Fall 2013 Course Descriptions

ENGL 101: Intro to Creative Writing (AR)
Joanne Diaz
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 101: Intro to Creative Writing (AR)
Brandi Reissenweber
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.

ENGL 170: The Anti-Hero (LIT)
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.

ENGL 170: The Healing Art: Illness and Recovery in Literature and Film  (LIT)
Joanne Diaz
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, including fiction by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sandra Cisneros, and Akhil Sharma; poems by Raphael Campo, Lucille Clifton, and Sharon Olds; essays by Audre Lorde, Atul Gawande, and Grace Talusan; and films, including Wit and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Students will write two papers, take a midterm and final exam, and participate in regular in-class discussions of the assigned texts.

ENGL 170: The Short Story (LIT)
Pamela Muirhead
What is essential for a text to be a story? To answer, we will study short stories from a variety of places to see what they suggest about the genre. We'll distinguish story from plot and examine different styles of literary imagination as they engage us. In considering the traditional elements of fiction, 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.

ENGL 170: American Gothic  (LIT)
Molly Robey
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

ENGL 201: Writing Fiction
Brandi Reissenweber
Workshop in reading and writing fiction. The course will focus on the principles and techniques used by accomplished writers in their stories as well as on key elements of the story form. Students will complete stories and develop a portfolio. Prerequisites: Gateway.

English 202: Writing Poetry
Michael Theune
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 number of poems and develop a portfolio.

ENGL 211: Newswriting and Reporting (W)
James Plath
The fundamentals of newswriting, with emphasis on AP style, structure, and methods of news reporting.

ENGL 220: Shakespeare’s Shrews  (ESHC) (LIT) (W)
Mary Ann Bushman
Prerequisites: Gateway Colloquium

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 Shakespeare’s plays represent the social and legal categories that limit women during the early modern period and how his dramatic characters who happen to inhabit those categories deal with those limits.           

This course is writing intensive and reading intensive.

ENGL 232: British Drama: 1950-Present (LIT)
Kathleen O’Gorman
Post-World War II realities will provide the point of departure for this course, with the absurdists, represented by Samuel Beckett, and “kitchen-sink realists” such as John Osborne setting the issues in a theatrical context. We will proceed with the works of playwrights such as Joe Orton, Peter Shaffer, Pam Gems, Caryl Churchill, Tom Stoppard, Michael Frayn, Brian Friel and Anne Devlin—quite independent voices in the staging of social and political concerns of the last fifty years in Great Britain. Set in dramatic forms that at times defy easy apprehension, this body of work provides a strong foundation for understanding the staging of private and public issues in the contemporary theatrical world.

ENGL 259: Black Women Writers  (LIT) (U)
Pamela Muirhead
This course examines writing mainly by African American women. It explores the literary answers to several questions about the effect of history and culture on how texts acquire meaning, including: What happens to stories of love and marriage from one era to the next? How did early Black writers liberate and subvert literary structures? How have concerns of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation shaped narratives by Black women? Why were 19th and early 20th century Black writers so concerned with the image of the mixed-race woman? What’s new in fiction, and poetry, drama, and commentary by Black women?

Writers may include: Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Wilson, Zora Neale, Hurston, Pauline Hopkins, Frances Harper, Nella Larsen, Toni Morrison, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Lynn Nottage, and others.

ENGL 280: Practical Criticism (W)
Wes Chapman
Practical Criticism is an introduction to literary study, designed for English majors and minors. Because no single course can cover the wide range of interpretive strategies employed in literary criticism today, much less survey its object of study, Practical Criticism offers a systematic smorgasbord of approaches and genres, designed to meet the following goals:

  • to develop your vocabulary for talking about literature and your strategies for interpreting it;
  • to give you practice in reading and writing about a variety of literary genres, in particular fiction, poetry, and drama;
  • to introduce you to the use of secondary sources; and
  • to engage you in the extended conversation of critical discourse.

ENGL 301: Seminar in the Short-Story Cycle (AR)
Lynn DeVore (AR)
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 their own readings from models like Cisneros’s, The House on Mango Street or Hemingway’s In Our Time, then move to writing their own short-story cycles.

