The department offers two kinds of courses particularly intended for first-year students: many first-year seminars offered by English faculty under the FYSEM designation and Spring sections of ENGL-199, which second semester first years are welcome to take. The first-year seminars taught by English department faculty are writing-intensive seminars on various topics which strengthen a student’s proficiency and confidence as a writer.ENGL-199, also writing-intensive, is an introduction to literary studies and a required gateway to the major. Students who, in the fall, take a writing-intensive first year seminar and who are considering a major in English ordinarily take ENGL-199 in the spring. First-year students interested in ENGL-201 require the permission of the instructor.
ENGL-201 Introduction to Creative Writing
This course offers an introduction to the composition of multiple genres and modes of creative writing, which may include poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, hybrid forms, graphic novels, and digital texts. Students will learn strategies for generating ideas, drafting, giving and receiving feedback, revising creative work, and building literary community.
ENGL-202 Introduction to Journalism
This course offers analysis of and practice in various forms of journalistic writing, including news and feature, editorial and opinion pieces, and personal essays. The emphasis is on newspaper journalism, along with a semester-long article suitable for magazines. There are weekly writing assignments and discussions of peers' work. Producing a published story is a course goal.
ENGL-204 Poetry Writing
In this introductory course, students will read widely in contemporary poetry. Through prompts and project-based inquiry, both within the workshop and in take-home assignments, students will have the opportunity to produce and share writing based on the conceptual frameworks explored in the class.
This course offers practice in the fundamentals of dramatic structure and technique. Weekly reading assignments will examine the unique nature of writing for the theatre, nuts and bolts of format, tools of the craft, and the playwright's process from formulating a dramatic idea to rewriting. Weekly writing assignments will include scene work, adaptation, and journaling. The course will culminate in a significant writing project. Each class meeting will incorporate reading student work aloud with feedback from the instructor and the class. Students will listen, critique, and develop the vocabulary to discuss plays, structure, story, and content.
ENGL-219 Topics in Creative Writing
ENGL-219AT Topics in Creative Writing: 'Writing Animal Tales'
What do writings about animals reveal about their lives? How do human beings engage with mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds as food, competitors, and companions? We will explore these questions as we read works focusing on the real and imagined lives of animals from ancient fables through 21st-century novels, essays, and hybrid-genre works. Reading discussions will be followed by writing experiments designed to spark original thinking and develop facility with writing. You will gain insight into the fine and ferocious literature concerning the great and small beasts, writing creative and analytical pieces toward a final portfolio. Some classes will involve field trips to observe animals.
ENGL-219CH Topics in Creative Writing: 'Climate Changes Everything: Telling Stories at the End of the World As We Know It'
In this moment of climate emergency, how and why do we make meaning? What possibilities might various textual practices offer for engaging with, and positioning ourselves in relationship to, the unfathomable? If we are telling stories in the face of a radically uncertain future, who is our audience? In collaboration with students in the linked FMT-240CH course, we will find ways of telling stories that help us relate to this moment, and, crucially, to each other. This is a creative writing course. Expect to encounter and create texts in many possible forms, including climate fiction, agitprop, documentary poetry, lyric essay, interactive narrative, and more.
ENGL-219CP Topics in Creative Writing: 'Creative Process'
This is a space where students can explore their own creative impulses, develop ideas, and generate material. Here, we will stretch beyond the boundaries of any particular creative practice as it may be defined within disciplinary limits. We will engage in contemplative practices while using writing, movement, theater games, and time-based media in order to germinate seeds for projects -- projects we might explore further and possibly complete either within or beyond the bounds of the class itself. More importantly, we will begin to identify our own inner rhythms as makers, create patterns that support our creative process, and develop the capacity to listen deeply to what speaks to us. We will turn to makers and writers of all kinds for inspiration and guidance as we develop a vocabulary for process, including but not limited to: Judi Bari, Lynda Barry, CA Conrad, Louise Erdrich, Jozen Tamori Gibson, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Bernadette Mayer, Dori Midnight, Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono & Rainer Maria Rilke.
ENGL-219FM Topics in Creative Writing: 'Four Memoirs: Writing Through Radical Self-Inquiry'
In this class, we will read four full-length memoirs, each representing radically different structures and styles. Students will write four short memoirs mirroring the forms of these books. These "memoirs" will run between 2,000-2,500 words, and they will represent the pillars of the final grade. Memoir projects will receive instructor feedback, and will also be shared in smaller "care groups" to offer and receive feedback. Mary Oliver once wrote that "attention is the beginning of devotion." Together, we will nurture our attention to the world, and, therefore, devote ourselves to bettering it. We will nurture our sensitivities, our wonder, our awe, and identify not only who we are through rigorous self-inquiry, but what conversations we are participating in when we write, what literary traditions we perpetuate, and, perhaps most importantly, what traditions we break. Sample texts (full-length and excerpted) include Carmen Maria Machado, Alexander Chee, Barry Jenkins, Jaquira Díaz, Michelle Zauner, Saeed Jones, Natasha Trethewey, Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, Cyrus Simonoff, Yuko Tsushima, and others.
ENGL-219MT Topics in Creative Writing: 'Retelling Myth and Fairy Tale'
This course explores contemporary fiction that retells old myths and fairy tales to create new writing. We will read short stories and novels from a diversity of cultures that adapt received texts to generate new works, which often implicitly question the original tales' messages, providing feminist, racial, and/or queer correctives. Students will read these retellings as creative writers, gleaning techniques and approaches to write their own contemporary retellings. Everyone will give and receive critique in small groups and workshops throughout the course and revise writing for the final project.
