Spring and May Term 2015

Literature

  • ENGL 109 Slamming, Jamming, Understanding: Poetry through Performance

    About the experience of reading poetry, poet Jorie Graham writes, "Doing what I am asked to do is deeply different from interpreting what the poet means." In this class, we'll engage poems by doing what they ask us to do, by encountering and experiencing them, their meaning and their music, with our whole selves: mind and body and voice. Class participants will perform a wide array of poems, from dramatic monologues to sound experiments, from prophetic blasts to subtle praise-songs, and reflect on their preparation and performances in short essays. As this class will focus on the performance of contemporary poetry, class participants should be adventurous and willing to experiment, or, at least, intrigued by the opportunity to try to be so. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 115 Science Fiction

    Science fiction has long suffered from a reputation as escapist fare unworthy of consideration as serious literature. One reason for this may be that, by definition, science fiction represents that which does not (or does not yet) exist. In this course, we will consider how science fiction uses "that which does not exist"—imagined futures, alternate histories, alien cultures, utopias and dystopias, etc.—to grapple with genuine historical, social and philosophical concerns. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 116 Travellers and Travel Liars

    In this course we will explore narratives of discovery, ranging in time from Homer's Odyssey to John Krakauer's Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster. Our purpose will be to discover what the purposes of travel—personal, political, social, imaginative—have been and how they change over time and from culture to culture. Possible readings: The Birthday Boys, Invisible Cities, The Inferno, Lieutenant Nun: Memoirs of a Basque Transvestite in the New World, The Odyssey, Into Thin Air, A River Sutra, Gulliver's Travels, along with selections from the work of Annie Dillard and Michel de Montaigne. Possible films: Apocalypse Now, Everest: The Death Zone, The Adventures of Baron von Munchausen. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 117 I Love a Mystery

    A study of the contemporary mystery novel, whose preoccupations may be classic—the application and misapplication of justice, for example—but which highlights how the specifics like cultures, history, and place determine the way we define and prosecute crime as well as administer justice. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 120 Women and Literature

    Women and fiction, as Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room of One's Own, "might mean . . . women and what they are like; or it might mean women and the fiction they write; or it might mean the fiction that is written about them." This course explores all three possibilities in vary- ing degrees, for, as Woolf also noted, women and fiction also means "that somehow all three are inextricably mixed together."

    This section of "Women and Literature" will begin by reading Woolf's Room in order to establish certain guiding principles. Beyond that, this course will focus on women writers of the 20th and 21st centuries, primarily American, with an emphasis on cultural diversity. We will read short stories, poetry, plays, and novels by such authors as Amy Tan, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Alice Walker. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 122 A Woman's Place

    One English 17th century writer thought he had this worked out: Women should be seen outside the home only three times in her life: when she's baptized, when she's married, and when she's buried. The contest over woman's place in the landscape of literature is the subject of this course. We will be reading novels, poems, plays, and films and looking at ways in which feminine spaces and places in mostly English and American literature become sites of resistance and accommodation. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 123 Bad Girls

    This course receives credit for general education in literature; counts for the minor and major (literature track) in English, and for the minor and major in Women's Studies.

    What makes a girl good? What makes a good girl go bad? Can a bad girl make good? We'll read (mostly) contemporary literature that challenges conventions and remakes conventional stories to accommodate the unconventional desires and aspirations of bad girls.

    Work for the course will include essay exams, short papers, individual and group projects, and occasional reading quizzes. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 129 Third World Women Speak

    This course receives general education credit in both literature and global diversity; it counts for the major (literature track only) and minor in English, and for the majors and minors in women’s studies and international studies (development studies).
    Recent and contemporary women’s writing from the Arab and greater Muslim world will be our focus this term.  Readings include a range of genres, including a one-woman play about the Iraq War, “chick lit” from Saudi Arabia, feminist poetry from Bangladesh, and a graphic memoir about coming of age during the Iranian Revolution.  Work for the course will include quizzes, essay exams, and several short papers.

  • ENGL 131 Literature and War

    This course explores significant developments in the war novel, as well as changing social attitudes and psychological responses to war. Students will read and view a variety of material, from flag-waving heroism to "M*A*S*H"-like attempts to survive. The course will also introduce students to basic literary criticism. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 132 The Healing Art: Illness and Recovery in Literature and Film

    In this course, we will examine the techniques that writers and filmmakers use to explore the emotional and ethical complexities of illness and recovery. This course asks: how do writers use such literary concepts as genre, shifts in time and perspective, subtext, and imagery to negotiate philosophical, ethical, and political questions about the body? What does the study of illness and recovery in these texts tell us about the culture in which they were produced? We will examine literature and film in a range of styles and genres. Our reading and viewing list may include works by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Anton Chekhov, William Carlos Williams, Franz Kafka, Eugene O'Neill, Lucille Clifton, Marilyn Hacker, Sharon Olds, and Akhil Sharma. Students will write two papers, take a midterm and final exam, and participate in regular in-class discussions of the assigned texts. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 133 Crime and Punishment: Law in Films and Literature

    In this course, we will investigate how writers and filmmakers use the specific techniques of their genre—including shifts in time and perspective, dialogue, and powerful imagery in writing, and mise en scene, flashbacks, quick cuts, and voiceovers in film—to negotiate ethical and political questions about allegedly criminal acts. Why are writers so interested in evidence, testimony, and justice, and what does this preoccupation reveal to us about the culture in which these works were produced?

