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Course Listing Fall 2015

ENGL 104000-01, 02 Introduction to Contemporary World Literatures 

HU LA 3a g DV

3 credits

ICC THEMES: Power and Justice; World of Systems

INSTRUCTOR: Chris Holmes



COURSE DESCRIPTION: The german poet J.W. von Goethe predicted in 1827 that by now we would have ceased discussing literature according to national affiliations: "National literature is now a rather unmeaning term; the epoch of world literature is at hand, and everyone must strive to hasten its approach." This course aims to take up Goethe's claim seriously, not as a failed literary history, but as a way of considering the points of contact and departure among texts drawn from largely non-Western traditions. If national literature is an unmeaning, or perhaps, weakly meaning term, what do literary texts have to say about affiliations beyond or besides the nation. Using a late 19th century novel, The Heart of Darkness, as our prototype for novels that think the world into existence, we will move onto novels that take the postcolonial moment as their imprimatur for using literature to forge new modes of relationality with other texts, cultures, and eras. Texts may include: JM Coetzee Disgrace; Lauren Beukes Moxyland (South Africa); Mohsin Hamid Reluctant Fundamentalist (Pakistan); Jessica Hagedorn The Dogeaters (Philippines); Joseph Conrad The Heart of Darkness (UK/Poland); Dambudzo Marechera The House of Hunger (Zimbabwe); Tash Aw Five-Star Billionaire (Malaysia/China); Karl Knausgaard My Strugglepart 1 (Norway).

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Some lecture, mostly discussion. 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Two short papers and a longer paper, a midterm examination, and occasional informal assignments. Grading is based on attendance, participation in class discussion, examinations, and papers. Strict attendance policy enforced.

ENGL 11300-01, 02   INTRODUCTION TO POETRY     HU LA 3a h


ICC THEMES: Identities; Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation

INSTRUCTOR: KEVIN MURPHY, 332 Muller, ext. 4-3551

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section


COURSE DESCRIPTION: One objective of this course is to familiarize the student with both traditional and contemporary forms of poetry.  To do so, we will study poetry chronologically (from Shakespeare to the present) and formally (the sonnet, the ode, the dramatic monologue, etc.).  The chronological survey from the 16th through the 19th century will take place during the first half of the semester, and during the second half we will focus on American poetry written in the 20th century, especially poetry written since 1950.  A second, and perhaps more important, objective of this course is to instill in the student the desire and the confidence to read poetry and the ability  to write about it critically and persuasively, and therefore participation in class discussion is crucial.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion, with some lecture

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING There will be a five-page paper due four weeks into the semester, and an eight-page paper due at the Thanksgiving break.  In addition, there will be a midterm examination at the midterm and a final examination during finals week.  Grading will be A-F.  Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an important element in students’ final grades.



ICC DESIGNATION: Themes: (1) Identities, or (2) Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation; Perspective: Humanities.

INSTRUCTOR: James Swafford, 330 Muller, ext. 4-3540

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section


COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is designed to help the student develop skills in reading, analyzing, and writing about poetry.  We will analyze a wide range of poems from different historical periods, written in a variety of forms and styles. The first part of the course will emphasize the various elements of poetry – imagery, figurative language, tone, sound and rhythm, and set forms (such as sestinas and sonnets). In the second part, we’ll spend more time considering what we can learn from studying a poem in the context of other poems by the same author – our case study will be John Keats – or poems on a similar subject. Note: this is not a course in poetry writing. 

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Mostly discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Three critical essays, assorted quizzes and response pieces during the course of the term, a midterm, and a final examination. Grading is A-F, based on the above as well as on attendance and participation in class discussion.


3 Credits

ICC THEMES: Identities; Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation

INSTRUCTOR: Michael Stuprich, 316A Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 Students


COURSE DESCRIPTION: This section of English 113 will take a fairly traditional approach to the subject by focusing on ways to help students develop skills in reading, analyzing, and writing about poetry.  To those ends we’ll read a wide variety of English and American poetry written in different historical eras and in different poetic forms.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Almost entirely discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: A number of short (1-2 page) writing assignments, 2-3 short (2-3 page) essays, a final essay in the 4-5 page range, and steady attendance and class participation.

