All Courses

208019_2007249985459_2295494_nA 100-level course is required for admission to most upper-level English courses, except in the case of students who have placed out of the introductory courses by receiving a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement examination in English Literature or of 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate.

If you are such a student, the English Department encourages you to select a Gateway course in either the fall or spring semester of your first year. You are also encouraged to look at other 200 and even some of our 300 level offerings for courses that interest you.

Students who receive advanced placement may still register for our 100 level offerings, but be aware that you will be given a lower priority for those courses and you may be dropped if the course becomes over-enrolled. Pat Malanga, the department Academic Assistant, can advise you on which 100 level courses that many advanced placement students take.

If you are a first-year student or have questions about getting into a 100 level course, please see our Information for First-year Students.

If you are having trouble finding a suitable English Course, do not hesitate to contact Pat Malanga at pmalanga@williams.edu. For more information on the way courses are numbered, please see The English Major for information.

ENGL 104(S)Creative Non-fiction

In this course we will read some of the most prominent practitioners of creative non-fiction--writers like John McPhee, Joan Didion, Edward Abbey, Malcolm Gladwell, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Susan Orlean, Tobias Wolff, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Michael Pollan. Students will also write in a variety of non-fiction modes--explainers, tick-tocks, profiles, essays, memoirs. We will probe the border between invention and fact and consider the ways that narratives are constructed. [ more ]

ENGL 105(F)American Girlhoods

The image of the girl has captivated North American writers, commentators, artists, and creators of popular culture for at least the last two centuries. What metaphors, styles of writing, ideas of "manners and morals" does literature about girls explore? What larger cultural and aesthetic concerns are girls made to represent? And how is girlhood articulated alongside and/or intertwined with other identities and identifications, such as race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality? These are some of the issues we will explore in this course. We will read works by such authors as Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Jacobs, Henry James, Sui Sin Far, Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros and Alison Bechdel, as well as discuss such popular phenomena as Barbie and the American Girl Doll Company, Girl Scouts, and Riot Grrrrls. This course meets the requirements of the Exploring Diversity Initiative in that it focuses on empathetic understanding, power and privilege, especially in relation to class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity within a U.S. context. [ more ]

ENGL 107(F)Temptation

We want most those things we can't--or shouldn't--have. Or, to put it another way, it is when limitations are placed on our actions by law, religion, or the facts of our own biology that we experience desire most acutely. In this course, we will examine fictional narratives, lyric poems, and philosophical meditations in which people are tempted to act against their better judgement. Free will, ambition, temperance, suspense, despair, and repression will be our conceptual preoccupations. We will get to know such writers and artists as Homer, Euripides, Ovid, Augustine, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Laclos, Mozart, Freud, Frost, and Scorsese. [ more ]

ENGL 108(F)Everyday Stories

We--human beings--consume stories every day, and we currently have a dazzling, even astonishing wealth of choices, every day. Most of these stories are Action Packed: this Thing blows up, this Heart throbs with passion, that Organization carries out some evil plot, this Person figures it out. We will examine the world of everyday storytelling across many mediums, from poetry to comic books to television, and across time, from the mid-19th century to the present. [ more ]

ENGL 109(F)Science Fiction of the African Diaspora

Publishers, authors, academics, and critics often assume that science fiction and fantasy readers are all or mostly white, an assumption driven, perhaps, by the scarcity of black writers inside the genre--the science-fiction creative-writing classes I teach at Williams, for example, are depressingly undiverse. And for a long time, among professional science-fiction writers, Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler represented pretty much the entire deal. The last fifteen years, however, have witnessed the emergence of a number of black science fiction and fantasy authors from the Americas and Africa. In this course we will read a sample of this fiction, paying particular attention to these questions: In what new ways (if any) do these authors use or imply themes of social hierarchy or race? In what ways (if any) do the standard science-fiction devices of imagined futures, interplanetary colonization, or contact with alien life allow black writers a new metaphorical vocabulary to talk about their own experience? In what ways (if any) are they constrained by readers' expectations, while white writers are not? This is a discussion-based class. Assignments will include original creative writing, imitative or parodic writing, and of course that old stand-by, interpretive essays on assigned texts. We will be reading well-thumbed classics by Charles Chesnutt, Paulina Hopkins, Amos Tutuola, W.E.B. DuBois, George Schuyler, Delany, and Butler, but also newer works by Pam Noles, Nalo Hopkinson, NK Jemisin, Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, Nisi Shawl, Sofia Somatar, Kuni Ibura Salaam, and Nnedi Okorafor, among others. This course fulfills the EDI requirement, as it engages questions of power and privilege, and the coded representation of racial or ethnic otherness. Any story that involves the clash of sentient species, for example, or a nostalgic or disruptive reinterpretation of the social hierarchies of the past, partakes implicitly of this coded language. [ more ]

ENGL 111(S)Poetry and Politics

"Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world" wrote Shelley in his 1821 "Defence of Poetry," countering the widely held view of poetry's airy irrelevance to the material progress of humanity. His claims are echoed a century and a half later in Audre Lorde's "Poetry is Not a Luxury," in which she argues that poetry is a vital and essential part of her own political struggle as a Black lesbian feminist. But when W.B. Yeats?himself a very politically involved poet?writes in 1917 that "from the quarrel with others comes rhetoric; from the quarrel with ourselves comes poetry," he implies that poetry would suffer from too much involvement with the "quarrel with others" that is politics, becoming, perhaps, something more like advertising jingles for political dogma. And when W. H. Auden writes in 1939 that "poetry makes nothing happen," he appears to locate poetry's value precisely in its irrelevance to politics as such. This course will focus on the vexed relationship between poetry and political struggle, reading predominantly poetry and poetics (writings about poetry) of the last two centuries in an effort to answer the questions: what can poetry do for politics? what does politics do for (or to) poetry? Is poetry essential to political struggle, or do poetry and politics mix only to the detriment of both, producing, on the one hand, bad poetry, and on the other, mere distractions from the "real" work of politics? The primary goal of the course is to make students better readers of poetry, and better readers and writers of argumentative prose. [ more ]

ENGL 112(F)Introduction to Literary Criticism

What determines meaning? How we interpret is inevitably inflected by our own priorities and preoccupations, by the contexts in which we read, by the literary and other conventions influencing a work, and by the historical and personal circumstances of its composition, as well as deriving from the particular words of a text and from the mutable life of language itself. So how to go about the task of reading literature well, and reading critically? This course will focus on key introductory methods and critical approaches, and is intended to develop your skills in reading, writing about, discussing and interpreting literary texts. Our readings--mainly short fiction and poetry, along with selected introductory work in critical theory--will invite increased self-consciousness about literary form, the functions of criticism, and the process of reading and interpretation. In the last weeks of the course, we will read longer texts, including at least one play and one novel. [ more ]

ENGL 117(F, S)Introduction to Cultural Theory

This course has a clear purpose. If you had signed up for a course in biology, you would know that you were about to embark on the systematic study of living organisms. If you were registered for a course on the American Civil War, you would know that there had been an armed conflict between the northern and southern states in the 1860s. But if you decide you want to study "culture," what exactly is it that you are studying? The aim of this course is not to come up with handy and reassuring definitions for this word, but to show you why it is so hard to come up with such definitions. People fight about what the word "culture" means, and our main business will be to get an overview of that conceptual brawl. We will pay special attention to the conflict between those thinkers who see culture as a realm of freedom or equality or independence or critical thought and those thinkers who see culture as a special form of bondage, a prison without walls. The course will be organized around short theoretical readings by authors ranging from Matthew Arnold to Constance Penley, but we will also, in order to put our new ideas to the test, watch several films (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Silence of the Lambs, The Lord of the Rings) and listen to a lot of rock & roll. Why do you think culture matters? Once you stop to pose that question, there's no turning back. [ more ]

ENGL 120(S)The Nature of Narrative

This course focuses on the nature and function of narrative using a wide range of texts from different periods, traditions and genres. We will analyze the ways in which several first-rate works of fiction communicate their concerns; in other words: how do they say what they say? And why does "how" matter as much as, if not more than, "what"? We will also look at film, blogs, and articles, and accompany the readings with a few pertinent theoretical texts. The authors we will study may include Marie de France, Cervantes, Austen, Gogol, Flaubert, Kafka, Zweig, Garcia Marquez, Farhadi.All readings in English, although those with foreign language competency are invited to make comparisons with the original where possible. [ more ]

ENGL 120(F)Nature of Narrative

This course examines the nature and workings of narrative using texts drawn from a wide range of literary traditions, media, and genres. Readings will include Greek and Chinese classics (Homer and others), 19th-century French, German, and Russian fiction (Zola, Kleist, Lermontov), Latin American magic realism (Marquez), and visual literature from stage drama to film and graphic memoir (Oscar Wilde, Sam Mendes, Alison Bechdel). We will also read some short works of literary theory from around the world to help us broaden our idea of what literature can be and do. All readings in English. [ more ]

ENGL 125(F)Theater and Politics

This seminar traces the surprisingly close and controversial relationship between theater and politics from ancient Greek tragedy to modern literature, contemporary film and philosophy. When Plato kicked off political philosophy by outlining his ideal city-state, one of his first moves was to ban theatrical performance on the grounds that play-acting would make men poor governors of themselves. In more recent times, however, the work of artists and playwrights as diverse as Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud have provocatively suggested that theater itself could remedy the ills that Plato thought it caused. In today's age of global spectatorship, writers, artists, and activists continue to ask: who are the real actors and spectators of today's digital world-stage, when governments and other powerful institutions have increasingly sophisticated tools for gathering information about and controlling the on-looking masses, but revolutions are nevertheless organized via social media or triggered by cell phone images? May include works by Euripides, Melville, Woolf, Warhol, and Michael Haneke. [ more ]

ENGL 128(S)Reading Asian American Literature

Though the category and term "Asian American" came about as a result of political struggle in the 1960s, what we now call Asian American writing in English began in the nineteenth century and has played a significant role in every American literary "movement" from Modernism, realism, protest literature to various avant-gardes, the graphic novel, and digital poetries. This writing-intensive course closely reads a sampling of texts in a variety of genres and styles-produced by writers from various Asian American ethnic groups-from the late nineteenth century to the present and contextualizes them historically, both domestically and globally. We will examine the material, cultural, political, and psychic intersections of larger structural forces with individual writers and texts. Along the way, we will interrogate the notion of "Asian American"--its contradictions, heterogeneous nature, and our assumptions--and its relation to the idea of "American." Some questions we will ask: "Why have Asian Americans and Asian American writers and writing so often been viewed as 'foreign' or 'alien' to the American body politic and the English-language literary tradition?" "How might Asian American writing be linked to other English-language texts in the Asian diaspora?" [ more ]

ENGL 129(F)Twentieth-Century Black Poets

From Langston Hughes to contemporary poets such as Angela Jackson and Claudia Rankine, African American poets have been preoccupied with the relations of poetry to other traditions. Vernacular speech, English poetry, jazz and other musical forms, folk humor, and African mythology have all been seen as essential sources for black poetry. This course will survey major poets such as Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Countee Cullen, Robert Hayden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Jackson, and Yusef Komunyakaa, reading their poems and their essays and interviews about poetic craft. We will ask how black poetry has been defined and whether there is a single black poetic tradition or several. [ more ]

ENGL 133(S)New Poetry

In this class we will read or otherwise experience a range of poetry being produced right now in the U.S. Some of this poetry doesn't immediately seem to "fit" in the classroom: it's too new, too weird, too raw, too cerebral, too multi-media, too performance-oriented. The premise of the course is that by engaging with the landscape of contemporary US poetry we will come up with ways of talking about it, and that in the process we will take up some big and interesting questions: What is poetry? Can it be defined? How does poetry aim to affect us? Does one need "expertise" to appreciate it? And: is poetry important? Does it matter--socially, politically, culturally? The course is aimed at lovers of poetry, those who dislike poetry, those who are intimidated by the idea of it, and those who can't see why we should bother. Readings will include work of poets who will be at Williams during the semester, and may also include some "old poetry" (for purposes of comparison), critical articles, and manifestos; we will also watch documentaries or listen to more performance-oriented work (e.g., slam, spoken word). [ more ]