    We will examine literature and film in a wide range of styles and genres. Our reading list may include works by Euripides, William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Susan Glaspell, Franz Kafka, Truman Capote, Arthur Miller, and Martín Espada, among others. Students will write two papers, take a midterm and final exam, and participate in regular in-class discussions of the assigned texts. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 134 I-Anxious: Circumnavigating the Self

    A comparative examination of texts, mostly novels, that present the search for self-knowledge and enlightenment. Our focus will be on the tension and anxiety inherent in the process of self-discovery, on the dialogues between self and other that incite clashes between self-perception and customary reality.

    Possible texts: Lancelot, or the Knight of the Cart; King Lear; Montaigne's Essays; Frankenstein; Madame Bovary; Hedda Gabler; The Awakening; The Metamorphosis; The Stranger; The Dharma Bums; Grendel; A River Sutra. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

Special Topics in Literature (LT)

Critical reading and interpretation of literary texts. Encourages close reading as well as oral and written work in articulating understanding. May be repeated for credit if subject matter is not duplicated. A number of 170 courses are offered each semester. Current and past titles include:

  • ENGL 170 American Gothic

    The poet Emily Dickinson provides perhaps the best definition of the Gothic: "Tis so appalling—it exhilarates." As a genre, Gothic literature is usually defined by the effect it produces in the reader, namely fear—fear that is often thrilling and revelatory. In this course, we will study the fiction, poetry, and drama that comprise the American Gothic, a literature of mysterious events, shadowy figures, and outright horror that spans the Puritan witchcraft trials to modern slasher films. Paying close attention to formal elements, we will explore Gothic literature's psychological and historical dimensions, asking what such literature can tell us about Americans' deepest anxieties and desires. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170 The Anti-Hero

    The central character in plays, novels, or short stories who displays attributes opposing those of traditional heroes is often called the anti-hero. While intriguing and engaging, anti-heroes always relate a search for identity and self-justification that ends in a new vision of their societies. Tracing this literary being through plays and fiction affords an introduction to one of the most popular kinds of characters, to some classic pieces of literature, and to important historic and formal elements of literature. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170 Could It Be Satan?

    Church lady's question is funny but provocative, in part because it exposes our literary conceptions of such a thing as evil. How does literature give to this airy nothing a face and a name? By examining a number of texts from different historical periods, we will attempt to understand the ways in which literary representations of evil shape our very conceptualizations of this abstract idea.

    The course will be organized around such topics as the faces of the Satanic, evil and the inexplicable, women and the demonic, visions of hell, the horrors of doppelgangers, twins and doubles. The reading list will include drama, poetry, novels and film, chosen from among the following: selections from Dante's Divine Comedy, Milton's Paradise Lost, Shakespeare's Othello, Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Ingmar Bergman's The Devils' Eye, and The Fallen Angel (the novel from which the film, Angel Heart derives). Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

    WARNING: Some of the reading and viewing requirements for this course include offensive language, graphic description of sexual activity, and violence. Not for the faint-hearted or easily offended.

  • ENGL 170 Darkly Ever After

    Classic fairytales, such as Cinderella, are woven into the fabric of Western culture. These tales become analogies, archetypes, and metaphors for understanding our world. The word "fairytale" suggests something pleasant for children, but such tales appear to have arisen from the darker impulses in human nature. In this course, we will explore the "shadow" in the fairytale motif and selected fantasy literature. Texts and films will include works such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, various versions of selected fairytales, as well as modern literary fairytales. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170:  Freaks 

    “Freaks,” or human oddities were commonly placed on display for the ‘amusement’ and ‘education’ of paying customers in the nineteenth and early twentieth-century United States. At freakshows, spectators could survey individuals with tattoos or extremely long hair, women in pants, midgets, fat ladies, and “wild men” (people of color dressed up as “primitive savages”). What should be clear from this list is that what marks someone as a “freak” changes depending on the historical moment and setting. Freaks serve to define the politics of the normal. In this course, we will explore the representation of physical, mental, and social freakishness in fiction and film, thinking about how freaks define and challenge the boundaries between normalcy and deviance. We will focus on such issues as belonging and alienation, race, gender, and the performance of identity. 

  • ENGL 170 From Exile to Expatriate: Literature from Displacement

    Many writers straddle two or more worlds. Some do this by choice, others by force. This displacement from one's culture or way of life impacts fundamental notions of belonging and home. During this course we will examine literature created during displacement, and in the process explore issues such as guilt, censorship, multiculturalism and home. Readings will include work by writers who have fled their countries under the threat of death or imprisonment and those who have made the choice to live outside their homeland. We will also look at writing that has come out of other forms of displacement, including incarceration and physical paralysis, and examine how these newfound limitations—of place, freedom, physicality—bring another dynamic to the literature. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170 Middle Age Crazy

    In Middle Age Crazy: Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, and John Updike, students will read select stories and novels from these highly regarded American authors in the context of larger issues that include gender issues, mid-life crises, substance use, infidelity, and the whole idea of what it means to be an adult in a complicated world. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170 The Politics of Comedy

    Comedy isn't all laughs. In fact, it is often a corrective or even subversive medium for the assertion or reclaiming of power. This is how we will understand what is meant by politics, which is the use of power to accomplish some end. We will be looking primarily at plays, but we may also venture briefly into other forms of comedy. We will differentiate between theories of humor, laughter, and comedy. Although these seem to refer to the same thing, they do not—and we'll find out why. This is a course about gaining insight into literature as a force in society. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170 Radioactive: Writing in the Nuclear Age