ENGL 19401-01, 02    Novel Identities, Fictional Selves    


ICC THEME: Identities

INSTRUCTOR: Jean Sutherland, Muller 434, Ext. 4-1935,

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section


OBJECTIVES: Our identities are shaped by stories. The stories we read or hear color the way we view the world. The stories we tell reveal the way we view ourselves, or the way we want to be seen. All of these novels focus on characters attempting to forge new identities, to “edit” their lives into different stories. Their successes and failures tell us much about the forces that shape identity and the limitations placed on our ability to change by age, class, gender, race, religion, education, politics, and history. These works also focus on the complex relationship between literature and life, between “stories” and “the real world,” on the differences between the way we see ourselves and the way we are seen. The course will develop students’ skills as analytical readers, critical thinkers, and persuasive writers.  We will focus on close readings of the texts, augmented by some background material on their cultural, historical, and artistic contexts. We will look at excerpts from film adaptations of selected works in order to consider how literary texts differ from film.

STUDENTS: Open to all

FORMAT AND STYLE: Mostly discussion.

REQUIREMENTS: Short weekly in-class writing or quiz, 2-3 essays, a midterm, and a final examination.

GRADING: Based on class attendance, participation, and the above requirements.

ENGL 19406-01, The Search for the Self in Short Stories  HU LA 3a h

3 credits

ICC THEME: Identities

INSTRUCTOR: Jean Sutherland, Muller 434

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section

PREREQUISITES: None STUDENTS: Open to all students.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: What creates our sense of who we are? How does a work of fiction reveal the complex web of influences that shape one’s identity and how one views the world? What roles do family, peers, age, class, education, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation play in influencing the way one thinks and acts, and how can an author suggest all of that in the space of a short story?  What can a literary work reveal about our understanding of ourselves and of our world? In studying these works of short fiction, we will also consider some secondary material such as the authors’ comments about their work and scholarly commentary about them in order to enrich our understanding of why these stories are short but not slight. 

The goal of the course is to make you a more active and critical reader. This is NOT a class in fiction writing

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: This class relies largely on discussion.  You will be expected to do much of the talking.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Two essays; daily quizzes or writing exercises; essay mid-term and final exam. Grading is based on the requirements, with emphasis placed upon class participation. 

ENGL 19408-01, 02 The Power of Injustice & the Injustice of Power           HU LA 3A h

TOPIC: Life at the Margins in American Literature

3 Credits         

ICC DESIGNATIONS:      Diversity; Power & Justice and Identities Themes

INSTRUCTOR:          Derek Adams, Muller 304

ENROLLMENT:        20 per section


COURSE DESCRIPTION:    Many individuals continue to feel as though they live at the margins of society, despite the “melting pot” rhetoric of inclusivity and acceptance that dominates narratives of American identity. While we commonly consider purposeful exclusion an act of injustice on the part of the powerful, we are often unaware of the way that subtle, hidden forms of power render particular groups and individuals powerless. American literature is one of the most widely utilized platforms for articulating the specific issues that arise in response to these forms of power. This course will use an array of American literary texts to explore the complexities of the life experiences of those who are forced by the powerful to live at the margins. We will read the work of Rebecca Harding Davis, Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Junot Diaz, Adam Mansbach, Benjamin Alire Saenz, and Sherman Alexie.  

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion with the occasional lecture

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Students will closely examine course materials, keep a reading journal, put together an in-class presentation, actively engage in class discussions, craft three textual analysis essays, and complete a final exam.

ENGL 19410 Engendering Modernity: Twentieth-Century Women Writers

3 Credits

ICC DESIGNATIONS: Theme: Identities; ICC Attribute: Diversity

Instructor: Jennifer Spitzer, 305 Muller

Prerequisites: None

Enrollment: 20 Students per section

Themes and Perspectives: Identities

Tu/Th 2:35-3:50 and 4-5:15.

