English Courses for Fall 2014

All of the 3-hour courses described below--except English 250 and 252--satisfy the general literature requirement of the core.

All 300- and 400-level courses have as a prerequisite any 100- or 200-level course or permission of the instructor.

ATTENTION MAJORS: English majors should take English 380: Literary Theory and Criticism in the fall of their junior year. They should take 480/481 (Capstone) during their senior year unless they are considering an honors project, in which case they should talk to their advisor about taking it earlier. It is recommended that students complete 380 and two other 300-level courses before enrolling in the Capstone.

English Courses

English 185.01 Arthurian Literature
Prof. Nowlin, MWF 10:30‒11:20

This course is an introduction to the literature surrounding the legends of King Arthur. Our class will cover a range of texts spanning three continents and half a dozen languages, and dating from the Middle Ages through to the present day. As we explore how the ambiguous story of a war leader in a small corner of Europe grew into one of the richest and most diverse bodies of literature in the world, we'll seek to discover why this literature still commands our attention in the 21st century, and what sorts of enduring themes, issues, questions, and possibilities these texts have to offer us. In our journey through these Arthurian legends, we will also discuss literary genre and form, looking closely at history, romance, lyric poetry, narrative poetry, the short story and the novel. We'll also explore and discuss how Arthurian legends appear in other media, including film, television, graphic novels, and videogames. The quest of our class will be to discover the richness, diversity, and value of Arthurian literature.  Freshmen and sophomores only.

English 190.01 Fathers and Sons in Literature
Prof. Hardy, MW 2:30‒3:50

In this course, we will explore issues of masculinity as they are handed down and transformed from one generation to the next. As we do so, we will also develop techniques for reading and analyzing works of literature. With special attention to the theme of "Fathers and Sons," we will read poetry, fiction, essays, and drama as we put together a collection of critical tools with which to approach a literary text.  We will address issues such as the construction of gendered identities, the representation of the family, the role of the artist, and the possibility of language as a place for experimentation.   
You should be prepared to read closely and carefully.  This will be a class in which discussion and participation are central. Freshmen and sophomores only.

English 209.01 The Short Novel
Prof. Hardy, TR 2:00‒3:20

What college career would be complete without the chance to read Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Mann, Camus, Duras, and García Márquez? In this course we will explore the development of the short novel over two centuries and in at least five different languages.  We will examine the possibilities of the short novel form, but we will also trace literary, philosophical, and political movements across decades and national boundaries.  This course is going to be comparative in more than one sense, and members of the class should plan to bring their knowledge of other languages and other disciplines to course discussion.

English 211.01 The History of English Literature
Prof. Varholy, MWF 9:30‒10:20

This course is a survey of English literature from its origins through the eighteenth century.  Our study will include epic, lyric, prose, drama, and essays by authors including Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Swift.  Our goals will be to become better readers of literary texts, to gain a stronger sense of literary history, and to understand how these texts engaged with the cultures that produced them.  Expect an hour exam, a final exam, at least three papers of various lengths, and the opportunity to lead a class discussion.

English 221.01 American Literature
Staff, MWF 10:30‒11:20

A study of early North American literature, from the English colonists to the Civil War, with emphasis on the major writers of the nineteenth century, such as Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Douglass, Thoreau, and Whitman.  We will explore the traits that increasingly differentiate "American" literature and culture from its English (and other) roots and what such "distinctively American" traits have to do with our culture and ourselves in the early twenty-first century.
English 221.02 American Literature
Prof. Perry, MWF 11:30‒12:20

This is a survey course that integrates critical reading, thinking, and writing about phenomena and issues in the trajectory of American literature from its earliest stirrings up to the Civil War.  In the course we will read a variety of writers and their writings, including sermons, tracts, fiction, poetry and the occasional essay.  We will read mostly from the Norton Anthology, but will also take a long look at the writings of one of the truly popular writers of all time, Longfellow, and will conclude with, perhaps, the great American novel, Moby Dick.  Students will analyze texts in ways that engage and challenge their previous experiences with literature and the country (this one!) that produced it.  To be specific, your reading and writing in this course will investigate the multifaceted ways in which American writers (define that as you will) have approached themselves and their craft, and the ways also in which they have approached the task of getting this country up on its first wobbly feet.  There will be frequent reading responses, two or three papers, and two exams.

English 226.01 Literature and Gender
Prof. Varholy, MWF 11:30‒12:20

From the Biblical narrative of Adam and Eve to the recent movie Her, literature has been a vital force in establishing, rejecting, questioning, and reinventing gender roles.  Simultaneously, understandings of gender have shaped who writes and what is written in a given culture.  In this course, we will read a variety of genres-poetry, prose, drama, and essays-across time in order to consider issues of masculinity, femininity, sexuality, and gender-related social roles.  We'll likewise consider how issues of gender intersect with those of race and class. Texts will include plays by William Shakespeare and August Wilson, novels by Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, and essays by bell hooks and Michael Kimmel.  The course will include a midterm and final exam, at least two essays, and the opportunity to lead class discussion.

