English Courses for Fall 2015

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 advisors about taking it earlier. It is recommended that students complete 380 and two other 300-level courses before enrolling in the Capstone.

English 185.01 and 185.02 Literature of the American Road
Prof. Davis
Section 01, TR 10:00-11:20
Section 02, TR 2:00-3:20
[Note: This course is offered pending approval of the faculty in April 2015.]

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

Is the speaker of Frost's poem right? What difference does the choice of a road make, and how do we know what lies down the road not taken? From Hercules at the crossroads to Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims to Cormac McCarthy's indelible story of a father and son traveling down the road of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, literature often makes use of roads as setting, metaphor, and even character. Students will read poems (Whitman, Ginsberg, and student selections), plays (Beckett, Miller), and fiction (O'Connor, McCarthy, Auster) that feature the road. In the process, they will learn to interpret, write about, and speak about literature with special attention paid to the differences between genres and to the central role of the road in American literature. (Incoming freshmen and rising sophomores only.)

English 211.01 The History of English Literature
Prof. Nowlin, MWF 10:30-11:20

This course will introduce you to some of the important texts and writers that have come to make up the first half of English literature. Our class will cover poetry, drama, and prose ranging from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century. We will examine literary aspects of these works, including form, theme, and genre, and we will explore to some extent how these works relate to developments in British history. The important cultural issues that these texts address, ideas about gender, family, identity, the home, the soul, magic, the other, the nation, and a diverse array of human interactions, will demand our attention as well. Finally, we will discuss how many of these texts take up the idea of writing itself, asking what literature is, what literature is good for, and how literature relates to the rest of the world. Our course will also help you develop strategies for reading texts closely and engaging them meaningfully and for organizing initial reactions and responses into cogent arguments about texts. Students will be expected to complete short written assignments, longer essays, and a midterm and final exam.

English 221.01 American Literature
Prof. Horne, MWF 11:30-12:20

This course is a survey that will introduce you to the richly expansive tradition of American literature from European contact and up to the Civil War. Exploring a range of literary genres-such as novels, short stories, autobiographies, and poetry-we will study how major authors negotiate American identities and how historical forces interact with their imaginations. We will consider how authors respond to literary and cultural movements such as the Enlightenment, romanticism, and transcendentalism while also navigating uniquely American myths and sensibilities. We will primarily use the Norton Anthology, and writers discussed will include Mary Rowlandson, Phillis Wheatley, Benjamin Franklin, Edgar Allen Poe, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and Emily Dickinson, among others. Prerequisite: none.

English 221.02 American Literature
Prof. Perry, MWF 12:30-1:20

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 224.01 African-American Literature
Prof. Horne, TR 10:00-11:20

This class is an introduction to African American literature as both an artistic tradition and a political conversation. Beginning before the Declaration of Independence and ending in our contemporary moment, this class will cover significant authors who ask what it means to be African American and what that experience means for the nation and the world. Focusing on fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, we will discuss texts such as the abolitionist autobiography of Frederick Douglass, the blues poetry of Langston Hughes, and the folklore of Zora Neale Hurston. Furthermore, we will address the essays of social activists such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Malcolm X, and explore the legacies of literary icons such as Richard Wright and Toni Morrison, among others. As we read these works in historical, literary, and biographical contexts, we will investigate these authors' influential mediations of race, storytelling, and citizenship. Prerequisite: none.

English 245.01 Satire
Prof. Davis, TR 12:30-1:50

From The Simpsons to the recently ended Colbert Report to satiric Youtube videos, we're surrounded by works that entertain but also deliver a political, moral, or cultural punch, often right to our stomach. It's easy to think that satire is targeting someone else: surely we don't belong among the "lumps of deformity," "pernicious vermin," and "odious Yahoos" that Jonathan Swift describes in Gulliver's Travels. Or do we? We will begin the course with a close study of irony and other satiric tools before turning to major prose satires by Swift, Nathanael West, Evelyn Waugh, Margaret Atwood, Gary Shteyngart, and George Saunders, among others. The course does not assume any previous English courses, only an openness to literature that bites.

