All course descriptions

  • There are no prerequisites for 200- and 300-level English courses
  • 300-level course topics marked with an asterisk [*] have the option of being taken in the 430-433 range to fulfill a 400-level English major requirement. Students enrolled in the 400-level versions of these courses will, as part of their coursework, conduct independent research appropriate to an advanced-level seminar. Students should consult the descriptions below and myPugetSound for the ENGL 400-level number that corresponds to each designated topic.


Tiffany MacBain - TTh 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 active reading, critical and creative thought, and textual analysis. In addition, we will consider the nature and applications of English Studies.

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 politics—cultural, academic, ideological—that influence the discipline and that the discipline enables you to influence.

Attributes: Required for all English majors and minors



Bill Kupinse - MW 2-3:20 p.m.

“A line will take us hours, maybe,” writes W. B. Yeats on the craft of poetry. “Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought, / Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.” This creative writing workshop takes seriously Yeats’s notion that the effect of spontaneity in poetry is achieved through fierce attention and careful revision. By stitching and unstitching multiple drafts of their poems, seminar participants will work to develop the critical skills that will allow them to become more effective writers of poetry. Assignments in this course emphasize writing as a process and include selected reading of contemporary and canonical poems, weekly exercises, in-class discussions, peer reviews, and a final portfolio. We will hold an off-campus reading of class members’ poetry at the end of the term.

Attributes: Creative Writing; IHE Pathway, “Artist as Humanist”



Laura Behling - MWF 10-10:50 a.m.

“Going from knowing who you are to not knowing who you are--that is the American story."
- Gish Jen

Imagined and illuminated. Resisted and rejected. Challenged and celebrated. American literature has responded to all of the personal, social, economic, political, intellectual, and artistic upheaval and change that has characterized America in the last 100 years. It’s done so in new modes and styles of expression, and with readers–you and me–eager to discover the riches in its stories. This course reads key American literary texts from multiple genres from the early 20th century through today’s contemporary moment and sets them within their cultural contexts. We’ll read and write, judge books by their covers, dive into the contemporary literary prize and publishing worlds, and witness new author-artists emerge. And throughout our examination of American literary history-in-the-making since the early 20thcentury, we’ll discover the interconnections of literature and culture and determine if American author Gish Jen is right—that “Going from knowing who you are to not knowing who you are” is, in fact, “the American story.”

Attributes: Literature; IHE Pathway, “Issues of Race and Ethnicity”



Regina Duthely-Barbee - TTh 11 a.m-12:20 p.m.

When we think of writing, alphabetic writing is often the first thing that comes to mind. We have been conditioned to think about writing as black letters on white paper. This course pushes beyond alphabetic forms of communication to consider the ways that text, image, and sound have been deployed in communication, with a particular focus on social justice and alternative knowledge making practices. Composition scholar Claire Lutkewitte claims, “Multimodal composition offers us the opportunity to discover other ways of knowing and communicating ideas besides the ways we know and communicate through traditional print-based writing” (11). Working from this claim, this course will explore the theoretical foundations of multimodal composition and engage in digital writing across various mediums. We will consider the ways that digital writing allows for new, and more expansive forms of communication. We will examine the relationship between text, image, and sound with a primary focus on the ways that digital writing opens a space for more critical language and communication practices. Students will deploy multiple modes of communicating, including linguistic, visual, spatial, gestural, and aural ways of composing and creating. This class primarily requires a lot of hands-on project based assignments, digital writing workshops, and peer writing groups.

Attributes: Media and Non-Literary Analysis; IHE Pathway, “Artist as Humanist”



Alison Tracy Hale - TTH 2-3:20 p.m.

Bring your magnifying glass, your pipe, and your Deerstalker. We’ll begin our investigation with the usual suspects—those prolix lucubrators spawned from the mean streets of 19th-century urbanity. They will help us exhume the connections between technology and social change that gave rise to a new genre and a new form of hero: the detective. We’ll shine a bright light on the Golden Age and peer into the dark corners of noir as we autopsy the political, social, and ethical anxieties the detective may exacerbate or subdue. From here our investigation will pursue two overlapping and interconnected lines of inquiry: the expansion of investigative fiction across a range of amateur figures and the purposeful re-imagination of the detective and the detective story by writers from an ever-widening range of communities and identities. Our search for the perpetrators will lead us to ask how and to what ends recent and contemporary authors have adopted, adapted, and transformed the topics, tropes, and figures of classic detective fiction in ways that intervene in today’s world. What kinds of aesthetic and political work are being accomplished in these later manifestations, and how are these authors reinvigorating and remaking a formerly formulaic genre? We’ll read some history, some genre theory, and a lot of detective stories in short and novel lengths. You’ll do some forensic and textual analysis and construct a criminal caper of your own. The book list is still need-to-know, but will likely include some of the following authors, mostly but not exclusively from US and British traditions: Poe, Doyle, Christie, Sayers, Tey, P.D. James, Paul Auster, Walter Mosley, Attica Locke, Paula Woods, Glenville Lovell, Stephen Graham Jones…

Attributes: Literature; KNOW graduation requirement; Crime, Law, & Justice Studies elective



Priti Joshi - TTh 3:30-4:50 p.m.