English 245.01 Satire
Staff, TR 10:00‒11:20

From The Simpsons to The Daily Show to homemade Youtube videos, we're surrounded by works that entertain but also deliver a political, moral, or cultural punch. This course will explore the rich literary tradition of satire, including authors such as Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Voltaire, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Nathaniel West, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller, and Margaret Atwood.

English 270.01 Introduction to Shakespeare
Prof. Nowlin, MWF 12:30‒1:20

What is it about Shakespeare anyway? His work can sometimes seem simultaneously daunting and inescapable, and his language can present difficulties, even though after 400 years his work still influences modern forms of artistic expression, ranging from literature to music to theater to film. Most of us have read some Shakespeare in high school, and almost everyone can quote a famous line here and there. With such exposure, we can sometimes overlook the things about Shakespeare's writing that so many have found so enduring for so long.

Our course will take a step back from the spectacle of Shakespeare to look more closely at some of his plays and poems. We'll think about the different genres Shakespeare used, especially comedy, tragedy, history, and lyric poetry, and how he transformed those genres even as he wrote in them. In addition to reading plays and poems, we'll examine some film and stage adaptations of Shakespeare's works. We'll consider Shakespeare's own cultural and historical environment, but we'll also discuss how the issues he treats in his writings are still relevant in our own time.

English 303.01 The English Romantics
Staff, TR 12:30‒1:50

The Romantic period is an especially interesting one because it represents the beginning (in English) of the modern world view; the problems and struggles of the Romantic writers at the beginning of the nineteenth century are essentially those of thinking people more than two hundred years later.  The course will explore the work of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats.   

English 322.01 Contemporary Fiction
Prof. Weese, MWF 10:30‒11:20

This course will introduce students to recent trends in the American and British fiction with an emphasis on very recent fiction written since the turn of the 21st century, along with works by some established authors writing in the last part of the twentieth century. As we explore how contemporary innovations in narrative form are related to the current social and cultural climate, we'll consider several topics that inform contemporary fiction: the quest for identity, the search for values and meaning in what is often considered an increasingly meaningless world, the blurring of boundaries between fiction and history. How do characters make sense of their worlds? What explanatory devices or rubrics do they adopt, and how do these world views affect the manner in which these narratives are told?  What is postmodernism?  What is post-postmodernism? Why do contemporary novels so often (but not always) foreground their own fictionality? We'll study about seven novels, probably to include one of Cormac McCarthy's border trilogy novels, Tim O'Brien's magic realist Vietnam war novel, Going After Cacciato, Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, Yann Martel's Life of Pi, Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad and Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin.  Critical articles about the nature of contemporary fiction will enrich our readings of the novels themselves. Requirements: regular participation in class discussion, a presentation, midterm and final exams, and several essays, including a final essay that incorporates secondary sources.

English 335.01 Milton
Prof. Varholy, MW 2:30‒3:50

A profound intellectual, radical political thinker, and religious iconoclast, John Milton has long been considered one of the foundational authors of British literature.  In this course, we will consider Milton's major works in their literary, intellectual, and cultural contexts.  Our primary focus for the semester will be a careful reading of Paradise Lost in full, but we will also study Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes, Milton's later short epic and drama.  To prepare us for our reading of Milton's major works, we will consider some of his shorter poems, including "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity," "Lycidas,"  "L'Allegro," and "Il Penseroso," and his revolutionary prose, including Areopagitica.  Any study of Milton touches on the major ideological, religious, and political issues of his age, such as the relations between human agency and God's omnipotence, orthodoxy and heresy, human traditions and sacred truths, monarchy and republicanism, and individual autonomy and subordination.   We'll consider how Milton engaged in contemporary controversies and why his writing continues to provoke and inspire.

English 380.01 Literary Criticism
Prof. Weese, MWF 12:30‒1:20

What assumptions govern our interpretations of works of literature? What theoretical models do we employ in the acts of reading and finding meaning in what we read? What kinds of meanings are we looking for, and why? The study of literary theory helps us become aware of and unpack the various assumptions that drive our interpretations. This course will address the large questions of why and how we study literature; it will focus on 20th century developments in literary criticism, beginning with the New Criticism and structuralism, and focusing on how these approaches to the study of literature influenced more recent schools of thought such as deconstruction, reader response, feminism, and other socio-historical ways of reading. We will explore the ways in which these different theories intersect with and diverge from one another. In addition, we will read a novel and some poems and short stories (and perhaps view a film) in order to see how various theories can illuminate the same literary work in different ways. The readings and concepts are challenging, so you should be prepared to work hard-but you'll thereby increase your understanding of the field of literary studies and expand your knowledge of literature in new ways. Requirements include mid-term and final exams and several short papers on the schools of thought we study, as well as a longer paper analyzing a work of literature with attention to the theory(ies) that drives the interpretation.