English 257.01 Fiction into Film
Prof. Weese, MWF 10:30-11:20

An examination of how several notable works of fiction have been adapted for the screen.  After beginning with general principles of narrative theory and some general principles of film aesthetics, the course will then focus on the different ways that stories are told in short fiction, novels, and films. By looking at a novel or story's transformation into a different narrative medium, students will gain a deeper understanding of the conventions of different genres (for example, character narration), as well as of the cultural factors that shape the particular narratives. The texts included will be ones that present some interesting challenges for adaptation from one medium to another, with the films often representing significant departures from the print text. In keeping with changes in adaptation studies in recent years, the focus will be not on determining which version is better or on the faithfulness of the adaptation, but on understanding the important differences between print and film media for narrative and narration. Texts and films might include, among others, James Joyce's The Dead (film adaptation by John Huston); Toni Morrison's Beloved (film adaptation by Jonathan Demme); Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men (film adaptation by Joel and Ethan Coen), and the recent BBC television adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.

English 258.01 Literature of the South
Prof. Hardy, MW 2:30-3:50

In this class you will read some of the great Southern writers of the twentieth century-Faulkner, Hurston, Percy, Williams, Welty, O'Connor-and encounter some other wonderful voices you may not have heard of yet. Through readings of fiction, poetry, and drama, we will develop our own definition of Southern literature.  We will consider the idea of the "Southern" writer as a geographical, cultural, and historical distinction.  Within this broader category, we will look at differences of region, race, class, and gender.

English 270.01 Introduction to Shakespeare: Shakespeare on Theater
Prof. Varholy, MWF 9:30-10:20

We all know of Shakespeare as one of the greatest playwrights in English.  But how did Shakespeare move his plays from the page to the stage, and how did he react to the rise of London's entertainment industry during his lifetime?  In this course, which is an introduction to the major poetry and drama of Shakespeare, we will use the theme "Shakespeare On Theater" to study what some of the sonnets, comedies, tragedies, history plays, and romances say about acting, producing, and attending plays. Our texts, including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry IV, Part One, and The Tempest, represent stagecraft with all its related glories and problems.  Our primary goal will be to become better readers of the literary texts, but our theme will also enable us to study stage practices and ideas about theater in Shakespeare's London.  We will use both film clips and acting exercises to make the plays come to life. 

This course has no prerequisite and can be used to fulfill the literature requirement for the Core. English 270 can count toward completion of the English major as a pre-1900 elective or general elective, but it will not fulfill the Chaucer/Shakespeare/Milton requirement.  Students can expect a midterm, a final exam, two essays, and at least one group presentation.

English 304.01 Victorian Literature
Prof. Deis, MWF 11:30-12:20

Debates over economic and class issues, evolution and religion, women's rights, the role of the "gentleman" and the "hero," the proper relationship between art and society, and relations between Eastern and Western cultures: the Victorian period was a time in which complex and challenging issues were earnestly, even heatedly, considered. In this class, we will read and discuss representative works to try to understand some of the views developed in Victorian poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. We will study works by great thinkers and writers like John Stuart Mill, George Eliot, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and others. We will examine these literary works through the lenses of "new historical" and cultural criticism: that is to say, we will look at connections between the literary texts and their historical/political/cultural contexts; we will also consider connections between ideas developed two hundred years ago and our own 21st-Century American worldviews. Students will write a number of short papers and two longer ones; there will be a midterm and a final exam and lots of class discussion.

English 311.01 Epic Writing 
Prof. Hardy, TR 2:00-3:20

In this course we will consider the nature of the epic and of episodic storytelling. The course will begin with the Odyssey and include the Epic of Gilgamesh and portions of Joyce's Ulysses, as well as selected other texts from the English, American, and broader European traditions. Along the way, we will consider a number of questions connected to the epic genre:  how epics represent their political and social contexts, how epics establish a fictional world in their opening lines, how this genre uses the episode to isolate and illuminate action or thought, in what ways notions of the heroic evolve as this genre develops in later traditions. We will also consider the relationship between the epic and different forms of storytelling-from oral to early writings to mass produced print to visual media-and how differing media shape narrative conventions. 

English 317.01 The English Novel
Prof. Davis, MW 2:30-3:50

Featured this semester will be castaways, outcasts, orphans, madwomen, murderers, thieves, bankers, and escaped convicts. The course will introduce you to some of the major English novelists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, possibly including Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Dickens, Eliot, and Hardy. While the novel is the most protean of all genres, we will try to understand where the novel came from, what it means to call something a novel, and what distinguishes the English novel. Along the way, you will meet some of the most unforgettable characters and stories of English literature.

English 323.01 Contemporary Poetry
Prof. Perry, MWF 10:30-11:20

This course is a study of contemporary poetry.  The course will focus on poetry written from the 1970s to the present, though earlier work may be read to provide appropriate perspective.  The reading will mostly center on English-language verse (primarily American and British writers) and could include poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, Geoffrey Hill, Robert Wrigley, Alice Oswald, Terrence Hayes, Maurice Manning, and others. The course will focus closely on contemporary form and prosody (not forgetting that free-verse is not free from verse, and that formal poetry is not free of its informalities) as well as content, attempting to take into its ambit a wide range of poets, styles, and concerns.

