ENG 104 Introduction to Medieval English Literature
This course offers an introductory survey of the literature produced in England between 800 and 1485, from Anglo-Saxon poetry through the advent of print. Major texts include pre-Conquest poetry and prose (such as Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle), early Middle English romance, post-Conquest lyric and narrative verse (including Chaucer), the fourteenth-century alliterative revival, Arthurian romance, drama, chronicles, and personal letters. Designed for nonmajors and prospective majors, the entry-level course provides a foundation in critical thinking about literary history.
ENG 105 9/11 in Literature and Film
This course examines a wide range of literature, film, and other art that represents the September 11 attacks and their aftermath. Students consider the many ways in which ideas of national belonging intersect with practices of racial and other exclusions in the public cultures of mourning and memorialization that frame the idea of “9/11.” Although the focus is on texts that engage with concepts of post-9/11 American culture, students also consider these events and their meanings in global contexts.
ENG 109 Foundations of English Literature
This course introduces students to the major genres, critical approaches, and topics in the field of literary study.
ENG 113 Theory of Narrative
The novelist E. M. Forster distinguished between “the king died and then the queen died,” which is a story, and “the king died, and then the queen died of grief,” which is a plot. How does the causal meaning of “then” explain narrative? Narratology provides a theory of reading that crosses literary criticism, neuroscience, and philosophy of law. This course, in examining causality, agency, event, and temporality, also may pursue recent questions that ask what role narratives play in understanding self, consciousness, and cognition and emotion.
ENG 114 Introduction to African American Literature I: 1600-1910
This introductory course traces the development of a distinct African American literary tradition from the Atlantic Slave Trade to 1910. Students examine music, orations, letters, poems, essays, slave narratives, autobiographies, fiction, and plays by Americans of African descent. The essential questions that shape this course include: What is the role of African American literature in the cultural identity and collective struggle of Black people? What themes, tropes, and forms connect these texts, authors, and movements into a coherent living tradition?
ENG 115 Introduction to African American Literature II: 1910-Present
This introductory course traces the development of a distinct African American literary tradition from 1910 to the present. Students examine music, orations, letters, poems, essays, autobiographies, fiction, and plays by Americans of African descent. The essential questions that shape this course include: What is the role of African American literature in the cultural identity and collective struggle of Black people? What themes, tropes, and forms connect these texts, authors, and movements into a coherent living tradition? This course is a continuation of African American Literature I, which considers literary production before 1910.
ENG 118 The Aesthetics of Seeing: Poetry as Witness
This course explores poetry profoundly influenced by poets’ lived experiences as witnesses. Often the aesthetic of witness is one based in the traumatic: war, abuse, exile, and injustice. But this witnessing can also be the experience of observing kindness, joy, and beauty during times of inhumanity. The course examines how poets use what they have seen, what they have witnessed, to make poems. In effect, poetry preserves memories of the unmemorable. The course studies poems by Carolyn Forche, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Mahmoud Darwish, among others. Classes are discussion-based and include close readings of poems, group exercises, and short papers.
ENG 119 “I, Too, Sing America”: Poetry of this Moment/Movement
In the tradition of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, American poets who explicitly wrote of the political and social anxieties of their country’s moment, this course analyzes the work of contemporary poets responding to the current social and political moment in the United States. Students closely examine poetry that speaks from small-town America, environmental wreckage, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, the Standing Rock Dakota Pipeline movement as well as poetry that addresses our current political leadership. Readings include Claudia Rankine, Terrance Hayes, and Layli Long Soldier. Students engage these discussions through the production of critical examinations of the texts and through their own creative writing.
ENG 121 Colloquia in Literature
Colloquia introduce students to the study of literature from a variety of perspectives, with a focus on such objects as author, genre, and literary period. These courses not only delve into their particular subject matter, they also allow a preliminary discussion of critical vocabulary and methods that will carry over into more advanced courses.
ENG 121D The Many Lives of King Arthur
King Arthur is called the “once and future king,” but this malleable, mythic figure in some sense always livesin the present time. Approaching Arthur as an idea as much as a man, students analyze the ways in which the Arthur story has been adapted for different literary, social, and political purposes according to the needs and desires of its changing audience. They explore the features of the Arthurian legend which make it universally compelling, including feudal loyalty and kinship, women and marriage, questing and adventure, magic and monsters, violence and warfare, and consider the fierce debate over Arthur’s historical and mythical origins.
ENG 121G Asian American Women Writers
This course introduces students to some major themes and concerns addressed in the literature of Asian American and Pacific Islander women writers. The course spans the twentieth century into the twenty-first, covering canonical and noncanonical texts, including novels, poetry, short stories, memoirs, and experimental and visual texts by Sui Sin Far, Maxine Hong Kingston, Hisaye Yamamoto, Lisa Linn Kanae, Caroline Sinavaiana, Jessica Hagedorn, Nora Okja Keller, and Miné Okubo. This course combines literary analysis with empire studies, cultural studies, women of color feminisms, and queer theory. Students explore the social, political, economic, and historical realities that shape the literature Asian American and Pacific Islander women produce, particularly the authors’ resistances to U.S. military histories and legal policies. They examine writers’ decolonial practices in spaces of U.S. imperialism and their responses to American immigration policies, war, and adoption practices.
ENG 121H The Brontës
Reading a selection of fiction and poetry by the four Brontë siblings, including their childhood compositions, as well as critical and biographical studies of the authors and their work, students consider the writings of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne in relation to their family dynamics. They examine the ties between literature and history in the Victorian period, and discuss the Brontës’ representations of British imperialism and class relations as well as their varied constructions of gender.
ENG 121I Poetry in the Twenty-First Century
A critical study of the variegated terrain of American poetry in the twenty-first century. Readings include mainstream and experimental poetic works, critical works, and commentary. Students use music, film, and visual art to reflect on unique themes and novel directions for poetry in this century. Written work includes short response papers and a longer essay. Students also produce a small sample of poems in order to better grasp questions concerning the craft of poetry.
ENG 121L Modern Short Stories
A study of the short story and novella as characteristic twentieth-century genres, with a brief introduction to works in the nineteenth century. The course focuses on both “classic” and contemporary texts by writers selected from among Anton Chekhov, Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, Jamaica Kincaid, Jhumpa Lahiri, D. H. Lawrence, David Leavitt, W. S. Maugham, Katherine Mansfield, Susan Minot, Shani Mootoo, Susan Sontag, Guy Vanderhaeghe, and Virginia Woolf. Students experiment with writing a short story.
