English Courses for Fall 2016

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.

Sigma Tau Delta, English Honors Society

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.

Students who have taken more than one English course should set a goal of joining Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society. Not only is STD a great addition to your resume, but it also is a ticket to special events with other lovers of literature, like last semester's Edgar Allan Poe Symposium and visit to the Poe House in Richmond. To qualify, students must have a B or greater average in at least three English courses, one of which can be a creative writing course, and a GPA of 3.0 or better. If you are interested in Sigma Tau Delta, just tell any member of the English department.

English 185.01 and 185.02 Special Topics in English

Section 01: MWF 9:30‒10:20 (Freshmen only)
Section 02: MWF 10:30‒11:20 (Freshmen and Sophomores only)

In this introductory course, students will develop techniques for reading and analyzing literary worksfrom several historical periods and genres such as poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, and/or film. The texts will be connected by a unifying theme, such as Sound and Music in Literature, Depictions of Madness, or Death and Desire in Literature.  

English 196.01 and 196.02 Religion and Literature
Prof. Davis
Section 01: TR 10:00-11:20 (Freshmen only)
Section 02: TR 12:30-1:50 (Freshmen and Sophomores only)

From the parables of the Buddha and Jesus to the fictions of Dostoyevsky and Kafka, literature and religion have often been closely intertwined. We will investigate that relationship as we read poems, plays, short stories, and novels that explore religious themes, seeking to understand why writers from different traditions approach them as they do. Writers to be studied might include William Blake, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Franz Kafka, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Philip Larkin, Yasunari Kawabata, Flannery O'Connor, Cynthia Ozick, Marilynne Robinson, and Gita Mehta.

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

What can medieval literature teach us about English responses to the Black Death? How did English sonneteers create a tradition separate from their Continental predecessors? Why did drama flourish in the late 16th century in London? Why was satire so popular in eighteenth-century England? These are the kinds of questions we'll address in this 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, three major short papers, and the opportunity to lead a class discussion.

English 221.01 American Literature
Prof. Horne, MWF 10:30‒11:20

In this class, we will survey American literature from early explorations and the Puritan migration to the rise of romanticism in the mid-nineteenth century. Lectures and discussion will focus both on the cultural, political, and aesthetic concerns of individual texts and on broader literary and historical trends. Students will be introduced to a variety of genres and to the multiple concerns of race, gender, class, and religion. Authors studied will include Anne Bradstreet, Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, and Edgar Allan Poe, among others. In particular, this class will focus on what it means to be "American," identifying competing assumptions, myths, stories, and beliefs that seem to persist from early America.

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

This class investigates ways in which ideas about gender have shaped plot, characters, form, style, and themes in literature of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, particularly in terms of literary portrayals of marriage and family. It also considers how gender roles affect the self-image of writers as well as the nature of the canon, the set of literary works valued in our culture. We will read and discuss a range of theoretical works that examine the literary, social, and personal issues that relate to (and sometimes define) gender while at the same time considering a wide range of works by British and American writers (primarily), including nonfiction by Meredith Hall; stories by D.H. Lawrence, Henry James, and Flannery O'Connor; poetry by E. B. Browning, George Meredith, and Rita Dove; and novels by Mary Shelley, George Eliot, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, and Annie Proulx. Students will write several short essays in response to individual works and a longer, research-based essay; and present ideas orally, both individually and in groups.

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, spanning nearly everything from literature to theater to music 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 formal qualities of Shakespeare's works and the different genres in which Shakespeare wrote, especially comedy, tragedy, history, and lyric poetry. 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 285.01 Introduction to Novel
Prof. Weese, TR 10:00-11:20

This course introduces students to the study of the novel, with representation of various sub-genres such as the historical novel, the novel of manners, the picaresque, the psychological novel, and the experimental novel. The course will emphasize how stories are told and narrative point of view; the selected novels will introduce students to different kinds of narrators, including different kinds of unreliable narrators. To supplement the study of several novels from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, we will also read some critical essays about narrative technique and narrative voice. We'll likely begin with Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, explore complex first-person narrative in a novel by William Faulkner, and conclude with a contemporary experimental novel such as Yann Martel's Life of Pi or Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, with other nineteenth -and twentieth-century novels represented along the way. Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussion, write several essays, and take a mid-term and final exam.