English 330.01 Chaucer
Prof. Nowlin, MWF 12:30-1:20

This course will introduce you to some of the important works of the writer often referred to as the "father of English poetry," Geoffrey Chaucer. In addition to spending time with Chaucer's most famous work, The Canterbury Tales, we'll look at some of his other writing as well, including dazzlingly bizarre dream visions, stunning lyric poetry, and Troilus and Criseyde, his masterpiece about a love affair gone sour in the midst of the Trojan War. We'll also study the world in and about which Chaucer wrote his poetry, thinking in particular about how historical factors like disease, war, social revolt, and the deposition of the king at the end of the 14th century provide insight into Chaucer's work. We'll look too at the themes and issues that recur throughout his writing, especially gender, sexuality, power relations, personal and political governance, social identity, spirituality, family life, and the range of powerful emotions that characterize and define human experience. The goals of our course include not only gaining a better understanding of Chaucer's work and the topics he explores through it, but also developing strategies for organizing your own reactions to Chaucer's poetry into cogent arguments about texts. Students will be expected to complete short written assignments, exams, and longer essays.

English 380.01 Literary Theory and 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 480.01 Capstone Seminar: Imagining and Recreating the Past
Prof. Frye, TR 10:00-11:20

Students in this capstone seminar will explore the ways in which writers-primarily novelists and dramatists, but also poets and writers of what we now call creative nonfiction-imagine the past and recreate it in their work. Anyone who works with the past-historians, novelists, biographers, essayists, filmmakers, painters-knows that it is exceedingly difficult and problematic to "resuscitate" past times and people. In the course of the semester we will consider how-and for what purposes-writers turn to the past and attempt to bring it to life. A primary focus will be on the practice and theory and transformation of the historical novel since the early nineteenth century, though we will consider other genres as well. And we will discuss how writers attempt to mediate the competing claims of historical accuracy and fictional imagination. 

In the first weeks of the semester we will read some historical fiction and some theoretical statements by Walter Scott (1771-1832), the writer whose method and popularity were crucial to the development of the historical novel in the nineteenth century. We will sample other historical fictions-in a variety of genres-so as to trace how subsequent writers have transformed the legacy of Scott. We will also read a number of essays (by writers of historical literature; by literary theorists; by historians) that consider issues raised by these hybrid forms that exist along the frontier between fiction and history: what draws writers-and readers-to historical fictions? what responsibility does the writer bear toward the past? to what extent may the writer transform the past in the act of resuscitating it? 

Early in the semester, students will choose a particular subject which they will explore throughout the term and on which they will write a long capstone essay. (Though the focus of the course will be on literature of the past two hundred years, it will be possible for a student to explore how an earlier writer-Shakespeare, for instance-conceived of and dramatized the past.) Along the way students will write several drafts, share their work with the class, and engage in vigorous class discussion. Students with particular interests should contact the instructor before the end of the spring semester of 2015 so as to lay the groundwork for their projects.  This course is restricted to those students who are completing the capstone requirement for the English major.  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. Horne in SPRING 2016**
English 480: Borderlands: Race, Ethnicity, and National Belonging

In his now-classic work The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W. E. B. DuBois famously asserted that, "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line." In this senior seminar, we will follow the path of DuBois's statement. Focusing on (but not limited to) nineteenth and twentieth century American fiction, poetry, essays, and criticism, we will investigate central questions such as the following: What is race? What is ethnicity? How do these axes of identity influence nation-making and the borders and lines that structure it? What happens when people traverse and/or muddle these borders? What does literature and literary theory help us to understand about race and citizenship? And how have authors envisioned literature and literary theory as a way to intervene in racial dilemmas and injustices? We will read both primary texts that explore these questions and critical/theoretical texts that strive to interpret them. 

A substantial component of the course will be the final research paper and public presentation of that project. Students will choose their own particular subject for this project early in the semester and work on drafting, researching, workshopping, and revising as the semester progresses. The reading, writing, and classroom participation expectations in this course are high, so we will also discuss how to manage these demands and be a productive student and scholar. Students with particular interests should contact the instructor before the end of the fall semester of 2015 so as to lay the groundwork for their projects. 

This course is restricted to those students who are completing the capstone requirementfor the English major. Co-requisite English 481.


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.