ENGL 135(F)Vengeance

For almost three thousand years revenge has been a central preoccupation of European literature. Revenge is inviting to literary and dramatic treatment partly because of its impulse towards structure: it traces a simple arc of injury and retaliation. A injures B, and B retaliates against A. But retaliation is never easy or equivalent, and there is always a volatile emotive mixture of loss and grievance that stirs up ethical ambiguities that are seldom resolved. Vengeance also fascinates because it is so paradoxical. The avenger, though isolated and vulnerable, can nevertheless achieve heroic grandeur by coming to personify nemesis. And yet the hero is always contaminated by trying to make a right out of two wrongs--and he usually has to die for it. Driven by past events, cut off from the present, and wrapped up in stratagems for future reprisals, the avenger's actions are almost always compromised by impotence or excess. At best, revenge is "a kinde of Wilde Justice"--a justice that kills its heroes as well as its villains. We will look at as many stories of vengeance, across as wide a range of cultures and media, as possible. Readings will include Sophocles' Electra, Dante's Inferno, Shakespeare's Hamlet and The Tempest, Chalderon de Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons, and Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, as well as several short stories and films. [ more ]

ENGL 149(F)First-Hand America

Gonzo journalism, the nonfiction novel, literary journalism, the "new new journalism": the study of American culture has thrived in the able hands of writers, reformers and amateur anthropologists. This course is an introduction to American writing and culture through the eyes of extraordinary witnesses who work as public intellectuals, addressing a readership that reaches beyond the university. Through essays, films and music we will track the documentary impulse from coast to coast: from Ferguson, Baltimore, Miami, Watts, Denver, Harlem, Chicago, Compton and Sing-Sing prison to the wilds of Alaska and rural Georgia; from mass demonstrations to the most intimate, bedside revelations. How have writers and artists given their audiences tools for understanding power, privilege, and difference in America? This course contributes to the College's Exploring Diversity Initiative by reading the work of witnesses in their literary, social, political, cultural, and historical contexts in order to understand the sources of their beliefs and actions and the effects of their words. Artists include: Jane Addams, James Baldwin, Charles Burnett, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ted Conover, Angela Davis, Joan Didion, Zora Neale Hurston, Kendrick Lamar, Audre Lourde, John McPhee and Jack Kerouac. [ more ]

ENGL 150(S)Expository Writing

Writing clearly is the most important skill you can learn in college. Do you suffer from writer's block? Do you receive consistent criticism of your writing without also learning strategies for how to improve? This course is for students who want to learn how to write a well-argued, intelligible essay based on close, critical analysis of texts. We will derive our method for mastering the complex art of writing from Atul Gawande's bestselling book, The Checklist Manifesto. In addition to sharpening your skills in reading, note-taking and literary analysis, this class will give you tools for generating drafts, peer editing, revising, and polishing your writing. The majority of the readings for this course will be literary essays, mostly contemporary, mostly American. (This course and English 152 focus more directly on basic expository writing skills than the other 100-level classes in the English department.) [ more ]

ENGL 152(F)Other People's Lives: Contemporary American Memoir

The goal of this course is to teach you how to write a clear, well-argued, intelligible and interesting analytical paper. We will spend most of our class time actively engaged in a variety of techniques to improve your critical reasoning and analytical skills, both written and oral. Though the skills you learn will be applicable to other disciplines, and a central purpose of the course is to improve all aspects of your writing, this is a literature class, designed partly to prepare you for upper level courses in the English Department, so we will, therefore, spend equal time on the interpretation of literature, in this case, contemporary American memoir, examining the ways in which recent American memoirists represent themselves through prose and the choices they make in shaping their life stories. Given the techniques shared by novelists and memoirists, how firm is the line between fiction and non-fiction? What are the sources of a memoirist's authority? What are the ethics of memoir-writing? What kind of relationships do memoirists seek with their readers, and how do they go about achieving them? [ more ]

ENGL 202(S)Modern Drama

An introduction to major plays and key movements in European and American theatre since the late nineteenth century. Our focus will be on close reading, with attention also to questions of performance and production. Plays to be discussed will likely include: Ibsen, Hedda Gabler; Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Chekhov, Uncle Vanya; Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author; Brecht, Mother Courage; Beckett, Waiting for Godot; Miller, Death of a Salesman; Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun; Pinter, Betrayal; Churchill, Cloud Nine; and Stoppard, Arcadia. [ more ]

ENGL 203Cinematography in the Digital Age

Not offered this year

In this course we study the language of modern cinema as shaped by two forces. The first is the aesthetics of cinematography, as contributed by many cultures. The second is digital film production, which has proved both empowering and constraining. The modern filmmaker succeeds only through understanding both forces. The structure of the course is similar to a writing workshop. We begin with close reading of isolated scenes from influential films, which we compare and critique in writing and discussion. We augment this with cinematic and image processing theory, solidified through experiments in Photoshop and Premiere that reveal how digital technology shapes a director's choices. We then create our own short scenes using these tools and consumer video recorders. We refine our film fragments in the context of group critique. Topics covered include: framing and composition, pace, storyboarding, blocking, lighting, transitions, perspective, sensors, quantization, compression, visual effects, Internet streaming, and color spaces. Studied films include those by Georges Melies, Stanley Kubrick, Joris Ivens, Barbara Kopple, Martin Scorsese, Sarah Polley, Orson Welles, David Lynch, Fritz Lang, Michael Haneke, Hayao Miyazaki, Spike Lee, Sophia Coppola, and Ken Burns. This course explores diversity through comparative study of how different cultures variously render similar themes, and through a larger investigation of film's ability to make audiences identify with potentially alien points of view. [ more ]

ENGL 204(F)Hollywood Film

For almost a century, Hollywood films have been the world's most influential art form, shaping how we dress and talk, how we think about sex, race, and power, and what it means to be American. We'll examine both the characteristic pleasures provided by Hollywood's dominant genres--including action films, horror films, science fiction and fantasy, thrillers and romantic comedies--and the complex, sometimes unsavory fantasies they mobilize. We will do this by looking carefully at a dozen or so iconic films, probably including Psycho; The Godfather; Schindler's List; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King;Bridesmaids; and 12 Years a Slave. In addition to the assigned reading, students will be required to attend free screenings of course films on Sunday evenings at Images Cinema. [ more ]

ENGL 208The Experience of Sexuality: Gender & Sexuality in 20th-century American Memoirs

Not offered this year

Focusing on first-person accounts of LGBTQ sexualities, this course examines how changing social and political realities have affected sexual desires and identities, and how individuals represent their experiences of these historical and conceptual shifts. How do these representations of sexuality challenge prevailing ideas about desire and identity? How do they navigate the gender limitations imposed by our language? How do other social identifications, such as race, ethnicity, class, and gender, shape these experiences of sexuality? We will read memoirs, autobiographies, and personal essays that reflect a range of LGBTQ identities and experiences, including works by Martin Duberman, Audre Lorde, Leslie Feinberg, Alison Bechdel, Reinaldo Arenas, Kate Bornstein, Gloria Anzaldua, Samuel Delany, David Wojnarowicz, and Michelle Tea. These narratives will be accompanied by a variety of queer and feminist theories of sexuality, some of which interrogate the historical and conceptual limitations of "experience" and "identity." This course fulfills the requirements of the Exploring Diversity Initiative in that it investigates institutions of power and privilege as they have impacted LGBTQ communities, emphasizes empathetic understanding of gender and sexual diversity, and focuses on critical theorization of intersecting differences and identities. [ more ]

ENGL 209(F)Theories of Language and Literature

This course is made up of questions: What is literature and why would anyone want to study it? What can you figure out by examining language that you can't figure out by studying history or psychology? Do students of literature have distinctive ways of asking questions about the world? Why do we call some language literary? Can any language be literary if it appears in the right kind of book? Is there a difference between verbal forms of art and visual or auditory ones? Can novels do things that plays and poetry cannot? Why does anyone read poetry anyway? [ more ]

ENGL 211(F, S)English Literature from 1000 to1600

One of the oldest surviving works in English, Beowulf tells the story of a monster and his mom. In this class we will read key texts from the medieval and early modern periods, starting with Beowulf and ending with Shakespeare's equally bloody Titus Andronicus. Other readings will include selections from The Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, sonnets by Sidney and Donne, and Marlowe's The Jew of Malta. We will discuss the conflicting, often self-contradictory claims that writers in these periods made for the importance of literature and the anxieties that these new types of fiction generate--about sex, about God, about money. We will ask what it meant to read--and misread--before books were commonplace. [ more ]

ENGL 213(S)Making Radio

This course has two aims. The first is to teach the necessary skills (including interview technique, field recording, editing, and scoring) to make broadcast-worthy audio nonfiction. The second is to use this process to investigate fundamental aspects of narrative. How does a story build a contract with listeners? What's the role of the narrator? How can one appropriately speak for (and sometimes against) another person? This is not a course in journalism, but rather an experiment in documentary cinema for the ear. We'll do some reading in radio history and technique, and will listen to exemplary works (including episodes of This American Life, RadioLab, Love & Radio, and Serial), but most of our time--and this is a time-consuming course--will be spent making and critiquing each other's pieces. Students will produce five or six pieces total, at least two of which must develop out of interviews with strangers. [ more ]

ENGL 214(S)Playwriting

A studio course designed for those interested in writing and creating works for the theatre. The course will include a study of playwriting in various styles and genres, a series of set exercises involving structure and the use of dialogue, as well as individual projects. We will read and we will write, beginning with small exercises and working toward a longer final project. Students will be expected to share in and respond to each other's work on a weekly basis, and to present their own work regularly. At the end of the term, we will share our collaborative work with the community as part of an open studio experience. [ more ]

Taught by: Basil Kreimendahl

Catalog details

ENGL 215Race(ing) Sports: Issues, Themes and Representations of Black Athletes

Not offered this year

Althea Gibson to the Williams Sisters. Julius (Dr. J) Irving to Michael Jordan. Jesse Owens to Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Throughout the 20th century, black athletes have broken through Jim Crow restraints, challenged racial stereotypes, and taken their sports to new heights of achievement. In this course, students will explore a range of black athletes in the 20th century, paying particular attention to the attitudes, stereotypes and experiences they endured. In addition, this course will prompt students to analyze the representation, perception, and commodification of black athletes in popular media forms. Students will trace trends, shifts and themes in representations of blackness across different sports and historical periods. Topics under study may include resistance against and affirmation of athletes as role models, racial slurs in sports broadcasting, common themes in commercialized images of the black male athlete, and distinctions in media coverage based on race and gender. Texts will include everything from critical essays and sociological studies to commercials and documentary films. In their final projects, students may put their newfound knowledge to the test by exploring their campus or hometown to investigate the role that race plays on their own playing field. [ more ]

ENGL 216(S)Introduction to the Novel

There was a time when novels as we understand them didn't exist; then there was a time -- centuries -- when novels were overwhelmingly the dominant storytelling and literary mode in English. This lecture course will follow the cultural arc of the novel from its beginnings through the later 20th century, when novels competed for cultural space with new storytelling modes. Along the way we will think about what stories are for, generally; why this kind of long-form storytelling was invented; and what cultural work novels do and have done. Possible writers to be studied include Defoe, Austen, Bronte, Dickens, James, Joyce, Nabokov, and Morrison. [ more ]

ENGL 217Experimental Asian American Writing

Not offered this year

Asian American literature did not begin in the 1980s with Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. Nor has the writing primarily been confined to autobiographical accounts of generational conflict, divided identities, and glimpses of Chinatown families. Asian American literature in English began with poetry in the late nineteenth century, and has encompassed a variety of aesthetic styles across the last century--from Modernism to New York School poetry to protest poetry to digital poetics. This course will explore Asian American writings that have pushed formal (and political) boundaries in the past 100+ years, with a particular focus on avant-garde writers working today. We will look at such authors as Jose Garcia Villa, Chuang Hua, Wong May, Theresa H., Cha, John Yau, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Tan Lin, Prageeta Sharma, Bhanu Kapil, and Tao Lin. [ more ]

ENGL 219(F)"Get Back to Where You Once Belonged": Immigration in Cultural Context