ENG 121P Narrow Rooms: The Art of the Sonnet
This course explores the formal constraints, thematic conventions, historical contexts, and aesthetic and philosophical adaptations and reimaginations of a single poetic form: the sonnet. Beginning with the Italian Renaissance, students follow the form’s movement to Tudor England; its transformation during the sonnet “vogue” of the 1590s; its recuperation by the Romantics; its cooptation during the Harlem Renaissance; its tactical exploitation in feminist and queer poetry; and, its radical, digital, avant-garde, and political remediations by contemporary poets. In addition to writing and thinking critically about sonnet culture(s), students compose their own.
ENG 121Q The Lives of Rivers
In this colloquium, students read broadly-from the magical waterways of classical antiquity to the American folk tradition that takes us “down by the riverside”-in order to better understand the human need to write about rivers. Students consider verse by Whitman, Walcott, and Spark alongside Twain’s stories of Huckleberry Finn and the classic angling novella A River Runs Through It. From the local riparian zone on the banks of the Androscoggin, students follow contemporary currents of ecocritical inquiry, investigating moments when the landed human body is literally or figuratively swept away by a torrent of fresh water.
ENG 129 Introduction to Early Modern English Literature
This course offers an introductory survey of early modern English literature from 1509 to 1660. Major works include courtly lyric, drama, epic, and prose romance. Topics include the Protestant Reformation, the Anglo-Spanish War, Tudor and Stuart courtly politics, print culture, and humanist learning. Designed for nonmajors and prospective majors, this entry-level course provides a foundation in critical thinking about literary history.
ENG 131 Tragedy and the Drama of Voice
“Why does tragedy exist?” asks Anne Carson. The answer: “Because you are full of rage. And why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief.” This course explores how dramatic tragedy expresses such rage and such grief through the medium of the embodied, dramatic voice. By probing the voice’s place in tragedy, emotion, and politics, students seek to better understand tragedy as a genre. Students read two classical tragedies and two Shakespearean tragedies, each alongside an adaptation by modern artists who rethink how tragedy works and whom it serves.
ENG 142 Early American Literature
The diverse traditions that comprise colonial American literature, from the early seventeenth century to the late eighteenth, arguably not only culminated in the creation of a national literature but in the nation itself. This course tests this thesis through a broad range of readings, including scholarly texts and historical documents, and ranging from fifteenth- and sixteenth-century European accounts of “New World” exploration through the turn of the nineteenth century, includingthe emergence of a distinctive tradition of the American novel. Additional course readings may include representations of early America in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. In considering the nation’s early history in relation to its early literature, students examine what might have been alongside what came to be, as debates over slavery, revolution and war, women’s roles, models of governance, and indigenous peoples’ rights played out in prose, verse, and oration.
ENG 143 Nineteenth-Century American Literature
A critical study of American literary history from the early national period throughthe Gilded Age. Students examine a wide range of texts in relation to key historical phenomena and events. These historical concerns provide a context for understanding the work of literature in constructions of the nation and ofAmerican identity. Special emphasis is placed on writing by African American and Native American authors working within and against dominant literary traditions. Texts, authors, and themes may differ across iterations of the course, but students consider–along with key genres and aesthetic impulses–racial formations in American literature; gender roles, “separate spheres” ideology, and nineteenth-century feminisms; dialectical relations of violence and civic belonging; and constructions of urban, rural, and frontier spaces.
ENG 152 American Writers since 1900
ENG 201 Contemporary African and Caribbean Theater
This course explores the dramatic literature and theater history of the African continent and the islands of the Caribbean from the mid-twentieth century to the present. These two areas of the world connected through the African diaspora have brought forth playwrights who were inspired by a mix of traditional African rituals, the Western European theater tradition, colonial histories, and the various social and political upheavals through which many of them have lived. This course presents a critical, historical, and sociological view of these playwrights and the world that created them. Prerequisite(s): one course in Africana, English, or theater.
ENG 203 Thinking through Dreams in Medieval and Early Modern Britain
How did medieval and early modern people reckon with the mystery of dreams? What did they make of the relationship between the involuntary act of dreaming and the deliberate practices of reading and writing? This course explores the compelling, terrifying, and revelatory effects of dreams in British literature from Chaucer to Shakespeare. In reading works by these and other authors including Malory, Spenser, and Wroth, students examine how literary dreams invite readers to look differently at everyday sources of anxiety: God, sex, nation, and the boundaries of the self. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course. Recommended background: ENG 213 or 214.
ENG 206 Trans/Atlantic Chaucer: Colonizing Identities in the Middle Ages
Reading and interpretation of Chaucer’s major works, including The Canterbury Tales. Students interrogate the many ways Chaucer’s texts challenge assumptions of fixity, including definitions of gender, race, class, territory, and time. All works are read in Middle English.
ENG 208 Asian American Graphic Narrative
This course traces the evolution of Asian American graphic narrative. Students consider the narrative in a visual format, discussing how works created by Asian Americans combat decades of stereotypes propagated in comic books, especially as evil-genius Fu Manchu figures. Students read graphic novels, graphic memoir, and selected issues of several comics series. Topics include race, identity, family history, military history, gender performance, and sexuality. Students discuss writing practice, style, genre, research, and multimodal composition. They also workshop their writing and discuss effective revision critiques.
ENG 213 Shakespeare
A study of the major plays, with some emphasis on the biography of Shakespeare and the Elizabethan milieu. ENG 213 is offered in the fall. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course. Not open to students who have received credit for ENG 215.
ENG 214 Shakespeare and Early Modern Racialization
This course examines how Shakespeare’s works channel early modern racial and supremacist ideologies. Topics include anti-blackness, geohumorism, colonialism, blood lineage, pedigree, religious concession, and embodied difference. Historical sources range from ancient to early modern. Readings include works by Marlowe, Kyd, Lyly, and Middleton. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 222 Seventeenth-Century Literature: Animal and Political Lives
This survey of seventeenth-century British writing conceives of human activities as natural, animal phenomena. Students compare the early moderns’ growing interest in natural history with their efforts to describe human society, becoming familiar with the major events of the century: the ascension of James and the plot against his life, the voyages of British people to a “new world,” the English Civil Wars and establishment of a protectorate under Oliver Cromwell, the Restoration of the monarchy, the Great Plague and Great Fire of the 1660s, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. They trace the evolution of scientific thought from Francis Bacon to Isaac Newton. How was the world made? Does our species have dominion over all others? What happens to our souls and bodies after death? And how should people be governed? These questions blur the line between the animal and the political. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 223 Survey of Literatures of the Caribbean
This course examines the literatures of the African diaspora in the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Some texts are drawn from Anglophone authors such as Lamming, Anthony, Walcott, Brodber, Danticat, Lovelace, Brathwaite, NourBese (Philip), Hopkinson, and Dionne Brand; others, from Francophone and Hispanophone writers, including Guillen, Carpentier, Condé, Chamoiseau, Depestre, Ferré, Santos-Febres, and Morejón. The course places each work in its historical, political, and anthropological contexts, and introduces students to to a number of critical theories and methodologies with which to analyze the works, including poststructural, Marxist, Pan-African, postcolonial, and feminist. Recommended background: AFR 100 or one 100-level English course.
