English

Spring and May Term 2020 Course Descriptions

ENGL 101:1 Introduction to Creative Writing      (AR)
TR 9:25-10:40
Brandi Reissenweber

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.
Prerequisite(s): None

ENGL 101:2 Introduction to Creative Writing     (AR)
MWF 10:00-10:50
Kathleen Zurkowski

Compose an ode to your goldfish. Tell a story from the perspective of a liar. Improvise a sketch comedy that might make grandma blush. Cut up words from a newspaper and rearrange them into a poem. News flash: you don’t need a special gene to be creative. All you need is to develop your sense of play. This course involves in-class games and exercises that push us out of the ruts in our minds. Students will collaborate with each other in class to generate material and evaluate new work. They will learn how to make their initial efforts even better—more moving, more suspenseful, more hilarious—through thoughtful revision. Finally, through careful reading, students will learn from the experts, imitating the style of writers who keep them turning the pages at three a.m. Prerequisite(s): None

ENGL 101:4 Introduction to Creative Writing     (AR)
MWF 2:00-2:50
Kathleen Zurkowski

Compose an ode to your goldfish. Tell a story from the perspective of a liar. Improvise a sketch comedy that might make grandma blush. Cut up words from a newspaper and rearrange them into a poem. News flash: you don’t need a special gene to be creative. All you need is to develop your sense of play. This course involves in-class games and exercises that push us out of the ruts in our minds. Students will collaborate with each other in class to generate material and evaluate new work. They will learn how to make their initial efforts even better—more moving, more suspenseful, more hilarious—through thoughtful revision. Finally, through careful reading, students will learn from the experts, imitating the style of writers who keep them turning the pages at three a.m. Prerequisite(s): None

ENGL 139:1 Freaks!     (LIT, U)
MWF 1:00-1:50
Molly Robey

“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. Prerequisite(s): None  

ENGL 170:1 : Film Noir : Shadow and Sin      (LIT)
TR 1:10-2:25
Diana Jaher 

Film noir focuses, according to director Paul Schrader’s seminal article, on the “new mood of cynicism, pessimism, and darkness” that infused post-World War II Hollywood movies. Using his article as a starting point, our course is divided into three parts. First, we will examine the conditions that produced film noir: the historical context (the war and post-war disillusionment), the literary tradition (the 1930s and ‘40s “hard-boiled” detective stories of Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Cornell Woolrich, among others), and the cinematic techniques heavily influenced by German Expressionism and realism. Then we will turn to the films themselves, examining the themes, characters, and style of such films as The Maltese FalconThe Postman Always Rings TwiceDouble IndemnityThe Killers, and They Live By Night, among others. We will conclude with a short section on neo-noir – films made since the 1960s – including Chinatown and Body Heat. During our course, you can expect to read crime fiction and film theory, and watch several films. Please note that you will need to view the movies on your own, either via a streaming service or the DVDs on reserve at Ames.  Prerequisite(s): None

ENGL 170:2 : Film Noir : Shadow and Sin      (LIT)
TR 2:35-3:35
Diana Jaher 

Film noir focuses, according to director Paul Schrader’s seminal article, on the “new mood of cynicism, pessimism, and darkness” that infused post-World War II Hollywood movies. Using his article as a starting point, our course is divided into three parts. First, we will examine the conditions that produced film noir: the historical context (the war and post-war disillusionment), the literary tradition (the 1930s and ‘40s “hard-boiled” detective stories of Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Cornell Woolrich, among others), and the cinematic techniques heavily influenced by German Expressionism and realism. Then we will turn to the films themselves, examining the themes, characters, and style of such films as The Maltese FalconThe Postman Always Rings TwiceDouble IndemnityThe Killers, and They Live By Night, among others. We will conclude with a short section on neo-noir – films made since the 1960s – including Chinatown and Body Heat. During our course, you can expect to read crime fiction and film theory, and watch several films. Please note that you will need to view the movies on your own, either via a streaming service or the DVDs on reserve at Ames.  Prerequisite(s): None

ENGL 170:3 Special Topics-Middle Age Crazy     (LIT)
MWF 9:00-9:50
James Plath

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.  Prerequisite(s): None

ENGL 202: Writing Poetry    
TR 10:50-12:05
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 series of poems and develop a portfolio. Prerequisite(s): Gateway Colloquium

ENGL 206: Creative Non-Fiction     (W)
TR 8:00-9:15
Brandi Reissenweber

Workshop in reading and writing creative non-fiction while focusing on fundamentals, including situating experience, finding the right form, and developing a personal voice. Students will compete essays and develop a portfolio.  Prerequisite(s): Gateway Colloquium

ENGL 220: Shakespeare and Film     (LIT)
MWF 8:00-8:50
Joanne Diaz

In this course, we will consider film as a medium that has provided radical reimaginings of Shakespeare’s texts over the past 125 years. We will carefully examine Shakespeare's texts--including Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and Midsummer Night's Dream--and compare and contrast two film adaptations of each play. By the end of this course, I hope you will have a strong grasp of the key terms of literary and and film analysis as well as an ability to write persuasive arguments about these texts.

Prerequisite(s): Gateway Colloquium

ENGL 234: Latinx Drama: 1965 - Present     (LIT, U) 
TR 10:50 -12:05
Kathleen O’Gorman

With the founding of El Teatro Campesino (The Farmworkers’ Theatre) in 1965, Luis Valdez inspired a national movement of theatre troupes dedicated to the exposure of socio-political problems within the Chicanx communities of the U.S. American drama has never been the same. This course will focus on plays by recent and contemporary Latinx writers in the United States (hereafter Latinxs), a group composed of diverse peoples from Latin America and the Caribbean, former Latin American communities incorporated into the United States, and successive generations of their offspring. Most of the authors whose work we will study were born in the U.S.; most retain cultural and linguistic ties to their ancestral countries and regions, even as they negotiate their often-problematized American identities: Chicano/a, Nuyorican, etc.