English 302.01 Eighteenth-Century Literature
Prof. Davis, MW 2:30‒3:50

Between 1718 and 1726, London readers encountered the following "true" stories: Robinson Crusoe landed on his island, Lemuel Gulliver traveled to Lilliput, Edmond Halley declared that stars move, and a young woman from Surrey gave birth to seventeen rabbits. To enter the literary world of the eighteenth-century, lying just on the other side of Romanticism, is to enter a world that is both familiar and strange. It is the period when modern novels, daily newspapers, and an English dictionary first appeared; when the first copyright laws were passed; and when authors began to live solely on the sale of their works. At the same time, it is also a period of abundant anonymity, of scatological satire, and of ingenious literary hoaxes and forgeries. Throughout the semester, we will be exploring this contradictory period that has left such an indelible mark on our own, examining such themes as the creation of modern authorship, the development of new literary genres, the relationship between literature and science, and the literary construction of the modern self. As we do so, we will invite the literature of the eighteenth century to challenge, perplex, enlighten, and vex us.

English 320.01 The Short Story
Staff, TR 12:30‒1:50

This course approaches the short story as a separate prose genre and examines what it means to read that genre. Beginning with earlier "masters" of the form, such as Poe, Maupassant, and Chekhov, the course will then survey trends in the modern short story from the early part of the twentieth century to the present with attention to form, characterization, gender, and voice. Authors in the course may include Joyce, Bowen, Hemingway, Faulkner, Borges, Flannery O'Connor, Welty, Carver, and contemporary British and American writers. This course will be an opportunity to meet and work with our Visiting Assistant Professor in English.

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

This course will introduce students to recent trends in American and British fiction with an emphasis on novels written since the turn of the 21st century and some attention to fiction produced in the later decades 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 strategies 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 and some experimental short stories, probably to include one of Cormac McCarthy's border trilogy novels, Tim O'Brien's magic realist Vietnam war novel, Going After Cacciato, Ali Smith's The Accidental, 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

The work of John Milton has exerted a powerful influence for centuries. Not only has Paradise Lost influenced generations of authors, but also it has shaped popular understandings of the Genesis story and the notion of a hero. 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 "IlPenseroso," and his revolutionary prose, including Areopagitica. We'll consider how Milton engaged in the political and religious controversies of his time and why his writing continues to provoke and inspire.

English 380.01 Literary Criticism
Prof. Frye, TR 10:00-11:20

Literary criticism presents the fruits of an encounter between a reader and a literary text. Literary theory explores how meaning is created and communicated. A course in literary theory and criticism, therefore, has two major goals: 1) to explore the principles, assumptions, and strategies that govern both writing and reading and that therefore shape our experience as readers; and 2) to improve our ability to read and therefore to write about what we read. In English 380 we will focus on the past seventy-five years in the history of literary theory and criticism, beginning with structuralism and the New Criticism as background to later approaches such as deconstruction and post-structuralism, reader response, the New Historicism, feminism and gender criticism, queer theory, cultural/postcolonial studies, and recent narrative theory. We will explore the ways in which debates about meaning provoke theories that intersect and conflict in a variety of postmodern and poststructuralist approaches to the reading of texts. We will read selections from the work of critics and theorists so as to introduce ourselves to their interpretive approaches. Throughout the term we will also read short stories, poems, and a novel so that we may see how critical ideas are applied to actual literary texts. The readings and concepts are challenging-literary theory exists on the border between literature and philosophy-but accessible and rewarding to those who work hard. The course will open new avenues to understanding literature.