ENG 231 Women Writers of the 1950s
This course examines the fiction, poetry, and drama of female writers writing and/or publishing in the 1950s, including O’Connor, Welty, Plath, Moore, Bishop, Jackson, McCullers, Hansberry, Brooks, and Porter. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 232 The Eighteenth-Century and Global Enlightenment
This course places traditionally read literature of the European Enlightenment within the context of its surrounding historical periods and examines its relationship to newly emerging paradigms of global enlightenment. Considered are the writings of Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson, Wollstonecraft, eighteenth-century British novels, and social satires of Behn, Swift, Voltaire, and Mandeville. Recent historical criticism in global enlightenment studies that have focused on American and Asian enlightenments, including Islam’s global presence between 1650 and 1750, Orientalism’s development in England in the 1700s, and Creole personhood in American Tropics between 1750 and 1820 frame the discussions. Interdisciplinarily, the methods and aims of this course impact fields of literary criticism, period studies, comparative history, colonial studies, and religion. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 233 New York City: Land of Poets
What poet does New York City make? Why has New York City been “the” place for poets to be, live, and converge? This course explores poems and poets emerging from the experience of either being a native New Yorker or influenced or inspired by this metropolis. Students examine poets including those from the New York School, a group of poets of the 1950s and 1960s allied with and interested in visual art and artists, urban wit, and casual address including Frank O’Hara, Barbara Guest, and John Ashbery. Students also examine Langston Hughes, Audre Lorde, Eileen Myles, Hettie Jones, Allen Ginsberg, and Federico Garcia Lorca, the lauded Spanish poet who lived in New York City for nine months, among others. The course includes a creative work.
ENG 234 The Brontë Siblings
Reading a selection of fiction and poetry by the four Brontë siblings-Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell-as well as their juvenile writings and a range of critical essays and biographical studies, students approach their literary productions in the context of family dynamics, consider the relation between literature and history in the Victorian period, examine the Brontës’ representations of British imperialism and of gender and class, and discuss the interrelations between these social categories. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 235 Climate Fiction
This course examines representations of climate change in contemporary literature, comics, and film. Working with materials from a variety of world regions and cultural traditions, students consider the emerging genre of “climate fiction” in relation to a larger and longer history of environmental fiction. They grapple with the form, function, and limits of climate fiction as a discourse. Is cli-fi a kind of science fiction? A new mode of realism? A new form of activism of pedagogy? A genre of Anthropocene fiction? Or something else entirely? Prerequisite(s): ENVR 205 or one 100-level English course.
ENG 238 Jane Austen: Then and Now
Students read Austen’s six major works, investigate their relation to nineteenth-century history and culture, and consider the Austen revival in film adaptations and fictional continuations of her novels. The course highlights the various and conflicting ways in which critics represent Austen, and the cultural needs her stories now seem to fulfill. Readings include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 239 Shakespeare’s Queens
When Shakespeare began writing plays, England was ruled by a queen. Elizabeth I understood that her power was inextricable from her gender, and she developed intricate iconography and ideology to support her queenly rule-iconography and ideology which also made it into some of the greatest art of the age. This course considers the question of queenship in Shakespeare’s poetry and plays. Centralizing concerns of gender-including those of sovereign rule, race, queerness, desire, religion, agency, performativity, and intersectionality-students work to understand forms of “queenship” in playful as well as serious ways. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 241 Fiction in the United States
Critical readings of a diverse selection of novels and shorter fictions, ranging from works by earlier writers such as Hawthorne, Howells, James, Wharton, Jewett, and Chesnutt, to more recent writing from James Baldwin, Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison, Donald Barthelme, Sherman Alexie, and David Foster Wallace, among others. In addition to major directions in the history of American fiction, more recent developments concerning postmodernism, multi-ethnic literature, and emergent forms–graphic novels and electronic texts–are considered. Class discussions and writing assignments also address critical terms and methods.
ENG 242 Screenwriting
This course presents the fundamentals of screenwriting: concept, plot, structure, character development, conflict, dialogue, visual storytelling and format. Lectures, writing exercises, and analyses of films such as The Social Network, Chinatown, and Rushmore provide the student with the tools to create a short screenplay. Prerequisite(s): THEA 240.
ENG 243 Global Romanticism
Some scholars of Romanticism contend that it cannot be defined. Others have insisted on maintaining national divides between the movement to preserve purist genealogies.Still others have argued that it can be viewed as a reaction against the way of life in capitalist societies. This course reexamines the origins and breadth of Romanticism, beginning first with the traditionally studied German Novelle and British poetry and then shifting to other national and transnational works that have not previously been associated with Romanticism as a movement, such as romantic racialized paintings of Native Americans, Frederick Douglass’ “The Heroic Slave,” and the Haitian rebellion. The course breaks down Romanticism past definitional monolith and asks how capitalism, nationalism, revolution, and transatlanticism revise past scholarly approaches to the movement and further contextualize it within the global world. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 244 Sentimentality in U.S. Literature
This course examines the place of sentimentality in U.S. literature and culture. Reading works of fiction, poetry, and performance, students ask how and why certain kinds of feeling-suffering in particular-have become central to the articulating and contesting U.S. national identity. They pay particular attention to how sentimental literature, in its various guises, seeks to enable identification across boundaries of race, gender, class, and ability. What kinds of politics do spectacles of emotion enable? What kinds of politics do they foreclose? Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 246 Staging Sovereignty: Theatricality and Early Modern Politics
This course explores the tensions, intersections, and overarching relationship between early modern politics and notions of theatricality from the opening of the first public playhouse (1576) until just after re-opening of the playhouses following Cromwell’s Interregnum (1660). Students read drama concerning governmentality’s relationship to gender, race, coloniality, divine right, representation, and revolution alongside early modern political speeches, edicts, and treatises. They contend with the way politics informed the period’s dramatic theater and, indeed, the way the period’s dramatic theater came to inform politics. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course. Recommended background: ENG 213 and 214.
