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. This does not apply to Creative Writing course 350 and 352.
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 185.01 and 185.02 Stranger Things: Monsters in Literature and Film
Prof. Eriks Cline
Section 01: MW 2:30-3:50
Section 02: TR 10:00-11:20
Here be monsters! A figure that appears on old maps to mark the danger of unexplored territories, the monster also haunts the pages of literary and popular culture, looming at the borders of the safe and sanctioned. In this class, we will explore Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s proposition that monsters are cultural signs of prohibition, difference, and desire by examining the role of the monstrous in literature and on film. From fairy tale wolves to science experiments gone awry, from a zombie apocalypse to the ghosts of American slavery, we will investigate how authors engage with the fascination and horror of monsters. Along the way, we will pay special attention to the key devices that textual and visual stories use to represent otherness, to mark bodies, to narrate identity, to engender fear, and to represent memory and trauma. This course will be heavily based on discussion, with students contributing regularly to a class experimentation log and to in-class activities and conversation. These exercises will provide practice for longer assignments: a series of short papers, a midterm, and a final monster mutation project.
Freshmen and sophomores only.
English 185.03 Race, Gender, and Identity in Literature
Prof. Whitney, MW 12:30-1:50
How does race inform one’s quest for self-discovery? What can we learn from the stories/memoirs/ experiences of black men and women about the ways in which race and gender construct a person’s identity? In this course, we will try to answer these questions by reading an assortment of literature, primarily by black authors, and explore how these texts can provide us with a context for how race, masculinity, and gender roles define a person’s identity. Readings will include Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Jesmyn Ward’s The First This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, Wes Moore’s The Other Wes Moore, and “How it Feels to Be Colored Me” by Zora Neale Hurston. In addition, we will support our discussions with movies about race such as Coming to America (1988), Boyz n the Hood (1991), and Black Panther (2018). Assignments will include regular reading quizzes, a group oral presentation, three short papers and a final exam on the readings discussed over the course of the semester. Freshmen and sophomores only.
English 212.01 Survey of British Literature, Romanticism to the Present
Prof. Davis, TR 10:00-11:20
This course will introduce you to some of the greatest poems, plays, and novels of British Literature written 1800 and the present. Because literature and culture are always intertwined, and because these are two centuries of immense cultural change, our close readings will be complemented by considerations of how literature has been shaped by extra-literary forces, such as the industrial revolution, the expansion and retraction of the British empire, two world wars, and new technologies. Students can expect daily reading responses, two essays, two tests, and a final exam.
English 222.01 American Literature
Prof. Horne, MWF 9:30–10:20
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, 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.
English 222.02 American Literature
Prof. Perry, MWF 11:30-12:20
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, Dunbar, Frost, Cather, Robinson, 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, TR 10:00–11:20
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 12:30–1:20
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, make a presentation on a scene from one of the films we study, and compose two analytic essays. This course does not satisfy the general literature requirement of the core.
English 285.01 Gothic Literature
Prof. Whitney, MW 2:30-3:50
Gothic literature debuted in the eighteenth century as a popular literary genre for its exploration of brooding villains, flawed heroes, complex heroines, and ruined landscapes. The Gothic, as a genre, is one that continues even today with its constant juxtaposition of the supernatural and grim reality. There are a number of themes associated with the Gothic – monstrosity, imagination, race, gender, sexuality, music, culture, and heroism – and each challenges us to consider how the fantastical is actually a reflection of our own hopes, fears, and desires. In this course, we will sample a series of Gothic texts from its eighteenth-century origins up to the 21st century to see how the Gothic evolves over time to fit our own changing definitions of the grotesque. Class readings will include a number of different genres – novel, poetry, drama, graphic novel – and feature texts such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Lord Byron’s Manfred, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Course assignments will include regular in-class quizzes, a group oral presentation, three analytical papers, and a final exam on the material covered throughout the semester.