Students will write several brief papers and one longer essay during the course of the semester. There will also be a midterm and a final exam, as well as an occasion on which each student leads a portion of the day's discussion.

Note: English 380 is a required course for the English major and also may be used to satisfy oneof the two 300-level history/theory courses for the Rhetoric minor. Because it is required for the English major, students majoring in English are given priority during registration.

English 385.01 The Civil War and American Identity
Prof. Horne, TR 2:00‒3:20

This course explores the shifting terrains of American literature in the mid to late nineteenth century, as the crisis of the Civil War spurs important questions about national belonging. As the country goes to battle over what citizenship means and who qualifies as a citizen, the literature of the time-from slave narratives and political speeches to sentimental novels and dialect poems-attempts to navigate these issues, as well. We will read works by Solomon Northup (whose narrative is now a major motion picture), Louisa May Alcott, Frances Harper, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain, among others. In this 300-level course, you will also be reading and writing about secondary criticism and theory pertinent to the texts on the syllabus. You will improve your ability to judge the appropriateness of various critical approaches and to engage with them in your own literary analysis.

We will focus on questions such as: What role does literature play in defining the terms of the Civil War? How do stories work to understand the tremendous bloodshed that the war incurs? What kinds of Civil War narratives remain integral to our national memories and what kinds do not? The significant authors addressed in this class will help us to understand both the discourse that surrounded the Civil War in the nineteenth century and the ways that we remember and discuss the Civil War in the present day.

English 480.01 Capstone Seminar: Text and Image
Prof. Davis, MW 12:30‒1:50

It's tempting to imagine that literature enters our minds unhindered by our five senses. But it is impossible to encounter a text without using our eyes (or ears or fingers), and texts often depend on their visual appearance as they create meaning. From William Blake's illuminated printing to the illustrations of Victorian novels to Christopher Ware's best-selling graphic novel Building Stories, literature can require us to grapple with both text and image, or sometimes text as image. Drawing on the theoretical work of WTJ Mitchell among others, students will write capstone papers that explore the interrelationship between words and images. To talk about how their particular interests will fit into the course, students should contact Professor Davis before the end of the spring semester. (Corequisite:English 481)

English 481.01 Research Methods for English Majors (1 credit hour)
Prof. Nowlin, 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 to conduct successful independent research. The syllabus for this coursewill be coordinated with the syllabus for ENGL 480. Tasks and topics will include engaging meaningfully with literary criticism, using critical discourse effectively, developing library research skills, structuring long, written arguments about literature, reviewing citation formats, and designing oral presentations appropriate to literary studies. Students should expect to complete short presentations, writing workshops, and additional research and writing assignments designed to supplement their research projects for ENGL 480. This course is restricted to students who are completing the Capstone requirement for the major. (Co-requisite: ENGL 480)

[*The following Capstone course will be taught by Prof. Varholy in Spring 2017]
English 480: Law and Literature

One need only read The Oresteia, written in Greece in 432 B.C., to recognize that an interest in the intertwining practices of law and literature has existed for centuries. The contemporary interdisciplinary field of Law and Literature, however, dates from the 1970s and concerns itself primarily with two areas of study: the law in literature (representations of legal actions, persons and/or events in imaginative writings) and the law as literature (rhetorical, imaginative, and/or narrative features of legal practice). In this capstone course, our primary focus will be a consideration of how fictional texts, like William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure (1603), Herman Melville's Billy Budd (1891), or Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen's The Exonerated (2002), demonstrate the meanings of law as understood both by those who enforce it and by those who are subject to it. Our secondary focus will be a study of the role of aesthetic creation in the actual workings of the law [(Bridewell Court Books (1560s), The First Amendment (1791), documents related to the allegations of rape at Duke University (2006)]. Additionally, we will read critical accounts about the field of law and literature and its intellectual goals. Students will have the opportunity to write their capstone papers on a wide variety of literary and/or cultural texts.


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 shortstory 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.