English Courses for Spring 2016


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 10:30-11:20  
"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? And what is a "literature of war," anyway?

As a class, we'll do our best to supply some answers to these questions. We will read a variety of "war" literature written by men and women in very different times and places. Our primary focus will be on fiction, poetry, and drama, but we will also consider some texts that seem to blur these distinctions, including graphic novels, personal letters, journalism, war memorials, and video games. We will explore how different kinds of literary representation and expression, across different genres, places, and times, offer different ways of trying to get at the "truth" mentioned by O'Brien. We will also discuss strategies for engaging texts effectively, for organizing reactions to texts into cogent arguments, and for opening rewarding discussion with classmates and colleagues. Class meetings will be a mixture of discussion, lecture, group work, and student-led presentations.

"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."  Freshmen and sophomores only.    

English 195.01 Literature and Medicine
Prof. Hardy, MWF 11:30-12:20  
This course will explore connections between the discourses of medicine and literary writing.  How are the acts of diagnosis and storytelling related?  Who has the authority to determine illness or to determine truth in a narrative?  When do doctors and authors work alone, and when are they acting as members of their communities and cultures?  How do new technologies change the "story" of medicine?  In our consideration of illness, health, science, and the body, we will read texts from a variety of traditions told from the point of view of practitioners, patients, and onlookers.  Freshmen and sophomores only.      

English 212.01 The History of English Literature
Prof. Deis, MWF 9:30-10:20  
This course surveys some of the major English and Irish poets, novelists, essayists, and playwrights from 1800 to the present. We will read and discuss works by writers from the Romantic period such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, and Mary Shelley; works by Victorian writers such as Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot; and works by modern writers such as James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Seamus Heaney, and Brian Friel.                

In class discussions we will consider various critical approaches to each literary work, develop a vocabulary by which to talk about literature, and consider the necessary features of a persuasive literary analysis. Writing assignments and exams will help students develop good habits as active and careful readers; active class participation will also count as a significant percentage of the final grade.      

English 222 American Literature
Prof. Horne
Section 01: MWF 9:30-10:20
Section 03: MWF 11:30-12:20  
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 novels, short stories, 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, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Zora Neale Hurston, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Octavia Butler.      

English 222.02 American Literature
Prof. Perry, MWF 10:30-11:20  
This course is intended to be a survey that integrates critical reading, thinking, and writing about phenomena and issues in the trajectory of American Literature since the civil war.  In the course we will read a variety of writers and their writings, including fiction, poetry and the occasional essay. Writers discussed will include Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, Cather, Robinson, Anderson, Ellison, and many others.  In discussion and in written work, students will analyze the 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 have approached their craft and the ways also in which they have approached the difficult task of carrying on as human beings.         

English 228.01 Postcolonial Literature
Prof. Hardy, MW 2:30-3:50  
This course explores definitions of Postcolonialism through literature from places that are not normally canonized in western literature courses.  We read texts from and about India and Africa as well as Latin America and the Caribbean.  Our readings come primarily from the twentieth century and cover a variety of genres.  We will also engage some postcolonial theoretical approaches to literature.              

Themes that we will investigate include the idea of nationality, the construction of history, categories of race and class, the complexities of cultural inheritance, and problems of narrative transmission.   What does it mean to come from a certain place?  Who gets to tell the history of a given country?  What do governments and national identity have to do with storytelling and art?    

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 range from classics such as Citizen Kane and His Girl Friday to contemporary cult favorites such as Memento or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 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.  This course does not satisfy the general literature requirement of the core.      

English 242.01 Introduction to Dramatic Literature
Prof. Varholy, TR 10:00-11:20  
How do playwrights use drama to surprise, delight, and provoke strong responses from their audiences?  What are some of the building blocks writers use to create dramatic literature?  What expectations do the genres of comedy and tragedy produce?  What is drama's social function? These questions and more will shape our study of dramatic literature-from some of the earliest plays in English to American Buffalo (1975), which will be produced on campus this spring, to August: Osage County (2008).  In this course, as we strive to become better readers and viewers of dramas, we will read closely in a variety of dramatic genres and modes, we will study the relationship between dramatic literature and the cultures that produced it, we will consider the interpretive choices necessary for producing scenes, and we will have fun.  We'll read a diverse selection of authors such as Shakespeare, Wilde, O'Neill, Beckett, Churchill, Mamet, and Wilson.  This course will have both midterm and final examinations, and students should expect to write two analytical essays and one performance review.            

English 285.01 Science Fiction
Prof. Nowlin, MWF 12:30-1:20  
This course studies the literary genre of science fiction-one of the most popular forms of imaginative expression in contemporary culture. Focusing in particular on 20th- and 21st-century American novels and short stories, we will explore how science fiction has been defined, how it works as literature, and what it might have to say about the aspects of culture that it reflects and critiques. We will explore how science fiction operates as a form of textual representation, in particular its special use of metaphor and allegory: How is science fiction different from or the same as other types of literary representation? At the same time, our class will examine how science fiction works as cultural metaphor, investigating how these forms of expression reshape our understanding of the workings of human life and culture. As such, we will study how science fiction engages vital issues, including those surrounding race, gender, sexuality, class, identity, memory, power relations, war, emotion, identity, and the difference between the "real" and the "simulated." Finally, we will discuss strategies for engaging texts effectively, for organizing reactions to texts into cogent arguments, and for opening rewarding discussion with classmates and colleagues. As a form of literary representation, science fiction is particularly adept at exploring how we construct our understandings of our world and ourselves.         