ENG 247 Contemporary Arab American Literature
This course studies Arab American literature from 1990 until the present. Students examine novels, short fiction, memoirs, or poetry in an effort to understand the major concerns of contemporary Arab American authors. Students are expected to engage theoretical material and literary criticism to supplement their understanding of the literature. In addition to a discussion of formal literary concerns, this course is animated by the way authors spotlight gender, sexual orientation, politics, and history. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level course in English.
ENG 254 Modern British Literature since 1900
An introduction to the birth of modern British literature and its roots, with attention to its social and cultural history, its philosophical and cultural foundations, and some emphasis on its relationship to the previous century. Texts are selected from the works of writers such as Forster, Lawrence, Joyce, Woolf, Mansfield, Eliot, Yeats, Orwell, Rushdie, and Lessing. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 255 African American Poetics
How does the African American poetic tradition specifically contribute to the literary canon of African American literature and larger conceptions of American and global literature? This course is both an introduction to Black poetics and a deep exploration. The course considers so-called basic questions (e.g., What are Black poetics?) and more sophisticated questions (e.g., How do Black poetics transform the literary and cultural landscape?). Students read a variety of authors who maneuver between intra- and inter-racial politics, including such canonical authors as Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni, and less well-known authors such as Jayne Cortez and LL Cool J.
ENG 259 Contemporary African American Literature
This course introduces students to contemporary African American literature. They explore literature written after 1975, considering a range of patterns and literary techniques as well as consistent themes and motifs. Students read a mix of canonical and less well-known authors. This course requires a nuanced, complicated discussion about what encompasses the contemporary African American literary tradition. Prerequisites(s): one 100-level English course. Recommended background: course work in American studies, Africana, or English.
ENG 260 Passages to and from India
This course introduces fiction, poetry, and films by writers who are of South Asian descent, Indian American immigrants, or who have considered the Indian subcontinent their home. Topics include British influence on South Asia, the Partition of India, national and diasporic identity formation, women’s social roles, the impact of Western education and the English language, and the emergence of a new generation of postcolonial and immigrant literary artists. Writers are selected from among Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Anita Desai, Satyajit Ray, Rabindranath Tagore, Jhumpa Lahiri, U. R. Anantha Murthy, and E. M. Forster. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 263 Literature, Medicine, Empathy
Focusing on a range of novels published from the nineteenth century to the present day, and on scholarship in the developing field of empathy studies, students consider the relationships among literature, medicine, and empathy. Students examine representations of medical practice and practitioners and of relations between physicians and patients. They explore claims that literature has the power to develop empathy and should be central to medical education. Authors include George Eliot, Bram Stoker, Abraham Verghese, and Ian McEwan. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 265 The Writings of Toni Morrison
This course surveys the writing of Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. Texts are selected from her novels, essays, children’s literature, and drama; they also include criticism written about her work. Recommended background: one 100-level English course or AFR 100.
ENG 268 Survey of Literatures of Africa
This course explores folklore, myths, and literary texts of the African continent. These include works written by Anglophone authors such as Achebe, Soyinka, Ngugi, Vera, Njau, Aidoo, Nwapa, Head, Cole, Mda, Abani, Okorafor, and Atta; those drawn from oral traditions of indigenous languages transcribed into English, such as The Mwindo Epic and The Sundiata; and those written by Lusophone and Francophone authors including Bâ, Senghor, Liking, Neto, Mahfouz, Ben Jelloun, and Kafunkeno. The course contextualizes each work historically, politically, and anthropologically. Students are introduced to a number of critical theories and methodologies with which to analyze the works, such as poststructural, Marxist, Pan-African, postcolonial, and feminist. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 269 Narrating Slavery
This course examines selected autobiographical writings of ex-slaves; biographical accounts of the lives of former slaves written by abolitionists, relatives, or friends; the oral histories of ex-slaves collected in the early to mid-twentieth century; and the fiction, poems, and dramas about slaves and slavery (neo-slave narratives) of the last hundred years. Students consider these works as interventions in the discourses of freedom-religious, political, legal, and psychological-and as examples of a genre foundational to many literary works by descendants of Africans in diaspora. The course surveys early works written by slaves themselves, such as broadsides and books by Jupiter Hammond, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs; dictated biographies such as those by Esteban Montejo, Mary Prince, and Sor Teresa Chicaba; and fictional works inspired by the narratives, such as texts by Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, Charles Johnson, Michelle Cliff, Sherley Ann Williams, and Colson Whitehead. Recommended background: one 100-level English course or AFR 100.
ENG 273 Shakespeare and Adaptation
This course explores a variety of interpretations and appropriations of Shakespearean tragedies, comedies, romances spanning the past century. In the context of modern cinematic adaptation, Shakespearean plays transform beyond themselves, often distorted or reworked to represent anachronistic cultural concerns. Students analyze linguistic, social, and historical contexts in the Shakespearean original and then comparatively considers these readings against their modern remakings: Are there limits to adaptation? What relates the original to the later work? How do we assess the evolving discourse of film reception studies? The focus shifts between comedy and tragedy, tragedy and romance, often redefining set assumptions about these thematic categories in the Shakespearean context. Adaptations include Japanese epic cinema, Hollywood screwball comedies, prison performance, militaristic stagings, avant-garde experimental film, and formulaic romantic comedies.
ENG 274 “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”: Deviant Wanderings of Four Eighteenth-Century Writers
This course critically compares four writers of the eighteenth-century European tradition who on first glance seem to have little in common: Aphra Behn, Samuel Johnson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Ann Radcliffe. Students consider these writers’ gender performance, satire, lexicography, political philosophy, confessional autobiography, Gothic novels, and painterly travelscapes. How does their choice of genre serve as social commentary, (a)moral exposé, or visual escapism? Does their work revise our definition of an eighteenth-century writer? Drawing on critical gender studies, political philosophy, literary criticism, and theories of the Baroque help make sense of how such unlikely comparisons allow us to read this eighteenth-century episteme as an example of moral “enforcement.” Recommended background: ENG 232 and 243.
ENG 277 Medieval Literatures of Resistance: Power and Dissent, 1100-1500
This course offers sustained examination of several major sites of cultural power in the Middle Ages–including institutions and traditions such as the Church and the monarchy, Parliament, and civic government, marriage and the household–and considers the oppositional energies of texts that negotiate those sites. Students read historical documents (poems, letters, and chronicles) and analyze the textual tactics that resist or evade the rules set to govern most aspects of medieval public and private life.