ENGL-219QT Topics in Creative Writing: 'Queer and Trans Writing'
What do we mean when we say "queer writing" or "trans writing"? Are we talking about creative writing by queer and/or trans authors? Writing about queer or trans practices, identities, experience? Writing that subverts conventional forms? All of the above? In this course, we will engage these questions not theoretically but through praxis. We will read fiction, poetry, comics, creative nonfiction, and hybrid forms. Expect to encounter work that challenges you in terms of form and content. Some writers we may read include Ryka Aoki, James Baldwin, Tom Cho, Samuel R. Delany, kari edwards, Elisha Lim, Audre Lorde, Cherríe Moraga, Eileen Myles, and David Wojnarowicz.
ENGL-265 Children's and Young Adult Literature
ENGL-265YA 'Young Adult Fiction Writing'
This creative writing course provides an introduction to the field of young adult (YA) fiction writing. Students will study and practice writing in a workshop atmosphere and will read a wide range of novels and short stories, including works by writers such as Laurie Halse Anderson, Coe Booth, Agnes Borinsky, Adam Rapp, Tanuja Desai Hidier, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Mary H. K. Choi. We will discuss the fundamentals of fiction writing (characterization, plot, setting, structure, point of view) with an emphasis on the elements that distinguish YA writing from writing intended for adults. The readings will seek to encompass both a diversity of voices and a diversity of approaches to YA fiction.
ENGL-301 Studies in Journalism
ENGL-304 Advanced Poetry Writing
In this workshop students will have the opportunity to generate new poems, with an eye to revision, critical thinking, and longer manuscript projects. We will read and discuss work by contemporary poets and will occasionally incorporate other media -- visual art, music, performance, film, work that defies genre -- to learn about what we might want to do with language and poetry. Together, we will work to build a community through our reading and our work.
ENGL-306 Advanced Projects in Creative Writing
This semester-long course is designed for students already at work on a longer project (a novel or novella, a short story collection, a collection of poems, longform creative nonfiction, a graphic novel, or a hybrid form). Students will build on the skills and insights gained in previous creative writing courses to draft, workshop, and revise a full-length creative manuscript. Workshop and revision will comprise much of our time, along with readings on craft by authors such as Lynda Barry, Italo Calvino, and Samuel R. Delany. Students will also have an opportunity to meet literary publishing professionals.
ENGL-361 Advanced Creative Writing Topics
ENGL-361AR Advanced Creative Writing Topics: 'Creative Writing from the Archives'
In this creative writing course, we will draw on MHC's archives of the Glascock Poetry Contest, which celebrates its 100th year in 2023. Reading the writings of past contestants and judges including Muriel Rukeyser, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, James Merrill, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Nelson, Marilyn Chin, and Maggie Nelson, we will gain insights into the evolution of American poetry over the last century and investigate how the evaluation of poems has also changed. We will view and listen to archival materials such as photographs, judges' correspondence, and audiotapes to expand our inquiry and spur new creative writing in any genre inspired by these texts and unique holdings.
ENGL-361HY Advanced Creative Writing Topics: 'Hybrid Genre Writing'
Students will read and discuss a diverse array of hybrid-genre works or writing that combines and coalesces two or more genres: poetry, fiction, criticism, and/or memoir. Some books will also cross media incorporating painting, photography, or film. Students will consider how drawing upon different prose, verse, and multi-media modes can complement and augment the way writers shape their personal and political stories and will complete writing, speaking, and other assignments designed to build toward a hybrid-genre work. Everyone will give and receive critique in a workshop environment, expand approaches to drafting, and revise work for the final assignment.
ENGL-361KA Advanced Creative Writing Topics: 'Korean American Feminist Poetry'
Poetry by Korean American feminist writers has burgeoned in the 21st century with new generations of poets contributing to life of American letters. Reading works by Theresa Cha, Myung Mi Kim, Don Mee Choi, Mary-Kim Arnold, and others, we will discuss how each writer evokes racial and ethnic identity and intersections with gender and other political concerns, as well as the choices each poet makes regarding form and style. Students will gain insight into a great diversity of approaches to writing poetry and will create a portfolio of their own poems based on our discussions. Most classes will involve group critique of writing; several will involve visits with our authors. All are welcome.
ENGL-361LP Advanced Creative Writing Topics: 'Writing In/Out of Place: 'Latinx and Latin American Poetry'
This course turns to contemporary Latinx and Latin American poetry as a vital creative resource. Reading work by Cecilia Vicuña, Jenif(f)er Tamayo, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Davi Kopenawa, and Miriam Alves, among others, students will write poetry and other genres in dialogue with voices from across the Americas. To orient our imaginations, we will explore not just the innovative forms and aesthetics taken up by poets of Latin American descent but also the politics embedded therein. Central to our discussions will be the relationship between self and place as we navigate topics such as race, colonialism, gender, sexuality, class, disability, ecology, and spirituality.