    In 1963, the last year the United States conducted atmospheric tests of the atom bomb, the poet Hayden Carruth declared that "the supreme political fact of our lives is the atomic bomb." In this course we'll consider American writers' responses to the development of the atom bomb and to bomb testing, to nuclear accidents like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and to the twin threats of nuclear contamination and annihilation. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170 Road Book America

    The road has long functioned as an iconic image of transformation, freedom, and conquest in American culture. In this course, we will study road books, asking how travel illuminates and complicates American identity. In class, we will trace the legacy of captivity and slave narratives in the road book and discuss such issues as nationalism, tourism, and globalization. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170 The Short Story

    We will examine the notion that story is the essence of all literature, even as we question what is essential for a text to be a story. In examining such ideas, we will study short stories from a variety of places to see what they suggest about the genre. We'll distinguish story (with beginning, middle, and end) from plot (which admits the uncertainty of beginnings and endings and everything in between), and we'll examine different styles of literary imagination as they engage us. In considering the traditional elements of fiction—plot, character, setting, point of view, thematic concerns—we will look at how those elements can propose and/or subvert meaning. We will consider, too, the limits of the short story: what it can and cannot accomplish. We will consider the kinds of fictions we offer ourselves and one another and try to discover what that says about us all. Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170 The Sixties

    The 1960s have taken hold of the national consciousness as few decades have. In this course, we will examine the literature of the 60s, especially the literature which arose out of the main protest movements of the time (the Civil Rights movement, 1960s feminism, anti-war protests, and the counterculture), as well as some of the reactions of "mainstream" America to those movements. Authors discussed may include LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Gwendolyn Brooks Prerequisites: None. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 170 “We Shot Dogs”: Literature of the Iraq War

    Most of us know far too little of this war that was fought—that is still being fought—in our name, and what we do know has seldom come to us from those who have fought it.  That won’t be true in this class: in this class we’ll read the words of those who served, and lived, to tell the tale, and who have made powerful use of fiction’s power to tell the truth about the confounding experience of war. 

    Frequent response papers, short essays, essay exams, and reading quizzes.

Foundation Courses for the English Major

Literature and Its Signs

Examines how issues of representation, genre, and historical context cooperate in a “reading” of British, American, or other English language texts.May be repeated for credit if the subject matter is not duplicated. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Not all 220 sections receive general education credit in Literature. See current Program of Classes to determine if general education requirements are fulfilled. A number of 220 courses are offered each semester. Current and past titles include:

  • ENGL 220 20th Century British/Irish Poetry

    Beginning with World War I, this class will examine some of the ways in which poets have confronted the social, political, and aesthetic crises of the twentieth century. With selections from David Jones's "In Parenthesis" and poems by Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Isaac Rosenberg, for example, we will study poetic responses to war in the trenches and on the home front. Jones and T.S. Eliot will provide an introduction to Modernism, which takes as one of its important points of departure the Cubist exhibit at the Grafton Gallery in London in 1910 and the challenge that the exhibit posed to all artistic expression. The course will then proceed in accordance with the following categories: The Thirties: poetry and politics in the generation of W. H. Auden (who himself volunteered in the Spanish Civil War); Neo-Romanticism and alternative models after 1945: Dylan Thomas, poets of "The Movement," Geoffrey Hill; Women's Voices of Resistance: U. A. Fanthorpe, Fleur Adcock, Frieda Downie, Elma Mitchell, Eavan Boland, Eiléan Ní Chuilléanáin; Nationalism and the Irish past: W.B. Yeats, John Montague, Seamus Heaney.

  • ENGL 220 Classic Fiction

    The course idea starts with a question: "What's a 'classic' anyway?" Or better: "What plays a role in determining one? Popularity? A tidy plot? Endurance?" In pursuing this attempt at definition or clarification, we'll have to become familiar with how fiction works, learn to frame conceptual questions about texts regarding representation, genre, or historic content, see basic patterns in fiction, and undertand that texts don't just convey messages and that readers have different viewpoints. Most important, we will read really famous novels and stories, a treat in itself. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium

  • ENGL 220 Contemporary American Poetry

    In "What Is the Contemporary?" philosopher Giorgio Agamben writes, "All eras, for those who experience contemporariness, are obscure. The contemporary is precisely the person who knows how to see this obscurity, who knows how to write by dipping his [sic] pen in the obscurity of present." In this course, we will examine a wide array of contemporary poets and kinds of poetry—from the Metamodernist to Slam, from the Deep Image to the Gurlesque—to learn more about the ways American poets try to clarify and/or convey the strangeness, the confounding beauty and devastation, of contemporary life. When possible, featured poets will be a part of class discussion—either in person or via Skype. Responses to reading will be critical and creative.

  • ENGL 220 Contemporary Irish Literature

    Arguably one of the most important utterances in James Joyce's Ulysses is Stephen Dedalus's pronouncement, "History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake." Whether we regard that history as individual, familial, linguistic, religious, political, social, or any of the other myriad possibilities, the fact is that for the Irish, history matters. We'll be reading Irish literature after Joyce to see what happens as writers come to terms with their literary history and as the characters they create come to terms with the other histories that engage and resist them. Texts by Roddy Doyle, Edna O'Brien, Bernard MacLaverty, Frances Molloy, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Brian Friel, Ann Devlin, and others.