Course Description: This course will focus on a representative body of twentieth-century Anglo-American women writers, writers who adapted earlier literary forms, and in some cases produced major stylistic innovations, as they struggled to find their own voices. We will examine how these authors negotiated a predominantly male literary tradition and how they drew upon, or constructed, a female literary ancestry. We will read works that self-consciously reflect on issues of identity, gender, sexuality, feminism, and authorship, as well as works that explore the complex intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, ethnicity, and national belonging. We will also consider the relationship between gender and genre by reading a wide range of literary forms, from novels, plays, and poetry, to memoirs, essays and political manifestos. Authors will include Virginia Woolf, Kate Chopin, Toni Morrison, Jean Rhys, Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich, and Gloria Anzaldúa.

Course Format: Discussion, with some brief lectures.

Course Requirements and Grading: One 4-5 page essay, one 5-7 page final paper, midterm and final exams, and short informal writing assignments.  Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation and attendance will be an essential part of students’ final grades. 

ENGL 19413  "The Blood is the Life": Vampires in Literature

3 credits

ICC THEME:  Mind, Body, Spirit

INSTRUCTOR: Julie Fromer, Muller 434

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section


COURSE DESCRIPTION: Buffy Summers, Bella Swan, and Sookie Stackhouse share an affinity for vampires, and in this class we’ll explore some of their desires and fears.  Why do vampires hold such sway in American culture today, and where did these blood-sucking characters come from?  Why are vampires portrayed with such mesmeric charisma, such powers of seduction, such ability to tempt the most chaste?  What’s at stake in giving into the temptation?  Vampires first appeared in English literature in the early nineteenth century, but the themes of seduction, temptation, and the risk of succumbing, help to define the codes of chivalry in much earlier texts from the Medieval period.  We'll explore some of the earliest characterizations of vampirism in Romantic poems, as well as lurid Victorian vampire tales, including “Carmilla” and Dracula.  Grounded in this vampire literary history, we’ll then turn to more recent renditions of the vampire, including Interview with the Vampire and Twilight.

ENGL 19415-01 Ithaca:  The Art of Place


ICC THEMES: "Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation" and "World of Systems."

INSTRUCTOR: David Kramer, 322 Muller, ext. 4-1344

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section


COURSE DESCRIPTION:   Ithaca writers have produced acclaimed novels of tragedy, comedy, mystery, and scandal; prize-winning poems of landscape and meditation; a writing handbook that defined modern style for generations; and an anthology that tells us what qualifies as “literature.”  Ithacans have written and produced legendary television programs that recounted an African-American family’s journey from slavery to freedom; revealed the immensity of the cosmos; and thrown a ray of light into some of its twilit zones. 

            The course will consider Ithaca as a locus of artistic production.  Focusing primarily on literature but branching out in many directions, the course will consider how these artists came to Ithaca, the traces that the city and landscape left upon their works, and, in turn, the way these artistic productions have affected the cultural, built, and “natural” landscape.

            We will read histories of the region and city, but most of our reading will be of fiction, poetry, and some non-fiction written in Ithaca, and reflecting aspects of Ithaca life.  Works will include Deborah Tall,  From Where We Stand  (excerpts); Carol Kammen, Ithaca: A Brief History; Grace Miller White’s Tess of the Storm Country; William Strunk’s Elements of Style; Nabokov’s Lolita and Pnin; Carl Sagan Contact; Alison Lurie’s War Between the Tates; some screenplays of Rod Serling, and lots more.

FORMAT AND STYLE: Discussion and lecture.

REQUIREMENTS: Completion of all assigned readings (quizzes will be given at each class); one written response each class; participation in classroom discussion, mid-term and final exam; two essays.



