English Courses for Spring 2015

All of the 3-hour courses described below-except English 241, 350, and 352-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: Students 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 194.01 Literature of War
Prof. Nowlin, MWF 9:30‒10:20

"In many cases a true war story cannot be believed," writes Tim O'Brien, author and Vietnam veteran. "In other cases, you can't even tell a true war story. Sometimes it's just beyond telling." What exactly is that "true war story" that O'Brien speaks of? What is "the literature of war," exactly? And what can we learn from it? 

            As a class, we'll do our best to supply some answers to these questions. We'll look at a variety of "war" literature written by men and women over a wide span of human history, culture, and geography. Our course will engage fiction, poetry, and drama, but we will discuss other texts that would seem to blur these distinctions, including graphic novels and video games. As we discuss the differences and similarities of the means of expression in such diverse literary forms, we will explore whether or not some forms seem more able to get at the "truth" mentioned by O'Brien.

            We will also discuss strategies for engaging these texts effectively, for organizing reactions to texts into cogent arguments, and for opening rewarding discussion with classmates and colleagues. Students will be expected to complete regular response papers and online posts, longer essays, a short presentation, and a final exam.

"War is hell," O'Brien writes, "but that's not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead."


English 199.01 American Nature Writing
Prof. Horne, MWF 11:30-12:20

A study of selected American works which deal with the relationship between human beings and the natural world. The course is an examination of American attitudes toward nature as a source of delight, terror, ethical wisdom, and revelation in some larger sense. We will also read works that ponder the connections between nature, health, and justice in the American landscape and that register the trauma of a natural world in peril. Authors include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Frederick Law Olmstead, Rachel Carson, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Alice Walker. Prerequisite: none.


English 212.01  The History of English Literature
Prof. Nace, MWF 10:30-11:20

This course will survey over 200 years of British Literature-from roughly 1800 to the present. Much of our class time will be spent closely and intensively reading some of the greatest and most influential poems, novels, plays, and essays from this period in literary history. Our discussions will often begin with the question of why these works have been considered great and/or influential. Along the way, we will enrich our efforts to appreciate these verbal artworks by paying some attention to the cultural forces that, at any given time, shape the literary possibilities for an author. Students enrolled in this course will write weekly reading responses, two or three essays of varying lengths, and two exams.


English 222 American Literature
Prof. Horne
Section 01, MWF 9:30-10:20
Section 02, MWF 12:30-1:20

This course is a survey that will introduce you to the richly expansive tradition of American literature after the Civil War and up to the present. Exploring a range of literary genres-such as fiction, essays, and poetry-we will study how major authors negotiate American identities and how historical forces impact their imaginations. We will consider how authors respond to literary movements such as realism, modernism, and postmodernism while also navigating a uniquely American cultural legacy. We will primarily use the Norton Anthology, and writers discussed will include Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Zora Neale Hurston, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison.


English 230.01 Multi-Ethnic American Literature
Prof. Weese, TR 8:30-9:50

This course will explore-through fiction, poetry, drama, and essays-the literary techniques and thematic concerns of Native American, Asian American, and Chicano/a authors. We'll explore how writers who are members of two different cultures express their sense of identity in literature and address issues of racial difference. We will likely read a bildungsroman (novel of education and development) for each of the multi-ethnic groups that we study as a means to understand both the particulars of that group's experience in America and as a means to make cross-cultural comparisons among different ethnic groups. Readings will include historical background materials and materials relating to literary and oral traditions from the various cultures that influence twentieth-century multi-ethnic works of literature. Authors we'll study will likely include N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, Rudolfo Anaya, Gary Soto, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Junot Diaz, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Bharati Mukherjee, among others. In addition to writing papers and taking a midterm and a final exam, students will give an oral presentation on cultural contexts for and/or theoretical approaches to particular authors whose works we study.


English 241.01 Introduction to Cinema
Prof. Weese, MWF 10:30-11:20

This course will introduce students to ways of interpreting and writing about film.  Throughout the semester, we will focus upon narrative strategies in film:  how are stories told in film, and how are they told differently than in prose fiction? Who narrates a film?  What are common patterns of plot development?  How do film genres evolve? We will also emphasize formal techniques used in filmmaking to tell stories.  How does editing work?  What is continuity editing, and what are some alternatives to it? How does a film's soundtrack relate to the image?  How do mise-en-scène and cinematography influence the ways that we interpret a film?  Films likely to be represented on the syllabus include Chinatown, Citizen Kane, The Sweet Hereafter, Memento, The Grand Illusion, and many others.  Students will view films outside of class, as homework. A textbook will supplement the primary materials. Students will take midterm and final exams, complete several written exercises, and compose two analytic essays.