  • ENGL 220 Continuity and Change in British Poetry

    Continuity and Change in British Poetry is a self-conscious survey of the poetry of three periods of British literature: 18th Century, Romantic and Victorian. As a survey, the course will introduce you to many of the major British poets of these eras. As a self-conscious survey, the course will raise questions about the nature and content of these literary historical categories. For example, we might ask, how is Romantic poetry different from late 18th Century poetry, and what were the causes of the change? What do we do with a poet like Blake, whose poetry has both 18th Century and Romantic characteristics? Would this way of dividing literary history still hold if we were to focus on women's poetry as a distinct literary tradition?

  • ENGL 220 Decade of Crescendo: Literature and Society in the 1850s

    The American 1850s constituted perhaps the most crucial decade the U. S. had faced since its founding as a nation. The slavery was being agitated as never before, and the political system strained to keep the Union whole: legislatively, the Compromise of 1850 (including the Fugitive Slave Act) and the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), which effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820; judicially, the Dred Scott decision in the Supreme Court (1857), which denied the any legal rights to slaves; and, politically, the foundation of the Republican Party (1854). But at the same time that the country was futilely struggling to avoid civil war, American writers produced some of the finest poetry, essays and fiction the U. S. has ever known. This course will examine major texts by authors like Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, Stowe, Emerson and Thoreau, with the goal in mind of how this literature both influenced and was influenced by the socio-political 'crescendo' of the 1850s.

  • ENGL 220 Exit, Pursued by a Bear

    Possibly the most famous stage direction in literary history is in Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, when the script requires a character to “exit, pursued by a bear.”  This simple stage direction accomplishes quite a lot:  it disposes of a character who knows more than the plot later requires, marks an important moment of narrative transition, and effectively clears the stage for a change in setting and mood—from court to countryside, from dark irrationality to purity and love.  On its own, “exit, pursued by a bear” does not appear to have the stuff of great literature, yet such nuts and bolts are important in combining the practical issues of performance with the literary necessity of an audience’s experience of meaningfulness. Perhaps the most thorough way to understand drama as a genre is to write it.  In this course, we will read significant plays and brief works on playwriting and production practicalities while writing original dramatic scenes, character studies, plot descriptions, and reflections on process and product.  We will do this in a relaxed workshop format with some lecture and a great deal of discussion.  Does not count toward English-Writing major.

    This is a writing intensive course.

  • ENGL 220 The Family and Its Dysfunctions in Twentieth-Century British and American Drama

    The family as the basic unit of culture has occupied the stage in myriad manifestations and permutations. In twentieth-century drama in Britain and the United States, the range encompasses anything and everything from the fairly traditional families of Miller's Death of a Salesman and Shaffer's Equus to the absurdly dysfunctional characters of Kennedy's Funnyhouse of the Negro and Churchill's Cloud 9. This course will consider what happens when the representation of the family occurs on stage: when corporeal bodies and pressures are brought to bear on this unit, how power relations within the family as well as those between the family and other social structures determine or are determined by consideration of dramatic form We will consider non-traditional family units as well.

  • ENGL 220 Intricate Enchantment: On Science in Literature

    Vladimir Nabokov, a novelist and lepidopterist, discovered the same intrigue in the natural world that he also found in art: “Both were a form of magic, both were a game of intricate enchantment and deception.” Scientific inquiry and discovery are human endeavors that are filled with mystery, wonder, and astonishment. In this class, students will focus on literature that finds its impulse in science and uses it as a lens thorough which to explore the human condition. Students will investigate areas of inquiry that arise as a result of the literature and write both critically and creatively at the intersection of fact and emotion.

  • ENGL 220 The Play's the Thing

    This class uses a line out of Shakespeare's Hamlet to define two of its organizing structures; in Hamlet, "The play's the thing/ Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King." Hamlet finds a group of players and has them perform a mini-play before his uncle in order to watch his uncle's reaction and see whether he is guilty of killing his brother. This class will look at plays that (1) have reflexive elements and/or (2) are concerned with issues of conscience. Many plays have reflexive elements that ask us to be more self-conscious about the fact that we are watching/reading a play: they may have a character acts as a director like Kate in She Stoops to Conquer; they may have mini-productions within them that cause viewers to become more aware of the standards of the play's author as in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream; they may toy with conventions of dramatic illusion (as in Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author and Right You Are, If You Think You Are); they may have language that draws attention to itself and conflicts in some way with the dramatic assumptions as in Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

    The second assumption in this course is that many of the authors have definite aims in relation to their audiences. These aims may not be ones we first think of in relation to conscience; in fact, they may challenge some of our moral assumptions (for instance, about sexuality and gender in Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw). But in offering these challenges, they attempt to convert us, to broaden our perspectives, or to make us think. We will also read Ibsen's A Doll's House, Shaw's Arms and the Man, Aristophanes' Lysistrata, and Moliere's The Bourgeois Gentleman, and we will also use one of the spring productions by the School of Theatre Arts, Churchill's Fen and Shaw's Misalliance, to consider adaptation and production issues. Reading quizzes, two papers, two exams.

  • ENGL 220 Shakespeare's Shrews

    Shakespeare is often celebrated for creating "modern" women in his plays, but as Virginia Woolf pointed out, Shakespeare's sisters wouldn't actually have had many opportunities to exercise their "modernity." This course will examine how early modern literature represents the categories that limit women during Shakespeare's period. We will also examine how 20th and 21st century riffs on Shakespeare's works deal with this issue. This course is writing-intensive and includes informal and formal writing assignments. We will also be working on developing research questions and research strategies.