ENG 280 Anti-Semitism, Assimilation, and the European Novel, 1850-1935
The Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906) is the seminal moment to understand anti-Semitism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This course studies the multiple differences in how Jews appear in European novels and examines Jewish assimilation among composers, authors, and painters such as Mendelssohn, Mahler, Schoenberg, Schnitzler, Pissarro, and Chagall. It investigates both positive Jewish images and anti-Semitism in such novels as Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night, Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, Melville’s epic poem Clarel, and Roth’s Goodbye Columbus.
ENG 281 Arab American Poetry
This course offers students an introduction to Arab American poetry from the early works of Khalil Gibran to the present. The course develops an appreciation of Arab American poetic forms, craft, voice, and vision within a transnational and diasporic framework. Surveying the poems and critical work of an expansive array of poets such as Lauren Camp, Hayan Charara, Suheir Hammad, Marwa Helal, Mohja Kahf, Philip Metres, Naomi Shihab Nye, Deema Shehabi, students examine the complex, personal, communal, national, cultural, historical, political, and religious realities that manifest themselves at home and elsewhere in the Arab American literary imagination. Prerequisite(s): one course in Africana, American studies, English, or gender and sexuality studies.
ENG 282 Paradise Lost: Contexts and Afterlives
This course studies the historical contexts and artistic afterlives of Paradise Lost. Milton’s epic was greatly influenced by the tensions of its own moment – the English Civil War, the Protestant Reformation, and the imperial projects of Britain and Europe, to name but a few. So too, has the poem greatly influenced art and literature concerned with revolution and revolt, imperial power, religious freedom and/or persecution, gender politics, and humanity’s relationship to nature and “fall” from an “Edenic” world. Students study Paradise Lost alongside its influences and some of the texts it has influenced, considering both how the poem creates meaning in its own context, and how it has come to signify far beyond that context. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 283 Early Modern Sex and Sexuality
This course applies the methods of gender and sexuality studies to early modern literature. Taking up Michel Foucault’s contention that sexual identity was an “invention” of the nineteenth century, students theorize and historicize sex and sexuality in the three centuries prior to this moment. Can we see the traces of identity in sexual desire in early modernity? How is sexual desire related to gender? To race? To class? To other intersectional identities? What might it mean to queer an early modern text? And how do literary genres from the period – poetry, drama, prose – enable the exploration of these questions? Recommended background: ENG 213 or 214.
ENG 286 Race before Race: Articulating Difference in Medieval England
The medieval period is often wrongly perceived as a time that existed before the idea of race: before the Atlantic slave trade and before European colonialism, the Middle Ages might seem to be free of racial bias, and free of difference itself. Such fantasies of a preracial or hegemonic past also have given rise to white supremacist ideologies of racialized nationalism, including the mythic construction of “Anglo-Saxon” heritage. This course addresses these errors by examining how racial categories of human difference were articulated in specific cultural contexts between 1150 and 1415, arguably inventing many of the dehumanizing tropes of racial discourse that persist today.
ENG 291 Fiction Writing
A course for students who wish to have practice and guidance in the writing of prose. Admission by writing sample. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 292 Poetry Writing
ENG 293 Creative Nonfiction Writing
A creative nonfiction writer tells a true story in an inventive and original manner. Or as John McPhee says, “Creative nonfiction is not making something up but making the most of what you have.” In this course students write four creative nonfiction essays in the following genres: memoir, lyric, travelogue, and art review. Students learn to see writing as an act, not as a product. To that end, the course includes workshops in which ideas and critiques of writing assignments are thoughtfully offered. To further fuel the writing assignments and workshops students read a wide-ranging selection of creative nonfiction essays, studying figurative language, character and setting development, and dramatic structure.
ENG 296 Methods and Modes of Literary Study
This course introduces students to major trends, methodologies, and modes of inquiry in the field of literary study. Students identify and discuss the continuing significance of the formation of the Western canon (including counter responses to that formation), identify and demonstrate knowledge of the meaning of different literary genres, perform close readings of a given text, appreciate poetic form and experimentation, critically analyze a given text with reference to its historical significance, deploy theoretical concepts in relation to a given text, identify appropriate theoretical or digital methodologies to apply in different textual circumstances, and conduct research in the field.
ENG 306 Queer Africana: History, Theories, and Representations
This course examines the debates among authors, politicians, religious leaders, social scientists, and artists in Africa, the African Americas, and Afro-Europe about non-normative sexualities, throughout the diaspora. While the course analyzes histories of sexualities, legal documents, manifestos by dissident organizations, and anthropological and sociological treatises, it focuses primarily on textual and cinematic representations, and proposes methods of reading cultural productions at the intersection of sexualities, race, ethnicities, and gender. Recommended background: at least one course offered by the Program in Africana, the Program in gender and sexuality studies, or one course in literary analysis.
ENG 325 Black Feminist Literary Theory and Practice
This seminar examines literary theories that address the representation and construction of race, gender, and sexuality, particularly, but not exclusively, theories formulated and articulated by Afra-diasporic women such as Spillers, Ogunyemi, Carby, Christian, Cobham, Valerie Smith, Busia, Lubiano, and Davies. Students not only analyze theoretical essays but also use the theories as lenses through which to explore literary productions of women writers of Africa and the African diaspora in Europe and in the Americas, including Philip, Dangarembga, Morrison, Gayl Jones, Head, Condé, Brodber, Brand, Evariston, Zadie Smith and Harriet Wilson. Cross-listed in Africana, English, and gender and sexuality studies. Strongly recommended: at least one literature course.
ENG 344 Chaucer and His Context
This seminar encourages students already familiar with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to further explore his other major poetic works in the context of his late fourteenth-century London milieu. Texts include a selection of dream visions, historical romances, and philosophical treatises (“Troilus and Criseyde,” “Book of the Duchess,” “Parliament of Fowls,” and others). Chaucer’s literary contemporaries, including John Gower, William Langland, and the “Gawain”-Poet, are studied along with their poetic forms and historical contexts. All texts read in Middle English. Only open to juniors and seniors. Prerequisite(s): CM/EN 206.
ENG 360 Independent Study
ENG 391 Advanced Fiction Writing
Prerequisite(s): English 291.
ENG 392 Advanced Poetry Writing
Prerequisite(s): English 292. May be repeated once for credit.
ENG 395 Junior-Senior Seminars
Seminars provide an opportunity for concentrated work in a restricted subject area. Two such seminars are required for the English major. Students are encouraged to see the seminar as preparation for independent work on a senior thesis. They may also choose to use the seminar itself as a means of fulfilling the senior thesis requirement. Sections are limited to 15.