English 244.01 The Art of the Essay
Prof. Hardy, TR 10:00-11:20

In this course we will take a close look at the essay as a literary form.  How has the essay been used to change minds and to change the world?  What are its possibilities as an art form?  How has it evolved to meet new political and literary challenges?  What is the essay's future in a world of new media?  We will analyze conventional and experimental essays for technique, content, and social and historical context. This is primarily a literature course concerned with careful reading and discussion of published essays, although students may have a chance to write one or two literary essays of their own in addition to analytical papers.


English 300.01 Medieval English Literature
Prof. Nowlin, MWF 10:30-11:20

Terrifying monsters, chivalrous knights, and feats of bravery in the service of love and duty are perhaps among the first things that come to mind when we think of medieval literature. To be sure, all of those things are an important part of literature in the English Middle Ages. But the period-spanning, very roughly, from the fifth through the fifteenth centuries-also offers a dazzling array of topics, themes, authors, and genres. The work of our class will be to read, discuss, and write about a wide variety of genres and forms, including epic, lyric, religious and romance narrative, tale collections, history writing, dream visions, allegory, spiritual meditations, and writing intended for moral and philosophical instruction.

We will also discuss strategies for engaging these texts effectively, for organizing reactions to texts into cogent arguments, for situating our engagements within a larger field of literary criticism and scholarship, and for opening rewarding discussion with classmates and colleagues. Students will be expected to complete regular response papers and online posts, longer essays, short presentations, and a final exam.

The English Middle Ages are distant, yet they resonate strongly with our own time. What we find when we look carefully at medieval texts are images at once strange and strangely familiar.


English 320.01 The Short Story
Prof. Hardy, MWF 11:30-12:20

In this course we will approach the short story as a separate prose genre and examine what it means to read that genre. We will begin with earlier "masters" of the form-Poe, Maupassant, Chekhov-and will then survey trends in the modern short story form from the early part of the twentieth century to the present. Along the way we will examine the possibility of defining the short story and consider issues of form, characterization, gender, and voice. We will also discuss our understanding of what constitutes an "event" or an important fictional moment in a modern context. Other authors in the course may include Joyce, Bowen, Hemingway, Faulkner, Borges, Flannery O'Connor, Welty, and Carver. The course will end with a sampling of contemporary stories, both British and American, from current magazines and journals.


English 334.01 Shakespeare: Shakespeare and Crime
Prof. Varholy, TR 12:30-1:50

Murder, rape, treason, infanticide, witchcraft, suicide, incest, prostitution, extortion-in many of Shakespeare's plays, people behave badly.  In this course, we will study a selection of the plays from across Shakespeare's career, including Measure for Measure, The Taming of the Shrew, Richard III, and Othello.  As we look at some of Shakespeare's depictions of crime, we'll consider why theater audiences were and are attracted to misconduct and what the plays teach us about norms of behavior in early modern London.  Class acting workshops and film versions will help us to bring Shakespeare's words to life.


English 338.01 Faulkner
Prof. Hardy, TR 2:00-3:20

We will read six of Faulkner's novels, many short stories, and some Faulkner miscellany. We will also look at some shorter works by other twentieth-century authors in order to understand his context. Students should expect to familiarize themselves with several critical approaches to this complex author. Those who know Faulkner should not be surprised to learn that this course will involve rigorous study and enthusiasm and sacrifice and courage and endurance. But we will prevail.


English 480.01 Capstone Seminar: The Legends of Arthur
Prof. Nowlin, MWF 12:30-1:20

The literatures surrounding the legends of King Arthur will be the focus of our Capstone course, 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, race, 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 what they might help us understand about ourselves.

The final project for our course will include 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. (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 using critical discourse effectively, honing library skills, reviewing citation formats, and designing oral presentations appropriate to literary studies. 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. Frye in Fall 2015]
English 480: Imagining and Recreating the Past

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 350.01 Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry
Staff, TR 2:00-3:20

This course is intended for the serious student of poetry and of writing poetry.  The course will first and foremost be a workshop, engaging in the critical consideration of students' poems, and focusing on the craft and art of poetry writing.  We will, however, also do a lot of reading- discussing and reviewing contemporary books of poetry, essays, interviews, etc.  Students will be asked to turn in a portfolio of revised poems at the end of the semester.  If a student has not taken the introductory poetry writing course (ENGL 250), he may receive permission to enroll in the course by submitting five poems to Prof. Perry (nperry@hsc.edu) prior to registering in the class.


English 352.01 Advanced 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.