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 (except creative writing) 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 185.01 SPECIAL TOPICS IN ENGLISH/MONSTERS IN LITERATURE
Prof. Varholy, TR 10:00-11:20
ENGLISH 185.02 SPECIAL TOPICS IN ENGLISH/MONSTERS IN LITERATURE
Prof. Varholy, TR 12:30-1:50
Why have monsters continued to frighten and fascinate audiences for thousands of years? In this introductory literature course, we’ll explore how monsters represent deviations from what is considered “normal” in a given society. Imagined monsters often embody broader fears and anxieties related to transgressions of the body, race, nature, science, gender, sexuality, space or other kinds of expected norms. As we investigate this topic, we will study fiction, poetry, drama, epic, and film written by British and American authors, such as Beowulf, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Edgar Allen Poe’s “Ligea,” and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Our most important goals will be to improve our ability to read literary texts and to speak and write analytical arguments using textual evidence. This course fulfills the Literature requirement
ENGLISH 212.01 THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE-
"PAST AND PRESENCE: (RE)READING THE BRITISH LITERARY CANON"
Prof. Celeste, MWF 11:30-12:20
This discussion-driven survey course provides a whirlwind tour of 200+ years of British literary history. By reading and analyzing representative texts, we will become familiar with selected literary periods (Romanticism, Victorianism, Modernism, Postmodernism, and Postcolonialism) as well as with their socio-historical contexts (circum-Atlantic enslavement and abolition, the Industrial Revolution, Brexit) and political ideologies (imperialism, anti- and decolonialism, suffrage, and liberation). Along the way, we will reflect on our own readerly presence and consider how we might (re)shape the past, present, and future of the British literary canon.
ENGLISH 222.01 AMERICAN LITERATURE AFTER 1865
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 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 222.02: AMERICAN LITERATURE AFTER 1865
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, 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. In a final project, students will investigate how postcolonial/decolonial theory can be applied to a region of the world today.
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
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 258.01 LITERATURE OF THE SOUTH
Prof. Hardy, MW 2:30-3:50
In this class you will read some of the great Southern writers of the twentieth century—Faulkner, Hurston, Williams, Wright, Welty, O’Connor—and encounter some other wonderful voices you may not have heard of yet. As we read these authors, we will consider their writings in context: How does the South define itself, and how does the rest of the country understand it? How has the identity of the region changed, and why, over the past century or so? Who gets to tell the stories of the South?
In the spring of 2024, this course will also be part of the Compass program as an Off-the-Hill experiential learning course In addition to our ongoing engagement with the semester’s readings, we will be working with Waterworks Players, Farmville’s Community Theatre, as it produces Tennessee Williams’ play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. As we develop our own expertise on this play in the context of southern literature, the community-based learning in this class will take several forms: we will serve as consultants, marketers, researchers, and volunteers for Waterworks in the weeks leading up to and including its April production of the show.
ENGLISH 311.01 EPIC WRITING IN ENGLISH AND AMERICAN LITERATURE
TRADITIONS, HEROES, MAGICAL BEASTS, AND MORE!
Prof. Hardy. TR 2: 00-3:00
In this course we will consider the nature of the epic and of episodic storytelling. The course will begin with the Epic of Gilgamesh and include the Odyssey and portions of Joyce’s Ulysses, as well as selected other texts from the English, American, and broader European traditions. Along the way, we will consider a number of questions connected to the epic genre: how epics represent their political and social contexts, how epics establish a fictional world in their opening lines, how this genre uses the episode to isolate and illuminate action or thought, in what ways notions of the heroic evolve as this genre develops in later traditions. We will also consider the relationship between the epic and different forms of storytelling—from oral to early writings to mass produced print to visual media—and how differing media shape narrative conventions.
ENGLISH 334.01 SPECIAL TOPICS IN SHAKESPEARE
SHAKESPEARE AND CRIME
Prof. Varholy, MW 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 plays from across Shakespeare's career, including Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, 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. Across the semester, we’ll be considering critical conversations surrounding Shakespeare and authority, violence, and gender as we improve our close reading skills and ability to argue orally and in writing. Expect two exams, two essays, and two student-led presentations across the semester. Class acting workshops and film versions of the plays will help us to bring Shakespeare's words to life.
ENGLISH 340.01 TONI MORRISON
Prof. Weese, MWF 10:30–11:20
Toni Morrison over the course of her distinguished career, 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, Beloved, Jazz, and Home), and we will also read one or two novels by younger writers of color whom she influenced, such as Junot Díaz, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), and Colson Whitehead, who authored the 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 had 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 350.01 POETRY WRITING: VOICE AND PRACTICE
Prof. Perry, MWF 1:30-2:20
This course is intended for the interested student of poetry and 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. Schooling, TR 2:00-3:20
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.