In this class, we will all get to be detectives…of objects we cradle in our hands frequently, but don’t often stop to think about: the book! (As we’ll discuss early and often, “book” is used here as a shorthand for “books, scrolls, and tablets, pamphlets, newspapers, and broadsides, in manuscript, print, and pixels” and more). The class will turn our standard relationship to the book on its head: rather than focus on the contents – what the words and images say – we’ll focus on the materiality of the object itself: its cover, pages, binding, typography, etc. The goal is to mine the object for clues to the history of the many people and communities who often-silently and largely-invisibly labored to create books, whether with quill-parchment-and-ink or with a wooden press and types or with woodblocks. Books – in their many forms such as handbills, newspapers or newsletters, even zines – have in some cases survived hundreds of years, and we will use these material objects to learn about the societies and cultures that gave rise to them and that they left an indelible impact on. As befits the material focus of this class, we will be hands-on with books, newspapers, paper, type, blocks, etc. Our class will take place in the Archives and Special Collections seminar room in Collins library and we will handle objects that are old and in some cases delicate (no gloves needed!). We’ll also spend time learning to make or replicate some of the component parts or features of a “book”: paper, printing, folding, and binding.

This class will be of interest to students in English, History, Art (studio or history), Education, or anyone interested in “getting their hands dirty”!

Attributes: Media and Non-Literary Analysis; IHE Pathway, “Visual Culture”



Tiffany MacBain - TTh 12:30-1:50 p.m.

If you’ve ever been hooked by a journalistic deep-dive into a subject, maybe on Serial or in the Atlantic, you know the power of a complex narrative that results from sniffing out a good story, interviewing the right people, and conducting scrupulous research. In Advanced Creative Nonfiction, students will try their hand at these skills. To learn the craft, students will study published essays in the genre, attuning themselves to the elements of a well-told tale. Class will be run as a workshop in which students perform textual analysis and develop their own writing through exercises and the steady composition and revision of their own nonfiction prose. Students will share their thoughts and their writing with their peers, and participate in peer-review and self-reflection. The primary project will be to research, write, and revise a substantial piece of longform journalism, along with a sample pitch or submission proposal of their project to a magazine or journal.

This course assumes students’ basic familiarity with the genre of creative nonfiction, whether through their own writing or their reading of memoir, the literary essay, or longform journalism. ENGL229 (Introduction to Creative Nonfiction) and ENGL226 (Introduction to Journalism) are not prerequisites, but they are good precursors to this course. That said, anyone is welcome to join!

Attributes: Creative Writing



Laura Behling - MW 2-3:20 p.m.

Step right up! This course will examine contemporary American carnivalesque literature (texts shot out of the “canon,” so to speak)-- set in circuses, traveling fairs, carnivals, and theme parks (critically acclaimed, popular, or cult favorites—and sometimes all three at once!) of the last half century. These lively texts will take their place under the big top alongside Russian philosopher and literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin who theorizes about the “carnival sense of the world,” tracing its lineage back to medieval carnival traditions, in which established hierarchies, social roles, and acceptable behaviors were upended (and permitted to be so) (Rabelais and His World). Complementing the literary texts will be sideshows of “cultural connections,” moments throughout the course that link the literature to its socio-historical contexts. Our readings will focus on these literary spectacles and our discussions will discern what the carnivalesque turn in American literature suggests about our contemporary America and its populace. Just who are the performers? Who is the audience? Why are we so enthralled? Does a world populated by alligator wrestlers (Swamplandia!) or a sinister traveling troupe (Something Wicked This Way Comes) return to proper balance, or is the contemporary American world fundamentally changed in their wake?

*Students who wish to study this topic in order to satisfy a 400-level requirement for the English major must enroll in ENGL 431, Section A. This will not overlap with or repeat a previous section of ENGL 431 if taken with a different topic. See note at top.

Attributes: Literature



John Wesley - MWF 11-11:50 a.m.