ENGL 354: American Literature Since 1945: Native American Literature  (AMSB) (LIT) (U)
James Plath
Since N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1968, interest in writing by Native Americans has soared. In this class, we will read a number of texts, some of which may include Momaday’s The Way To Rainy Mountain, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, James Welch’s Winter in the Blood, Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine and/or Tracks, Ray A. Young Bear’s Black Eagle Child, Mary Crow Dog’s Lakota Woman, and David Seals’ The Powwow Highway. This is a multi-genre course, and we’ll explore selected theoretical essays, poetry, and prose from Nothing But the Truth: An Anthology of Native American Literature. In the process, we’ll try to come to a greater understanding of the ways in which Native Americans see the world, and consider to what degree postcolonial theory might be applied.

ENGL 365: Mirrors of Self: Autobiography and Invention (LIT)
Lynn DeVore
Once consigned to a literary outpost and considered unfit for the demands of the academy, autobiography has emerged as a major literary site for testing our complacent notions about genre and design, truth versus fiction, or the nature of the self. In the process we will look at traditional transforming journeys like The Autobiography of Malcolm X, subversions of the form and women’s autogynographies like The Lover, as well as contemporary versions across various media from graphic novels to film.

ENGL 370: Major Black Writers
Pamela Muirhead
A comparative study of four major Black American authors of the Post-WWII period—Richard Wright (1914-1944), James Baldwin (1924-1987), Ralph Ellison (1914-1994), and Toni Morrison (1931-). Long recognized as three of the most important twentieth-century American writers of fiction and essays on art, politics, and culture, Wright, Baldwin, and Ellison challenged readers and each other to negotiate the racial and sexual conflicts of American life in the Civil Rights era. Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison extends and rewrites that challenge.

ENGL 380: Literary Theories
Wes Chapman
Literary Theories is divided into two parts. In the first part, designed to familiarize you with some of the main currents of contemporary literary theory, we will read primary and secondary materials explaining or exemplifying various theoretical approaches such as psychoanalysis, reader response, feminism, new historicism and post-structuralism. In the second part, we will read a variety of texts from these schools and their antecedents that offer differing answers to questions explicitly or implicitly important in literary study, such as "what literature should we read?" and "what is the purpose of literature?"

The goals of this course are to develop your ability to recognize and understand common theoretical arguments, engage you in some of the crucial debates in literary studies today, help you to define your own position as a critic, and develop in you the critical thinking skills necessary for working with theoretical texts (such as summarizing accurately, analyzing assumptions and implications, making connections between disparate texts, and evaluating claims).

ENGL 393: Shakespeare’s Comedies & Histories  (LIT) (WEFL)
Mary Ann Bushman
General Education credit in Literature

Prerequisites: Gateway Colloquium; 1 course from 170 or 220-259, plus 280.

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.

ENGL: 398: James Joyce (LIT)
Kathleen O’Gorman
This course examines James Joyce’s major works in cultural and historical contexts; emphasis on Ulysses.

English 401: Senior Writing Project
Michael Theune
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 a student’s work and a new challenge. This course will be multi-genre, with an emphasis of feedback and support. Prerequisite: at least one 300-level writing course and senior standing. Offered occasionally..

ENGL 480: Senior Seminar on Revenge Tragedy (W)
Joanne Diaz
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:

Shakespeare’s contemporaries and successors wrote and staged enormously popular revenge plays that explored the nature and abuse of power, the instability of sexuality and desire, emergent concepts of race and ethnicity, the aftermath of war, and the role of theatricality in early modern England. The characters seem preoccupied with grief, broken promises, injustice, and—most important of all—bloody revenge.

In this course, we will read six plays: The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger’s Tragedy, The Changeling, Titus Andronicus, The White Devil, and The Duchess of Malfi. We will consider their cultural contexts, generic conventions, and performance histories in order to understand how and why these plays dominated the early modern stage. In addition, we will examine the work of twentieth- and twenty-first century scholars whose articles and books will provoke and inspire our best discussions and writing.