As we study these plays, students will develop an understanding of styles and structures of theatrical expression and the ways in which they function in the service of dramas that focus on Latinidad. Concerns staged may include the construction of identity in terms of race, class, gender, and sexuality; bilingualism and code-switching; the experiences of the exile, the immigrant, and the refugee; sense of place and displacement; the idea of home; the marketing of the Latinx identity; power, borders, community, gangs, and the family. In short, we will study the staging of public and private concerns and the politics of representation itself.   Prerequisite(s): Gateway Colloquium

Note: All texts are in English, though some may incorporate occasional words or phrases in Spanish.

ENGL 280: Understanding Literature     (W)
TR 2:00-3:15
Michael Theune

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(s): Gateway Colloquium

ENGL 302: Seminar in Creative Writing-- Fiction and Field Study  (AR)
MW 2:00-3:15
Brandi Reissenweber

Place is an essential component of the human experience. As Eudora Welty writes, it “never really stops informing us, for it is forever astir, alive, changing, reflecting, like the mind . . . itself.” In this course, students will consider the environmental underpinnings of fiction, exploring the way place works in concert with character and action to create authentic and evocative fiction. Students will engage in experiential learning to cultivate their observation skills, understand dimension of place, and translate their observations into well-crafted fiction that has urgency. Prerequisite: ENGL 201  or consent of the instructor. The ENGL 201 prerequisite may be waived by the instructor based on evaluation of student’s portfolio.  Priority enrollment given to writing concentration students when necessary.

ENGL 335 : Internship in Professional Writing      

An internship taken with an off-campus business or organization for which writing is the intern’s primary responsibility.  On-campus internship credit is also possible if all-campus general requirements for an internship are met. Approval of the English faculty internship supervisor is required. Offered each semester, May Term, and summers. Offered each semester and May Term.

ENGL 345 : The Global Renaissance     (LIT, G)
MF 11:00-12:15
Joanne Diaz

In this course, we will investigate how Renaissance literature helped to shape our twenty-first century ideas about race, ethnicity, colonization, and religious difference. Students will read a variety of plays, poems, and essays that foreground European encounters with the Mediterranean, the New World, Africa, and Asia in the period between 1400- 1650.  Prerequisite(s): Gateway Colloquium and one of the following: ENGL 280, HIST 121, HIST 123, HIST 224, or HIST 323.  Offered in alternate years.

ENGL 351: Manifest Destinies: American Literature to 1865      (LIT, U)
MF 11:00-12:15
Molly Robey

One of the dominant myths of US nationalism is “Manifest Destiny,” the idea that the United States’ continental expansion and development into a world power was inevitable.

In actuality, there was nothing inevitable about an unstable post-colonial state with no national language and little shared history coming to dominate a continent and its residents. Americans’ move west was characterized by anxiety, conflict, and conquest. This course explores the narratives of community and nation that competed during this time of national uncertainty. Specifically, we’ll explore notions of American character from the vantage of those who were often excluded from national belonging: African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and white women, and we will examine the ways that gender and sexuality shaped and were shaped by national narratives.   Prerequisite(s): Gateway Colloquium and 1 course from ENGL 109-170 or 220-259, plus 280.

ENGL 370 : Infinite Jest   (LIT)
TTh 9:25 – 10:40
Kathleen O’Gorman

Infinite Jest is the pinnacle achievement of David Foster Wallace, described as the foremost spokesperson of a new generation of American writers, an assessment that has only intensified since his death in 2008. According to Stephen J. Burn, “ Infinite Jest will continue to speak to readers because of the strength and invention of its sentences, because of its extravagant humor and sadness, and because of the secrets it keeps.” We’ll immerse ourselves in its world for the entire semester, a world which, according to Wallace, “force[s] you to work hard to access its pleasures.” And what pleasures that hard work will yield! Prerequisite(s): Gateway Colloquium and 1 course from ENGL 109-170 or 220-259, plus 280 (Or consent of instructor.)

ENGL 480:  Senior Seminar: American Magical Realism     (W)
TR 10:50-12:05
James Plath

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 in the context of the sub-genre. Students will be responsible for compiling a comprehensive critical bibliography on one writer, as well as completing small assignments and one major (25-30 page) project/paper that can be critical or creative, and either based on magical realism or on a topic of the student’s choice. Texts include W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe, Toni Morrisson’s Song of Solomon, Louise Erdrich’s Tracks, Tim O’Brien’s Going After Cacciatto, and John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick.    Prerequisite(s):  Majors and minors with junior or senior standing and prior completion of at least two 300- or 400- level courses in literature.

ENGL: 485 : Directed Studies    
Joanne Diaz

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

ENGL: 485 : Directed Studies 
Michael Theune

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

JOUR 325 : Feature Writing/In-Depth Reporting     (W)
TR 1:10-2:25
James Plath

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

MAY TERM COURSES

ENGL 101:3 : Introduction to Creative Writing     (AR)
M-F 9:00-12:00
Joanne Diaz

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. Prerequisite(s): None

JOUR 213 : New Media   
M-F 9:00-12:00
TBA

Americans are becoming increasingly dependent upon social media for the news. This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of social/new media for journalists, including (but not limited to) research techniques, profession responsibilities, best practices, and storytelling across multiple platforms.  Prerequisite(s): None