ENGL-361PM Advanced Creative Writing Topics: 'Poetry and Image: Formations of Identity'
With an emphasis on producing creative texts, the course will examine the parallel and often overlapping impulses of poetry and image-making (photography, painting, and other visual arts). We will explore concepts of identity through the work of artists such as Alice Neel, Mikalene Thomas, Claude Cahun, Cindy Sherman, Kehinde Wiley, Glenn Ligon, Catherine Opie, Kara Walker, Diane Arbus, Vivian Maier, and Nan Goldin. Writers will include Ocean Vuong, Danez Smith, Sherwin Bitsui, Robert Seydel, Ari Banias, Safia Elhillo, Gloria Anzaldua, Morgan Parker, Layli Longsoldier, Judy Grahn, Audre Lorde, Ronaldo Wilson, Shane McCrae, Adrienne Rich, David Wojnarowisz, Eileen Myles, and others.
ENGL-361SW Advanced Creative Writing Topics: 'Screenwriting'
The screenplay is a unique and ephemeral form that exists as a blueprint for something else: a finished film. How do you convey on the page a story that will take shape within an audio-visual medium? The screenwriter must have an understanding of both the language of narrative film as well as the general shape and mechanics of film stories. This advanced course will cover dialogue, characterization, plot, story arc, genre, and cinematic structure. We will analyze scenes from fictional narrative films -- both short and feature length -- and read the scripts that accompany these films. By the end of this course, each student will have written two original short films. In workshop style, the class will serve as practice audience for table readings of drafts and writing exercises.
ENGL-378 Another World Is Possible: Writing Utopias
How and why do narrative artists envision whole new worlds? What is the role of fantasy in social change? How can we make art about social change in the middle of a global crisis? In this course we will investigate contemporary utopian fictions and their historical antecedents as models for our own utopian writing. We will encounter novels and films from various lineages, including Afrofuturist, anarchist, critical utopian, ecotopian, and feminist. Authors we may read include Sir Thomas More, Ursula K. Le Guin, Samuel R. Delany, Ernest Callenbach, Octavia E. Butler, Walidah Imarisha, Carolina De Robertis, and Margaret Kiljoy. Interdisciplinary research and collaboration will make up a substantial portion of the work of the course.
A study of some of Shakespeare's plays emphasizing the poetic and dramatic aspects of his art, with attention to the historical context and close, careful reading of the language. Eight or nine plays.
ENGL-213 The Literature of the Later Middle Ages
This course will examine a variety of English works and genres written in the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries. Our concentration will be principally on the Gawain-poet, Chaucer, Langland, Margery Kempe, and Lydgate. Most of our readings are in Middle English.
ENGL-214 Topics in Medieval Studies
ENGL-214BE Topics in Medieval Studies: 'Beowulf, Gawain, Ishiguro: Medieval Mythmaking and the Idea of Britain'
This course explores early-medieval English literature that focuses on migration, cultural and religious inter-mixing, and histories of invasion and conquest. We'll read early-English literature to study its frameworks of historiography and its imperial interests, the mythologies behind early-English identities, the culture of English learning, and the afterlives of invasion. Course readings will include modern English translations of Beowulf, the works of Gildas and Bede, and selections from post-Conquest history and Arthuriana. With the semester's worth of knowledge about early-English history and literary production, we'll spend the final weeks of the course reading Kazuo Ishiguro's novel The Buried Giant.
ENGL-214LR Topics in Medieval Studies: 'Love and Reason in Medieval Romance'
Arthurian legend conjures enduring stereotypes of chivalry and romantic love, but how do we go about situating medieval romance in literary history? Where does it come from, why was it written, who read it, and how did it change over time? In this course, students will learn about romance's historical and social contexts, its form, tropes, and imagery. We will think about romance's contemplation of justice, loyalty, subjectivity, love, and shame, especially as this body of literature grapples with the conflicts that arise between the mortal and divine. Course readings will include works by Marie de France, Chrétien de Troyes, Chaucer, Lydgate, and Spenser. We will read in Middle English where possible.
ENGL-214RE Topics in Medieval Studies: 'Riddling in Old English'
This course will acquaint students with English as it was written and spoken over 1,000 years ago. By introducing Old English as a language system, this course will provide insight into early medieval literacy with special attention paid to the genre of riddles. The first several weeks will be spent on learning the basics of Old English alongside the contexts in which Old English writing was produced. Toward the end of the term, we'll focus our attention on translating select riddles from the Exeter Book. Assignments will include primary and secondary readings, a translation exam, and essays.
ENGL-216 Introduction to Poetry of the African Diaspora
What is African poetry and how has it evolved over time from oral to written literature? In this course, we will read and respond creatively and critically to poetry by people of the African diaspora with a focus on people with ties to the Sub-Saharan region. We will explore both oral and written poetry as well as themes of identity, nationhood, and spirituality. By the end of the semester, students will create a chapbook with (20-30) poems and will be encouraged to submit their poems to journals for publication.
ENGL-217 Topics in English
ENGL-217GA Topics in English: 'Global Anglophone Literature: Who Writes the World?'
This course introduces the literature of the former British colonies (South Asia, Anglophone Africa, Caribbean, and Canada). Some topics under consideration are colonialism and society, postcolonial disillusionment, neoliberalism, human rights storytelling, and ecocriticism. Readings include Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, Maps by Nuruddin Farah, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje, The Cry of Winnie Mandela by Njabulo Ndebele, and Animal's People by Indra Sinha.
