All of the 3-hour courses described below, including the creative writing courses, 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 last semester's Midsummer Night's Dream Symposium and trip to see the Virginia Opera 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 196.01 (Freshmen only): Religion and Literature
Prof. Davis, TR 10:00-11:20
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, and Cynthia Ozick.
English 199.01 American Nature Writing
Prof. Horne, MWF 10:30-11:20
A study of selected American works which deal with the relationship between human beings and the natural world. This 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 Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, Alice Walker, and Barry Lopez, among others.
English 209.01 The Short Novel
Prof. Hardy, MW 2:30-3:50
What college career would be complete without the chance to read Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Mann, Camus, Duras, and García Márquez? In this course we will explore the development of the short novel over two centuries and in at least five different languages. We will examine the possibilities of the short novel form, but we will also trace literary, philosophical, and political movements across decades and national boundaries. This course is going to be comparative in more than one sense, and members of the class should plan to bring their knowledge of other languages and other disciplines to course discussion.
English 211.01 The History of English Literature
Prof. Varholy, MWF 9:30-10:20
What can medieval literature teach us about the values and concerns of the English during that time? How did early sonneteers create an English tradition separate from their Continental predecessors? Why did drama flourish in the late 16th century in London? How was the focus on manners and morals in the 18th century expressed in literature? This course is a 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, four short papers, and the opportunity to lead a class discussion.
English 221.01 American Literature
Prof. Horne, MWF 12:30-1:20
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, Phillis Wheatley, 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.
English 221.02 American Literature
Prof. Perry, MWF 11:30-12:20
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 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. Some secondary readings will introduce critical race theory, while other readings will provide historical background materials and materials relating to various cultures' literary and oral traditions that influence recent 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 Díaz, 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 302.01 Eighteenth-Century Literature
Prof. Davis, TR 8:30-9:50
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 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 21st century-novels and with 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 six or 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 "Il Penseroso," 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. Hardy, TR 2:00-3:20
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: Borderlands: Race, Ethnicity, and National Belonging
Prof. Horne, TR 12:30-1:50
In his classic work The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W.E.B. Du Bois famously asserts 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, and essays, 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 ways 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 primary source 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 spring semester of 2018 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. Perry, 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. Varholy in Spring 2019]
English 480: Law and Literature
One need only read Aeschylus's 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), Susan Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers" (1917), 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 in texts such as the Bridewell Court Books (1560s) and Maryland vs. Rusk (1981). Additionally, we will read critical arguments 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 Poetry Writing: Form and Function
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 Fiction Writing: Narrative and Craft
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.