This course is centered on the idea of "immigrant literature" and the various forms it has taken across historical and geographical contexts. We will inquire into formal and topical differences between American immigrant narratives and their European counterpoints. We will also consider the figure of the "immigrant" as a literary trope, in comparison to the "migrant," the "refugee," the "exile," the "foreigner," and the "stranger." We will work with texts by Joseph Conrad, Saul Bellow, Chang Rae Lee, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sam Selvon, Zadie Smith, and Tahar Ben Jelloun, and such films as La Haine and Head-On. The course will contribute to the College's Exploring Diversity Initiative by examining the myriad productive and volatile cultural encounters that are inherent to the phenomenon of immigration. [ more ]

ENGL 220(S)Introduction to African American Literature

What does it mean, socially, culturally, historically, personally, and spiritually, to be African American? No single, simple answer suffices, but African American literature as a genre is defined by its ongoing engagement with this complex question. This course will examine a series of texts that in various ways epitomize the fraught literary grappling with the entailments of American blackness. Readings will include texts by Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, and Ishmael Reed. [ more ]

ENGL 223Thirteen Ways of Looking at Jazz

Not offered this year

Taking its title from the Wallace Stevens poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," which interprets the blackbird in different ways, this course similarly explores a more complex, multi-layered perspective on jazz, from jazz and American democracy to jazz in visual art. Accordingly, the course introduces students to several genres, including historical documents, cultural criticism, music, literature, film, photography and art. The course does not draw on a musicological method but rather a socio-cultural analysis of the concept, music and its effect--so students are not required to have any prior musical knowledge or ability. In this writing intensive course, students will write and revise short close analyses of multiple types of media, ultimately honing their writing skills on one form of media for a polished, original analysis that weds their increased critical thinking skills. This EDI course explores the musical expressions of the culturally diverse peoples of African descent in the New World, as well as the myriad ways in which representations of jazz signify on institutional power, reaffirm dominant U.S. and/or European hierarchies of race, gender and class, and signal inequality in order to contest it. [ more ]

ENGL 224 TAmerican Drama: Hidden Knowledge

Not offered this year

The Buddha is said to have identified three things that cannot stay hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. What's the secret? Who is lying? Who is breaking the rules? American drama abounds with hidden knowledge and false representations. (This is not surprising: theatre is always on some level a deceptive practice, a place where one person pretends to be another, and where what is spoken is always open to skeptical scrutiny. We might say theatre is always lying as much as lying is always theatre.) This tutorial course will examine what lies hidden in American plays from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first. Beginning with excerpted critical and historical writings on secrecy and lying (The Adventures of Pinocchio, Machievelli's The Prince, Thomas Carlson's Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice, among others), we will proceed to a set of American plays from across a wide spectrum of playwrights, including Edward Albee, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sarah Ruhl, Sam Shepard, Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, David Mamet, Amy Herzog, and others. Student papers will explore how hidden knowledge structures dramatic action, how different characters create and respond to untruths, and what can we learn in particular from American drama about a national relationship to honesty and its opposites. [ more ]

ENGL 227(S)Introduction to Postcolonial Studies

This course asks: What does the term "postcolonialism" mean? Is it a historical notion or an ideological term? When exactly does the 'postcolonial' begin? What are the theoretical and political implications of using such an umbrella term to designate the ensemble of writings and artworks by those subjects whose identities and histories have been shaped by the colonial encounter? We will situate the "postcolonial" historically, aesthetically, and conceptually across multiple time periods, geographic regions. We will read such authors as Rudyard Kipling, Salman Rushdie, Tsitsi Dangaremba, Chinua Achebe, and Jamaica Kincaid and work with such theorists as Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabha, and Gayatri Spivak. The course will contribute to the College's Exploring Diversity Initiative by examining cultural difference and distributions of power across the world during the colonial, postcolonial, and globalized eras. [ more ]

ENGL 228(S)The Renaissance in England and the European Continent: Self and World

At the same time as the individual human being in possession of a distinctive personality was taking on enormous importance in politics, philosophy, literature, and the visual arts, early modern Europeans were encountering unprecedented levels of cultural diversity. In this interdisciplinary course, we will consider these two developments both separately and together. As Renaissance humanists were acquiring a sophisticated understanding of the distance between the present and various European pasts (the recent medieval past and the remote history of antiquity), they were also coming into contact with non-European cultures in Africa, the Americas, and Asia via trade and economic development, imperial expansion, and religious conversion. Always at stake in these encounters was the question of who counted as an individual; the self was not considered to be intrinsic to human nature but rather the product of historical and cultural developments. Themes will include religious pluralism, the sacred and the secular, vernacularity, exploration and empire, the relationship between mind and body, slavery, trade, wealth, gender, self-fashioning, and style. We will consider such English writers as the Pearl poet, More, Marlowe, Spenser, Shakespeare, Browne, and Milton; such continental intellectuals as Descartes, Erasmus, Las Casas, and Castiglione; and such continental artists as Michelangelo, Velazquez, Bruegel, and Rembrandt. The course will contribute to the College's Exploring Diversity Initiative by examining the role of historical and cultural difference within and beyond Europe at the very beginning of globalization. [ more ]

ENGL 230(S)Introduction to Literary Theory

This course introduces students to some of the most significant and compelling trends in modern criticism--such as gender and postcolonial theory, deconstruction, sociological analysis, and psychoanalytic criticism--in an applied, hands-on way. The course will engage a range of primary texts from Shakespeare to Hitchcock by way of varied theoretical approaches. Can Othello be read as a feminist text? A site of class struggle? A staging of the relationship between language and the unconscious? The course aims both to make familiar some of the critical methods students are likely to encounter in the field of literary studies these days, and to show how such methods can transform our understanding of a text, opening surprising possibilities even in familiar works. In the process, the course will also raise broader questions about the imperatives and usefulness of literary theory in relation to texts and worlds. [ more ]

ENGL 231(F, S)Literature of the Sea

Taking advantage of our maritime museum, coastal setting, and three field seminars, we study canonical and lesser-known novelists, short-story writers, dramatists, and poets who set their works in the watery world, often in the exact places where we travel as a class. We read, for example--depending on fall or spring semester--Ernest Hemingway when sailing on the Straits of Florida, John Steinbeck when exploring Cannery Row on Monterey Bay, and Mark Twain on a steamboat on the Mississippi. We read Kate Chopin on the sands of the Gulf of Mexico, Rudyard Kipling out on Georges Bank, and Herman Melville's masterpiece Moby-Dick aboard Mystic Seaport's historic whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan, a vessel nearly identical to the vessel he climbed aboard at age twenty-one. In the classroom we examine these works through a mixture of lecture, small-group discussion, and writing. To further appreciation and analysis, this interdisciplinary course uses students' emerging knowledge of maritime history and marine science. [ more ]

Taught by: Mary Bercaw Edwards

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ENGL 234The Modern Theatre: Plays and Performance

Not offered this year

This seminar will examine major trends in global theatre and performance from the turn of the nineteenth century through the postwar period. We will explore a variety of national traditions, comparing and positioning works in the context of revolutionary transformations of theatre practice. Artists to be considered may include: Strindberg, Ibsen, Wilde, Chekhov, Shaw, Pirandello, Treadwell, Artaud, O'Neill, Hughes, Stein, Williams, Hansberry, Al-Hakim, Brecht, Beckett, Abe, Genet, Soyinka, Pinter, Albee, Wilson, Gambaro, and Fornes. Although emphasis will be given to textual analysis and close reading, we will also consider trends in acting, directing, design, theatre architecture and the actor/audience relationship whenever possible. [ more ]

ENGL 236(S)Fields of Barley, Streets of Gold: Utopia in Fiction

Each of the gates was a single pearl: And the street of the city was pure gold, As it were transparent glass. Revelations 21:21 It makes us happy to imagine the future in apocalyptic terms, partly because we love to say I told you so. You didn't listen, and now look. Fort Lee is on fire, and zombies are smashing down your parents' door. Catastrophe satisfies us on many levels; by contrast, the utopian vision provides a more delicate thrill. For a writer, the task is to provide a fiction that will not feel like a moral lesson or the illustration of some theory about how we should behave. This course will consider different utopian stories in turn, moving from Plato's Republic through the invented worlds of Thomas More, Margaret Cavendish, Edward Bellamy, and H.G. Wells, and then into the more contemporary science fiction of Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula LeGuin, John Crowley, and others. Implicit in any kind of alternate reality is its creators' rejection of the place they live, and their corresponding longing for something new, which in all cases is as interesting as the way a story might work as a model for social improvement. In addition to the occasional critical essay, students will invent a personal utopian fiction of about twenty to twenty-five pages, to be read and discussed by the class. [ more ]

ENGL 239(S)Imagining Immigrants

The goal of this writing-intensive gateway course is to advance our abilities as rigorous, subtle, and imaginative interpreters of literature and to become sensitive readers of the conflicts, anxieties, and vulnerabilities faced by today's immigrants. Moving physically from one culture to another but remaining imaginatively torn between their adopted country and their country of origin, feeling at times like a stranger to both, immigrants face questions that concern us all in our increasingly global society, questions of identity, liminality, alienation, empathy, and language. Bombarded by a language that is not their own, immigrants are constantly thinking about what words mean both literally and symbolically. Why this word rather than another? How do humor and irony work in a foreign culture? How do writers reconcile the pressures of the present moment with the stream of memories from the old country? How is one person's point of view, or one society's point of view, different from another's? How can images and metaphors convey the experience of constantly seeing an object, or an entire world, in terms of another? [ more ]

ENGL 240(F)The Novel in Theory

What is a novel? Where did it come from? Why would anyone invent such a thing in the first place? In spite of its title, this is not a course about merely theoretical novels, unwritten or dreamily imagined works of fiction. Rather, this is an introduction to the ways literary critics have attempted to give a genre as hard-to-pin down as the novel a theoretical framework. For a long time, nobody thought the novel needed a theory---too popular, too loose and baggy to be thought of as one thing. Today, novel theory is legion. To only name a few, one can find theories of the novel that identify themselves as formalist, psychoanalytic, post-structuralist, Marxist, historical, and post-colonial, as well as accounts that emphasize sexuality and gender, for example, or the novel's trans-national development. Rather than try for an encyclopedic survey of either the novel or its theories, this course will use two or three novels as a means of testing out a range of representative works of novel theory. We will move back and forth from the theory of the novel to its practice in order to see how novel theory has developed over the past century, as well to see how the novel's own academic and popular fortunes relate to its theoretical accounts. Theorists are likely to include Henry James, Shklovsky, Benjamin, Lukacs, Barthes, Watt, McKeon, Jameson, Franco, Eve Sedgwick, Edward Said, & Franco Moretti. Novelists may include Austen, Dickens, Conrad. [ more ]

ENGL 241(F)Introduction to Comparative Literature

Comparative literature involves reading and analyzing literature drawn from different times, movements, cultures, and media. In this class, we will study English translations of texts from eras spanning the ancient to the contemporary; literary movements including romanticism, realism, and postmodernism; national traditions arising in Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America; and media including prose fiction, graphic memoir, and film. Throughout the course, we will consider what it means to think about all these different works as literary texts. To help with this, we will also read selections of literary theory that define literature and its goal in abstract or philosophical terms. Assignments will focus on close, creative reading of relatively short texts by authors like Homer, Sei Shonagon, Kleist, Lermontov, Zola, Borges, Wilde, Mamet, Bechdel, and others. All readings will be in English. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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ENGL 246(S)The Love of Literature

If love "makes the world go 'round," then literature, love's chronicler, may contain the key for understanding this world-formative passion. In this seminar, we will explore representations of love in works of poetry, drama, and prose fiction from antiquity to the present. From the philosophical love extolled in Plato's dramatic dialogue The Symposium to the courtly love of Chretien de Troyes' errant knights; the jealous love of Shakespeare's Othello to the literarily induced lust of Flaubert's Madame Bovary and beyond, we will see how love, like literature, at once reflects and produces historically significant changes in the ways that human beings relate to one another, to themselves, and to the world in which they live. In addition to the authors already mentioned, readings may include works by Augustine, Dante, Goethe, Wordsworth, Woolf, and Mann. [ more ]