ENG 395B Godard and European Film
Jean-Luc Godard is perhaps the most important filmmaker of the second half of the twentieth century. His films are essays in what images can do; they analyze narrative, structure, and sound. This course considers the major films of his career, from romantic early works like Breathless (1959), to politically severe films like Weekend (1967), to the philosophical meditation of In Praise of Love (2001). Each week course participants study one film by directors such as Antonioni, Bergman, Dreyer, Fellini, Marker, Pasolini, Tarkovsky, and Truffaut. Taken together, Godard and these European directors show why twentieth-century film is truly “the seventh art.” Prerequisite(s): one English course.
This course provides an introduction to Pacific studies and decolonial literature and theory in Oceania. As the United States, China, and other nations invest billions in extending their ownership and influence in Oceania, Pacific writers, scholars and activists enact a poetics and praxis of decolonization. Students examine the interdisciplinarity of Pacific literary studies as it interrogates and resists traditions of inquiry in anthropology, geography, history, politics, economics, and ecology. Students also consider the publication underrepresentation with which Pacific writers have had to contend and the actions they have taken to provide publishing access through imprints created by and for Pacific writers. Only open to juniors and seniors. Prerequisite(s): one English course.
ENG 395D Gender and Species
Grappling with gender and species at once, this course considers two concepts that have enforced binary thinking about what defines and divides human life. Reaching back to medieval and early modern literature, students examine representations that push against received formulations of man/woman and human/animal. How have categories of gender and species reinforced one another in figurations of living bodies and their experiences? Can we liberate our reading from either of these binaries? What are the promises of such a liberation? Readings include theoretical interventions from animal studies, posthumanism, queer and transgender theory, and ecofeminism. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 395E Medieval Romance
Romance was the most popular literary genre of the later Middle Ages. Originating in France in the twelfth century, this highly adaptable form quickly became an international phenomenon, with numerous examples found across Europe and the British Isles. Many romances tell tales of amorous exploits, exotic travels, and quests for knowledge; the celebration of chivalric ideals is a central theme. But many of these tales seem to question and sometimes undermine the very ideals they otherwise espouse: courtly love mingles with sexual adventurism, for instance, and loyalty to one’s lord often results in alienation or death. Students read a selection of romances from France and Britain (all texts are in modern English translation or manageable Middle English) with an eye toward how they variously articulate and deconstruct the notion of chivalry. Prerequisite(s): one English course.
ENG 395G Autofiction
A concentrated study of the interstices between experienced and imagined truth, dilemmas of disbelief, irony, narration, dialogue, persona, and performance in twenty-first-century autobiographical fictions or “autofictions,” as coined by French critic Serge Doubrovsky in 1977. Readings of contemporary autofictions, as well as novels written well before Doubrovksy, may include Stendhal, Proust, Wilson, Joyce, Baldwin, Heti, Millet, Lin, Lerner, and Knausgard. A creative writing component is required.
ENG 395H Shakespeare’s Masterpiece? Revisiting King Lear
Reading King Lear today means exploring its histories of (mis)appropriations and cultural reception. In order to explain the play, critics and scholars have been drawn to major historical events in Jacobean England (e.g., the Gunpowder Plot of 1604 or the London plague of 1603), often incorporating these analyses into their critical approaches, such as new historicism, Holocaust literature, ecocriticism, and textual instability. This course considers King Lear both textually and culturally, asking: How does the aesthetic upholding of the play as a “masterpiece” inform, trouble, or extend its long reception history? How do past explanations impress themselves upon contemporary interpretations? Recommended background: ENG 213, 214, and 239.
ENG 395J Frontier and Border in U.S. Literature
The American “frontier” has long been a controlling idea in the production of U.S. national identity: less physical reality than ideological framework, what historian Frederick Jackson Turner called “the meeting point between savagery and civilization.” Drawing on theoretical and historical writings, studied alongside twentieth-century U.S. literary texts, this course examines the history and legacy of this concept, and the new interpretive and cultural paradigms of “the border” that have supplanted Turner’s “frontier thesis.” Studying the border as “contact zone,” students read widely in Chicana/o and Native American literatures, studying connections and commonalities in what are often treated as distinct traditions, toward a more nuanced understanding of the diverse territories — real and imagined — engaged by critical discourses of the border. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course or one American studies course.
ENG 395K The Arctic Sublime
Now the focus of grave concerns over climate change, the Arctic generated a different set of anxieties in the nineteenth century. Perceived as strange and terrifying, and deadly to those who tried to chart and conquer it, the region was a source of the sublime; its inhuman greatness both inspired and appalled. Drawing on various genres, students examine the “Arctic sublime,” considering its artistic and ideological purposes for Romantics and Victorians. Works include Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym as well as works of visual art and selections from nineteenth-century theorists of the sublime. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 395L Utopia/Dystopia Fiction
What does it mean to live the “good life”? How is this related to building, planning, desiring, or dwelling in a “good place”? How do plans and policies for good life morph into bad places? Are good places always exclusionary, and thus foundationally bad places for some? This course traces two trends side by side: the early modern vogue for utopia-fictions, such as Thomas More’s Utopia, and the twentieth- and twenty-first-century turn to dystopia-fictions, such as Orwell’s 1984. Students consider relationships of genre, politics, identity, modernity, and colonialism between these two trends, while broadly considering the relationship among power, place, and community.
ENG 395M Colossuses: Joyce’s Ulysses and Wallace’s Infinite Jest
The seminar pairs two books, one modern, one postmodern, both joined by the colossal magnitude of their undertaking, their first readers’ failure to comprehend their work, and the patent ambition of both novelists. James Joyce’s Ulysses, a masterpiece of modernism, was thought unreadable in 1922 at the time of its publication; David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, “the first novel of the Internet,” is often read as a postmodern novel of an imposing, perplexing 1,000 pages. The seminar closely compares the two works concerning their historical contexts, their use of history, digression, Hamlet, vulgarity, and stream-of-consciousness.
ENG 395O Cinema’s Inner World
The cinema seems best able to show the outsides of things: specific places, the details of daily life, the faces of people. A complex inner life is perhaps better left to literature. Yet some film directors nonetheless aim their films at an inner world, a world of psychology, of faith, of imagination. This course looks at a range of topics associated with cinema’s inner space: cinema as dream, outer space as inner space, the reading of interior space. Films are drawn primarily from the European art cinema, although some Hollywood, independent, and experimental films from the United States also serve as examples. Directors may include Deren, Lynch, Hitchcock, Godard, Bresson, Fassbinder, Fellini, and Tarkovsky. Prerequisite(s): one course in English.
