English 4150: Cultures of Professional Writing
Examine writing in various workplaces. Analyze writing discourse that shapes professional organizations. Explore ongoing technological and cultural shifts required of workplace writers and the role of digital media.
English 4189: Professional Writing Minor—Capstone Internship
Students work on-site in an organization doing writing-related work and meet weekly to discuss related topics.
English 4321: Environmental Literatures, Cultures and Media: Environmental Humanities
Instructor: Thomas Davis
This course will introduce students to the vibrant, interdisciplinary field of the Environmental Humanities. We will think together about the affordances of humanistic inquiry for addressing topics such as climate change, energy futures, resource extraction, environmental justice, toxicity, settler colonialism and ecotourism, among others.
English 4400: Literary Locations—Literary Rome
Instructor: Sean O’Sullivan
Study of sites of literary importance, and texts connected with them in Rome. Concludes with 10-day visit to location. Taught in conjunction with English 5797.
English 4515: Chaucer
Instructor: Ethan Knapp
The aim of this course will be to introduce students to the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, starting with his early works and leading up to a reading of large sections of his most famous poem, The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer's poetry offers a window onto an unusually exciting moment of political, cultural and philosophical transformations, and we will consequently read these poems with close attention to the society and culture that produced them, the turbulent end of the fourteenth century. Students should also acquire a familiarity with Chaucer's Middle English and with the literary culture of the time.
English 4520.01: Shakespeare
Instructor: Luke Wilson
In this upper-level course in Shakespeare, we'll explore why Shakespeare remains a central figure in our culture. There's a Calvin and Hobbes comic in which Calvin is forced by his mother to eat a pile of food as it recites "To be or not to be." Is Shakespeare still good eating? Or is he a meal we're all compelled to consume whether we like it or not? I'd say he's not yet past his use-by date, and in this course we'll see why he still hits the spot, reading plays in the major dramatic genres in which he wrote - comedy, history, tragedy and what later came to be called romance - as well as some of his poems; we'll also do some ancillary critical reading. Requirements will include frequent brief informal response papers; one or two substantial essays; and a final exam. Text: The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt, et al. 3rd ed., in two volumes.
English 4521: Renaissance Drama—The Infamous Christopher Marlowe
Instructor: Alan Farmer
Although Shakespeare is undeniably now the most famous playwright from early modern England, that was not always the case. In the early 1590s, when Shakespeare’s career was just beginning, Christopher Marlowe was undeniably London’s most influential and notorious playwright. A spy and supposed atheist, he was ultimately killed, and perhaps assassinated, in a barroom brawl in May 1593. Before then, Marlowe wrote plays that transformed the early modern theater in exciting, unsettling, and troubling ways. His plays are filled with disturbing villains, daring women, violent spectacles, cruel humor, and subversive political and sexual philosophies. In this course, we will read seven plays by Marlowe and consider how they offer radical explorations of such early modern—and contemporary—topics as religion, sexuality, politics, feminism, science, and power. Requirements include a couple of essays, quizzes, an exam, and active participation.
English 4522: Renaissance Poetry
Instructor: Sarah Neville
Dragons. Knights. Swordfights. Magicians. Princesses. Satyrs. Tournaments of Champions. King Arthur. Giants. Enchantresses. Secret meanings. Symbolism. Righteous English patriotism. A desperate plea for patronage. And that’s just the first book. Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene is a rollicking adventure story, a powerful national epic, a searching philosophical meditation and guide for moral conduct, a profound exploration of renaissance theology, a pointed critique of traditional attitudes toward gender and class, a wildly imaginative work of fantasy, and a deeply beautiful poem unto itself – this is unquestionably one of the most fascinating and complex works in all of English literature. In this course we will read the whole poem – all six books and change – paying special attention to historical questions about gender, class, politics, science, and religion. Reading all of The Faerie Queene is a major accomplishment that few people ever attempt – Publishers’ Weekly named it one of the Top Ten Most Difficult Books – making it the Everest climb on an English major’s bucket list and offering lifelong bragging rights. Are you brave enough to take the challenge? Students will be evaluated by reading quizzes, short essays, and a final creative project.