ENGL 250(S)Americans Abroad

This course will explore some of the many incarnations of American experiences abroad between the end of the 19th century and the present day. Materials will be drawn from novels, short stories, films, and nonfiction about Americans in Europe in times of war and peace. We will compare and contrast the experiences of novelists, soldiers, students, war correspondents, jazz musicians, and adventurers. What has drawn so many Americans to Europe? What is the difference between a tourist, an expat, and an emigre? What are the profound, and often comic, gaps between the traveler's expectations and the reality of living in, say, Paris or a rural village in Spain? What are the misadventures and unexpected rewards of living, working, writing, or even falling in love in translation? Authors may include: Henry James, Langston Hughes, Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway, Elaine Dundy, Richard Wright, and Ben Lerner. Additional reading will be drawn from historical and critical works. All readings will be in English. This comparative course fulfills the EDI requirement because it is designed to highlight the challenges and benefits of cultural immersion abroad. It will focus on the linguistic, emotional, intellectual, and social adaptation skills that are required to understand others, and oneself, in new contexts. [ more ]

ENGL 251Introduction to Latina/o Literatures

Not offered this year

This discussion course serves as an introduction; the reading list is not meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive, but will rather provide a sampling or range of texts for students to engage. We will explore a number of readings across different genres (the novel, play, poem, short story, graphic novel). Students will endeavor to understand how each author defines Latinidad. What characterizes Latina/os for each of these writers and how do their works articulate the historical conditions out of which they emerge? How is Latina/o literature marked by notions of language, nationality, gender, sexuality, class, race, politics, form, and genre? The readings will provide both a survey of general ideas in the study of Latina/o literatures as well as specific case studies and historical examples from which we will extrapolate about the larger field. Readings include works by Tomas Rivera, Cristina Garcia, Cristy C. Road, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Junot Diaz, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, and more. This course fulfills the Exploring Diversity Initiative requirements as it offers students a comparative study of cultures and societies by examining the U.S. racial project of constructing a Latina/o people out of various peoples. Additional attention is given, under the rubric of power and privilege, to the specific economic and political institutions that structure Latina/o cultural production. [ more ]

ENGL 253 T(F)Gender, Sexuality and Modern Performance

This interdisciplinary tutorial explores aspects of gender, sexuality, performativity, race, class, and representations of the body in modern theatre and performance in America. While attention will be given to the still understudied role of women in the arts, we will focus primarily on the transsecionalities of social identities under interrelated systems of oppression. Close analysis of works by dramatists--such as Adrienne Kennedy, Caryl Churchill, Wendy Wasserstein, Ntozake Shange, Tony Kushner, Naomi Iizuka, Paula Vogel, Suzan-Lori Parks, David Henry Hwang, Tarell McCraney, Gina Gionfriddo, and Taylor Mac--will occur alongside consideration of works by artists such as Karen Finley, Ron Athey, Tim Miller, E. Patrick Johnson, and Young Jean Lee. Our approach to this varied material will be comparative and will be enriched by readings of critical works by writers such as: Judith Butler, bell hooks, Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua, Eve K. Sedgwick, Jill Dolan, Jose Esteban Mu?oz, David Roman, and Donna Haraway. This course meets the criteria of the Exploring Diversity Initiative as it draws focus towards the diversity of race, class and ethnicity represented by the subjects of our study as well as towards the political power of theatre and performance. [ more ]

ENGL 259Ethics of Jewish American Fiction

Not offered this year

After the Second World War, Jewish American writers who wrote about Jewish characters and Jewish themes were increasingly celebrated as central figures in American fiction. Isaac Bashevis Singer, Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, Cynthia Ozick and Philip Roth are among those who gained prominence in this period. These writers were literary innovators and often addressed broad humanistic themes. But they also struggled with profound questions that arose in the postwar period about Jewishness, the legacy of the Holocaust, and what it means to be an American. In this course we will read the above authors and others. We will focus, in particular, on the distinctive ethical and political ideas, emotions, and aspirations that animate their work. The course will begin with a study of theoretical approaches that will provide the basis for our ethical criticism: we will read, for instance, Lionel Trilling, Wayne Booth, Martha Nussbaum, and Noel Carroll. Then we will delve into the fiction, following a trail that begins in the postwar period and continues in fictions by Erica Jong, Rebecca Goldstein, Michael Chabon, Gary Shteyngart, and others. Can we find a distinctive Jewish American ethics in Jewish American fiction? [ more ]

ENGL 260Beyond Tonto: American Indians in Film

Not offered this year

In 1893, Thomas Edison unveiled the kinetoscope and allowed audience members to glimpse the Hopi Snake Dance by peeking into the device's viewing window. Since the birth of the motion picture, films portraying Native Americans (often with non-Native actors in redface) have drawn upon earlier frontier mythology, art, literature, and Wild West performances. These depictions in film have embedded romanticized and stereotyped ideas about American Indians in the imaginations of audiences throughout the United States and around the world. In this course, we will critically examine representations of American Indians in film, ranging from the origins of the motion picture industry to the works of contemporary Native filmmakers who challenge earlier paradigms. We will reflect upon revisionist narratives, the use of film as a form of activism, Indigenous aesthetics and storytelling techniques, reflexivity, and parody. Throughout the semester, we will view and discuss ethnographic, documentary, and narrative films. This course will satisfy the Exploring Diversity Initiative (EDI) requirement as we will examine power relations, cross-cultural interaction, and Indigenous social experiences. [ more ]

ENGL 261 T(S)Adultery in the Nineteenth-Century Novel

In this tutorial, we will read four novels written between 1850 and 1900, all of which focus on the figure of the adulteress: Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1856), Lev Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1873-77), Leopoldo Alas y Ure?a's La Regenta (1884-85), and Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest (1894). For each week of class, students will read one of these primary texts, as well as a selection of secondary literature that will allow us to understand, over the course of the semester, how and why the adulteress played a key role in the cultural imagination of Europe during this time. All works will be read in English translation. [ more ]

ENGL 265(F)Topics in American Literature: Freedom and Captivity

Letters from prison are as central to American literature as are dreams of freedom. This course explores the persistent concern in American literature and culture with forms of freedom and captivity. How have writers witnessed and imagined the experience of dispossession, displacement, internment, diaspora, and emancipation? The course will be weighted toward the 19th century, but will make constant reference to contemporary works as we explore the American carceral imagination in the shift from a slavery democracy to a penal democracy. This course contributes to the College's Exploring Diversity Initiative by focusing on how cultures and peoples within American society have interacted and responded to one another in the past. In addition to works by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Lydia Maria Child, Zitcala-Sa, Charles Johnson and Julie Otsuka, we will view contemporary films that represent slavery and emancipation (Twelve Years a Slave, Daughters in the Dust, and the 2016 Birth of a Nation), as well as contemporary visual art in the collection of the Williams College Museum of Art. [ more ]

ENGL 266 TPostmodernism

Not offered this year

In one definition, postmodernism in art and literature is what you get when you combine modernism's radical experimentation with pop culture's easy appeal. This term has been used to describe works from Andy Warhol's paintings of Campbell's soup cans and Jean Baudrillard's critical essays on Disneyland to Murakami Haruki's euphoric conspiracy novels. Theorists of the postmodern have argued that it represents not only a radical change in aesthetic sensibilities, but a fundamentally new relationship between art, language, and society. In this tutorial, we will read some of the most important theoretical essays defining the postmodern (essays which themselves often embrace this playful and sometimes ironic style), and we will pair them with artistic texts that are said to illustrate the features of postmodernism. The latter will be mainly novels and short stories from around the world, but one feature of this theory is a flattening of the distinction between high and low culture as well as between the written and the visual, so we will also examine examples from architecture, visual art, and/or broader pop culture. Texts will include essays by Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and others; novels and short stories by writers like Don DeLillo, Italo Calvino, and Murakami Haruki; painting and sculpture associated with Pop Art and Superflat; the architecture of Williamstown-area museums; etc. Writing assignments will focus on reading the theoretical texts closely and applying their ideas to the artistic texts in creative and interesting ways. Open to sophomores as well as advanced students. [ more ]

ENGL 267(F)"Ain't I a Woman?": An Introduction to Black Women's Writing in America

This Gateway course offers a survey of African American women's writing from the nineteenth century to the present day with an equal emphasis on primary literary texts and feminist criticism. We will trace the development of a black womanist/feminist tradition across various genres and disciplines, beginning with the work of abolitionists such as Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and Sojourner Truth and working our way through key texts of the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement, and post-60s Black Feminist writing. Our discussions will focus on the black feminist tradition's engagement with race, gender, class, and sexuality as intersecting axes of difference. Writers that we will read include: Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Suzan-Lori Parks, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Hortense Spillers, Kimberle Williams Crenshaw. This course fulfills the EDI requirement by examining the intersection of different minoritizing processes in the experiences and writing of African American women in the US. [ more ]

Taught by: Marina Bilbija

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ENGL 268(S)American Law, Race, and Narrative

This course examines how American and African American writers engaged with legal definitions of race, personhood, and citizenship in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The key junctures in the formation of these narratives were the Declaration of Independence, the Fugitive Slave Act, Dred Scott v. Sandford in the ante-bellum period, Ferguson v Plessy in the late nineteenth century and Brown v Board of Education in the mid-twentieth century. Authors we will read include: Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Martin Delany, Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Jean Toomer, Bebe Moore Campbell, Ntozake Shange, and Natasha Trethaway. As a course that focuses on the legal and literary constructions of race in the US, this course fulfills the EDI requirement. [ more ]

Taught by: Marina Bilbija

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ENGL 270(F)Shakespeare on Page, Stage and Screen: Text to Performance

Four centuries on, Shakespeare still challenges us. How should we weigh the respective claims of our own era's concerns--with matters of gender, sexuality, race, class, or materiality, for instance-against historicist attention to the cultural, political and theatrical circumstances in which his plays were actually written? And when it comes to realizing the text in dramatic performance, such challenges--and opportunities--multiply further. Critical fidelity to Shakespeare's times, language and theatrical milieu prioritizes a historical authenticity that can be constraining or even sterilizing, while, at the other extreme, staging the plays with the primary aim of making them "speak to our times" risks revisionary absorption in our own interests. We will focus on six Shakespeare plays, from different genres and periods of his career: Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Proceeding with each from close reading of the text, we will attend to the demands and opportunities of performance, and assess a range of recent film and stage productions. [ more ]

ENGL 272(S)American Postmodern Fiction

American fiction took a turn at World War II: from modernism to postmodernism. The most obvious mark of postmodern narration is its self-consciousness. Already a paradox emerges: why would World War II make narratives self-reflexive? The best text for this paradox is Heller's Catch-22. Subsequent books: Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Morrison's Beloved, DeLillo's White Noise, Johnson's Jesus's Son, Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. [ more ]

ENGL 274(F)Film and Media Studies: An Introduction

This team-taught interdisciplinary course introduces students to concepts and skills central to the study of moving images. After familiarizing ourselves with the basic elements--visual, narrative and auditory--necessary for formal analysis, we will develop critical tools for understanding film and media in their historical and social contexts. We will discuss influential ideas, theories, and methods in the discipline of film and media studies. Students will learn to respond to works drawn from a wide range of forms: fiction and nonfiction film, animation, television, video games, and emerging forms of virtual reality. Throughout, our emphasis will be on the diverse ways in which moving pictures create meaning. How can we best think about the reciprocal relations between film, new media, and contemporary life? This course will be presented through a mixture of lectures, discussions, and exercises. [ more ]

ENGL 281(F, S)Introductory Workshop in Poetry

This workshop will include readings in modern and contemporary poetry, as well as weekly writing assignments. Some memorization may be required. [ more ]

ENGL 283(F, S)Introductory Workshop in Fiction

An introduction to the basics of writing short fiction. Exercises, short assignments, and discussion of published fiction will be combined with workshops of student stories and individual conferences with the instructor. [ more ]