ENGL-217GE Topics in English: 'Global English: Its Written and Spoken Forms'
What is the relationship between language and social and political power? This course is an interdisciplinary study of the global role of the English language. Migration, education, and identity are major themes of the course, and we look at how linguists, policy-makers, and individuals grapple with these complex topics. This course also focuses on students' development of their written and spoken communication skills and is open to students in all disciplines. Our approach to writing and speaking may be particularly effective for students who do not identify as native speakers of English.
ENGL-232 Rovers, Cuckqueens, and Country Wives of All Kinds: The Queer Eighteenth Century
With the rise of the two-sex model, the eighteenth century might be seen to be a bastion of heteronormativity leading directly to Victorian cis-gender binary roles of angel in the house and the bourgeois patriarch. Yet, beginning with the Restoration's reinvention of ribald theater, this period was host to a radical array of experimentation in gender and sexuality, alongside intense play with genre (e.g., the invention of the novel). We will explore queerness in all its forms alongside consideration of how to write queer literary histories.
ENGL-233 Nonbinary Romanticism: Genders, Sexes, and Beings in the Age of Revolution
With the onslaught of American, French, Haitian, and South American revolts and revolutions, the Atlantic world, much of Europe, and its colonial/industrial empire were thrown into a period of refiguring the concept of the raced, national, and gendered subject. This course considers what new forms of gender, sex, sexuality, and being were created, practiced, or thought, however momentarily, in this tumultuous age. Specific attention is given to conceptions of nonbinary being (of all varieties). Authors may include E. Darwin, Equiano, Wollstonecraft, Lister, M. Shelley, Byron, Jacobs.
ENGL-238 Modern Irish Literature
This course will introduce students to the literature of modern Ireland beginning with Swift, moving through the nineteenth century, examining the Irish Literary Revival and Irish modernism, and finally contemporary drama, poetry, and fiction. We will focus on Irish women writers and their literary interventions concerning colonial history, nationalism, and Unionism. We will pay particular attention to representations of Irishness, the relationship between literature and national history, and questions of violence and representation. The course will explore how the genres, styles, and forms of Irish writing are determined by the experience of colonial trauma and the imperative to imagine national identity.
ENGL-240 American Literature I
A survey of American literature from the literature of exploration to the Civil War, with special attention to the formation of an American literary tradition, along with the political, social, and religious contexts that helped shape the imaginative responses of American writers to their culture.
ENGL-241 American Literature II
A survey of American literature from the Civil War to the present, with special attention to literary redefinitions of race, gender, sexuality, and class and to changes in literary form.
ENGL-242 Topics in American Literature
ENGL-242AE Topics in American Literature: 'The American Essay'
Throughout the history of the United States, the essay has been a vital literary genre. From religious and confessional essays to personal, political, and satirical ones, American authors have explored their passions and hatreds in this flexible form. We will read essays from the nineteenth century to the present, with the opportunity to write essays of our own. Authors may include Thoreau, Baldwin, Didion, and Maggie Nelson, along with international writers, such as Woolf and Zadie Smith, who have influenced American essayists.
ENGL-242LG Topics in American Literature: 'Post-War American Literary Geographies'
This course examines connections between geography and identity as they emerge in post-1945 American literary and cultural texts. We will look at how space and place contribute to constructions of gendered, raced, and classed identities in works by writers such as Gish Jen, Jennifer Egan, Philip Roth, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Tommy Orange. Through examining turns towards space and place in post-1945 fiction, we will touch on topics such as the post-war suburb, immigration and migration after 1965, and the city post-9/11, among others. Writing assignments will ask students to carefully analyze the nature of geography and identity in our assigned course readings.
ENGL-243 American Gothic
An examination of the gothic -- a world of fear, haunting, claustrophobia, paranoia, and monstrosity -- in U.S. literature and visual culture. Topics include race, slavery, and the gothic; gender, sexuality, and the gothic; regional gothic; the uncanny; cinematic and pictorial gothic; pandemic gothic. Authors, artists, and filmmakers may include Dunbar, Elmer, Faulkner, Gilman, Hitchcock, Jackson, Kubrick, LaValle, Lovecraft, McCullers, Morrison, O'Connor, Parks, Peele, Poe, Polanski, Romero, and Wood.
ENGL-251 Contemporary African American Literature II
This course will examine African American literature and culture in the postwar period as American identities are coalescing around the concept of the US as a world power. Specifically, our task during the semester will be to discuss the myriad ways black authors and artists attempt to interrogate the structure of racial hegemony by creating poetry and prose meant to expand notions of culture and form. We will also examine music, visual art, and advertisements from this era to have a greater sense of the black experience through various cultural representations. Writers will include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Michael S. Harper and bell hooks.
ENGL-254EN Topics in African American Literature: 'The Early African American Novel'
This course tracks the beginnings of the African American novelistic tradition in the nineteenth century. The early African American novel had to contend with a number of other literary forms within its political and cultural context such as the slave narrative with its central claim to truth. We will consider: What is specific to the form of the novel? How does it differentiate itself from and even include other forms of writing and literature? What are the politics of the early African American novel in the era of slavery and abolition? We will examine how early novels by Black Americans imagine more emancipatory futures while also critiquing the unfreedom of the nineteenth century.