English 4540: Nineteenth-Century British Poetry
Instructor: Jacob Risinger
In this course, we will consider how Romantic and Victorian poets tried to make sense of the nineteenth century and its tumultuous changes. These poets were some of the first writers to grapple with the modern world as we know it. Their century was rocked by the invention of the train, the telegraph, the photograph, and the bicycle. The industrial revolution gave rise to a broad but unpredictable social realignment, and Darwin’s evolutionary hypothesis disrupted religious convictions and comfortable visions of nature. Revolutionary political ideas prompted the reconsideration of tradition, custom, and order. As the British Empire expanded to cover a quarter of the globe, both the Romantics and the Victorians confronted an increasing disjunction between local culture and a globalized world. Over the course of the semester, we will think about how these developments resulted in the formal and thematic transformation of British poetry. Poets we will discuss range from William Wordsworth and John Keats to Christina Rossetti and Oscar Wilde.
English 4542: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel
Instructor: Amanpal Garcha
In this course, we will study how the novels of the 1800s, in their ways of representing characters and events, reveal some of the major conflicts in nineteenth-century English society. The five works of fiction we will read – Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Anthony Trollope's The Fixed Period – try to embrace seemingly irreconcilable ideas: of a Romantic emphasis on individual passion and freedom and a more modern emphasis on social conformity; of the aristocracy's age-old cultural power and the new middle class's increasing influence; of traditional concepts of truth and new ideas from science, including Darwin's theory of evolution; of male power and women's changing roles; and of ancient community ideals and the expansion of governmental and capitalistic institutions. Requirements include regular class attendance and participation, the completion of periodic reading quizzes and a few short papers.
English 4547: 20th-Century Poetry
Instructor: Brian McHale
Readers encounter poems in various material situations – on the page of an anthology or a journal or magazine, on a website, in a book – and where we encounter them makes a difference to how we appreciate and make sense of them. This semester we will explore one particular situation: our encounter with poems published in a collection of other poems by the same poet. We will read about a dozen such books, cover to cover, thinking about the way the individual poems interact with each other and how they “add up” to a whole that is larger and different than the sum of the parts.
English 4550: Special Topics in Colonial and Early National Literature of the U.S.
Instructor: Beth Hewitt
The popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has turned the “ten dollar founding father” into something of a household name. This class will use Hamilton’s life—as immigrant, as soldier, as revolutionary, as architect of American finance, as husband—as a lens to view the story of the early United States. We will read some of Hamilton’s own work, but also a range of other political, imaginative, and economic writing including novels, pastoral poems, captivity narratives, and plays by authors including Charles Brockden Brown, Olaudah Equiano, Ben Franklin, Philip Freneau, Thomas Jefferson, Judith Sargent Murray, Tom Paine, Susanna Rowson – and, of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
English 4563: Contemporary Literature
Instructor: Jessica Prinz
This semester, English 4563 will be a comparative course in literature and science in the postmodern era , including such readings as Einstein’s Dreams (Alan Lightman), The Crying of Lot 49 (Thomas Pynchon), “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” (Italo Calvino), David Eggers The Circle (among others, including one or two works of science fiction, like Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go). Course requirements include two papers, two exams, and participation in discussions.
English 4565: Advanced Fiction Writing
Instructor: Michelle Herman
This is the advanced creative writing workshop in fiction. Admission is limited to creative writing concentrators who have taken English 2265, and to other students who have successfully completed English 2265 with permission of the instructor (by portfolio submission--please send your best complete short story to Professor Herman).
English 4566: Advanced Poetry Writing
Instructor: Marcus Jackson
This is the advanced course in Creative Writing-Poetry designed primarily for undergraduates who have taken the series of workshops at the beginning and intermediate levels. This is a workshop course in which you create the texts we consider. We will also look at “model” poets for prompts and inspiration. Get ready to surprise yourselves!
English 4567S: Rhetoric and Community Service
Instructor: Beverly Moss
In this undergraduate service learning seminar, you will experience firsthand through in-class workshops and conversations coupled with writing for a community partner how rhetoric (and writing) can affect (both positively and negatively) social change. You’ll receive assistance from me and your classmates regarding your writing for a nonprofit organization with whom I’ll pair you during the first few course meetings. Your community partnership affords you exposure to the complexity of organizational communication and nonprofit labor—exposure you may not otherwise have were you confined only to the classroom.
English 4568: Advanced Creative Nonfiction Writing
Instructor: Lee Martin
This is an advanced workshop in which students will write and critique original creative nonfiction. Each student will produce two essays and will significantly revise one of them to present at the end of the semester. Admission is by portfolio submission to the instructor.