ENGL 284Arab and Anglophone: Narratives Beyond Nation and Diaspora

Not offered this year

This course takes a close look at contemporary Anglophone Arab writings. The objective is to familiarize students with major Arab writers, and/or writers of Arab descent who live in the Anglo-Saxon diaspora, especially the UK, North America and Australia. We will investigate the work of these writers with special attention to the history of Arab migration to these geographies, and the emergence of hyphenated Arab identities and literatures. At the heart of this course is a desire to not only shed light on what it means to be an Arab or an immigrant producing English literature, but also to understand the multiple ways in which we conceptualize and seek to define what transnational literature means. Texts for this course may include novels by the following writers: Rabih Alameddine (Lebanon/USA), Mohja Kahf (Syria/USA), Leila Aboulela (Sudan/UK), Hisham Matar (Libya/UK), and Randa Abdel-Fattah (Palestine-Egypt/Australia). There will also be a course reader that includes critical essays, poems, as well as a number of films and selections of music that shed light on the different articulations of being Arab and Anglophone. [ more ]

ENGL 287(S)Bloody Vampires: From Fiction to Film and Fashion

This course explores the figure of the vampire and seeks to explain the popular appeal such a fictive creature has been enjoying for over two centuries. What kind of fears and fantasies does it crystallize? And what kind of discourse about sexuality, death, and disease does it validate? What does its mere existence reveal about gender and ethnicity? We will examine the emergence of the vampire in gothic literature of the late 18th and 19th centuries, its omnipresence in cinema in the 20th century and investigate its resurgence in 21st-century pop culture. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the figure of the vampire, we will read poems by August Burger and Goethe, the first vampire story by John Polidori, novels by Sheridan LeFanu and Bram Stoker, and contemporary vampire fiction by Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer. We will watch the films Nosferatu by Murnau and Herzog, Dracula by Browning and Coppola, the Dance of Vampires by Polanski, The Hunger by Scott, Blade by Norrington, Twilight by Hardwicke, and Daybreakers by Spierig, as well as episodes of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries. We will also discuss music video clips by Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson, and fashion shows by Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood. [ more ]

ENGL 288(F)Introductory Workshop in Memoir

A course in basic problems and possibilities that arise in the composition of memoir. Individual meetings with the instructor will be available. Class sessions will be devoted to the discussion of both published and student work. Students will receive written critiques from other students as well as the instructor. [ more ]

ENGL 289(F)Graphic Storytelling

In the 1890s an author/artist put words and pictures together in boxes, ordered the boxes along a (short) narrative arc featuring a continuing character, published it in a newspaper, and graphic storytelling as we know it was born. 15 years later (in the form of comic strips) it had already become one of the most important storytelling modes in American culture. In this course we will follow the development of this quirky and important American contribution to world culture from comic strips through comic books to the "graphic novel." Along the way we will consider all kinds of interesting general subjects: for instance, the relationship between commerce and creativity, the difference between good and bad culture, and the pervasive human need to tell and experience stories. [ more ]

ENGL 301(S)Sublime Confusion: A Survey of Literary and Critical Theory

Which is more appealing, a roller coaster or a rose? For much of its history, art and literary theory has conceived itself as a science devoted to explaining and defining "beauty." But running alongside this is an edgier countercurrent that worships something else: an experience of excitement, fear, suspense, or thrilling confusion often described as "the sublime." The sublime interested early critics, from classical rhetoricians to the German Idealists, as a way to make aesthetics more scientific paradoxically by identifying the doorway through which art and literature escaped the realm of reason. More recently the notion of literature's exciting confusion has played a key role in modern critical theory from Russian formalism to new criticism, deconstruction, postmodernism, and posthumanism. (In fact, poststructuralist criticism itself has a thrillingly confusing quality that we will not ignore.) We will take up a cross section of critical theory from classical times to the present, focusing on careful reading of relatively short texts by Plato, Aristotle, Addison, Burke, Schiller, Nietzsche, Shklovsky, I.A. Richards, Barthes, Derrida, Lyotard, Fredric Jameson, Haraway, and others. Case studies ranging from opera to Xbox will enlighten, thrill, and confound you. Written assignments will encourage you to parse these theories carefully and apply them to the literary texts that most interest you: prose, poetry, or drama from any time and place; film, visual art, or architecture; music, new media, or digital media, and beyond. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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ENGL 302(S)Landscape and Language

Colloquially, the word "landscape" refers to pictures or scenes of the land, from farms to forest to wilderness. But more broadly, landscape evokes the complex, dynamic, and ever-shifting relationship between "nature" and our experience of it. Landscape and Language is a seminar that considers the tools we use to represent and narrate our relationship to the natural world. Together, we will investigate how such cultural conventions as travel, perspective, nature, and ecology influence the ways we see and understand place. Drawing from discourses of literature, architecture, art history, contemporary art, and ecocriticism, our goal is to develop a deeper critical understanding of and engagement with landscape (as a collective of readers and as individual investigators). Texts for this course will include an art historical exploration of the relationship between landscape, power, and imperialism by W.J.T. Mitchell, an ethnographic investigation of nearly obsolete place names by Robert MacFarlane, poems by historical and contemporary poets like Jean Toomer, Terrance Hayes, and Lucille Clifton, and contemporary visual art by Helen Mirra and Xaviera Simmons, among others. [ more ]

Taught by: Steffani Jemison

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ENGL 307(F)Caribbean Women Writers

This course is designed to explore the issues and themes commonly found in literatures of the Caribbean written by women. We will consider prose and poetry published in English in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, reading the texts from several different angles - including colonialism, globalization, and migration - with feminism as the overarching/organizing theme of the course. In addition to the general literary study of author, genre and discourse, our methodology will include strategies of close reading, contextualization, and a range of interdisciplinary critical approaches utilized to assess the significance and role of Caribbean women's writings as part of national and women's literatures and to explore questions of identity formation and/or disintegration, gender, social status, and ethnicity. We will be examining the well-known "forerunners" of the genre - possibly writers such as Paule Marshall, Jamaica Kincaid, Jean Rhys, and Lorna Goodison - although not necessarily their most famous texts. We will also read works from relative newcomers - possibly Zadie Smith, Edwidge Danticat, and Patricia Powell - to determine how they continue old trends while blazing new trails. [ more ]

ENGL 308(S)Tragic Stages

The earliest surviving tragedies were composed for Athens' theater of Dionysus. Performed as part of a religious festival, they played on an outdoor stage that seated 12,000 spectators. When tragedy was revived some 2000 years later, it addressed itself to a new audience. The gods were dispatched. Choruses and masks dropped away in favor of sword fights and pig's blood. In this course we will consider both tragedy's invention and its reinvention. What happens when human suffering, once staged for ritual purposes, becomes a subject of mass entertainment? Works will include plays by Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca, Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Racine. [ more ]

ENGL 313(F)Description: A Craft Course for Writers of Poetry and Prose

Why do we describe things? Why do writers put so much care into their descriptions of objects and inner states? What kind of authority do they draw from precise descriptive language? What is an "exactly perceived" detail? How can a phrase carry sensory information? How do colors have speeds? This class explores the power of description in capturing physical perceptions and making pictures of the world more felt, more real. To better understand the range of expressive possibilities and technical strategies involved in description, we will devote the semester to reading and imitating the acute sensory visions of Li Po, Tu Fu, Basho, Issa, Hopkins, Rilke, Williams, Bishop, Elizabeth Bowen, Pascalle Monnier, and various contemporary American writers. Each week the reading will serve as a springboard for imitations and other written exercises. [ more ]

ENGL 314(F)Groovin' the Written Word: The Role of Music in African American Literature

In an interview with Paul Gilroy, Toni Morrison once said, "Music provides a key to the whole medley of Afro-American artistic practices." Morrison is not the only one who believes that music speaks to numerous aspects of the African American experience. From Sterling Brown and Zora Neale Hurston to John Edgar Wideman and Suzan Lori-Parks, many African American authors have drawn on music to take political stands, shape creative aesthetics, and articulate black identity. In this course, students will explore the work of these authors and more, investigating music's ability to represent and critique African American culture in their literature. Texts will cover a range of literary forms including poetry, plays, short stories and novels alongside theoretical and critical essays. Students will discuss such key issues as assimilation into mainstream culture, authenticity claims on black music, and music used as a tool for protest. Additionally, class assignments will include musical examples in spirituals/gospel, blues, jazz, and rock/rhythm and blues. While this class requires students to practice in-depth literary and performance analysis skills, students are not required to have technical musical knowledge. [ more ]

ENGL 315(F)Poetry of Milton

The course will consist primarily of a close reading of "Paradise Lost," though we will look at few of Milton's earlier works. Readings will include "Comus," "Lycidas," and "Paradise Lost," some sonnets, and some passages from "Areopagitica." We will give particular attention to the poem's densely organized language, and the ethical and philosophical dilemmas that confront Satan and the fallen. [ more ]

ENGL 316(F, S)Blackness, Theater, Theatricality

Representations of African American life have pervaded the various genres and tiers of American culture, embodying a carnival of competing attitudes and perspectives. Many oddities and ironies result from this curious history. For example, African Americans as theatrical figures enter American consciousness via the minstrel stage, where white entertainers wearing burnt cork lampooned Negroes to amuse white audiences. Eventually, black performers created their own versions of minstrelsy, black playwrights created dramas more sympathetic to black life, and representations of black life proliferated in every noteworthy medium. This course will consider how attitudes about blackness have informed or deformed theatrical representations of African American life. It will examine major texts by African American writers, considering both their social importance and their aesthetic experiments and innovations. It will range from politically oriented works of social realism such as Theodore Ward's Big White Fog and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun to expressionistic protest works like Amiri Baraka's Dutchman and Slave Ship and Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls to August Wilson's earnest histories and the post-modern satires of Adrienne Kennedy and Suzan-Lori Parks. Alongside these, we will also consider a variety of comic traditions, ranging from minstrelsy to Spike Lee's film Bamboozled and characters created by comedians such as Jackie "Moms" Mabley and Richard Pryor. And how should we assess Porgy, a play by the white writer Dubose Heyward, which evolved into America's greatest opera, Porgy and Bess? This course will be an ongoing inquiry into the riotous theatricality of American blackness. [ more ]

ENGL 317Black Migrations: African American Performance at Home and Abroad

Not offered this year

In this course, students will investigate, critique and define the concepts migration and diaspora with primary attention to the experiences of African Americans in the United States and Europe. Drawing on a broad definition of performance, students will explore everything from writing and painting to sports and dance to inquire how performance reflects, critiques and negotiates migratory experiences in the African diaspora. For example, how did musician Sidney Bechet's migration from New Orleans to Chicago to London influence the early jazz era? How did Katherine Dunham's dance performances in Germany help her shape a new black dance aesthetic? Why did writer James Baldwin go all the way to Switzerland to write his first novel on black, religious culture in Harlem? What drew actor/singer Paul Robeson to Russia, and why did the U.S. revoke his passport in response to his speeches abroad? These questions will lead students to investigate multiple migrations in the African diasporic experience and aid our exploration of the reasons for migration throughout history and geography. In addition to critical discussions and written analysis, students will explore these topics through their own individual and group performances in class. No prior performance experience is necessary. [ more ]

ENGL 319(F)The Literary Afterlife

What do writers mean when they say that they will live on after death through their books? In this course, we will explore the long history of thinking about literature as a way to compensate for mortality, and we will compare the literary afterlife to religious and philosophical versions of eternity. Many of the writers on our syllabus were anxious about the compatibility of the pursuit of worldly fame with the desire for Christian salvation. We will study how their sense of a conflict between the two afterlives changed over time: from the recovery of pagan antiquity during the Renaissance, across the theological transformations of the Reformation, to the consequences of print. The course deals with some of literature's greatest ambitions--to cheat death, to make a lasting contribution to human culture--but we will often find ourselves caught in an undertow of skepticism. Is writing any less susceptible to decay than human bodies are? If so, is literary accomplishment worth the risk of one's soul? Authors and texts will include Sappho, Ovid, Lucretius, Ecclesiastes, Augustine, Petrarch, Julian of Norwich, Montaigne, Shakespeare's Hamlet and Richard II, Jonson, Donne, and Milton. [ more ]