    This course counts for gen. ed. in literature, the writing-intensive flag, English major and minor, Women's Studies major and minor. Prerequisites: Gateway Colloquium

  • ENGL 220 Thinking Like a Mountain

    From Aldo Leopold's attempt to think "like a mountain" to Gary Snyder's challenge to bring "the wild" into our lives no matter where we live, writers and poets have played an important part in the forging of a contemporary environmental consciousness. Readings will include the classic and the contemporary, the pragmatic and the visionary. Although the course is writing based and writing intensive, assignments will also take you outside of the classroom to engage more directly the natural world.

  • ENGL 220 The Web of American Poetry

    If you've ever been completely baffled by a poem, you may have confronted the situation that this course is designed to examine: that a poem, even more than a work of prose fiction, takes much of its meaning from its connections with other texts. Poems argue with or affirm the ideas of other poems, accept or reject or surpass other poems' innovations in meter or language. They converse with history and politics and religion. They aspire to emulate music or painting or sculpture, borrow from photography and film.

    This course will trace some of these connections in American poetry from the Puritan era to the present. Although our primarily focus will be on poetry of the United States, we will follow these connections when they lead to other genres and to other countries.

    One of our projects in this class will be constructing a representation of this web of poetry on the World Wide Web or another computer medium. Prior computer experience is not required; willingness to experiment is essential.

  • ENGL 220 What's the Question?!

    In Samuel Beckett's Endgame, one of the characters laments, "Ah, the old questions, the old answers, there's nothing like them!" In Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Rosencrantz says, "I remember when there were no questions." Guildenstern responds, "There were always questions. To exchange one set for another is no great matter." While Beckett's character seems to take comfort in his nostalgic recollections, privileging the past, Stoppard's characters find little if any solace in the notion of one set of questions as opposed to any other.

    This class will examine a variety of texts to see what the "old questions" are that literary texts have posed and to see if there are "new questions" that now replace or augment them. We'll consider the implications of our findings: are there only the old questions, posed, perhaps, in new ways, or are there genuinely new questions with which literary texts now confront their readers? We will read texts from a variety of genres and periods. Several papers and exams.

  • ENGL 231 Early English Drama

    A study of the emergence of drama as a literary and a cultural forming Shakespeare's era. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 232 British Drama 1950 - Present

    A study of important theatrical innovations and the staging of social and political issues in Great Britain from 1950 to the present. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 233 American Drama: 1940 - Present

    A study of American drama of the past sixty to seventy years, with special focus on theatrical innovation and the staging of social issues. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 241 Such a Knyght: Medieval Chivalry

    Examines the rise and development of the feudal system and attendant cultural tensions in medieval texts— chronicles, biographies, epics, lyrics, romances, and their modern analogues. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 243 A Survey of English Poems, 1500-1700

    Examines English poetry in early modern England. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 245 Comedy of Manners

    Focus on comedy of manners and novel of manners, which often challenge a highly sophisticated society, and on the genre's evolution from its beginnings in the 17th century to the present. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered in alternate years

  • ENGL 249 Writing in the Third World

    Introduces basic questions and issues facing post-colonial writers: audience, relationship between culture and politics, adaptation of western literary forms, intervention in the historical record, and place of "orality" in "literature." Readings in English. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 258 On the Bus: The Beat Writers

    Studies Beat Generation writings of the 40s and 50s and their literary and philosophical antecedents as social protest and as influences on succeeding generations. Includes film, documentaries, jazz, and music of protest. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 259 Sex, Text, and Tradition in Black Women's Writing

    Examines fiction, poetry, drama, essays on culture and literature, and autobiography by women of African descent. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered annually.

  • ENGL 272 Travel Course

    Emphasis on texts in overseas or domestic contexts in which they were created or upon which they focus. All or most of May term will be spent off campus. May be repeated for credit if the topic is not duplicated. See current Program of Classes to determine if general education requirements are fulfilled. Offered in May Term.

  • ENGL 280 Practical Criticism

    Practice in interpretation of texts through discussion and written work; attention to strategies of writing about literature, to critical vocabulary, and to critical approaches in current use. Restricted to English majors and minors only. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered each semester.

  • ENGL 285x Introduction to Research in English

    Design and completion of library or archive research project in language, literature, or culture under faculty tutelage. Research may serve as first step toward larger, independent research project, investigate an issue raised in student's previous study, or complete a limited project using library or archive holdings or acquisitions. Prerequisite: consent of instructor and English department chair before enrollment. Credit/No Credit. Offered each semester and occasionally in May Term.

  • ENGL 290 Grammar and Composition for Middle and High School English Teachers

    Overview of grammar and writing strategies for teaching middle and secondary-level English. Enrollment limited to declared English majors and minors who have been accepted into the Teacher Education Program. Required for admission into Student Teaching grades 6-12 in English. Does not count toward the English major or minor. May not be taken credit/no credit. Prerequisites: Gateway Colloquium; completion of or concurrent enrollment in English 280 and one course taken at Illinois Wesleyan from among 220-259; sophomore standing and declared English major. Offered annually.

  • ENGL 385x Advanced Research in English

    Design and completion of advanced-level library or archive research project in language, literature, or culture under faculty tutelage. Research can build on previous coursework or study in 285x. Ideally, this research serves as a foundation for a project in English 485 or English research honors. Prerequisite: consent of instructor and English department chair before enrollment and a GPA in the major of at least 3.25.May be repeated with prior approval of instructor and chair. Offered each semester and occasionally in May Term.

