English Courses for Fall 2017

All of the 3-hour courses described below-except 250, 252, and 380-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 a College Honors or Departmental Distinction 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 this fall's Opera Symposium and trip in Richmond (pictured at right). 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 Sound and Music in Modern Narratives
Prof. Toth, TR 10:00-11:20  

Due to changing conceptions of music, modern mechanical inventions such as the automobile, and emerging sound reproduction technologies such as the phonograph, the twentieth century sounds like no other century before it. Today, this is nowhere more apparent than in the century's literature. In this section we will explore many of the relationships between literature, sound and identity. How did writers represent the changing soundscapes of their world? How did they attempt to incorporate the sounds and music around them into their written works? How did they come to associate their identities-and, often, those of their characters--with the music they heard and the musical narratives passed down to them? We will explore these questions and others in this interdisciplinary introduction to literature that surveys novels, poetry, drama, music, film, short fiction, and nonfiction.  (Freshmen and sophomores only.)

English 192.01 Literature and Youth
Prof. Frye, MWF 11:30-12:20   

"O youth! The strength of it, the faith of it, the imagination of it. To me [the ship] was not an old rattletrap carting about the world a lot of coal for a freight-to me she was the endeavor, the test, the trial of life." So exclaims the sailor-narrator Marlow in Joseph Conrad's "Youth," a short story that reminisces about the strength of youth and the romance of illusion that colors it. In English 192: Literature and Youth, we will read stories and novels and some poetry-and perhaps view a film or two-that explore the experience of coming of age in a complex world. We will examine in these works the ways in which young men and young women learn to navigate-in Marlow's case, literally-the uncharted seas of late adolescence and early adulthood. In the course of the semester we will read variations on the Bildungsroman (or novel of education) and the Künstlerroman (or novel of the growth of the artist), in the process considering the ways in which young men and women experience the transition from youth to adulthood. We will read works by nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century writers, mostly British and American. Students will write a midterm and a final exam, as well as a handful of essays.      

English 211.01 The History of English Literature I
Prof. Nowlin, MWF 11:30-12:20   

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 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, 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. Class will be discussion-based, and students will be expected to complete short written assignments, exams, and longer essays.      

English 221.01 American Literature
Prof. Horne, MWF 1:30-2:20   

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 Mary Rowlandson, Anne Bradstreet, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, 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. Prerequisite: none.      

English 221.02 American Literature
Prof. Perry, MWF 10:30-11:20   

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 12:30-1:50  

This class is an introduction to African American literature as both an artistic tradition and a political conversation. This class will cover influential authors who ask what it means to be African American and what that experience means for the nation as a whole. Focusing on fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, we will read works by authors such as Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, among others. As we read these texts through a variety of critical lenses, we will explore these authors' significant negotiations of race, storytelling, and citizenship. Prerequisite: none.     

English 257.01 Fiction into Film
Prof. Weese, MWF 12:30-1:20   

Students in this course will explore 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, we will then focus on the different ways that stories are told in short fiction, novels, and films. By looking at a novel's 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.  We will also analyze a film adaptation of a play. 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), David Mamet's play Glengarry, Glen Ross (film adaptation by James Foley), and the recent BBC television adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.     

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

In this class, we will read and discuss novels, poems, and plays-some well-known and some less well-known-to understand 19th-Century British views of politics, society, identity, and personal relationships; we will also consider connections between ideas developed two hundred years ago and our own 21st-Century American worldviews. Victorian writers debated 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. We will identify connections between the literary texts and their historical/political/cultural contexts in works by great thinkers and writers including John Stuart Mill, George Eliot, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde. 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 314.01 Modern Drama
Prof. Toth, MW 12:30-1:50   

In this course we will study British, European, and American drama from 1870 through the late twentieth century, focusing particularly on innovations in form and content. Occasionally, we will examine classic or award-winning plays in light of 20th century theater's greatest competitor: film. We will consider whether the big screen rendered theater quaint or obsolete, and we will pay special attention to the ways developing technologies in film and television inspired playwrights to innovate their genre. With any luck, we will also be able to catch a live production of a play at a theater in Richmond or the surrounding area. Authors we will read include Ibsen, Shaw, Delaney, Hansberry, Beckett, Mamet, Stoppard, and Wilson. Students will present on critical articles and their own research, and they will write six response papers and two essays. 

English 317.01 The English Novel
Prof. Davis, TR 10:00-11:20  

Featured this semester will be castaways, orphans, madwomen, murderers, bankers, thieves, 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, Emily 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 in particular. Along the way, you will meet some of the most unforgettable characters and stories of English literature. You can expect vigorous class discussion, weekly responses to the reading, one medium-length paper, one longer research paper, and a final exam.    

English 323.01 Contemporary Poetry
Prof. Perry, MWF 1:30-2:20   

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 focus 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, Lisa Jarnot 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 9:30-10:20   

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. We'll spend time with Chaucer's most famous work, The Canterbury Tales, but we'll look at some of his other writing as well, including dazzlingly bizarre dream visions and stunning lyric poetry. We'll also study the world in and about which Chaucer wrote his poetry, thinking in particular about how historical factors like 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. Class will be discussion-based, and students will be expected to complete short written assignments, exams, and longer essays.      

English 380.01 Literary Theory and Criticism
Prof. Weese, MWF 10:30-11:20   

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: Literary Magazines as Contexts and Contested Space
Prof. Hardy, TR 12:30-1:50

What do the last chapter of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a letter on "Flattery and Violence," Marianne Moore's poetry, and an ad for the Peasant Pottery Shop have in common? They all appear in the same 1915 issue of the little magazine, The Egoist.

In this capstone course we will study the contexts of literary magazines, in some cases called "little magazines," as they relate to the literary works that appear in them. Literary magazines have often created spaces for avant-garde works or for writing connected to specific political or aesthetic movements. In this course, we will examine these publications as cross sections of social and literary history. We will rely on digital archives like The Modernist Journals Project and will undertake some archival detective work in the College library collections. Students can expect to specialize in a single magazine-its authors, editorial approaches, publication history-in their capstone projects, with attention to a selected text that first appeared there and to its surrounding contexts in this original format. (Co-requisite: 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 course will 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. Weese in Spring 2018]
English 480: Narrative, Epistemology, and Detective Fiction

This capstone seminar for senior majors will focus on the metaphysical detective story, from its roots in stories by Poe and Conan Doyle in the 19th century to postmodern and contemporary versions of detection in the works of Jorge Louis Borges, Paul Auster, Margaret Atwood, among others. Central to the course will be a consideration of how detective fiction explores the ways we know the world around us: "the metaphysical detective story is distinguished...by the profound questions it raises about narrative, interpretation, subjectivity, the nature of reality, and the limits of knowledge," write two of its critics (Merivale and Sweeney, Detecting Texts 1). The tale of detection can be considered a microcosm of the way narrative in general functions, since to solve a crime is in effect to reconstruct a story from bits of evidence and weave them into a coherent pattern. Students in this course will explore the ways we construct stories to make sense of experience, investigating how the tale of detection probes the foundations of narrative itself and how it helps us understand literary postmodernism. (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 learn about meter and rhyme and learn about free verse.  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