English 385.01 Special Topics in English: 19th Century American Literature
Staff, TR 10:00‒11:20

This 300-level course will be taught by the newest member of the English faculty, who will specialize in 19th-century American literature.  It will fulfill the pre-1900 elective requirement, the 300-level elective requirement, or the general elective requirement for majors.  Since this person has not yet been hired, we cannot specify the exact topic, but that topic will reflect this new person's research and promises to be an exciting introduction to the new professor and his or her areas of interest.  All English majors and students registered for the course will be emailed as soon as a specific topic has been determined.  Questions can be addressed to Prof. Varholy at cvarholy@hsc.edu.

English 480.01 Capstone Seminar: Landscape and the Literary Imagination
Prof. Perry, MWF 9:30‒10:20

This capstone seminar for junior and senior majors will focus on the varied roles and appearances of the natural world in literature.  Taking a critical cue from the growing field of ecocriticism, the course will address traditional nature writing (the personal non-fiction of observation as it was handed down to us from Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold and others) and the natural world as it appears in poetry, drama and fiction. To accomplish this broad goal, we will take a hard look at a long novel, a volume of recent poetry, a book of non-fiction in the American nature writing tradition, and various other smaller readings along the way.  A writer cannot escape the natural world-he must engage it, or he must ignore it altogether (which, in itself, is a kind of engagement...).  So students in this course will be left to figure out how, exactly, authors mean to use the natural world, and, also, what kind of meaning nature, in its turn, makes.  (Co-requisite: English 481)

English 481.01 Research Methods for English Majors (1 credit hour)
Prof. Varholy, F 1:30‒2:20

In this course, advanced English majors who are working on their capstone projects will develop and strengthen the skills they need for independent research.  The syllabus for the course will be coordinated with the syllabus for English 480. Tasks and topics will include engaging with literary criticism relevant to the capstone topic, discussing strategies for writing a long research paper, honing library skills, reviewing citation formats, designing oral presentations appropriate to literary studies, and using critical discourse effectively. There will be several writing workshops. This course is restricted to students who are completing the capstone requirement for the major. (Co-requisite: English 480)

[*The following Capstone course will be taught by Prof. Nowlin in Spring 2015]
English 480: The Legends of Arthur

The literatures surrounding the legends of King Arthur will be the focus of our Capstone course next spring, and we will read a variety of texts that take up this topic both directly and indirectly, dating from the Middle Ages through to the late twentieth century. These texts deal with themes of love and friendship, loyalty and betrayal, the rise and fall of empires, the secular and the spiritual. We'll study how Arthurian materials manifest across several genres, including histories, romances, lyric and narrative poems, short stories, and novels, and we'll examine how this literature engages issues vital to personal and cultural identity including gender, sexuality, emotion and cognition, love, politics, nationalism, colonization, memory, power relations, family, war, and the role and value of literature itself. These texts reward a variety of theoretical approaches, and part of the work of our class will be to apply critical methods from literary and cultural theory in order to see what they might help us understand about Arthurian texts and the cultures that produced them-as well as about ourselves.
The final project for our course will be a major research paper and public presentation, and, in conjunction with ENGL 481, we'll discuss ways of inventing, managing, and completing successful research projects. You will also be expected to complete regular short papers and online posts, lead class discussion, and complete a hefty reading load at a rapid pace. You'll also have the freedom to focus on an Arthurian text of your own choosing for your final project.
There's something about the stories surrounding the myth of Arthur that has captivated writers and readers from around the world for going on a thousand years. Beginning to discover what that something might be is the broader quest of our class.

Writing Courses

English 250.01 Introductory Creative Writing: Poetry
Prof. Perry, TR 2:00‒3:20

The eminent (and grisly) American poet Hayden Carruth, has said "Why speak of the use of poetry?  Poetry is what uses us."  In this we surmise that poetry is not something to be taken at all lightly.  It is not simply a bullhorn or a pretty little chalkboard.  It is a tradition, an entity, an enormity-something with which poets must wrestle, not just shake hands.  As such, this course will examine, as best it can, the many edges of writing poetry.  To do this we will have to do a lot of reading poetry and more specifically, reading a lot of different kinds of poetry.  We will talk about poems I assign and poems that you find.  We will read essays about poetry.  And, of course, we will write poetry.  Sometimes there will be specific assignments to generate writing, other times you will be set adrift to write with very little to guide you.  My intent is that you will emerge from the semester (from poetry's using you for a while) with something you could not have written before.  There will be poems to turn in along the way and a final portfolio of revised work due at the end of the semester.

English 252.01 Introductory Creative Writing: Fiction
Prof. Robbins, MW 2:30‒3:50

A workshop in the discipline of writing short stories. We will study the techniques of a variety of short-story writers, including ones considered masters of the form such as Edgar Allan Poe, Anton Chekhov, and Guy De Maupassant, as well as more contemporary writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Reginald McKnight, and Alice Munro, among others. Students will read drafts of their stories and revise them, submit work to magazines, and attend some of the many readings by writers invited to the College.