ENGL 320 TTwo American Poets: Wallace Stevens and John Ashbery

Not offered this year

This tutorial focuses on the work of two major American poets who are known for their "difficult" poetry. In some respects, Stevens (1879-1955) and Ashbery (b. 1927) book-end twentieth-century poetry: Stevens is a major Modernist poet, perhaps the most philosophically oriented American poet of the twentieth century, and Ashbery is considered by most critics to be the most important American poet alive. Students will do close readings of their poems (and one play, "Three Travelers Watch a Sunrise", by Stevens), as well as read their writing on poetry and art. We will discuss the overlaps between Stevens' and Ashbery's work and lives--their having grown up in the Northeast and attended Harvard, what some see as the abstractness of their writing, their mastery of tone, among others--but also the differences: Ashbery's sexuality, his having lived in France, the supposedly more "avant-garde" nature of Ashbery's work, and so on. Along the way, we will ask questions about the nature of poetic difficulty, of abstraction, of the (lyric) poetic speaker in their works, of poetic tone, of the link between the poem and the world (e.g., in description), of the thinking and philosophizing that poems do. We will also ask about their links to major poetry "movements" (Modernism, the New York School) and pose questions that are rarely asked about their poetry, such as "What are the politics, implicit and explicit, in their poems?" "What are their views about the United States and American society and culture?" "What assumptions about race, gender and class are embedded in their poetry?" And, always, we will be paying close attention to the question of form and language in Stevens' and Ashbery's poetry. [ more ]

ENGL 322(F)Political Romanticism

What is Romanticism, and how does it relate to the world-changing political upheavals that emerge along with it? Romantic literature emerged around the time of the French and Haitian Revolutions, and many Romantic authors were deeply sympathetic to the democratic principles of freedom and equality that inspired such political uprisings. Yet many also questioned revolutionaries' attempts to realize such ideas by forcibly seizing control of governments. These authors became interested in art and literature as alternative means of bringing about social and political change. In so doing, they invented ideas about the political power of art that are still very much with us today. This seminar examines these ideas through readings of works of Romantic literature and the philosophy that brought them into the world, while also considering how arguments subsequently developed for and against political Romanticism inform today's heated debates about the relationship between art and politics. Authors may include Burke, Kant, Rousseau, Wordsworth, Schiller, C. Smith, P.B. Shelley, Hegel, Heine, Marx, and Carl Schmitt. [ more ]

ENGL 323 T(F)A Novel Education

All novels are conscious of their readers; eighteenth-century novels are obsessed with them. In the century when the genre first flourished, readers are the ultimate objects of novelists' plots. We are addressed, teased, pleaded with, embarrassed, flattered, made fun of, praised, chided, solicited, warned, reminded, rebuked, asked for sympathy, and-always-closely watched. Eighteenth-century novelists-and their narrators-aggressively educate their readers, not only teaching us how to interpret the novel itself, but also demanding that we self-consciously question the powers of mind and habits of heart we bring to the process of interpreting a book, ourselves, and our world. In this tutorial course, we will explore the narrative and rhetorical strategies two of the century's greatest novelists use in creating, shaping, and finally educating their readers. We will focus principally on Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749) and Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy (1760-67)--long, brilliantly intricate novels that go about their work in very different ways, but that are equally committed to the project of giving their readers a novel education. We will consider--much more briefly--Fielding's Joseph Andrews and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. We will also read criticism by such "reader response" theorists as Stanley Fish and Wolfgang Iser, and--in the individualized setting of a tutorial--students will be asked to develop and articulate their own theories of reading by examining critically the ways in which texts affect and educate them. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills not only in reading and interpretation, but also in constructing critical arguments and responding to them in written and oral critiques. [ more ]

ENGL 326Race and Abstraction

Not offered this year

Minority artists--writers and visual artists mainly and, to a lesser degree, musicians--face a difficult "double bind" when creating works of art: the expectation is that they, like their racially marked bodies, will exhibit their difference by means of concrete signifiers (details, tropes, narratives, themes) of racial difference. Thus, the work is judged primarily in terms of its embodied sociological content (material, empirical) and not by "abstract" standards of aesthetic subtlety, philosophical sophistication, and so on. At the same time, in the popular and academic imaginary, minority subjects and artists poets occupy a single abstract signifying category--homogeneous, undifferentiated, "other," marginalized, non-universal--while racially "unmarked" (white) artists occupy the position of being universal and individual at once. The irony, of course, is that, say, an African American poet's being read as an abstract signifier does not mean that the black subject or writer is seen as capable of engaging in abstract ideas. This course will ask questions about the problem of race and abstraction by looking at the work of various African American and Asian American writers, visual artists and musicians--including Will Alexander, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, David Hammons, Yayoi Kusama, Tan Lin, Nathaniel Mackey, and Cecil Taylor--as well as critics. We will pay particular attention to formally experimental works. This course will ask questions about the problem of race and abstraction by looking at the work of various African American and Asian American writers, visual artists and musicians--including Will Alexander, John Keene, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, John Yau, Cecil Taylor, David Hammons, and Yoko Ono--as well as critics. We will pay particular attention to formally experimental works. [ more ]

ENGL 327Experimental African American Poetry

Not offered this year

Contemporary African American poets in various cities and towns across the nation--from New York City to Los Angeles, from Berkeley to Durham, N.C.--are currently producing a vibrant and thriving body of formally experimental work, yet this poetry is largely unknown to readers both within and outside the academy. This formally innovative poetry defamiliarizes what we normally expect of "black writing" and pushes us to question our assumptions and presumptions about black identity, "identity politics," the avant-garde (for example, is it implicitly raced?), formalism, socially "relevant" writing, the (false) dichotomy of form versus content, the black "community," digital poetics, and other issues of race and aesthetics. We will examine the writings of living poets, who range widely in age, and those of their avant-garde predecessors in the twentieth century. We will also be making links between this poetry and African American music and visual art. [ more ]

ENGL 328(S)Austen, Eliot, Woolf

At roughly fifty-year intervals, Britain produced three brilliant female novelists -- Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf -- who would each become renowned, in her own way, for her ability to combine minutely detailed social observation with a rich depiction of the inner lives of her characters. This course will examine some of their major fiction-- with an emphasis on Austen and Eliot -- with special attention to the nature and implications of their narrative methods for representing the consciousnesses of characters, and of the authorial narrative voices that mediate among them. Questions to be considered: how is our understanding of novelistic characters and consciousness shaped by our real-life experience in interpreting the thoughts and character of others, and vice versa? Do "omniscient" narrators lay claim to a privileged kind of knowing presumed to be unavailable either to their character or to readers, or are they modelling humanly available interpretive stances toward a world of others? How do these authors' preoccupations with interior thought relate to their focus on women's experience? Possible texts include Austen's Emma and Persuasion, Eliot's Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, and The Lifted Veil, and Woolf's The Waves. [ more ]

ENGL 329(S)Sexuality and US Literatures of the 19th Century

If homosexuality and heterosexuality, as it is commonly argued, only came into being as legible identities at the end of the nineteenth century, what constituted "sexualities" before that? This course will explore how sexualities were expressed, regulated, denied and embraced "before identity" through reading closely some of the most central literary and cultural works of the period alongside a set of methodologically and theoretically diverse critical works that engage this query. Some questions we may explore include: What counts as sex and why would that be important to understanding a work of literature? What effect does race, ethnicity, gender, class and other differences make on sexual expression and regulation? How does literature itself represent, theorize, and respond to discourses of desire? Authors whose works we may explore include Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass,Harriet Jacobs, Henry James, Herman Melville, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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ENGL 330(S)The Digital Caribbean

In its rhizomatic structure and development, the internet is analogous to Caribbean culture: born out of disparate pieces and peoples; always already predicated on an elsewhere as home or authority; always already working to ignore geography and physical space as barriers to connection. This course probes the various epistemological, political and strategic ways in which cyberspace intersects with the formation and conceptualization of the Caribbean. What constitutes the Caribbean is, of course, not a new question. As we explore the digital media productions that continue to reconfigure the social and geographic contours of the region, we will build on familiar debates surrounding study of the Caribbean. Issues to be addressed include: Geography: What challenge, if any, might cyberspace pose to our geo-centered conceptualization of Caribbean cultures? Community: In what ways do online spaces that claim (or are claimed by) the Caribbean struggle, together or individually, to articulate a cohesive culture? Archival history and voice: Does the ephemerality of online life and the economics of access endanger or enable what we may call the Caribbean subject? Identity and representation: What indeed comprises "the Caribbean subject"? How do questions of authenticity get deployed in crucial moments of tension involving diasporic subjects, particularly in the sped-up world of digital production? These questions, framed by Caribbean Studies, will be our primary focus, but they will be articulated with questions and theories from new digital media studies about knowledge production and circulation, digital boundaries and the democracy of access and usage. [ more ]

ENGL 331(S)Romantic Culture

The Romantic period--1780 to 1830, roughly--is one of the great watershed moments in western culture. Romantic writers obsessed over the same things we do: the profit and power resident in human interactions with the natural world, for instance, or the spiritual significance of our inner lives, or the terrors and exhilaration of political and social activism. Romantic writing is durably relevant and, frequently, durably and interestingly weird. We will read a lot of poetry, and paintings and other examples of Romantic expressive culture will comprise a significant part of the course materials. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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ENGL 334(S)When Harlem was in Vogue

This course will examine the aesthetics and politics of the first modern African American cultural movement, known today as the Harlem Renaissance. In our readings of key literary texts by authors such as Alain Locke, Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, Eric Walrond, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, and Jean Toomer, we will discuss both the national and global contexts of so-called "New Negro Writing." Furthermore, we will trace the heated debates between Harlem's leading intellectuals and artists on the definitions of Black art, the themes and language most appropriate to "race literature" (as well as those seen as least appropriate to it), the responsibilities of the Black artist and his or her position vis-a-vis American and world literature. This course fulfills the EDI requirement by examining the relationship between race and canon-making in the early twentieth century. [ more ]

Taught by: Marina Bilbija

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ENGL 336(F)The Black Protest Tradition in America from Prince Hall to Black Lives Matter

This course examines the development of various overlapping African American and Afro-Caribbean protest traditions in the past two hundred years, such as Abolitionism, early reparations movements, the civil rights movements, the Black Panthers, black feminism, and Black Lives Matter. We will read a variety of speeches, essays, poems, songs, sermons, and pamphlets by writers, activists, and artists such as David Walker, Robert Wedderburn, Anna Julia Cooper, Ella Baker, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka, Angela Davis, George Jackson, and the Combahee River Collective. We will also examine the documents and online-syllabi of the Black Lives Matter movement. This course fulfills the EDI requirement as its points of focus are race formation in the US and the black liberation tradition that developed in opposition to racist legal and social norms both at home and abroad. [ more ]

Taught by: Marina Bilbija

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ENGL 337(S)The Social Life of Renaissance Poetry

What is the relationship between interior life and the public sphere? Many of the accomplishments of Renaissance poetry are inward-facing: psychological intensity, religious devotion, eroticism, the discovery of nature as a space of retreat. This writing was not produced by solitary geniuses, however, but rather by men and women whose texts were embedded in social networks. We will consider social spaces of poetic production, including court, country house, city, and coterie, as well as transnational spaces created by literary influence, cultural exchange, and travel. Authorship, style, commerce, patronage, privacy, sexuality, marriage, censorship, and the history of the book will be our conceptual preoccupations. Poets will include Petrarch, Wyatt, Elizabeth I, Sidney, Spenser, Donne, Shakespeare, Jonson, Marvell, and Milton. [ more ]

ENGL 338(F)The American Renaissance

"The American Renaissance" is the name given to US literature from 1830-1860. The explosive cultural energy of this period was provided by expansionist optimism, religious and spiritual experimentation, the horror of slavery and the looming Civil War. If you don't read the spiritual and existential exploration of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, or the existential despair of Poe, Hawthorne, Dickinson and Melville, all in the light of the brilliant escaped slave autobiography of Harriet Jacobs, then you won't grasp much of the cultural history of the United States in the two following centuries. [ more ]