ENG 395Q Reading Feeling: Literature and Affect Theory
What does it mean to recognize the body as affectable? How might this recognition inform our understanding of power? How has affect contributed to the study of literature, and how might literature contribute to the study of affect? Students read literature of various genres side-by-side with the development of “affect theory.” They trace the tendrils of feeling and emotion to some foundational roots in philosophy, psychology and psychoanalysis, and cognitive science, but the focus is on the affect theory that develops out of feminism, queer theory, and women of color- and queer of color-critique. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course. Recommended background: ENG 296.
ENG 395T Cinema’s Inner World
ENG 395U Postmodern Novel
The seminar examines diverse efforts to define “postmodernism.” Students read novels by Joyce, Pynchon, Wallace, Eco, and Rushdie. Contemporary reviews, secondary criticism, narrative theory, issues of socially constructed reality, and some problems in the philosophy of language mark out its concerns. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 395V Literature, Medicine, and the Problem of Empathy
Exposure to works of literature is widely understood to help develop empathy in readers — to enable us to forge connections and feel “as” others do — and is increasingly built into medical education. But some critics and theorists remain skeptical of such claims, questioning easy equations between literature and “real life,” or seeing in empathy itself a troubling and inequitable power dynamic. Students examine the alleged relation between literature and empathy, and consider the importance of empathy to the practice of medicine, the debate over the value of literature for medical education, and theories of empathy and its neuroscience. Readings include short stories, novels, poetry, and memoirs as well as critical and theoretical studies. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG 395Y Medieval London
Medieval London was dangerous and thrilling: amid its markets, brothels, and taverns, citizens and foreigners plied their trades while Parliament convened treason trials and authorized public executions, the king held court attended by the royal family and assorted minions, and the monks at Westminster Abbey took notes on daily life in the city. This course looks at medieval London through the texts composed by its contemporary writers and residents, including Chaucer, Gower, Langland, Lydgate, and Hoccleve (in Middle English). Students also examine legal records, chronicles, and parliamentary proceedings (in translation). No previous experience with Middle English is necessary.
ENG 395Z Curb Your Enthusiasm: Mockery, Irritability, and the Satire of Feigned Performance, 1600-2100
Searching the past 500 years of British stage comedy, do the roots of bigotry and prejudice, as identified in contemporary comic performance, announce themselves? Is there a line from Shakespeare’s, Jonson’s, Behn’s comedies; eighteenth-century comedy of manners; Victorian philosophical satire; Wilde’s exaggerated speech; Beckett’s flatness; Orton’s outrageousness to the contemporary snarky comedy of Fawlty Towers, Key and Peele, and Curb Your Enthusiasm? Is religious imposturing, a complaint of seventeenth-century writers such as Spinoza against the clergy’s case for belief in miracles, a probable source for the highly theatrical practice of feigning? Early modern theater, no less than subsequent theater, has seized on religious hypocrisy to provide material for comedy. To understand the social processes – the mechanism of action – of such migration, the seminar explores and contextualizes theatrical practices of mockery, irritability, and satire.
ENG 457 Senior Thesis
Students register for ENG 457 in the fall semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both ENG 457 and 458.
ENG 458 Senior Thesis
Students register for ENG 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both ENG 457 and 458.
ENG S10 International Cinema in the 1960s
The 1960s saw the rise of “new wave” cinemas across the world; not only the French new wave, but also the Czech, British, Japanese, and Hungarian new waves brought youth, energy, and sometimes political rebellion to the screen. The auteurs of the European art cinema (Godard, Antonioni, Bergman) made films that were as intellectual and as challenging as any classic novel. This course introduces students to formal and ideological film analysis through a survey of key international films from the 1960s.
ENG S11 Reading Piers Plowman: Intensive Study of a Late Fourteenth-Century Allegory
This course offers an intensive close reading experience of William Langland’s allegorical poem Piers Plowman. Langland, a major contemporary of Chaucer, is studied for his use of alliterative Middle English verse, his visionary politics, and his reformist religious views.
ENG S12 Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: Novel, Sources, Adaptations
“Right now, I’m halfway through Hard Times.” So Offred says of her illegal reading in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. In this course, students read Atwood’s novel and examine its biblical and literary sources as well as its adaptations, considering the political and literary significance of the work. Readings include selections from Chaucer, novels by nineteenth-century novelists Mary Hays and Charles Dickens, as well as twentieth-century dystopian fiction. Students compare Atwood’s novel to a number of film adaptations, including the television series. Recommended background: one 100-level English course.
ENG S16 Minding Birds: Culture, Cognition, and Conservation
What are the consequences of minding birds, in several senses (caring for them, being bothered by them, endowing them with faculties of intellect and emotion, or simply believing that they have minds of their own)? This course invites students to take birds seriously as thinking, feeling neighbors by examining literary representations of birds from antiquity to the present alongside recent ornithological studies. Three distinct units focus on separate families: hawks, crows, and sparrows. Students venture outside to record field notes on local species in each of these groups, and compare their findings to representations in literary and scientific texts. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENG S20 Queer Thought, Queer Insurgency
Queer theory provides a critical method that complements intersectional feminist approaches to literature and visual culture by analyzing the construction and regulation of gender and sexuality through social, legal, and medical norms of embodiment and identity. This course explores canonical queer critique in relation to the early history of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, an era in which the radical currency of the term “queer” links scholarly, activist, and artistic responses to the AIDS crisis and its homophobic cultural politics. Students also consider present-day LGBTQ+ scholarship, literature, and art to explore the insurgent visions and world-making projects that animate queer thought today. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course, or GSS 100.
ENG S26 Overstories: Telling the Lives of Trees
Who tells the stories of trees, how do they tell them, and why? How are the lives and voices of forests captured and constructed? Students in this course address these questions by examining a range of novels, histories, and scientific studies focused on trees and forests, and by constructing their own narratives — fictional and/or historical — about their lives with trees, including those on the Bates campus and in the surrounding community. They consider how trees and forests have been identified by writers as models for human beings and human communities. Students hear from those who work with trees, including foresters and arborists, and consider the ways in which the lives of trees and those of human beings are intertwined. Readings include Richard Powers, The Overstory; John Fowles, The Tree; Lauren Oakes, In Search of the Canary Tree; and Peter Wohlleben, The Secret Lives of Trees. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 205 or one 100-level English course.