ICC DESIGNATION: Writing Intensive

INSTRUCTOR: Hugh Egan, 306 Muller, ext. 4-3563

ENROLLMENT: 15 students per section

PREREQUISITE: Open to English majors and minors, and those contemplating the major or minor.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is designed to encourage English majors and minors early in their careers to become more reflective, self-conscious readers, writers, and thinkers, and thus better prepared for the upper-level English curriculum. Students will grapple with the issues and concerns that occupy literary critics when they think about literature, including the biases and assumptions that guide them. Focusing on a handful of well-known texts spanning a variety of literary genres, we will practice the skills of close reading and critical application—that is, we will attempt, first, to inhabit these works as worlds unto themselves, and second, to place them in appropriate critical conversations. The course will thus involve both formal analysis and scholarly commentary. Our texts will include Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Joyce’s “The Dead,” Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Morrison’s Sula, and the poems of Billy Collins.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Guided discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Three 5-page essays, a final research essay on Sula, some in-class writing, and class participation.  Grading will be A-F.  Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an important part of students’ final grades.


TOPIC: Family Values


ICC DESIGNATION: Writing Intensive

INSTRUCTOR: Claire Gleitman, 303 Muller, ext. 4-3893

ENROLLMENT: 20 students

PREREQUISITE: Sophomore standing.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: If American dramatists are to be trusted, dysfunctionality and the American family go hand in hand. Indeed, the deteriorating family has been a thematic obsession for American playwrights almost since the birth of American drama as a distinct body of writing. In this course, we will begin almost exactly at the midpoint of the last century, with Tennessee Williams’ first Broadway success, The Glass Menagerie, which was written in 1944. From there, we will cover nearly 70 years of American playwriting, concluding with Tanya Barfield’s 2013 play, The Call. All of the plays that we will read focus on familial relationships, and efforts to create, salvage or flee from families. In many of our plays, the featured families suffer from a corrosive misery that seems to pass like a contagion from generation to generation as the sadness, self-loathing and (often) alcoholism of the parents is visited upon the children—unless they find a way, however compromised, to escape. Our interest will be to examine these portraits of familial distress in the context of the portraits of America that each one offers. What is the relationship between the family drama and the larger cultural drama that our authors are staging? Playwrights will include Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, August Wilson, Paula Vogel, Suzan-Lori Parks, Quiara Alegria Hudes, and Tanya Barfield.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion, with some context-setting lectures.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: One 2-3 page paper, two 4-6 papers, an in-class midterm and a take-home final exam, class participation. Grading will be A-F. Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an important part of students’ final grades.

ENGL 21900-01, -02  Shakespeare   3a h  HU LA

TOPIC: Shakespeare and the Theatre of the World


ICC DESIGNATION: Theme: 1) Identities or 2) Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation; Perspective: Humanities

INSTRUCTOR: Christopher Matusiak, 326 Muller Faculty Center

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section

PREREQUISITE: One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The sign of the original Globe theatre in 1599 is said to have included the Latin inscription Totus mundus agit histrionem—‘the whole world acts a play.’ The idea that every woman and man performs a part in the theatrum mundi (‘theatre of the world’) has long been central to the history of ideas, expressed most famously by Jaques in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players.” Central to Shakespearean drama is the question of whether the roles we perform are determined primarily by forces larger than ourselves—scripted in advance, as it were, by destiny, biology, or ideology—or whether we become what we are largely by crafting our own performances, thereby determining our own trajectories in life. This course invites students to explore the relationship between performance and human identity, both as Shakespeare dramatizes it and as a dimension of everyday living. Readings will include five major plays (The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, King Lear, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra) alongside theoretical works on social performance by Baldassare Castiglione, J.L. Austin, Erving Goffman, and Judith Butler.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lecture / discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Active class participation, close-reading exercises, formal essay, final exam.



ICC THEMES: Identities; Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation

INSTRUCTOR: David Kramer, Muller 322, ext. 4-1344.

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section.

PREREQUISITE: One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing, or permission of the instructor.  This course may be repeated for credit provided there is no duplication of the plays studied.