341-357 Historical Periods and Movements

  • ENGL 341 Medieval Literature

    Readings of English and Continental texts from the 9th-15th centuries with selected readings in Middle English and in modern translation from Latin, Old French, Provencal, Welsh, and other traditions. May include Arthurian romance, the literature of courtly love, drama, lyric poetry, or writings of medieval mystics. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 342 Renaissance Literature

    Investigates issues of representation of gender and sexuality, representations of the court, the place of the stage, versions of early modern selfhood, and moral theory in the Renaissance period, 1520-1660. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220-259, plus 280. Offered as needed.

  • ENGL 343 Restoration and 18th Century

    Focus on British authors between 1660–1789 who consider issues of aristocratic decadence, wit as a moral touchstone, emergence of the middle class, and gender through the use of satire, romance, the novel (epistolary, picaresque, comic), comedy of manners, sentimental and laughing comedy, neoclassical tragedy, and mock forms. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220-259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 344 Romantic Literature

    Examines the great literature—much of it poetry— of the period 1789-1830. Addresses themes and issues characteristic of this time of unrest and redefinition. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220-259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 346 Victorian Literature

    Focus on British novelists, poets, playwrights, and essayists between 1830-1900 who are drawn to themes of the divided self, middle class decorum, the fight for women's suffrage and education, organization of the working class, responses to poverty, expansion of the British empire, and religious conversion and doubt. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220-259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 348 Recent and Contemporary British Literature

    Examines literature of England, Ireland, and Scotland since 1930 with emphasis on aspects of experimentation in form resulting from the modernist movement and the backlash against it. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 351 American Literature to 1865

    Focus on aspect (s) of American literature up to the Civil War to form a coherent view of one part of the American experience. May examine poetry, drama, fiction, essays, journals, diaries, news articles, or collateral arts like painting and music. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220– 259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 352 American Literature after 1865

    Focus on aspect(s) of American literature since the Civil War to form a coherent view of American experience. Draws upon several literary and non-literary genres. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 354 American Literature Since 1945

    Focus on literary, historical, and cultural contexts and movements through faculty selected topics, e.g.., War and Literature, Black American Literature, The Modern Experiment and the Arts, or Postmodernism. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 356 Modernism

    Emphasis and scope varies on American, British, or world modernism. Topics may include development of modernism, modernist views of language and art, the social contexts of literary modernism, for example. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered occasionally.

358-360 World Literatures

  • ENGL 359 World Literature

    Focus on 1) Anglophone literature of Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean, or 2) national literature in translation, or 3) comparative treatments of issues, authors or literary genres. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170, 220-259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.

361-366 Genre Courses

  • ENGL 361 Gender and the Novel

    Examines the relationship between gender and contemporary novel forms in light of issues, ideas, and theories raised in feminist criticism. Topics: images of women, gender inscription in texts, treatment of traditional male novel form, male/female development, psycho-sexual difference, writing difference. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered as needed.

  • ENGL 362 Electronic Fiction

    Focus on the literary hypertext—a text to be read on the computer, with branches, loops and other non-linear or multilinear structures. Topics include precursors, formal elements and structures, relationships between hypertext and literary theories, and implications for the future of reading and writing. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 365 Autobiography

    Examines this genre as a testing ground for the nature of literary form, art, and human agency, and especially as a site for investigating the role of memory, truth vs. fiction, and the self as a narrating subject. Topics include journey stories, culture and self, subversion of form, women’s auto-gynography, and popular/ journalistic contours of the form. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 366 Romance: The Genre

    Focus on “the romance” form to develop a provisional definition based upon: formal conventions, generic evolution, transfigurations, deconstruction and instances of self-parody. Consideration of romance authors as revisionists or voices of social change. Readings from biblical romances to contemporary novels. Includes films. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered occasionally.

Special Topics

Special Topics in Literature
Courses with related objectives but varying content. May treat a genre (fiction, poetry, drama) or broad theme with extensive rather than specialized focus. May be repeated if subject matter is not duplicated. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. See current Program of Classes to determine if general education requirements are fulfilled. Offered occasionally.

  • English 370 Avant-Garde Fiction 

    In this course we will study experimental fiction in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with particular emphasis on concerns of style and structure.  We will read texts that call into question the limits of representation and of genre, even as they make representational gestures within what seem to be standard genres (the short story and the novel). We will examine whether these fictional experiments represent an escape from the world or involve a different and perhaps more engaged response to post-World War II realities.  We will study texts by writers who are American (Maso, Danielewski), Italian (Calvino), Irish (Beckett), Mexican (Fuentes), Argentinean (Cortázar), and Czech (Kundera). Other writers may be substituted, depending on availability of texts.
    Prerequisites:  Gateway Colloquium; plus 1 course from 100-level English Dept. literature offerings or English 220-259; plus 280. English 280 can be waived with the permission of the instructor.     

  • ENGL 370 The Empire Writes Back

    "The Empire writes back to the Centre," wrote Salman Rushdie approvingly in 1982, but these days it can be difficult even to locate that "centre." We'll read contemporary works that consider what it is to be colonial, post-colonial, British, and even post-9/11 and 7/7. Readings will likely include Zadie Smith's White Teeth, Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and Hanif Kureishi's adaptation for the stage of his novel The Black Album.

  • ENGL 370 Slavery and the American Novel

    As the novel rose to prominence in the Age of Enlightenment, so did the global slave trade. This paradox is no where more apparent than in U.S. literature, which celebrates the quintessentially American values of liberty and individualism even as it explores the quintessentially American experience of slavery. Reading novels from the late eighteenth through late twentieth centuries, we will explore social and historical themes surrounding the institution of slavery, including abolitionism, the women's movement, emancipation, imperialism, and civil rights.