ENGL-254TR Topics in African American Literature: 'Tragicomedy in Black: Humor and Horror in Black Critical Expression'
The course examines horror and comedy as genre conventions that become strained and distorted when bent to the demands of black critical expression This course will center on themes of life and death as they are framed in black film and literature through idioms of the absurd and the ghastly. We will encounter film and writing by Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Chester Himes, Toni Morrison, Danielle Fuentes Morgan, Bill Gunn, Donald Glover. Students will learn how to close-read our media-saturated environment, thinking through the ways in which representation functions to condition our perception of enjoyment and terror.
ENGL-257 African American Literature
This course surveys Black literary production with special attention to the idea of genre as a choice of form made by Black writers from the antebellum era through the present to communicate critique, effect political change, and render new worlds. Structured around debates about the genre status of Black writing, this course introduces students to slave era texts by Harriet E. Wilson, David Walker, Phillis Wheatley; 20th century works by Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Amos Tutuola, Chester Himes, Bill Gunn, James Baldwin, Toni Cade Bambara; and contemporary work by Saidiya Hartman, Octavia Butler, Jeremy O. Harris, and Rita Dove. Reading, writing, and critical viewership will be central to the course.
ENGL-274 Introduction to Asian American Literature
This course introduces students to Asian American literature, considering its historical origins and evolution. Throughout the course we explore questions of identity, immigration and citizenship, generational conflict, war and migration, and mixed and cross-racial politics. Readings of primary texts will be supplemented by historical and critical source materials. Authors may include Nina Revoyr, Ruth Ozeki, Nam Le, Chang-rae Lee, Aimee Phan, Susan Choi, and Jhumpa Lahiri.
ENGL-280 Literary and Cultural Theory
How and why do we read literature and cultural expression? What kinds of knowledge can different cultural media offer us about ourselves and the world? This introduction to literary and cultural theory will survey later 20th- and 21st-century thought, including theorists asking questions about labor, power, ideology, subjectivity, identity, race, gender, sexuality, indigeneity, empire, colonialism, language's figurality, affect, technology, and the nonhuman. We will think about these theories as their own forms of cultural expression and as methodologies that can help us discuss and make meaning of textual, visual, and digital culture.
ENGL-282 Writing London: the Modern City Novel
This course will chart London's progress from the center of an empire to a node in the global world's economy, and the novel's movement from realism to postmodernism and beyond. Beginning by contrasting the London of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes with that of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, we will then trace the development of a multiethnic city in which according to a recent report there are more than 300 languages spoken in London schools. By so doing we will also examine the history and tradition of the twentieth and twenty-first century novel and investigate its various theories, genres, and styles.
The stated prerequisites for 300-level courses are junior and senior standing and 8 credits of work in English beyond a first-year seminar, often including a specified course such as ENGL-199 or ENGL-240. A sophomore who has completed the specified 8 credits may enroll with prior permission of the instructor. Any student without the prerequisites should consult the instructor.
These courses offer advanced study of literature in English. Reading texts from different periods and genres, seminars aim for depth and specific focus and require of every student both original work and partial responsibility for leading class discussions.
Each year the department offers various upper-level seminars and special topics courses. Enrollment in these seminars and courses is restricted (15 to 20 in seminars; 30 or fewer in courses). Interested students should pay particular attention to the prerequisites; preference for admission is usually given to seniors.
ENGL-311 Chaucer: Stories & Storytellers
ENGL-311CT Chaucer: 'The Canterbury Tales'
Known as a storyteller par excellence, Chaucer was also a famous reader of classical epic, romance, and philosophy. This research seminar will give students the opportunity to read the Canterbury Tales in light of the work's cultural, historical, and literary contexts. Throughout the semester, students will engage with Chaucer's tales and his favorite sources to examine and discuss his representations of gender and class, his perspectives on religious authority, his use of the English vernacular, and his commitment to poetry.
ENGL-312TH Shakespeare: 'Thinking with Shakespeare'
A research seminar in which we will think not merely about Shakespeare but with him, engaging a variety of topics that concerned him as deeply as they do us. These include virtue, authority, nature, faith, the mind, and difference. We will read the plays and poems alongside thinkers who preceded Shakespeare and influenced his time as well as those who came after and learned from him in turn. We will encounter both established figures such as Plato, Lucretius, and Freud as well as modern critical methodologies such as new historicism, cognitive theory, and ecocriticism. Texts may include the sonnets, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Hamlet, Coriolanus, and The Winter's Tale.
ENGL-314 The Curious Middle Ages
Curiosity suggests both a yearning for knowledge and the discernment of something unusual or strange. While influenced by Augustine's warning that worldly inquiry could endanger the pilgrimage of the soul, medieval literature contains many instances of curious looking. Exploring the medieval desire to know, this course considers how the period's tendencies toward spiritual and metaphysical thought are balanced against its fascinations with the observable world. We will study the ways allegories, travel narratives, romances, and dream visions intersect with natural philosophy, historiography, cartography, and architecture. Literary analysis is the basis for our investigative work to uncover the epistemological impulses that inform medieval art and literature. Some critical concepts will preoccupy us as we examine this body of literature as literature -- among them: lyric, history, romance, vernacular and secular poetry, courtly love, mysticism, and dream vision poetry.
