Fall 2014 Course Descriptions
ENGL 101: Intro to Creative Writing (AR)
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 101: Intro to Creative Writing (AR)
In this course, we will focus on how writers use the generic structures of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction to explore human experiences in imaginative ways. Through our careful reading of published poetry and prose, discussion on the craft of writing, and weekly workshops of your writing, this course will introduce questions that any writer of prose or poetry must address: How do writers transform complex emotional and intellectual experiences into art? What are the different formal demands of poetry and prose? How do music and metaphor work together to make a poem? How does character determine the conflict in a short story? How do we understand what’s “real” or “true” in creative nonfiction? We will also consider the crucial importance of revision in the creative process, and how challenging and satisfying that process can be.
ENGL 109: Slamming, Jamming, Understanding: Poetry through Performance (LIT)
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 123: Bad Girls (LIT)
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 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.
ENGL 170: Freaks (LIT)
“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: Freaks (LIT)
“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 between normalcy and deviance. We will focus on such issues as belonging and alienation, race, gender, and the performance of identity.
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.
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.
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 Non-Fiction (W)
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 211: Newswriting and Reporting (W)
Fundamentals of newswriting, with emphasis on style and structure; methods of news reporting. Offered annually.
ENGL 233: American Drama: 1940 - Present (LT, W)
TR 9:25 -10:40
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 280: Practical Criticism (W)
In this course, you will be required to ask yourself questions that will become essential to your identity as an English major: What is a piece of literature, and how do readers engage in “literary criticism?” What is literary criticism, anyway—is it agonistic, or is it part of a larger, more collegial conversation about the ways in which texts represent the complexities of human experience? And what, if anything, is “practical” about close reading, literary theory, and available methods of interpretation? Through rigorous in-class discussion, short and long writing assignments, and careful reading, you will be introduced to critical vocabulary that will help you develop as a serious reader and critic. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium.
ENGL 285x: Advanced Research in English
Staff arranged. 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 301: Seminar in Creative Writing: Forms of Poetry
Even before the advent of written language, ancient poets were drawn to formal structures, and contemporary poets continue to use formal patterns in their work. What makes traditional forms so compelling? How do contemporary writers borrow from and reinvent forms for their own poetic ends? In this workshop, we will use poetic forms from a variety of traditions, including the sonnet, the villanelle, the ballad, the ghazal, and the sestina, and experimental constraints, including Oulipo, erasure, and found poetry. 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. These courses may be waived by the instructor base on evaluation of student's portfolio. Priority enrollment given to writing concentration majors when necessary.
ENGL 335: Internship-Journalism or English
Arranged. Consent of instructor and off-campus supervisor
Offered in cooperation with an off-campus firm, business, institution, agency, department, station, etc. Attention is given to the student’s special interests.
ENGL 346: Victorian Literature (LIT)
In the sixty-four years of Queen Victoria’s rule (1837-1901), England was transformed from a largely rural country to an urban one, its population more than doubled, and by the end of the century the British Empire encompassed one-quarter of the earth’s land mass. It’s no exaggeration to say that Victorian Britain experienced industrial, scientific, social, and cultural revolutions, and Victorian literature engages them all: the stability of the middle class; the struggle of the laboring classes for work and dignity; the debate over the role of women and the reformulation of ideas of masculinity; the defense and waning of empire; the challenge posed by scientific understandings of the world to those of religion; and, perhaps above all, the rapid and vast technological advances that transformed the natural and social order.
We’ll sample a range of prose fiction that spans the years of Victoria’s rule. Likely authors and primary texts include the following: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre; Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend; Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland; Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles; Bram Stoker, Dracula. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220-259, plus 280. Offered in alternate years.
ENGL 356: Modernism (AMSB)(LIT)
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.
ENGL 370: Literary Minds
How and why do minds read and write literature? The cognitive science revolution of the past two decades has revealed that the mind is fundamentally literary: literary staples such as narrative and metaphor turn out to be central to the way that minds interact with their environments. How the mind works, however, is a central theme in literature that long predates the rise of cognitive science. In this class, we will apply recent work in cognitive approaches to literature to various literary texts to try to understand what the mind is doing in reading and writing literature, and we will examine a number of literary representations of the mind to see how authors have tested, anticipated and in some cases surpassed recent theories of cognition. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280.
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. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220–259, plus 280.
ENGL 393: Shakespeare’s Comedies and Histories (LIT) (WEFL)
Mary Ann Bushman
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 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.
ENGL 480: Senior Seminar: Brilliant Failures (W)
Ut Pictura Poesis. Ever since the Roman poet, Horace (65-68 bce), coined the phrase “as is the painting, so is poetry”—Or was it, as Gotthold Lessing claimed, the Greek lyric and elegiac poet, Simonides of Ceos (556-468 bce)?—western thinkers have grappled with legislating “the boundaries between the arts, and especially … between image and text” (Mitchell, Iconology 154). This term we’ll participate in a discussion of re-presentation by exploring artists’ attempts to create, manipulate, and regenerate images and, in so doing, to violate what seem to be borders between representational conventions of words and images. We’ll contemplate such purposeful transgressions by asking these and other questions: What happens when a visual artist includes inscriptions in a pictorial text? Does the verbal dominate the visual or function as an aesthetic, even epistemological, handmaiden to it—or is the reverse the case? What happens when a poet re-presents a pictorial or plastic artwork via ekphrasis? How do verbal images come to life, and how is that process related to the vivification of pictorial images? Why have creative minds always insisted upon combining these “sister arts”? What do their hybrid works tell us about our expressive (in)capabilities? Is neither word nor image a sufficient carrier of meaning? Why have these long been important questions for artists, philosophers, literary scholars, art theorists, metaphorologists, cognitive scientists, neuroarthistorians, and neuroaestheticians? In short, we’ll wrestle with questions of iconology, of “writing the icon,” as we figure out how “we talk about the idea of imagery, and all its related notions of picturing, imagining, perceiving, likening, and imitating” (Iconology 1). Enrollment limited.
ENGL 485: Directed Study-English
Consent of the instructor and the chair of the department. Student must submit a plan of study prior to enrollment. Independent study in English. May not duplicate the content of regularly offered courses. Enrollment limited to English