ENGL 340(S)Transparency and Opacity

"Transparency" and "opacity" are metaphors--evoking openness and corruption, for example--and they are also material properties. In this course, students will consider transparency and opacity as formal devices alongside related tools, such as symmetry, reflectivity, reflexivity, and perspective. An intensive program of reading and looking will situate our investigation within discourses of political theory, literary criticism, psychology, architecture, and more; authors include philosopher Edouard Glissant, architectural theorist Anthony Vidler, and novelist Tom McCarthy, among others. We will investigate visual artists whose work uses transparent, translucent, and opaque materials, including Marcel Duchamp, Donald Judd, Josiah McElheny, Michaelangelo Pistoletto, David Hammons, Joseph Kosuth, Paul Chan, and Demetrius Oliver. Our research will inform a sequence of demanding independent studio exercises; creative work and group critique are important components of this course. Assessable tasks include response papers, studio exercises, and a studio project. [ more ]

Taught by: Steffani Jemison

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ENGL 341(S)American Genders, American Sexualites

This course investigates how sexual identities, desires, and acts are represented and reproduced in American literary and popular culture. Focusing on two culturally rich periods--roughly 1880-1940 (when the terms "homosexual" and "heterosexual" came to connote discrete sexual identities), and the contemporary context of the "postmodern" 21-century--we will explore what it means to read and theorize "queerly." Among the questions we will ask: What counts as "sex" or "sexual identity" in a text? Are there definably lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or transgender writing styles or cultural practices? What does sexuality have to do with gender? How are sexual subjectivities intertwined with race, ethnicity, class, and other identities and identifications? Why has "queerness" proven to be such a powerful and sometimes powerfully contested concept? We will also explore what impact particular historical events, such as the rise of sexology, the Harlem Renaissance, and the emergence of a transgender movement have had on queer cultural production. Readings may include works by the following authors: Butler, Cather, Diaz, Ferguson, Fitzgerald, Foucault, Freud, Hammonds, Hughes, James, Larsen, Lorde, Mu?oz, Rich, Rodriguez, Sedgwick, and Stein, and as well as screenings of contemporary videos and films. This course meets the requirements of the Exploring Diversity Initiative in that it focuses on empathetic understanding, power and privilege, and critical theorization, especially in relation to class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity within a U.S. context. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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ENGL 342 TInterior Lives: Ninteenth-Century American Literature and the Idea of Home

Not offered this year

We often discuss US history in terms of leaving home: the escape from an old world and the discovery of a new one, the journey from a civilized east to a western frontier, the violent displacement of indigenous peoples and Africans from their native lands. In contrast to these narratives, this course is about staying home. It will explore houses as both actual structures and imaginary places in the work of several major nineteenth-century American writers. We will think about the home as a real space whose walls, windows, and doors organized domestic life-- how and when individuals worked, ate, slept, had sex, were enslaved, raised children, cared for the sick, and died--and study the home's functions as a metaphor for big, abstract ideas about privacy and politics, individualism and nationhood, escape and return, freedom and oppression. Through careful examination of fiction and personal narratives, as well as poetry, photographs, and domestic manuals, the class will consider what it meant to be "at home", what it meant to be imprisoned there, and what it meant to run away. The syllabus will include writing by J.H. Banka, Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Harriet Jacobs, Herman Melville, Florence Nightingale, Edgar Allan Poe, Jacob Riis, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton, as well as secondary materials by Gaston Bachelard, Russ Castronovo, Michel Foucault, Diana Fuss, Caleb Smith, and Wharton (on decorating). [ more ]

ENGL 343 T(F)Whitman and Dickinson in Context

In this tutorial, we will read closely the works of two of the most influential and fascinating poets in the U.S., Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. In addition to studying in depth their poems and other writings-in Whitman's case, his essays, in Dickinson's, her letters--we will delve into some of the major critical debates surrounding their work, both individually and when compared to one another. For example, Whitman is often viewed as perhaps the most public nineteenth-century American poet, whereas Dickinson is regarded as perhaps the most "private." We will interrogate this assumption, exploring how each poet represents publicity and privacy in his/her work, as well as their efforts to "perform" and/or reform the American self. We will also examine how each poet engages questions of gender and sexuality, as well as contemporary debates surrounding such issues as abolition/slavery, women's suffrage, temperance, and territorial expansion. Finally, we will explore Whitman and Dickinson's relation to significant literary and philosophical movements of the period, including transcendentalism and the culture of sentiment. Throughout the course, emphasis will be on analyzing and generating interpretations of Whitman and Dickinson's works, constructing critical arguments in dialogue with other critics, formulating cogent written critiques, and carrying on an oral debate about a variety of interpretations. Students will meet with the instructor in pairs for an hour each week. They will alternate between writing 5- to 7-page papers and commentaries on their partner's papers. [ more ]

ENGL 344(F)The City and the Globe

This course will inquire into the ways literary and filmic representation can tell us about the new and shifting forms of human life that arise in the fluctuating cityscapes of the contemporary world. Working with short stories, novels, and film, this course journeys through depictions of urban life in developing cities across the globe. Our itinerary takes us to literary and cinematic versions of the Caribbean, Asian, South American, and African city. We will read texts by such authors as Italo Calvino, Chimamanda Adichie, Vikram Chandra, Teju Cole, Earl Lovelace, and Roberto Bola?o, and view films such as Chungking Express and City of God. Our secondary and theoretical texts will include writing by Walter Benjamin, Mike Davis, Saskia Sassen, and Achille Mbembe. The course will contribute to the College's Exploring Diversity Initiative by comparing cultural and societal urban contexts from a global perspective. [ more ]

ENGL 345 T(S)Shakespeare's Women

Shakespeare's plays portray a remarkably wide range of female characters from serving women to queens, from innocent, subservient young women to powerful authoritative adults. His plays explore female friendships, parents and children, love affairs and marriages, male actors playing female roles and female characters playing male roles. Looking closely at five plays--Twelfth Night, Much Ado Nothing, Hamlet, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra--we will examine the ways in which attitudes toward female stereotypes, sexuality, gender, subjectivity, social norms and performance evolve as Shakespeare's poetic style and dramatic technique mature, and the genre shifts from comedy to tragedy. [ more ]

ENGL 349(S)Contemporary Theatre and Performance

As Gertrude Stein once remarked, "The hardest thing is to know one's present moment." What is going on in theatre and performance today? What are the hot topics? Who are the writers, performers, and directors of our recent past and present moment? This seminar course will consider both experimental and mainstream drama and performance mainly in the U.S. from the past twenty years, focusing on topics such as: postmodern performance, theatre of images, auteur-directors, new realism, identity theatre, eco-theatre, performance art, postdramatic theatre, devised performance, virtuosic theatre, immersive theatre, social practice, neo-collectivism, and more. As part of the seminar, students will conduct individual research on selected topics and present their findings through oral reports. Students will be required to attend theatre, dance and other performances at the '62 Center. Artists and groups considered may include: The Wooster Group, Richard Foreman, Robert Wilson, Meredith Monk, Edward Albee, Maria Irene Fornes, Sam Shepard, Caryl Churchill, Tony Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sarah Kane, Will Eno, Richard Maxwell, Young Jean Lee, Annie Baker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Quiara Alegria Hudes, Anne Washburn, Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, The Civilians, and many others. As a final project, students will work individually or in small groups to create a script or short performance that addresses the question: "What is the most important story to be telling right now?" [ more ]

ENGL 353(F)The Brontes

Around 1845, three sisters in a remote town in Yorkshire effectively converted their father's humble parsonage into a family writers' colony. In 1846, each published her first novel--two of which would go on to become major classics. Within 8 years, all three sisters were dead, but by then they had produced seven of the most formally innovative, socially challenging, original and powerful works in English fiction. We will read them all, from Charlotte's best-selling love story, Jane Eyre, to the underrated Anne's brilliant and disturbing anatomy of an abusive marriage, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, to Emily's singular masterpiece Wuthering Heights, as well as their poetry and selections from the voluminous fantasy fiction they created together as children. We will also read Elizabeth Gaskell's acclaimed 1857 Life of Charlotte Bronte, "the first full-length biography of a woman novelist by a woman novelist", which began the process of making the Brontes the cult figures they remain today. Reading these works together in the bicentennial year of Charlotte's birth, we will consider how their shared efforts helped all three sisters to push through boundaries few other women writers had dared to challenge. In a similar spirit of collaboration, we will mix critical and creative writing in our responses to these works. [ more ]

ENGL 356(F)Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora

This course explores how the graphic novel has been an effective, provocative and at times controversial medium for representing racialized histories. Drawing on graphic novels such as Jeremy Love's Bayou and Ho Che Anderson's King: A Comic Biography, this course illustrates and critiques multiple ways the graphic novel commingles word and image to create more sensorial access into ethnic traumas, challenges and interventions in critical moments of resistance throughout history. Students will practice analyzing graphic novels and comic strips, with the help of critical essays, reviews and film; the chosen texts will center on Africana cultures, prompting students to consider how the graphic novel may act as a useful alternate history for marginalized peoples. During the course, students will keep a journal with images, themes and reflections and will use Comic Life software and ipads to create their own graphic short stories based on historical and/or autobiographical narratives. [ more ]

ENGL 357 T(S)Twentieth-Century American Poets

This tutorial focuses upon poems by Twentieth-Century Americans, including Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, and Adrienne Rich. Each student writes five essays, critiqued by his or her tutorial partner, and discussed with the instructor. [ more ]

ENGL 358(S)Across the Oceans, Across the Seas

This course will consider literature that depicts the circulation of peoples and commodities (and often people as commodities) across the world's oceans in the 19th and 20th centuries. We will consider such issues as the microcosm of the ship, the slave trade and the Middle Passage, indentured servitude and the Indian Ocean, the ocean as a space of flux and transformation, and figures such as the maroon, the castaway, the lascar, and the pirate. We will read texts by Herman Melville, Claude McKay, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, and Amitav Ghosh. Secondary and theoretical texts will include works by Paul Gilroy, C.L.R. James, Edouard Glissant, and Khal Torabully. The course will contribute to the College's Exploring Diversity Initiative by exploring cultural encounters and transformations in the transitional, transnational space of the world ocean. [ more ]

ENGL 360(S)James Joyce's "Ulysses"

This course will explore in depth the demanding and exhilarating work widely regarded as the most important novel of the twentieth century, James Joyce's Ulysses, which both dismantled the traditional novel and revitalized the genre by opening up new possibilities for fiction. We will discuss the ways in which compelling issues of character and theme (e.g., questions of heroism and betrayal, sexuality and the politics of gender, civic engagement and artistic isolation, British imperialism and Irish nationalism) are placed in counterpoint with patterns drawn from myth, theology, philosophy, and other literature, and will consider the convergence of such themes in an unorthodox form of comedy. In assessing Ulysses as the outstanding paradigm of modernist fiction, we will be equally attentive to its radical and often funny innovations of structure, style, and narrative perspective. In addition to Joyce's novel, readings will include its epic precursor, Homer's Odyssey, as well as critical essays. Students unfamiliar with Joyce's short novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which introduces characters later followed in Ulysses, are urged to read it in advance of the course. [ more ]

ENGL 361(F)Nabokov and Pynchon

After a brief comparative study of their short stories, the course will focus on selected novels by each author. Texts include: Pnin, Lolita, and Pale Fire by Nabokov; and, by Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity's Rainbow (to which a substantial portion of the latter part of the course will be devoted). [ more ]

ENGL 362 T(S)Approaches to W. B. Yeats

We will read the poetry and selected prose and plays of William Butler Yeats. Widely regarded as one of the most influential English-language poets of the twentieth century, Yeats was also a novelist, playwright, critic, autobiographer, and a founder of the Irish national theater. We will consider how his writings were shaped by, and responded to, the literary and political contexts of his time; how he conceived of authorial selfhood, its construction in language, and the functions of literature; and his transactions with his contemporaries (from Wilde to Pound to Auden). Applying a range of critical and theoretical approaches to his writings, and giving particular attention to textual materialism, we will study closely Yeats's compositional process and his habits of repeated revision of published works, as well as his formal techniques. [ more ]

ENGL 363Literature and Psychoanalysis

Not offered this year

The British psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott once wrote: "It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found." This course will explore the many ways in which writing enacts this paradox, examining in the process several main strands of psychoanalytic thought in relation to literature that precedes, accompanies, and follows it in history. Approximately the first two-thirds of the course will involve close readings of theoretical and literary texts, which will be shared in a seminar format. In the latter portion of the course, students will work with each other and with the instructor on analyzing the processes of reading and writing as they produce original psychoanalytic readings of texts of their choice. All readings in English. [ more ]

