All of the 3-hour courses described below-except 241-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 (except for Creative Writing courses).
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 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 185.01 and English 185.02
Storytelling and the Graphic Novel, Prof. Davis
Section 185.01: TR 8:30-9:50
Section 185.02: TR 10:00-11:20
"What is the use of a book," thought Alice "without pictures or conversation?" (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)
Alice asked her question before graphic novels exited, but today there is no better place to find an alliance of pictures with storytelling. But what makes a good story? And how does the answer change when the story contains not just words but images? After considering how people tell stories orally, the course will focus on the contrasts between fiction and graphic novels. In particular, we will look at works by exceptional novelists and graphic novelists that address common themes such as war, autobiography, the city, and modernity. Students can expect three papers, daily written responses, two class presentations, and vigorous class discussion. Freshmen and sophomores only.
Fathers and Sons in Literature, Prof. Hardy
In this course, we will explore issues of masculinity as they are handed down and transformed from one generation to the next. As we do so, we will also develop techniques for reading and analyzing works of literature. With special attention to the theme of "Fathers and Sons," we will read poetry, fiction, essays, and drama as we put together a collection of critical tools with which to approach a literary text. We will address issues such as the construction of gendered identities, the representation of the family, the role of the artist, and the possibility of language as a place for experimentation.
You should be prepared to read closely and carefully. This will be a class in which discussion and participation are central. Freshmen and sophomores only.
The History of English Literature (Romanticism to the Present), Prof. Whitney
This survey course covers around 250 years of British Literature, and is designed to teach you about the major authors, literary movements, intellectual debates and historical issues of 18th-21st Century Britain. Starting with Romanticism (self-expression/imagination) and the Victorian Era (politics/empire), we will move through the centuries in order to grasp a broad comprehension of the British literary canon. Topics for in-class discussion will also include nature, the arts, imperialism, politics/law, philosophy, gender, and race, to name a few. This course will examine how the British literary canon of this period is constructed, the ways in which specific literary works engage the issues above, and how all these texts shaped British culture. Assignments entail weekly quizzes, three short papers, two exams, and a final creative paper. Class attendance is required in order to pass the literature class.
American Literature, Prof. Horne
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, how historical forces impact their imaginations, and how they shape history in turn. 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.
American Literature, Prof. Perry
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.
Literature and Gender, Prof. Varholy
From the Biblical narrative of Adam and Eve to the television series Transparent, literature has been a vital force in establishing, rejecting, questioning, and reinventing gender roles. Simultaneously, understandings of gender have shaped who writes and what is written in a given culture. In this course, we will read a variety of genres-poetry, prose, drama, and essays-across time in order to consider issues of masculinity, femininity, sexuality, and gender-related social roles. We'll likewise consider how issues of gender intersect with those of race and class. Texts may include plays by William Shakespeare and Suzan-Lori Parks, novels by Jane Austen and Jeffrey Eugnides and essays by bell hooks and Michael Kimmel. The course will include a midterm and final exam, at least two essays, and the opportunity to lead class discussion.
Introduction to Cinema, Prof. Weese
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.
The Art of the Essay, Prof. Hardy
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.
The English Romantics, Prof. Whitney
The Romantic Era in England is usually defined as extending from roughly 1780 to 1830, but the aesthetic and intellectual developments of the period were so influential culturally that I would argue we are still living in "The Romantic Age." The Romantic authors were concerned with many different topics - nature, the imagination, the arts, love, politics, the idea of freedom, social reform, and self-discovery - and used the genres of poetry, essays and novels to challenge how we think about our relation to the world. We will investigate the works of the "Big Six" writers - William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Keats - in order to learn just how much these poets shaped the literary canon. In addition, we will also spend a considerable amount of time looking at some of the lesser-known Romantic authors - Charlotte Smith, Mary Robinson, Felicia Hemans, Robert Burns and Anna Letitia Barbauld - to generate a well-rounded understanding of this period. Assignments will include an oral presentation, two 5-page papers, a creative project and a final research paper using secondary criticism.
Civil War and American Identity, Prof. Horne
This course explores the shifting terrains of American literature in the mid to late nineteenth century when the crisis of the Civil War spurs important questions about national belonging. As the country goes to battle over what citizenship means, the literature of the time-from slave narratives and political essays to sentimental novels and war poems-attempts to navigate these issues, as well. We will read works by Solomon Northup, Louisa May Alcott, Caroline Lee Hentz, Henry David Thoreau, and Herman Melville, 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.
Shakespeare: Shakespeare and Crime, Prof. Varholy
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.
Faulkner, Prof. Hardy
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.
Capstone Seminar: Law and Literature, Prof. Varholy
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. Co-requisite: English 481.
Research Methods for English Majors (1 credit hour), Prof. Perry
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 2019]
English 480: Graphic Novels
Graphic novels now tackle just about every topic you can imagine, from revolution to race, aging to autobiography, superheroes to science. Students will meet with the instructor in the late spring to start identifying graphic novels that might interest them. We will begin the semester by developing a critical language to discuss graphic novels (especially using work by Scott McCloud and Hillary Chute) before diving into several classics of the genre (probably Chris Ware and Alison Bechdel). Students will then bring their own interests and theoretical frameworks to bear on the graphic novel of their choice, which will be the basis for a 20-page paper.
Poetry Writing: Voice and Practice, Prof. Perry
This course is intended for the interested 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 good 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.
Fiction Writing: Voice and Practice, Prof. Robbins
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.