OBJECTIVES:   This course will introduce Shakespeare’s theatre to both initiates and novices.  As we read the plays themselves we will study the political, religious, cultural, and scientific beliefs of Shakespeare’s time; what biography we possess and can conjecture; the workings of the Elizabethan theatre; Shakespeare’s poetic craft; his contemporary and subsequent reputation and that of individual plays; the vexed history of the texts themselves; and the forms and procedures of individual works as well as those of the genres of tragedy, comedy, romance, and history.  Using both the background of context and the foreground of the texts, we will approach larger questions of meaning, both for Shakespeare’s time and for our own.  Substantial emphasis will also be placed on the question of pleasure–why these plays pleased and still do; and on the question of cultural function, both in Shakespeare’s time and in our own. We’ll be considering the characters that are outliers, be they black or Jewish, shrewish or deformed, bastard, half-mad, or half-human.  Plays will include Titus Andronicus, Taming of the Shrew, Richard III, Merchant of Venice, Othello, King Lear, and The Tempest.

STUDENTS: Required of English majors and minors and some Theater Arts majors, but all are welcome.

FORMAT AND STYLE: Discussion and lecture.

REQUIREMENTS: Close reading of seven plays; completion of all assigned readings (quizzes will be given at each class); one written response each class; participation in classroom discussion, memorization of fifty lines of student’s choice.

ENGL 23100-01    ANCIENT LITERATURE     HU LA 3a g h

3 Credits

INSTRUCTOR: Michael Stuprich, 316A Muller, ext. 4-1253

ENROLLMENT: 20 Students

PREREQUISITES: One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will focus on the two major genres of the ancient Greeks and Romans: epic poetry and tragedy.  We’ll begin by reading the Iliad and the Odyssey, proceed to tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and conclude the semester with the Aeneid.  Along the way we’ll look at a few lyric poems by Sappho and Pindar and selections from several of Plato’s dialogues.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Mainly discussion, with the occasional (and brief) background lecture.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Three or four short (2-3 page) essays, one major essay (5-6 pages), quizzes, a mid-term exam, and class participation.  Grading on a standard A-F scale.  Because the success of the class will depend on steady and informed participation from all students, class participation will be an important part of students’ final grades.  Steady attendance will be mandatory.

ENGL 23200-01, 02  MEDIEVAL LITERATURE (HU, LA, 3b, h, WI)


ICC DESIGNATION: Writing Intensive

INSTRUCTOR: Michael Twomey, Muller 329, Ext. 4-3564,

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section.

PREREQUISITE:  One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing; WRTG 10600 or ICSM 10800-10899 or ICSM 11800-11899. 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course examines medieval literature both as a reflection of the culture that made the modern world and as the origin of modern lyric poetry, romances, sagas, and tales.  Each unit features one major medieval text: The Saga of Grettir the Strong, The Romance of Silence, The Death of King Arthur, Dante’s Inferno, and selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  If there is time, we will also read one or both of the following modern novels set in the Middle Ages, because they are relevant to the medieval literature in the course: Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, and Sharon Kay Penman, Time and Chance.   Additional short “background” readings will be available in a course packet.  The course focuses on learning the cultural backgrounds and the distinctive literary techniques of the Middle Ages.  The pace will be unhurried, with an emphasis on understanding the literature.  Major social themes include medieval antifeminism, gender and sex in the Middle Ages, the “body culture” of the post-bubonic plague years, and the roles of men and women.

COURSE FORMAT AND STYLE: Discussion and lecture.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Two 5-page essays, short response pieces and other kinds of homework, final exam.


HU LA 3a h


ICC DESIGNATION: Writing Intensive

INSTRUCTOR: Dan Breen, 302 Muller, ext. 4-1014

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section

PREREQUISITE: Any three courses in English, history of the theater, or introduction to the theater.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: “Comedy” and “tragedy” are ancient categories, invoked originally to describe different kinds of dramatic composition.  Though this distinction remains a convenient (and relevant) one for contemporary readers and audiences, it is also the case that these seemingly simple, seemingly antithetical terms convey a range of emotion and experience that is not always easily divisible.  Tragic—or potentially tragic—situations often arise in comedy, and there are moments in most tragedies at which the plays seem as though they might begin to move in more optimistic or affirming directions.  This course will begin with the hypothesis that the terms “comedy” and “tragedy” describe actions taken by dramatic characters in response to crisis, and the specific consequences of those actions.  As such, we will attempt to locate “comedy” and “tragedy” within fundamental elements of human experience, and examine the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions of each.  We will read a selection of plays from the Classical, Renaissance English, and Restoration traditions including Sophocles’ Ajax, Plautus’ Pseudolus, Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II  and Aphra Behn’s The Feigned Courtesans. 