English 334:01 Shakespeare
Prof. Eriks Cline, TR 2:00–3:20
This course approaches Shakespeare’s plays through the lens of particular performance practices, both contemporary and historical. Each unit asks students to engage in close readings of a dramatic text while also analyzing particular production choices and engaging in performance as a form of research. Students will use theatrical practice as a way to explore how the meaning of each play might change in different times and places, with a particular emphasis on the dramatic embodiment of gender, race, sexuality, and disability. Assignments for the course will ask students to analyze the plays both in print and in performance: students will produce regular, small-stakes close readings and a larger analytical essay; take a midterm exam; and design a new stage production that would challenge audience interpretations of a play.
English 340.01 Toni Morrison
Prof. Weese, MWF 10:30-11:20
Toni Morrison, often recognized as the most important contemporary American author, died at the age of 88 in early August, 2019. Over the course of her career, she was awarded the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Recent tributes to her life and work often comment on the fact that her fiction’s popular success coupled with the scholarly attention her novels have garnered makes her an unusual author. Why are so many people fascinated by this author, and how do we define her legacy? In this course, we will read several of Morrison’s novels (including The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved), and we will also read one or two novels by younger writers of color whom she influenced, such as Junot Diaz—who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)—and Colson Whitehead, who authored the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Underground Railroad (2016). Upon this novel’s publication, GQ Magazine ran a story titled “The Excellence of Colson Whitehead,” touting him as an author we’ll be hearing a lot about in years to come. Featured on the cover of Time Magazine in July, 2019, Whitehead has recently published The Nickel Boys, “a book that will further cement his place in the pantheon of influential American writers” (Mitchell S. Jackson, Time, June 27, 2019). In this course on Toni Morrison and her literary heirs, we will address a number of questions and issues raised by their novels: 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 the evolution of Morrison’s innovative narrative technique, with some attention to the intriguing fantastical devices that Morrison, Diaz, and Whitehead all use to structure their stories about race and American history. [For English majors, this course will satisfy either a 300-level elective requirement or the “focused perspectives” requirement. Non majors interested in learning more about Morrison and other key figures in contemporary American literature such as Whitehead and Diaz are also welcome.}
English 360.01 Authorship and History of the Book
Prof. Davis, MW 12:30–1:50
Is it true, as the 2011 film Anonymous would have it, that Shakespeare didn’t write his own plays? (Answer: No.) Who was the first author to get rich from literature? (Hint: it was for translating Homer.) Did Charles Dickens get paid by the word? 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 as material objects. 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, Rochester, Pope, Sterne, Blake, Dickens, Wilde, William Morris, and contemporary authors of electronic literature.
Throughout the semester, 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. Be prepared to 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 and to Rare Book School.
English 385.01 Mark Twain
Prof. Horne, MW 2:30-3:50
In this course, you will study the innovative and renowned literary career of Mark Twain, the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who was a master of listening to American voices, and talking back to them as well. You will read novels, short stories, essays, and travel writing by Twain, analyzing his distinct contributions to different genres. You will also consider the many different roles that Twain played through his authorial persona: humorist, social critic, and realist, among others. To understand his writing in context, you will read works by authors who influenced him and by literary descendants whom he inspired. 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. You will examine why William Faulkner considered Twain to be “the father of American literature.”
English 480.01 Capstone Seminar: Literary Magazines as Contexts and Contested Spaces
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. The final project for the class will be to produce a new issue of Stone Cap, an online journal created by English capstone students in 2017. To see the inaugural issue, go to https://hscstonecap.wixsite.com/stonecap. 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.
English 350.01 Poetry Writing: Voice and Practice
Prof. Perry, TR 2:00–3:20
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.
English 352.01 Fiction Writing: Voice and Practice
Prof. Robbins, MW 2:30–3:50
A workshop and seminar in the art of writing fiction in today’s literary and cultural landscape. Students move from brief assignments and readings emphasizing the elements of fiction―description, point of view, character, and plot―to the writing of short stories. Students are expected to produce analytical responses to the reading, study craft and technique, and produce significant original work.