  • ENGL 380 Literary Theories

    Focus on modern theoretical approaches to literature. While materials and emphases may vary, the course addresses multiple perspectives, twentieth century criticism, and concepts over practical applications. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.

391-398 Author Studies

  • ENGL 391 Chaucer

    A study of Chaucer's works in their cultural and biographical contexts. Emphasis on The Canterbury Tales, although other Chaucerian texts may be included. Readings in Middle English. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 393 Shakespeare's Comedies and Histories

    This course investigates the ways our culture is informed by Shakespeare's works and the ways in which we construct meaning from them. While focusing on the dramatic form we may occasionally include the sonnets and verse romances. Prerequisites: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220-259, plus 280.

  • ENGL 394 Shakespeare's Tragedies and Romances

    Both courses investigate the ways our culture is informed by Shakespeare's works and the ways in which we construct meaning from them. While both focus on the dramatic form, they may occasionally include the sonnets and verse romances. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280. Each course offered annually.

  • ENGL 398 Joyce

    Examines James Joyce's major works in cultural and historical contexts; emphasis on Ulysses. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220– 259, plus 280. Offered occasionally.

Courses for Seniors

  • ENGL 480 Senior Seminar

    Intensive study of a particular topic, author, or genre. Enrollment limited. Prerequisite: Majors and minors with junior or senior standing and prior completion of at least two 300- or 400-level courses in literature. Offered each semester.

  • ENGL 480 Senior Seminar: American Magical Realism (W) (Offered Spring 2015)

    Jim Plath
    TR 9:25-10:40
    Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing and prior completion of at least four courses in literature numbered 220 or above.
    Writing Intensive Flag
    So-called "magic realism"—which began in Germany in the 1950s and has summarily been used to describe the fiction of such Latin American writers such as Alejo Carpentier, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Miguel Angel Asturias, and Isabel Allende—hasn't exactly taken shape as a full-fledged literary movement in the U.S. Yet, a number of American writers have imbued their fictional "realities" with elements of the magical—levitation, flight, telepathy, telekenesis, phantasms—described "real" and fantastic events with the same matter-of-fact fictional detail and tone.
    In this seminar, we will examine the works of selected American Magical Realists and draw comparisons with their Latin American predecessors. Class members will be responsible for "adopting" a magic realist and presenting that writer to the class, as well as completing two papers. Texts may include such books as W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe, Toni Morrisson's Song of Solomon, Louise Erdrich's Tracks, Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciatto, Peter Matthiessen's Far Torguga, Cristina García's Dreaming in Cuban, John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick, and/or Bob Shacochis' short stories.

  • ENGL 480 ENGL 480 Senior Seminar:  Infinite Jest (W) (Offered Spring 2015)

    Kathleen O'Gorman
    TR 9:25-10:40
    Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing and prior completion of at least four courses in literature numbered 220 or above.
    Writing Intensive Flag
    “Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”   Infinite Jest
    This section of senior seminar really will be different from everyone else’s—ever!  To begin with, we will read only one book.  OK, sure: it’s one big book, but it’s one of the most hilarious texts written in the past 2 decades and also one of the most important.  David Foster Wallace has been described as the foremost spokesperson of a new generation of American writers, an assessment that has only intensified since his death in 2008.    Infinite Jest represents his pinnacle achievement, and we’ll be in a uniquely privileged position to see why, considering it was written almost entirely in Bloomington, IL, and will resonate for us in ways that few among Wallace’s readers will know as well as we already do.  We’ll read the text together for the first half of the semester and will talk about the resources on line and just emerging in scholarly work on the novel to see what we think of it.  Class presentation and two papers, approximately 10 pages each.

  • ENGL 485 Directed Study in English

    Independent study in English. May not duplicate the content of regularly offered courses. Enrollment limited to English majors. Prerequisite: consent of the instructor and the chair of the department. Student must submit a plan of study prior to enrollment. Offered each semester and occasionally in May Term.

Creative Writing

  • ENGL 101 Introduction to Creative Writing

    Examines theory and practice of writing creatively. Reading combined with practice in the basic processes of and strategies for writing fiction, poetry, or drama. Offered annually.

  • ENGL 201 Writing Fiction

    Workshop in reading and writing fiction while focusing on principles and techniques used by writers and on key elements of the story form. Students will complete stories and develop a portfolio. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered annually.

  • ENGL 202 Writing Poetry

    Workshop in reading and writing poetry while focusing on primary techniques and fundamental elements used in writing poetry, both formal and free verse. Students will complete a series of poems and develop a portfolio. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered annually.

  • ENGL 206 Creative Nonfiction

    Workshop in reading and writing creative nonfiction while focusing on fundamentals, including situating experience, finding the right form, and developing a personal voice. Students will complete essays and develop a portfolio. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 301 Seminar in Creative Writing (AR)

    Seminar and workshop in a single genre or topic focusing on specific issues related to specific schools, styles or subjects in writing (e.g., postmodern fiction, series of poems, lyric forms, dramatic realism, the essay in history, hyper fiction, minimalism, editing and publishing, etc.).May be repeated for credit if subject matter not duplicated. Prerequisite: 201 (if fiction), 202 (if poetry), 206 (if nonfiction), or consent of instructor. These courses may be waived by the instructor based on evaluation of student’s portfolio. Priority enrollment given to writing concentration majors when necessary. A number of 301 courses are offered each semester. Current and past titles include:

    • Ideas of Poetry/Poetry of Ideas
      The great Romantic poet William Blake writes, "I must create my own system or be enslaved by another man's." In this class, we will explore many of the ways that systems—processes, projects, and theoretical frameworks—have served the production of poetry in the past, and we will experiment with the ways systems can inform and inspire the creation of new poetry today. By semester's end, each class participant will devise a personal system for poem-making and self-publish a short collection of the poems arising from that system.
    • The Lyric Essay
      The lyric essay is the essay at its most poetic. It's inventive in form—exploding linear narrative in favor of juxtaposition and fragmentation—and meditative in quality, emphasizing image, metaphor, rhythm, and sound.
      In the first few weeks of term, we'll read examples and explorations of the form; you'll even try your hand at assembling a shadowbox in the tradition of the artist Joseph Cornell, whose intricate creations are often cited as the visual analog of the lyric essay. You'll then turn to writing your own lyric essays, refining your work in tutorial sessions and workshops.
      Because the lyric essay appeals to poets as well as prose writers, the pre-requisite for this section of 301 is any 200-level writing course
    • The Poetic Sequence
      In this course, poets will write a poetic sequence—that is, a series of poems that are somehow related, whether it be thematically, formally, or rhetorically. We will consider the power of traditional forms such as the ghazal; modes such as ekphrasis, elegy, and dramatic monologue; and of course, the challenges and rewards of free verse. Most of our attention will be devoted to the drafting and revision of your work; however, we will also discuss and deeply analyze poetic sequences by established poets. By the end of this course, I hope that you will have crafted a poetic sequence that allows you to focus on what compels you as a poet. I hope too that you will establish relationships with your fellow poets that will continue long after the course has ended.
    • Seminar in Creative Writing: Ekphrastic Poetry
      Ekphrastic poetry is poetry that employs the visual arts as its subject matter and/or inspiration. The relationship between poetry and the visual arts is longstanding, and it remains potentially very powerful; poet Wallace Stevens refers to the "migratory passings to and fro, quickenings, Promethean liberations and discoveries" which the arts' interactions create. In this class, we'll use the visual arts to make vital, new discoveries in the verbal art of poetry.
    • Seminar in Creative Writing: Forms and Modes of Poetry
      Even before the advent of written language, ancient poets were drawn to formal structures, and contemporary American poets continue to use formal patterns in their work. What makes traditional forms so compelling? How do contemporary writers reinvent meter and rhyme for their own poetic ends? And how can a mode like the elegy be both flexible and identifiable in its aims? In this workshop, we will use poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, blank verse, and the ghazal; and modes, including the elegy, the dramatic monologue, the epigram, and Oulipian constraints. Most of our attention will be devoted to the drafting and revision of student work; however, we will also discuss numerous poems by a variety of contemporary poets.
    • Seminar in Creative Writing: The Short Story Cycle
      The short-story cycle is an ancient narrative tradition crossing genre and national boundaries. From Homer to the present, this fiction has flourished and established itself firmly in literary history. This course will function as a seminar and tutorial by first engaging students in reading cycles like Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time, reporting on the form, and then by starting their own short-story cycles.
    • Write What You (Don't) Know
      Ernest Hemingway said, "The hardest thing to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write." This course will focus on the convergence of craft and the different ways writers can "know" a subject. We will consider the fiction writer as explorer and anthropologist, seeking out those details and mysteries of the human experience that ignite our individual imaginations. We will consider how these findings can interact with narrative structure and how to integrate the necessary contexts that create vivid and believable characters, plots, settings, and voices. Writers will challenge their own boundaries in fiction, generate a significant amount of new material, and consider its effectiveness in discussion and revision.
    • Writer as Explorer
      Inspiration is mysterious. We often can't—or do not wish to—articulate why we're drawn to something; we know only that it feels charged and full of potential. Following an intense personal preoccupation is often the engine of a fiction. In this class, we will discuss the nature of these preoccupations and how they interact with the creative and writing processes. We will consider the fiction writer as explorer, investigating those details and mysteries of the human experience that ignite our individual imaginations and become vital interests. We will situate this within the context of strong and evocative craft. Writers will generate a significant amount of new material and consider its effectiveness in discussion and revision.

  • ENGL 401 Senior Writing Project

    Capstone experience for English-Writing majors requires thoughtful study of portfolio work and completion of an extensive, ambitious individual project that's both a logical extension of the student's work and a new challenge. The course will be multi-genre, with an emphasis on feedback and support. Prerequisite: at least one 300-level writing course and senior standing. Offered annually.

Journalism

  • ENGL 211 Newswriting and Reporting

    Fundamentals of newswriting, with emphasis on style and structure; methods of news reporting. Offered annually.

  • ENGL 212 Editorial Writing and Reviewing

    Background, theory, and practice in editorial writing, as well as the composition of book, theater, and film reviews. Prerequisite: English 211 or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

  • ENGL 315 Seminar in Journalism

    Concentrated study in a specialized area of journalism. Topics will vary, but may include seminars in public relations, public affairs reporting, science and environmental writing, and travel writing. Prerequisite: 211 or 212 or consent of instructor. Offered occasionally.

  • ENGL 325 Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting

    Feature writing and investigative reporting for print journalism. Field trip(s) and real-world assignments, with an emphasis on publication. Prerequisite: 211 or 212 or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

Internships

  • ENGL 335 Internship in Professional Writing

    Offered in cooperation with an off-campus firm, business, institution, agency, department, station, etc. Attention is given to the student's special interests. Consent of the instructor and the off-campus supervisor is required. Enrollment limited to English majors. Only one internship may be counted toward the major. Offered each semester and May Term.