English 4569: Digital Media in English Studies: Digital Protest and Online Activism
Instructor: Christa Teston
Because of their networked nature and participatory potential, digital media can be powerful actors in affecting social change. We tag, tweet, retweet, reblog, reshare, swipe left, swipe right, add filters, link, like, follow, friend and more. Connections are made. Alliances are forged. Technology, power, and values are wonderfully and frightfully connected. In this class, we will investigate and experiment with digital media’s affordances and constraints—particularly for the ways they do or do not engender social concern, garner attention, mobilize human and monetary resources, and spark social justice. This course, then, is critical and creative. We will both think about and tinker with digital media. Class discussions will provide a rich and safe environment for you to explore and experiment with the consequences of humans’ relationships with digital media, while studio days will afford hands-on guidance in leveraging digital media for the purpose of protest and activism. I also anticipate that events in the world will go on happening as they did before this class ever existed. So while the course has overarching learning objectives (listed below), how those objectives are achieved may be modified in response to uprisings, disasters, attacks, and other events of social consequence yet to occur.
English 4573.02: Rhetoric and Social Action: Health and Illness Activism
Instructor: Margaret Price
This course investigates sites of social action including public speech, demonstrations, social-media communications, and art/activism (“artivism”) that relate to questions of health and illness. We’ll study the rhetorical and discursive work that circulates around contemporary social-action movements such as The Ice Bucket Challenge, Breaking Out, Disability Justice, and The Icarus Project. We’ll engage questions such as these: Why did the Ice Bucket Challenge take off so vigorously (with more than 17 million participants worldwide), and who actually benefited from all that money and visibility? What are the implications of more “covert” movements such as Project Semicolon—again, who benefits, and how is “benefit” being defined? What are the implications when health/illness activism moves globally—for example, when people based in the U.S. text a number to donate money for disaster-relief support, medical supplies, or clean water?
English 4578 (20): Special Topics in Film—Hollywood in the Seventies
Instructors: Jared Gardner
This course will explore one of the most interesting periods in American film industry, from the New Hollywood maverick directors who reigned supreme at the start of the decade to the rise of the blockbuster at decade's end. We will explore dominant themes during this period—such as paranoia and conspiracy—alongside the emergence of underground and fringe cinema.
English 4578 (30): Special Topics in Film—Film and American Society after World War II
Instructors: Ryan Friedman
This course examines the history of the American cinema in the years immediately following the Second World War, focusing on the ways in which Hollywood movies reflected, responded to, and inflected the major social issues of the period. We will view and discuss classic films from a variety of genres, contextualizing them by reading both primary sources (like government documents and period magazine articles) and the work of contemporary film historians. Most weeks will pair a specific film with a significant social development from the period (for instance, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House with economic “reconversion,” The Best Years of Our Lives with the so-called “veterans problem,” and Blackboard Jungle with the emergence of “juvenile delinquency”). We will also examine the development of film technology and style during the 1940s and 50s, thinking about phenomena like the rise of Technicolor and widescreen formats and the emergence of film noir.
English 4580: Special Topics in LGBTQ Literatures and Cultures—The Speculative Closet: Queering Horror, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi
Instructor: Nick White
In this course, we will explore how queer writers approach supernatural and futuristic elements in narrative fiction. We will read novels by the likes of Octavia Butler, Jewelle Gómez, Rainbow Rowell, Emma Donoghue, Michael Cunningham, Perry Moore, Poppy Z. Brite and others. There will be quizzes, daily writings, a presentation and one final project.
English 4582: Special Topics in African American Literature: Rethinking the Romance Plot: Love, Marriage and Singleness in African American Culture
Instructor: Andrea Williams
From romance narratives, we’ve grown accustomed to women’s stories that end with marriage as the “happily ever after.” But what else might constitute a fitting story, particularly for single women? This class traces the enduring, but changing, appeal of the romance plot by examining how African American culture represents the lives, loves, and adventures of single black women. Studying literature, film, television, and music, we will pursue questions such as these: Why might an artist choose to focus on an unmarried protagonist or narrator? How can we account for the popular success of “chick lit” or its African American parallel, “sista girl” fiction? How do matters of class, privilege and citizenship relate to who has the chance to marry or not? Course materials may include texts by Nella Larsen, Toni Morrison, Terry McMillan, and others, as well as pop culture productions by Shonda Rhimes and Beyoncé. Assignments may include quizzes, reading journal, response paper (3-5 pages) and final essay (7-10 pages).
English 4583: Special Topics in World Literature in English
Instructor: Pranav Jani
Study of literatures written in English and produced outside of the U.S. and Britain; topics include colonial/postcolonial writing, regional literature, theoretical and historical approaches, genres.