The Bible is a unique artifact of the ancient world in the sense that nothing else written in the so-called Ancient Near East has survived into the present day with quite the same level of proportion, constancy, and relevance. Where did these writings come from? Who wrote this down, for whom, and to what purpose? And, most pertinent to this course, what kind of knowledge do we gain about this book—or, to be more accurate, this anthology of books—when we study it as literature? To read the Bible as literature (in our case, the Christian Bible) is to ask questions of it that we would of any text in an English class, such as those related to matters of source material, cultural history, genre, figurative language, narrative development, and style, as well as interpretation (which, for this text, has been ongoing for more than two millennia, and involves issues of translation, too!). While such an approach will have inevitable crossover with religious studies, history, linguistics, theology, and even archaeology, it will be good to keep in mind that the primary aim of this course is to develop a literary appreciation of the Bible rather than determine the veracity of religious or theistic claims. As Kenneth Burke once wrote, “Whether or not there is a realm of the ‘supernatural,’ there are words for it.” In this course, we will study some of those words.

*Students who wish to study this topic in order to satisfy a 400-level requirement for the English major must enroll in ENGL 430, Section A. This will not overlap with or repeat a previous section of ENGL 430 if taken with a different topic. See note at top.

Attributes: Literature; Literatures and Cultures Before 1800



Bill Kupinse - TTh 2-3:20 p.m.

This course explores how imaginative writing can intervene in the most existential of neoliberalism’s myriad catastrophes: the climate crisis. Through our reading of contemporary novels, poetry, nonfiction, and ecocritical theory, we will seek to understand literature’s role in realizing an environmentally just and genuinely sustainable world.

Emphasizing creative writing as a form of activism, we will study the work of writer-activists from around the globe–Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Barbara Kingsolver, Camille Dungy, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Nnedi Okorafor, Donna Haraway, and Cherie Dimaline, among others. Within the inclusive category of climate justice, we will consider a range of topics, including Indigenous rights, immigration justice, ecofeminism, and queer ecology. For students registering for this course as ENGL374, there are three main assignments: an essay in which students engage an ecocritical concept and a literary text in conversation; a creative writing assignment in which students themselves produce a short piece of climate change literature in a genre of their choosing; and a collaborative, student-designed final project that uses the skills and knowledge developed during the semester to engage the climate crisis beyond the classroom. For students taking the course as their senior seminar (i.e. those registering for ENGL 430-B), additional requirements include discussion leadership and a research-oriented expansion of their ecocritical/literary essay.

*Students who wish to study this topic in order to satisfy a 400-level requirement for the English major must enroll in ENGL 430, Section B. This will not overlap with or repeat a previous section of ENGL 430 if taken with a different topic. See note at top.

Attributes: Literature; Environmental Policy & Decision Making general elective



Priti Joshi - TTh 12:30-1:50 p.m.

In 1813, Britain abolished the slave trade and in 1834, it abolished slavery in its colonies (where it had kept it safely hidden). The labor of enslaved peoples had, of course, funded Britain’s mega-growth into the world’s largest industrial empire. This course takes up matters of enslavement, industrialization, and Britain’s empire. Threaded through debates about Abolition and enslaved peoples, industrialism and the “condition of the working classes,” and Britain’s growing reliance on its empire (for labor and markets) were questions of gender – women and their “proper” place, men and masculinity. We will use these frames as the lens through which we approach key texts of the period: Mary Prince’s History (the first narrative by a Black woman published in Britain); Dickens’ Oliver Twist; Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton; Wonderful Adventures by Mary Seacole (referred to as the “Jamaican Florence Nightingale”); Wilkie Collins’s Moonstone (considered the first detective novel); and H. Rider Haggard’s She (a gothic-adventure tale that beggars belief).

*Students who wish to study this topic in order to satisfy a 400-level requirement for the English major must enroll in ENGL 432, Section A. This will not overlap with or repeat a previous section of ENGL 432 if taken with a different topic.

Attributes: Literature; Centering Marginalized Voices



Regina Duthely-Barbee - MW 3:30-4:50 p.m.

This seminar supports students as they negotiate the transition from the classroom to the workplace. Students consider how the skills they have developed as English majors translate to the field—whatever that field may be—and identify and utilize opportunities for mentoring and professional skill building that good internships deliver. Course readings and discussions guide students to develop critical and practical perspectives about the work they produce and the workplace culture they encounter, and writing workshops hone students' technical and professional writing. The course includes a strong reflective component to encourage students to consider their personal and professional development and to explore career goals.

Attributes: Media and Non-Literary Analysis; Experiential Learning graduation requirement