readings then provide a basis for understanding contemporary writings in three interrelated fields—Buddhist philosophy, psychedelic drug therapy, and cognitive science (neuroscience, psychology, physics, philosophy) that argue for the primacy of mind in our materialist zeitgeist. Students develop scholarly projects that focus on the conceptual relationship between works from the Romantic period and one or more contemporary works that challenge materialist assumptions about the nature of reality.


ENGL 433: Senior Seminar: History of the English Language
John Wesley
TuTh 12:30 - 1:50 P.M.


“We open our mouths,” writes Penelope Lively, “and out flow words whose ancestries we do not know.” In this course, we will get to know some of those ancestries. Our exploration will involve the following three units: 1) An introduction to the study of language, generally (this unit resembles courses you might take in philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology). 2) Language learning: Old English, Middle English, and Early Modern English (in gaining some familiarity with these older forms of the language—some of them nearly unrecognizable to present-day English—this unit will closely resemble a foreign language course). 3) Sociolinguistics (we’ll examine usage and standards in relation to issues of culture, national identity, globalization, race, gender, and class). As you can already tell, this course is unlike any other you will take in the English department. We do not do any literary analysis, for example; and, because of the unique nature of this study, note that more than half of the final grade will be comprised of test performance. That is, besides a final research paper and some reviews of scholarly material, students are required to take closed-book tests on the concepts and language features we study in assigned readings, lectures, and in-class exercises. 

ENGL 434: Senior Seminar: Advanced Projects in Creative Writing
Laura Krughoff 
TuTh 2:00-3:20 P.M.


This Senior Seminar is designed to facilitate the research, writing, and revision of a long-form creative project in any genre: a poetry chapbook, a collection of short stories or a novella, a work of dramatic literature, or a substantial work of creative non-fiction. As is true with all Senior Seminars, each student’s final project for this course will be grounded in thorough and original research. In the early weeks of the semester, we will read a work of dramatic literature, two poetry collections, a flash memoir, and a novel that each gives a glimpse into what a deeply researched creative work might look like. Students will then identify a point of creative curiosity, create a research plan for grounding their project, and identify the genre most suited to the project and their own creative inclination and training. A significant portion of the class time will be dedicated to workshopping drafts of student projects and identifying strategies for moving from early drafts to completed works of literature. Please note that ENGL 434 will meet twice a week; full participation in class discussion and workshops will be required to successfully complete the course.