ENGL 367(S)Documentary Fictions

Documentary Fictions investigates the history of reality-based film and video. Using readings drawn from cultural studies, film history and literary theory, we will consider films ranging from Nanook of the North through Grizzly Man and Citizenfour. How do contemporary technologies of representation (medical imaging, FaceTime, video surveillance) inflect our sense of the world, and of ourselves? [ more ]

ENGL 368Ireland in Film

Not offered this year

In 1909, James Joyce was briefly the manager of one of Dublin's first cinemas. The medium of film has long attracted Irish writers: as a means to explore and represent the country's political and cultural history, to interrogate the very notion of "Irishness", and to promote their work to a wider audience. In turn, Ireland has long provided a rich subject for Hollywood fantasy, often being portrayed by non-Irish directors as either a mythic space for emerald-green romanticism, or, more darkly, as a place of political terror and enduring ideological rivalries. In this course we will view and discuss major films from the canon of Irish cinema, with the main aim of assessing the achievement of indigenous filmmakers and the newly ascendant film movement in Ireland. We will consider the impact of commercial considerations on Irish cinema, and the powerful influence of British and American films (and especially those offering competing representations of Ireland) on Irish filmmakers. We will also read the literary texts on which some films were based, so as to consider the strengths and limitations of the medium as a resource for writers who initially worked only in print. This course will introduce participants to the technical vocabulary of film art, as well as to major themes in modern Irish history and culture. Films to be viewed may include: Man of Aran, The Informer, The Quiet Man, Eat the Peach, In the Name of the Father, Butcher Boy, Intermission,The Playboys, Into the West, The Field, The Crying Game, December Bride,The Commitments, Michael Collins, Ondine and In Bruges and we will also assess one or more short independent films such as Budawanny and Adam and Paul. Special attention will be given to the work of Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan and Terry George. [ more ]

ENGL 370Literary and Critical Theory in the Twentieth Century

Not offered this year

From the rise of modern literary criticism around 1900 to the explosion of high theory in the 1980s and 1990s, the twentieth century witnessed an international flowering of new ideas about how to interpret art and literature: Russian Formalism, American New Criticism, French Structuralism and Deconstruction, new varieties of hermeneutic criticism, and a welter of post- prefixed concepts that claim to transcend national boundaries: the poststructural, the postmodern, the postcolonial, the posthuman. What are the ideas associated with these different movements, and how are they connected? Does each represent a radical break with previous ways of reading, or do they actually build on one another and evolve in a systematic way? The course will focus on a very careful reading of essays representing major 20th-century critical schools (and a couple of their earlier precursors), by critics like Plato, Schiller, Shklovsky, Richards, Barthes, Derrida, De Man, Beauvoir, Butler, and Said. Written assignments will encourage you to parse these theories carefully and apply them to the literary texts that most interest you: prose or poetry from any time and place; film, visual art, or architecture; music, new media, or digital media, etc. [ more ]

ENGL 371 TThe Brothers Karamazov

Not offered this year

Widely hailed as one of the greatest novels ever written, Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov contains a series of enigmas, not the least of which is precisely who murdered the Karamazov father. In addition to exploring the shared guilt of all four of the brothers Karamazov in the crime of patricide, Dostoevsky poses the most probing questions of his day: Are families tied together merely by blood or by deeper spiritual bonds? Is religious faith possible in an age of reason, science, and technology? Can man's earthly laws ever carry out divine justice? Is humanity prepared to bear the burden of responsibility that comes with freedom? This tutorial will spend an entire semester exploring Dostoevsky's masterwork, and we will read a variety of secondary sources alongside The Brothers Karamazov, including history, philosophy, and literary theory. Our goal will be to understand Dostoevsky's answers to these so-called "accursed questions" through the unique artistic form of The Brothers Karamazov. [ more ]

ENGL 375New Asian American, African American, Native American, and Latina/o Writing

Not offered this year

Critics reading minority writing often focus on its thematic--i.e., sociological--content. Such literature is usually presumed to be inseparable from the "identity"/body of the writer and read as autobiographical, ethnographic, representational, exotic. At the other end of the spectrum, avant-garde writing is seen to concern itself "purely" with formal questions, divorced from the socio-historical (and certainly not sullied by the taint of race). In the critical realm we currently inhabit, in which "race" is opposed to the "avant-garde," an experimental minority writer can indeed seem an oxymoron. In this class we will closely read recent work by Asian American, African American, Native American and Latino/a writers which challenges preconceptions about ethnic literature, avant-garde writing, genre categorization, among other things. The writing done by these mostly young, mostly urban, poets and fiction writers is some of the most exciting being written in the United States today; their texts push the boundaries of aesthetic form while simultaneously engaging questions of culture, politics, and history. Reading them forces us to re-think our received notions about literature. Authors to be read include Will Alexander, Sherwin Bitsui, Monica de la Torre, Sesshu Foster, Renee Gladman, Bhanu Kapil, Tan Lin, Tao Lin, Ed Roberson, James Thomas Stevens, Roberto Tejada, and Edwin Torres. [ more ]

ENGL 377(S)Advanced Memoir Workshop

An advanced workshop designed to further explore the problems and possibilities that arise in the composition of memoir. Workshop sessions will be devoted to both published and student work. Individual conferences will supplement the workshop sessions, and considerable emphasis will be placed on the process of revision. Students will receive written critiques from other students as well as the instructor. [ more ]

ENGL 382(S)Advanced Workshop in Poetry

This workshop will include readings in modern and contemporary poetry, as well as weekly writing assignments. Some memorization may be required. [ more ]

ENGL 384(S)Advanced Fiction Workshop

A further consideration of the complexities and possibilities involved in the writing of short fiction. Exercises, short assignments, and discussion of published fiction will be combined with workshops of student stories and individual conferences with the instructor. [ more ]

ENGL 388Asian American Writing and the Visual Arts

Not offered this year

This course examines the intersection of Asian American writing and the visual arts in a range of works: graphic novels, art criticism, collaborative projects between poets and visual artists, works that combine textual and visual elements, ekphrastic poetry, poetry "inspired by" paintings, video work, digital poetry, among others. Writers and artists to be discussed include Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Theresa Cha, Patty Chang, Mel Chin, Bhanu Kapil, Janice Lee, Tan Lin, Yoko Ono, Adrian Tomine, and John Yau. [ more ]

ENGL 389(F)Fiction of Virginia Woolf

"Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern, however disconnected and incoherent in appearance, which each sight or incident scores upon the consciousness. Let us not take it for granted that life exists more fully in what is commonly thought big than in what is commonly thought small" ("Modern Fiction"). Virginia Woolf's fiction represents a self-conscious and highly experimental challenge to the conventions of Victorian and Edwardian fiction, in an effort to re-center the novel on lived experience. This course will explore the evolution of the innovative fictional forms by which she tried to bridge the gap between the experience of consciousness and its representation in language. We will also consider the links between Woolf's concern with in the fluidity of consciousness and her interest in gender fluidity and androgyny. We will read most of the major novels, probably including The Voyage Out, Jacob's Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves, and Between the Acts, together with selected short fiction and critical essays. [ more ]

ENGL 395(S)Signs of History

What is an historical event, and how do such events differ from other occurrences? How are historical changes reflected in or produced by literature, art and other cultural forms? Who or what makes history and what is the nature of historical agency? Is history always "written by the victors," as one says, or are there ways of challenging dominant accounts of the past? This seminar will attempt to answer these questions through readings of works of philosophy, poetry, history, prose fiction, film, photography, and cultural criticism that reflect upon the nature of history. Though answers will be multiple, course reading and discussion will in general strive to determine the consequences of understanding history as a site in which reading and writing, experience and narration, and action and interpretation interpenetrate. Readings may include works by Burke, Hegel, Charlotte Smith, de Tocqueville, Marx & Engels, Woolf, and Benjamin. [ more ]

ENGL 410(F)Black Literary and Cultural Theories

This course will examine the writings of black twentieth- and twenty-first-century Anglophone and Francophone literary and cultural theorists in the African diaspora. We will begin with Sojourner Truth and W.E.B. Du Bois and end with current debates between the "Afro-Pessimists" and "Afro-Optimists." We will be reading writers from the United States, Britain, Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe, moving through the writings of the Harlem Renaissance, Negritude, Pan-Africanism, the Black Arts movement and Black Panthers, the Black Atlantic, and black feminism and queer studies. We will come to see that there is no easy separation between questions of politics (e.g., anti-colonialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist) and those of aesthetics and poetics. [ more ]

ENGL 445(S)World's End: Literary Ecologies of the Limit

Consciousness of the world's finitude in a time of environmental degradation and headlong global capitalism prompts restraint, a harboring of resources. But beyond the economic logic of conservation and expenditure, might imagining the world from the vantage point of its limit provoke a more profound rethinking of ourselves and the things of the world? Does it change what it means to possess, or even what an experience of the world is? Does it change human relationship? This course explores these questions in part by reaching back to the early modern period, when the boundedness of nations and worlds first comes to view in a meaningful way. But the course will have a long arc, from Shakespeare to Godard. Primary works may include: Shakespeare, King Lear; Marvell, "Upon Appleton House"; Browne, Urn Burial; Burnet, Sacred Theory of the Earth; Defoe, Robinson Crusoe; Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth; Godard, Weekend and Goodbye to Language; Tarkovsky, Solaris; Delillo, White Noise; Atwood, Oryx and Crake. Theoretical texts include: Nixon, Slow Violence; Agamben, The Time that Remains; Heidegger, Question Concerning Technology; Latour, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence; Nancy, After Fukushima; Derrida, "On an Apocalyptic Tone..." and Beast and the Sovereign. [ more ]

ENGL 450(F)Melville, Mark Twain, & Ellison

As an epigraph to his novel, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison selects a quotation from Herman Melville's story, "Benito Cereno." In the prologue to Invisible Man, Ellison invokes a sermon that appears briefly in the opening chapter of Moby-Dick. In his essays on comedy and American culture, Ellison comments trenchantly on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Melville and Mark Twain were, in many obvious ways, as different as two writers can be. Nonetheless, they also have many surprising similarities, and it is not difficult to understand why both are so important to Ellison. This course will examine the novels, stories, and essays of these three writers, with particular attention to the themes that they have in common and to the traits that make each of them distinctive. Race, slavery, epistemology, and the nature of American democracy are among those themes. [ more ]

ENGL 456(S)Topics in Critical Theory: Marx and Marxism

This course is for students of any major who wish to continue studying critical, cultural, or literary theory. Students will give close attention to a single theorist or philosophical school or perhaps to a single question as taken up by several theorists. Prior coursework in critical theory or continental philosophy, no matter the department, is strongly recommended. The subject of this semester's seminar is Marx and Marxism. Everybody knows that Marx was the great enemy of capitalism, but just saying that doesn't tell you much. So what is the second thing you want to say about Marx? Is there, for instance, anything distinctive about his reasons for not liking capitalism? Is everyone who opposes capitalism a Marxist? Or in order to count as a Marxist, do you have to dislike capitalism in a particular way? Just as important: Can you be a Marxist and not talk about capitalism? Is capitalism Marx's sole and exclusive concern? Or is there perhaps a Marxist method, maybe even a Marxist philosophy, that could be directed towards objects other than capitalist ones? We will spend the semester trying to grapple with the specificity of Marx's thought. What is unusual about how Marx thinks about capitalism? And could we think that way about other things, too? [ more ]

ENGL 493(F)Honors Colloquium: English

A colloquium for students pursuing critical theses and critical specializations. Students will present and critique their work in progress, and discuss issues particular to researching and structuring a long analytical thesis. We will also discuss the work of a variety of recent critics representing a range of methods of literary study. Satisfactory completion of the course will be required for students to continue on in the honors program. [ more ]

ENGL 494(S)Honors Thesis: English

English honors thesis. Required of all senior English majors pursuing critical theses and critical specialization. [ more ]

ENGL 497(F, S)Honors Independent Study: English

English honors thesis. Required of all senior English majors pursuing departmental honors in creative writing. [ more ]