ENGL-316 Metamorphosis, Historicity, and Hagiography
Medieval hagiographical stories or saints' lives marked events of a Christian history that moves without diversion toward a divinely appointed end. But how did medieval historical understanding and hagiographies grapple with the mutabilities of the world at hand? This term, we will study a selection of saints' lives to consider how premodern narratives organize time, approach change, and reason through miraculous happenings. Ovid's Metamorphoses and its medieval reception will be a starting point. Readings will include selections from medieval hagiographical collections and Chaucer's Legend of Good Women alongside scholarly work on medieval metamorphosis, feminist and ecocritical theory, and phenomenology.
ENGL-321 Studies in Nineteenth-Century British Literature
ENGL-321WD Studies in Nineteenth-Century British Literature: 'William Wordsworth and George Eliot'
William Wordsworth and George Eliot grew up in a revolutionary age: the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, wars of independence and of imperial conquest, and, behind it all, the social transformations arising from the industrial revolution. Both Wordsworth and Eliot wrestled with how to adapt their art to these new realities: he introduced dramatically new content into poetry and experimented with a startling variety of poetic forms; she transformed the various prose genres to construct a novelistic form able to represent the totality of British society. By so doing, they forged a revolution in literary forms with the emergence of the modern lyric and the realist novel.
ENGL-323 Gender and Class in the Victorian Novel
This course will investigate how gender and class serve as structuring principles in the development of the Victorian novel in Britain, paying attention to the ways in which the form also develops in relation to emerging ideas about sexuality, race, nation, and religion. Novelists include Bronte, Dickens, Eliot, and Gaskell and we will read examples of domestic fiction, detective fiction, social realist novels, and the Victorian gothic.
ENGL-325 Victorian Literature and Visual Culture
This course will examine literary texts that represent new forms of visuality in nineteenth-century Britain as well as examples of visual culture that provide a framework for reading Victorian culture in innovative ways. We will study nineteenth-century photography--portraiture, prison photography, imperial photographs, and private and popular erotic images--as well as novels and autobiographical writing that engage with new photographic technology and its transformation of the ways in which Victorians understood identity, politics, aesthetics, and representation. The course will take a similar approach to painting, literary illustration, political cartoons and caricature, and advertising.
ENGL-328 Woolf, Auden, and Modernism
This course will chart the development of Modernism in poetry and prose by examining the careers of two of the most important writers in the first half of the twentieth-century: the novelist, Virginia Woolf and the poet, W. H. Auden. We will focus on the way both writers initially seek to wrestle into representation new content within the frame of pre-existing forms and, by so doing, discover that these forms are inadequate or buckle under the strain and need to be revised, renewed, and transformed.
ENGL-334 Asian American Film and Visual Culture
ENGL-334BG Asian American Film and Visual Culture: 'Beyond Geishas and Kung Fu Masters'
This course examines contemporary Asian American film and visual culture through the lens of cultural recovery, self-invention, and experimentation. Focusing primarily on film and photography, we will explore issues of race and visuality, Hollywood orientalism, memory and postmemory, and racial impersonation and parody. Students will engage with a variety of theoretical and critical approaches. Artists may include Nikki S. Lee, Margaret Cho, Tseng Kwong Chi, Jin-me Yoon, Justin Lin, Binh Dahn, Richard Fung, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta, and Alice Wu.
ENGL-338 Aesthetics of Racial Capitalism
Race is the modality in which class is lived," wrote the late cultural theorist Stuart Hall. This course takes Hall's axiom as a starting point for considering the racial, gendered, and sexualized character of capitalist domination. Throughout the course students will explore both the political economy and the cultural imagery of racial capitalism. One question we will grapple with is the following: if capital itself is as imperceptible and objectively real as gravity, what are the common tropes we use to apprehend its circulation? Is it the stock market ticker tape, the shipping container, or the industrial wasteland? Drawing on writers and artists of color from around the world, we will consider ways they offer cognitive maps of the gendered and sexualized contours of racial capitalism. Authors may include Octavia Butler, Chang-rae Lee, Leslie Marmon Silko, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, and Ruth Ozeki. Visual artists may include Xu Bing, Otobong Nkanga, Allan deSouza, Rodney McMillian, Mark Bradford, Takahiro Iwasaki, Anicka Yi, and Candace Lin.
ENGL-346 Irish Gothic
This advanced seminar will study the gothic as a genre and as a malleable yet persistent discursive site in Irish literary and political tradition. From the eighteenth century to the present, the gothic has been used to explore aspects of Irish history, in particular colonialism. The course will focus on texts that engage with three primary problems that the Irish gothic is used to explore: violence and terror, famine, and vampirism as a political metaphor. We will read novels, short fiction, poetry, and archival newspaper writing, including work by Maturin, Edgeworth, Lady Wilde, Mangan, LeFanu, Stoker, Joyce, Bowen, Enright, Deane, Boland, and Heaney.
Nothing that is human can be alien to me." This is the motto of cosmopolitanism, a way of thinking that stretches back to the Greeks, and which emphasizes our common status as citizens of the world, urging us to value the universal as highly as the local. How are we to balance our duty to humankind broadly in relation to those nearby? How are the stories that we tell about immigration, asylum, global capital, tourism, and environmentalism involved in this conversation? This course explores the premises of cosmopolitanism in conjunction with contemporary transnational literature; authors may include Rushdie, Naipaul, Coetzee, Adichie, Hemon, and Bulawayo.