ENGS 283 Early Modern Sex and Sexuality
This course applies the methods of gender and sexuality studies to early modern literature. Taking up Michel Foucault’s contention that sexual identity was an “invention” of the nineteenth century, students theorize and historicize sex and sexuality in the three centuries prior to this moment. Can we see the traces of identity in sexual desire in early modernity? How is sexual desire related to gender? To race? To class? To other intersectional identities? What might it mean to queer an early modern text? And how do literary genres from the period – poetry, drama, prose – enable the exploration of these questions? Recommended background: ENG 213 or 214.
ENG S34 Creative Nonfiction
A creative nonfiction writer tells a true story in an inventive and original manner. Or as John McPhee says, “Creative nonfiction is not making something up but making the most of what you have.” In this course students write four creative nonfiction essays in the genres of memoir, lyric, travelogue, and art review. Students learn to see writing as an act, not as a product. To that end, the course includes workshops in which ideas and critiques of writing assignments are thoughtfully offered. To further fuel the writing assignments and workshops students read a wide-ranging selection of creative nonfiction essays, studying figurative language, character and setting development, and dramatic structure.
ENG S43 Shakespeare in the Theater in London
A study of Shakespeare’s plays in performance, intended to acquaint the student with problems that are created by actual stage production in the interpretation of the plays. Students see Shakespearean productions in various locations, including London and Stratford-on-Avon, England.
ENG S50 Independent Study
FYS 341 King Arthur: Myth and Legend
The story of King Arthur of Britain and his Knights of the Round Table is one of Western civilization’s most enduring legends. This course explores those elements of the Arthur story that make it so universally compelling and the ways in which its details have been adapted according to the needs and desires of its changing audience. Topics considered include feudal loyalty and kinship, women and marriage, monsters and magic, the culture of violence and warfare, and the stylistic and narrative features of the legendary mode. While students read these legends critically, they also explore their popularity: How and why has the myth of Arthur proven so universally appealing?
FYS 442 Shaking It Out: Writing and Critiquing Personal Narratives
To “essay” means “to attempt; to try.” This course offers students rigorous study and practice of the art of the creative nonfiction essay, looking specifically at the ways writers use creative impulses to write better textual critiques, and vice versa. Readings include classics from writers such as White, Angelou, Baldwin, Thompson, Dubus, Didion, and Wallace, and several contemporary American essays by writers like Hilton Als, Leslie Jamison, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, and John Jeremiah Sullivan.
FYS 474 The Literary Insect
All generations of humankind have been keen to describe the habits and habitats of our small, formidable, creeping cousins. What makes bugs so interesting? Why does literature need them? Does our fascination with beetles, bees, and butterflies go beyond the fear and admiration that come from the tremendous differences between our bodies and theirs? This seminar looks at literature in many genres–fables, poems, novels, memoirs, and natural histories–to find out what humans have learned from the literary insect, and to ask further questions about bug life. Participants also venture outside to explore insect habitats nearby.
FYS 482 Reading Cats and Dogs
People have always written about their pets. Taking the most common species of nonhuman companions as its focus, this seminar moves through five centuries of English literature, meeting cats and dogs along the way: Sir Gawain’s precious hounds in Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, the old feline who captures Keats’ imagination (if not his heart), the dog called Crab who graces Shakespeare’s stage, the mysterious Cheshire Cat planted in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and many others. With their strong genetic ties to tigers and wolves, cats and dogs inevitably remind of us what is untamed in our own behavior.
FYS 485 Contemporary Comedy
This course explores the contemporary comedy landscape by looking at humor writing (short stories, novel, and internet venues), television, stand-up comedy, podcasts, and other comedy artifacts while considering issues of audience and the various tools of humor. Topics include comedy forms, comic personae, and the subject matters of humor, including but not limited to issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality.
FYS 499 Reading Literary Space
Stories are not only structured and shaped, they move through different kinds of cultural spaces and geographies. In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard argued that poems, too, have found their basic images in archetypal spaces: houses, rooms, and shells. Recent years have brought a “spatial turn” to the humanities, where issues related to race, gender, and sexuality have been productively organized by an attention to maps, contradictory spaces, networks, and mobilities. In this course students read poems, short stories, and theoretical texts with an emphasis on spatial interpretation.
FYS 504 Crows and Ravens: Feathered Minds, Lettered Voices
Crows and ravens abound in literature. From Aesop to Poe, these most uncanny members of the family Corvidae have enchanted and bewildered their human neighbors. This seminar uses cognitive ecology to approach the varied representations of crow and raven species in fiction and poetry. The course asks how human and corvid minds are seen to interact within specific environments, and what these interactions mean for both human and avian evolution. How have we adapted to life with crows and ravens, and vice versa? How does literature itself count as an element of the environments we share with these animals?
FYS 524 International Cinema
An introduction to the study of film through a survey of international fiction films. Students learn how to describe and appreciate the formal elements of film-narrative, mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound. Films are drawn from a broad historical period (1950 to the present) and from an equally wide range of genres (thriller, horror, science fiction) and countries of origin. Art cinema (more artistic, less commercial) receives special emphasis.
FYS 531 Contemporary American Essay
This course explores various essays from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Students focus on topics, publication histories, and, of course, craft. They read a few canonical essays as well as some lesser-known essays and lesser-known writers. In order to improve their own writing, they read contemporary news sources and texts about the craft of nonfiction writing. Several questions guide the course: What topics are appropriate for nonfiction and how did they get to be socially understood as such? How do authors navigate difficult topics within the essay form? What ideas, tips, tricks, hacks, and styles might we learn from these essay writers to create our own essays?
FYS 536 Great Expectations: Making and Remaking a “Classic”
How does a “great” novel come to be, and how does our sense of its worth and limitations change over time? What factors – personal, cultural, material – lead to its creation and recreation? Students examine Charles Dickens’s 1860-1861 novel in its original, weekly format, consider its immediate contexts, its alternative endings, and its recreations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, in such works of fiction as Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs (1997), Lloyd Jones’s Mr. Pip (2006), and Ronald Frame’s Havisham (2012), and in film adaptations. In the process, they consider the changing significance of a Victorian “classic.”
FYS 537 Inventing Originality
Originality, a concept undergoing varying descriptions and likely socially constructed, is frequently linked to creativity and as being defined as the first appearance of an idea. “Inventing Originality” focuses on late eighteenth-century romanticism as the possible historical beginning of the concept. The seminar next examines originality – how expressed by imitation in classical, medieval, and early modern texts. Then, querying twentieth and twenty-first century literary experimentations in poetry and fiction, it especially attends to Baudrillard’s simulacrum, Dadaist poetry, and postmodernist efforts to randomize thought. Finally, the seminar studies originality in the context of group teamwork, especially by those practicing accessibility and inclusion