English 301.01 Literature of English Renaissance
Prof. Varholy, TR 2:00-3:20   
Writers who lived during the Tudor and Stuart eras in England produced an outpouring of literature that many would argue remains unmatched.  We'll explore a variety of genres from this time period, including prose speeches, sonnet sequences, an epic, and the plays of Shakespeare's contemporaries, to consider how writers represented the self struggling with issues of self-determination, love, and politics.  What kind of agency did writers imagine in a culture focused on religious devotion, chastity, and hierarchical political power?  What place did public writing have in such a culture?  How did these writers understand themselves as part of a developing English literary tradition?  Our reading will include texts by Thomas More, Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, John Donne, and Ben Jonson.  The course excludes texts by Shakespeare.      

English 318.01 Modern British and American Novel
Prof. Hardy, TR 2:00-3:20  
This course will explore developments in the novel during the 20th century.  We will investigate how Modernism impacts the novel as an art form and what happens to the genre after the "high modern" period.  We will also consider other important contextual issues, such as concepts of nationalism, sexuality, gender, history, race, class, and popular culture.  Most importantly, we will discuss some fabulous and provocative books.  Featured authors will likely include Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, Hemingway, and Nabokov, followed by a look at a more contemporary author who inherits the Modernist tradition.        

English 334:01 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, Richard III, and King Lear.  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 340.01 Toni Morrison
Prof. Weese, MWF 12:30-1:20  
Toni Morrison's novels are often bestsellers; her works appear with increasing frequency on academic syllabi; her work has been published about more often than the work of any other contemporary author; and her work has won major literary prizes, including the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Why are so many people fascinated by this author?  In this course, we will read several of Morrison's eleven novels (including The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved) and some of her own literary criticism, in addition to literary criticism that others have produced about Morrison's fiction. As we study Morrison's career over the last forty years, we will address a number of questions and issues raised by her writings: how do race and racial politics shape one's sense of identity? How do matters of class and gender complicate considerations of racial identity? How does one's relationship to one's own past and family past influence one's experience of the present? How do we understand history, generally, both collective and individual? How do individuals locate themselves in relation to a community? While exploring thematic issues, we will also study Morrison's technique as a fiction writer and her relationship to modern and postmodern literature. We will examine her indebtedness to African-American, African, and European oral and literary traditions and the evolution of her intriguing and often challenging narrative techniques. For English majors, this course will satisfy either a 300-level elective requirement or the "literature of difference" requirement. Non majors also welcome!    

English 360.01 Authorship and History of the Book
Prof. Davis, TR 10:00-11:20  

Fennyman: Who is that? Henslowe: Nobody. The Author.
~Shakespeare in Love

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. 
~Franz Kafka

Is it true, as the 2011 film Anonymous would have it, that Shakespeare didn't write his own plays? When Milton got paid five pounds for Paradise Lost, was he getting a raw deal? Who was the first author to get rich from literature? (Hint: it was for translating Homer.) Why did Marian Evans call herself George Eliot? If the iPad, Kindle, and Nook were supposed to portend the end of the printed book, why are there more books than ever being printed? As soon as we ask questions like these, we discover that authorship has its own history, one that is closely related to the history of books. This course will examine those histories from Shakespeare's First Folio through to Google's dream of a universal digital library. With particular emphasis on the period from 1660 to 1910, we will look at changes in the profession of authorship, at changes in book technology, and at the effects that both these changes have had on literature itself. Among the writers we might study are Shakespeare, Lord Rochester, Pope, Sterne, Blake, Dickens, Wilde, William Morris, and contemporary authors of electronic literature.

The class will be meeting in the Bortz Library, where we will study the physical properties of books in the Hampden-Sydney rare book vault and occasionally deconstruct (in the most literal sense of that word) some books that the instructor will provide. An unusual component of this course is that over the course of the semester, you will make a book from scratch. Facilities permitting, we will be making paper, marbling, setting type, printing, and binding. Our goal: to see every printed book as an archeological treasure, one that can reveal valuable insights into the culture that created it. If possible, we will take a field trip to UVa's Special Collections Library. The course fulfills the pre-1900 requirement in the English major.      

English 480.01 Capstone Seminar: Borderlands: Race, Ethnicity, and National Belonging
Prof. Horne, TR 12:30-1:50  
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. 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. Davis in Fall 2016]
English 480: Text and Image   
It's tempting to imagine that literature enters our minds unhindered by our five senses. But as many authors and readers have recognized, to encounter a text is to use 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 William Morris's triumph of printing, the Kelmscott Chaucer, 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. Potential topics might come from poetry, fiction, electronic literature, or graphic novels. For more details or to talk about how their particular interests will fit into the course, students should contact Professor Davis.                                                                    


English 350.01 Intermediate Creative Writing: Poetry
Prof. Perry, MW 2:30-3:50  
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 Intermediate 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.