ENGL-350 Studies in African American Literature
ENGL-350AM Topics in African American Literature: 'Race and Sensory Perception in Nineteenth-Century American Literature'
This literature course considers the role of the senses in imagining what Black freedom might look like. Can freedom be sensed? How are the senses shaped by politics, economics, and history? By examining a range of African American literary texts before 1900, we will track how Black writers such as Harriet Jacobs, Martin Delany, Charles Chesnutt, and Phillis Wheatley Peters have used literature to explore the intertwinement of political possibility with sensory perception. We will also draw upon a number of texts from the larger abolitionist movement. Our thinking will be guided by Black radical scholars such as Christina Sharpe and Rinaldo Walcott, as well as figures such as Karl Marx and W.E.B. Du Bois.
ENGL-350CB Topics in African American Literature: 'Contemporary Black Memoir'
This course traces the formation of the Black public intellectual in the internet age. All memoirs read in this class have been published within the last decade, and include works by luminaries such as Kiese Laymon, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Roxane Gay, Hari Ziyad, and Da'Shaun Harrison. Students will examine the elasticity of memoir as a category, and assignments will compare and contrast authors' online personas to their published work.
ENGL-350MT Topics in African American Literature: 'Bodies of Thought: Metaphors of Embodiment in Black Literature'
This course tracks uses of the body as a metaphor in literature by black writers in the 20th and 21st centuries. Thinking about the body as a conceptual unit that refers to a broad range of configurations -- the physical body, the national body, bodies of knowledge, and so on -- this course will ask students to think about the limits and potentials of the body as form when it is marshaled by black writers toward a range of political, social, and aesthetic projects. We will read texts by Frantz Fanon, James Hannaham, Jesmyn Ward, Octavia Butler, Jamaica Kincaid, and others.
ENGL-350TM Topics in African American Literature: 'Toni Morrison'
This course will examine the work and the centralized black world of the last American Nobel laureate in literature, Toni Morrison. Morrison is the author of eleven novels and multiple other works, including nonfiction and criticism. In a career that has spanned over forty years and has informed countless artists and writers, Morrison's expansive cultural reach can hardly be measured accurately. In this course we will endeavor to critically analyze the arc and the import of many of Morrison's writings. Readings include: The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Jazz, Playing in the Dark, Paradise, and A Mercy.
ENGL-350WM Studies in African American Literature: 'The African/American Woman in Literature'
This course surveys historical representations of Black female subjects in the literature of the African Diaspora. We will read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat, Efuru by Flora Nwapa, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi as well as a curated list of short stories. Discussions will center on the changing notions of values for these women as a result of their geographical location: how does space/relationship to land shape African/American women's identities? Students will also compose critical reflections and a final creative project which may include an art collection, documentary, short story, or a series of blog posts.
ENGL-362 Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group
This seminar will examine the Bloomsbury Group, the most important British cultural formation in the first half of the twentieth-century. The group included artists, art critics, biographers, economists, literary critics, novelists, philosophers and translators such as Vanessa Bell, E. M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, George Moore, Bertrand Russell, Lytton Strachey, and Virginia Woolf. We will emphasize the ways in which they sought to dismantle the artistic, political, and sexual repressions of the Victorian period and to replace them with new forms of art, community, and society.
ENGL-366 Love, Sex, and Death in the Anthropocene, or Living Through the Age of Climate Change and Other Disasters
The "Anthropocene" has been defined as the era when humans exert change on the earth's climate, but this term has become a dynamo for theories, political discussions, and art about man's anthropocentric relation to the nonhuman world. This course will read theories of the Anthropocene alongside artistic contemplations of the shifting, ethical relations among humans, animals, and other beings of the world. How are we to live, die, and reproduce ourselves in a time when we have egregiously affected the earth? How does the critique of anthropocentrism shift our understanding of sex, gender, race, and the nonhuman? Finally, how does art speak within political conversations of climate change?
ENGL-367 Topics in Film Studies
ENGL-367AD Topics in Film Studies: 'Adaptation: A Study in Form'
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "adaptation" as "the bringing of two things together so as to effect a change in the nature of the objects." Rather than studying adaptation as a project that attempts to reproduce an original work in another medium, our course considers the complex relationship between narratives and their retellings and revisions. In particular, we will focus on how such retellings permanently alter their so-called "source" material and how each incarnation of a given narrative offers us insight into and commentary upon a particular historical moment and its unique political and ideological challenges. We will also consider the ways in which literary and visual representations differ in their communicative and affective mechanisms, and challenge where we draw the line between "art," "history," and "entertainment.
ENGL-367CM Topics in Film Studies: 'Cinematic Masculinities in Contemporary American Film, 1970-present'
Film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott contend that "movies may be male dominated, but images of men are surprisingly narrow." This course both explores various constructs of postmodern American masculinity as they are portrayed and disseminated through contemporary film, and seeks to understand some of what is at stake (culturally, ideologically, economically) in perpetuating certain cinematic archetypes. Of particular relevance to our investigation are the ways in which film yokes masculinity to race, gender, and class. Films include Full Metal Jacket, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, Boyz in the Hood, Paris is Burning, Fight Club, and Moonlight.
ENGL-367RE Topics in Film Studies: 'Revenge on Stage and Screen'
Revenge plots display an enduring popularity. We will examine plays and films that show the range of possibilities, exploring: narratives focused on gender, race, and class; the place of family in revenge plots; the "underdog" tale; the importance of religion to ideas of justice; and the way in which genre influences notions of vengeance. Films and plays include the following: Euripides' Medea, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ji Junxiang's The Orphan of Zhao, Suzan-Lori Parks's Fucking A, Fritz Lang's The Big Heat, Damián Szifron's Wild Tales, Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, and Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman. Students will design their own final research projects.
