Spring 2013 Course Descriptions
English 101: Intro to Creative Writing Study of both the theory and practice of writing creatively. Reading and understanding of literary forms is combined with practice in the basic processes of and strategies for writing fiction, poetry, or drama. General Education credit in Fine Arts.
English 170: Special Topics in Literature Prerequisites: None These courses will focus on the critical reading and interpretation of literary texts, seeking to help students fulfill the general education goals implicit in the Literature requirement. Students will be encouraged to read closely in these courses and to articulate their understanding of what they read both orally and in written work. May be repeated for credit if the subject matter is not duplicated. Topics offered with some regularity: The Anti-Hero, I Love a Mystery, Could it be Satan?, the 60's, the Family in Literature, the Short Story, Protest and Change, Women in Literature, the American Experience, Fiction into Film, New Views of the Old West.
English 170: The Anti-Hero. Lynn DeVore. 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 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.
English 170: Bad Girls. Alison Sainsbury. What makes a girl good? Who says whether you're a good girl? What makes a good girl go bad? Can a bad girl make good? We'll read recent and contemporary fiction that remakes conventional stories to accommodate the unconventional desires and aspirations of bad girls. Work for the course will include in-class essay exams, as well as both formal and informal writing.
English 170: The Politics of Comedy. Bobbie Silk. 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.
English 170: Science Fiction. Wes Chapman. 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.
English 170: The Short Story. Kathleen O'Gorman. 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.
English 170: Travelers & Travel Liars. Daniel Terkla. 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.
English 202: Writing Poetry. Joanne Diaz. In this course, we will focus on the questions that any poet must address: how do we transform complex emotional and intellectual experiences into poems? What are the formal and rhetorical demands of poetry? How do music and metaphor work together to make a poem? We will also consider the crucial importance of revision in the creative process, and how satisfying that process can be on the journey toward finding your own voice and style.
English 206: Creative Nonfiction. Alison Sainsbury. Creative nonfiction is more easily defined by what it is not than by what it is: it is not poetry, not fiction, not report. Like poetry, like fiction, like report, however, creative nonfiction speaks truths about the world; its truth may not be told objectively like journalism, or "slant" like poetry, or through the parallel worlds of fiction, but creative nonfiction does tell stories, from life, faithful to detail and event, from the perspective of the reflective observer. This course, a workshop in reading and writing creative nonfiction, will focus on the fundamental aspects of the form. Class time will be spent in discussing readings, in informal writing (exercises, drafts, revisions, assessments) and in workshops on drafts of your essays.
English 220-Classic Fiction. Lynn DeVore. General Education credit in Literature Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium English 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.
English 233: American Drama. Kathleen O'Gorman. American drama of the last several decades has been unusually important in its presentation of moral and ethical issues such as the reclamation of African-American history, the contemporary confrontation with death and dying, gay and lesbian issues including those surrounding the AIDS epidemic, and the concerns of Chicano, Latino, and Asian-American communities. Focusing on the drama of the last 60 years will take this course through some of the most important theatrical periods, with writers who came to prominence in the 40's, 50's and 60's (Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Eugene O'Neill, Lorraine Hansberry) and writers like Wendy Wasserstein, David Mamet, Margaret Edson, Tony Kushner, Luis Valdez, Susan-Lori Parks, Arthur Kopit, David Henry Hwang, Paula Vogel, Jose Rivera, and other contemporary figures among the important innovators of the contemporary theatrical scene.
English 258—On the Bus: Beat Writers. Dan Terkla. General Education credit in Literature Prerequisites: Gateway Colloquium In this course we'll examine in some detail the core artists of the so-called Beat Generation, along with their precursors from the European Romantics and the American Walt Whitman. We'll cover roughly three decades of turbulent literary history, from the 1940s through the late 1960s. As we dig through IWU's Beat archives for treasures, argue about their poetry and prose, listen to them and the jazz that inspired them, and watch them on film, we'll create a portrait of the age and discover why it was (and is again) hip to be hip.
English 280: Practical Criticism (W). Wes Chapman, Joanne Diaz. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium. 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.
English 285x: Introduction to Research in English. Staff. 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.