English 4587: Special Topics in Asian American Literature and Culture: Empire, Diaspora, Sexuality
Instructor: Martin Ponce
This course examines Asian American literature through three frameworks that have become indispensable to studying this body of work: empire, diaspora, and sexuality. We will use these concepts to explore some of the main themes, issues, and problems that Asian American studies has grappled with since its emergence as an academic interdiscipline in the late 1960s. Through readings of key literary and scholarly texts and viewings of documentary films and other visual artifacts, we will consider a variety of topics that extend from the 19th century to the present: Chinese immigration and exclusion, U.S. colonialism in the Philippines and Filipino immigration, South Asian labor migrations, Japanese American internment and redress, U.S. and Asian settler colonialism in Hawai’i, the complex aftermaths of the Korean and Viet Nam/American wars, the Asian American movement and the activist roots of Asian American Studies, the “model minority” myth, the transformations of post-1965 Asian America, and the reconfigurations of race and religion after 9/11/2001. Throughout the course, we will remain attentive to the ways that race and ethnicity intersect with class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, location, and other social differences to produce the heterogeneous imaginary known as “Asian America.” Possible authors include Carlos Bulosan, Jessica Hagedorn, Mohsin Hamid, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chang-rae Lee, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Julie Otsuka, Aimee Phan.
English 4590.02H: The Renaissance
Instructor: Jennifer Higginbotham
This class is about the pleasure of poetry and the poetry of pleasure in Renaissance England. What made poems sound good to Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and what makes those same poems sound good or not to us? Students will master knowledge of the key Renaissance poetic forms and genres, including the sonnet sequence, metrical patterns such as iambic pentameter, blank verse, ballad, narrative, and lyric. We will be doing the equivalent of taking apart an engine to figure out how it works. Readings will include the master stylists of the age, such as Katherine Philips and John Milton, but we’ll also examine some poetry that is so bad it’s good. Non-honors students are welcome, and no previous work in the Renaissance is required.
English 4591.01H: Honors Special Topics in Creative Writing
Instructor: Elissa Washuta
In conversations about nonfiction and its basis in verifiable facts, how do we handle the unverifiable—the supernatural, the eerie, the awesome, the magical? What do we do with that which can’t be fact-checked, which fills us with wonder and doubt? In this course, we will read literary nonfiction devoted to supernatural occurrences and displays of illusion, ranging from the magician’s secrets to unexplainable phenomena. We’ll employ intuitive techniques and introspective tools like tarot to create new essays, we’ll learn about incorporating research into our first-person accounts, and we’ll consider issues of appropriation, commodification and overexposure of sacred practices. Students will be expected to read, write and workshop.
English 4592 (10): Special Topics in Women in Literature and Culture
Instructor: Roxann Wheeler
This course teaches students several ways to analyze literature written by and about women through the principles of feminist theory. We will explore the fictional strategies that the first commercially successful women writers employed, including the formal features of narration, structure, plot, and character that they inherited and shaped, the generic features of several early forms of the novel, and the content.
This period of 1660-1808 is remarkable in literary history because the modern novel was a new commercial genre; women writers dominated this market and shaped key conventions still recognizable today such as romantic comedy in novel and film as well as problem novels that explore social ills that call for economic, social, and even political reform. Four of our writers wrote novels that explored the nexus of slavery, capitalism, and racism.
Recent events in our lives, such as the renewed interest in safe spaces and hate speech, Black Lives Matter, and the #MeToo movement, attention to unequal pay for equal work, and what liberty means for women are issues that compelled a number of women writers of the long eighteenth century, albeit in a very different context than today.
Aphra Behn, The Fair Jilt (1688).
Eliza Haywood, Fantomina; or, Love in a Maze (1725)
Sarah Scott, Millenium Hall (1762),
Frances Burney, Evelina; or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (1778)
Amanda Foreman, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1998)
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) and The
Wrongs of Woman, or Maria (1798),
Maria Edgeworth, Belinda (1801),
Amelia Opie, Adeline Mowbray; or The Mother and Daughter, A Tale (1805),
Anonymous, The Woman of Colour, A Tale (1808)
English 4592 (20): Special Topics in Women in Literature and Culture
Instructor: Sandra MacPherson
Using feminist perspectives, students will learn to analyze literature and other cultural works (film, television, digital media) written by or about women.
English 4998: Undergraduate Research—Thesis
A program of reading arranged for each student, with individual conferences, reports and a paper and/or thesis.
English 4998H: Honors Research
A program of reading arranged for each student with individual conferences, reports and an honors thesis. Open only to candidates for distinction in English.