ENGL-368 Shapeshifting Through the Nineteenth Century and Beyond
How can we change our ideas and enactments of white, Western subjectivity and being? This course contends that one transhistorical figure for such revolution is shapeshifting, and we will read examples in novels, poetry, memoir, and other nineteenth-century and contemporary media. Special attention will be paid to texts, then and now, that speak to queer/trans, disability, and critical race discourses as significant sites of resistance to Western being through bodily transformation. A substantial amount of time will be spent on individual research and methodologies.
ENGL-374 Hitchcock and After
This course will examine the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the afterlife of Hitchcock in contemporary U.S. culture. We will interpret Hitchcock films in a variety of theoretical frames, including feminist and queer theories, and in shifting historical contexts, including the Cold War. We will also devote substantial attention to the legacy of Hitchcock in remakes, imitations, and parodies. Hitchcock films may include Spellbound, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Marnie, and The Birds; additional works by Brooks, Craven, and De Palma. Readings in film and cultural theory; screenings at least weekly.
ENGL-382 Advanced Topics in English
ENGL-382EM Advanced Topics in English: 'The World's a Stage: Early Modern Drama, Spatial Assemblages, and Cultural Geography'
Spatial representation onstage centers the discourse in which plays, contemporary surveying manuals, sermons, and conduct books orbit. We will read plays and put them in context with ideas about space and setting that intersect with contemporary ideas like assemblages, taskscapes, and the formation of cultural geography. This may beget questions like: how do dramatic representations of space shape ideological expressions of politics, race, and economics? How might we trace the historical imprint upon contemporary performances or readings? Literary analysis emerges as the principal method for connecting drama to political, cultural, racial, and economic ideas that structure our ways of thinking and deeply affect perceptions of hierarchy and value.
ENGL-382PW Advanced Topics in English: 'once More With Feeling: Intimacies and Affects in a Posthuman World'
Affect theory offers a varied and rich critical language to explore how emotion circulates within and among human bodies-and nonhuman ones as well. If emotions operate through bodily changes and chemical exchanges, then animals and nonhumans might similarly be seen as bodies replete with affective materials in motion and at rest. In this course we will read through an array of affect theory from cognitive science, animal studies, and posthumanist debates on the affect of objects. We will consider how humans know what they feel (and when), how animals love, how forests think, and how affects might cross human and nonhuman boundaries.
ENGL-382RB Advanced Topics in English: 'ruptured Belonging: Postcolonial Literatures of Anglophone Africa and South Asia'
This course brings together literatures from Anglophone South Asia and Africa to explore how belonging to the nation is complicated by realities of marginalization and displacement. Postcolonial histories demonstrate tensions between the ideological aspirations of the nation as home and the reality of internal conflicts and wars that expose the limits of belonging. Texts include novels, literary criticism, and critical theory on internal displacement and refugees, the gendered and ethnic minorities, the political other, and trauma. We will read Chinelo Okparanta's Under the Udala Tree, Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost, and Tsitsi Dangarembga's The Book of Not.
ENGL-382WH Advanced Topics in English: 'Critically Examining Whiteness in U.S. Literature and Popular Culture'
What can literature and popular culture teach us about the construction of whiteness and the United States' history of white supremacy? How can literary analysis be used to examine, confront, and contest whiteness's social and political power? This seminar will critically analyze literary and cultural texts that emphasize whiteness's visibility, and that challenge whiteness as the presumed default in U.S. culture. Authors may include Dorothy Allison, Chang-rae Lee, Toni Morrison, Claudia Rankine, and Philip Roth, as well as select contemporary films and television episodes.
ENGL-389 Revolution and Change in the Age of Necropolitics
The "age of revolution" saw revolts in the Black Atlantic world: Americans rebelled against the British; Native Americans opposed white colonists; bourgeoisie vied for power against the aristocracy; women decried patriarchal imprisonment; Latin American creoles resisted Spanish imperialists; and slaves threw off their masters. This course considers these diverse narratives of revolution as a series of social, political, and philosophical movements to change "biopolitics" (control of life) and "necropolitics" (control via death). We will read revolutionary tracts, slave narratives, and abolitionary literature alongside critical theory to consider how these authors offer ways of living and surviving Western, racial imperialisms.
Students with special interests, adequate preparation, and a capacity to work well on their own may apply for independent study, either ENGL-295 or ENGL-395. An application for independent study must be submitted the semester prior to which the work will be completed. Note: ENGL-295 and ENGL-395 do not count toward the completion of the English major or minor.
Juniors and seniors who have devised projects in literary criticism and scholarship, or in writing prose and poetry, and demonstrate strong preparation, are encouraged to take ENGL-395 for 4 credits. They should discuss their ideas for projects with their academic advisor and others in the department who might serve to direct the project. In most cases, students should seek out department members with whom they have already studied; but if this is not possible, their advisors or the department chair will help find someone to supervise the project. (Students studying off campus may pursue such arrangements by email.) The department will try to find such advisors for students, but cannot guarantee a student will be allowed to undertake independent study. Planning ahead increases the probability of success. Again, preference is given to students who can demonstrate thorough preparation, normally through appropriate course work at the 300 level.