English 301: Seminar in Creative Writing. A 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, complex lyric forms, dramatic realism, the essay in history, hyperfiction, minimalism, editing and publishing, etc.). Prerequisites: one 200 level writing course or permission of instructor based on evaluation of student's portfolio of writing.
English 301: Seminar in Creative Writing: Writer as Explorer. Brandi Reissenweber. 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.
English 301: Seminar in Creative Writing: Poetry: Ideas of Poetry/Poetry of Ideas. Michael Theune. 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.
English 315: Seminar in Journalism: Public Relations James Plath This course is intended to give students background, theory, and practice in the field of public relations, with frequent guest lectures by working professionals on such topics as research, planning, policy statements, media relations, employee relations, and consumer relations. During the semester we will use chapters from the book as a starting point for our discussions and problem-solving exercises, and, in the spirit of both the "team" concept that often drives public relations management and also the "seminar" in academia, this course will operate as a true seminar. For a final project, students must create an inventive and viable plan for a real local organization.
English 335: Internship-Journalism or English. Staff. 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.
English 365: Mirrors of Self: Autobiography and Invention. Lynn DeVore. Once consigned to a literary outpost and considered unfit for the demands of the academy, autobiography has emerged as a major site for testing our complacent notions about genre and design, truth versus fiction, or the nature of the self. We will look at traditional transforming journeys like The Autobiography of Malcolm X, subversions of the form as in Nabokov's Lolita, women's autogynographies like Hellman's Pentimento, and popular or journalistic versions such as Herr's Dispatches.
English 370: Avante-Garde Fiction Kathleen. O'Gorman. General Education credits in Literature. Prerequisite: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170, 220-259, plus 280. English 280 can be waived with the permission of the instructor. In this course we will study experimental fiction in the twentieth century, 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 whether they involve a different and perhaps more engaged response to post-World War II realities. We will study texts by writers who are American (Abish), Italian (Calvino), French (Duras), Mexican (Fuentes), Argentinean (Puig and Cortázar), and Czech (Kundera). Other texts may be substituted if these are unavailable.
English 370: Hemingway & Fitzgerald. D Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald shared an editor and a tenuous friendship. They chronicled life in the '20s and '30s, but from different perspectives. Fitzgerald wrote about the very rich; Hemingway, a rough-and-tumble working class. Hemingway was an adventurer, while Fitzgerald was more at home on the Riviera, and their fiction reflected that. Both men, heavy drinkers, competed for literary fame, with one of them hailed for writing the Great American Novel, and the other winning the Nobel Prize. Their complicated relationship has given rise to several duel biographies—no doubt because their high-profile lives seem entwined with their short stories and novels. Readings may include selected criticism, short fiction, and the major novels: Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea, and Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night.
English 385X: Advanced Research in English. Staff. 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.
English 394: Shakespeare's Tragedies & Romances 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. Writing Intensive Flag Request
English 480: Senior Seminar Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing and prior completion of at least four courses in literature numbered 220 or above. [Required of all English majors and minors. Does not count for General Education credit in literature.] Course description: Senior Seminar is the final course in the major and is built around a theme, a genre or a topic, as opposed to a single author. Throughout this capstone experience, students will utilize critical reading and writing skills they have developed as English majors to produce manuscripts commensurate in quality with the expectations of a senior seminar in English: manuscripts will be substantial in length (approx. 20 pp.) and in depth of scholarship and will demonstrate a working knowledge of relevant aspects of the literary, critical and cultural traditions. Writing Intensive Flag Request
English 480: Senior Seminar Brilliant Failures: Word, Image and Representation. Dan Terkla. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing and prior completion of at least four courses in literature numbered 220 or above. [Required of all English majors and minors. Does not count for General Education credit in literature.] Ut Pictura Poesis. Ever since the Roman poet, Horace (65-68 bce), coined the phrase "as painting, so the poetry," western thinkers have grappled with the legislation of "the boundaries between the arts, and especially ... between image and text" (Mitchell, Iconology 154). In this senior seminar we 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 the borders between representational conventions of words and pictorial images. While contemplating such purposeful transgressions, we ask these questions, among others: 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 verbally (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 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 wrestle with questions of iconology, of how "we talk about the idea of imagery, and all its related notions of picturing, imagining, perceiving, likening, and imitating" (Iconology 1).
English 485: Directed Study in English. Staff. 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.