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion, with some context-setting lectures.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Two 5-7-page essays, a short (2-3 pages) response paper, a take-home final exam, and class participation.  Grading will be A-F.  Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an important part of students’ final grades.



INSTRUCTOR: Michael Stuprich, 316A Muller, ext. 4-1253


PREREQUISITES: Nine credits of literature

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Our goal in this course will be simple: to learn as much about Jane Austen’s life and work as possible in a single semester.  To that end we will read all six of her novels, the early novella Lady Susan, a reasonable number of her letters, and a wide variety of critical/scholarly materials.

(When and if we have time, we’ll also view some of the better film and television versions of her novels.)

Our approach will be eclectic: we’ll certainly do plenty of “close reading,” but we’ll also work to develop significant social and historical contexts within which to read her works, and of course since Austen wrote at a time when the terms “woman” and “writer” were seen by most as mutually exclusive, we’ll always be alert to issues involving sex and gender.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Mainly discussion, with the occasional “background” lecture.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: A number (9-10) of short (1-2 page) “response” pieces, a major end-of-term essay (using critical/scholarly sources) in the 10-page range, and several group presentations.  Grading will be standard A-F.  Steady, active, and informed class participation will be mandatory.  There will also be a rather strict attendance policy.

ENGL 35100-01     GIRLHOODS IN LITERATURE HU, Liberal arts

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Katharine Kittredge, Muller 317, Ext. 4-1575


PREREQUISITES: Three courses in the humanities; sophomore standing.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will look at the emerging and changing image of girlhoods from the 18th to the 21st century as it is reflected primarily in the texts written for an audience of young girls—in children’s books, young adult literature, and some canonical literature with strong female characters.  We will be looking at the texts to gain an understanding of the evolution of children’s literature and to consider the extent to which these iconic images of girlhood reflect the ways in which the roles of women changed over the three centuries.  Possible texts might include: Goody Two Shoes, Little Women, Eloise, Pippi Longstocking, Ramona, Harriet the Spy, Speak, and Terrier (by Tamora Pierce).


COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Papers, journals, and projects.  Grading based on written work, attendance, and the quality of class participation.

ENGL 36500 Studies in the Novel HU LA

TOPIC: Two Contemporary Writers—Kazuo Ishiguro and J.M. Coetzee

3 Credits

INSTRUCTOR: Chris Holmes, 318 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students

PREREQUISITE: Any three courses in English or a driving passion for these two authors

COURSE DESCRIPTION: No other contemporary writers dominate the world Anglophone literature conversation more than Kazuo Ishiguro and J.M. Coetzee. A Japanese Brit writing the nostalgic English novel, and a South African with an Australian passport writing novels about Jesus and Dostoevsky, Ishiguro and Coetzee are claimed as native sons by many nations, many audiences, in spite of their placelessness. Both are publishing phenomenons, translated into many languages and read all over the world, despite writing difficult, sometimes disturbing, experimental novels. Our goal for this class will be to treat Ishiguro’s and Coetzee’s novels and non-fiction writings as two divergent artistic attempts to understand the political, linguistic, historical, and affective life of the present. While we cannot be comprehensive in our reading, every effort will be made to introduce you to the diversity of styles and concerns in these writers’ works, and to the critical apparatus that has been constructed to attempt to come to terms with the most enduring questions in and about their work. Course texts are likely to include: Coetzee’s Disgrace, Waiting for the Barbarians, Elizabeth Costello, and Diary of a Bad Year. Ishiguro’s Pale View of Hills, The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, and The Buried Giant. All books will be available online through the Buffalo Street Books “First Class” program.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Intense Seminar Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Daily short writing, a shorter argumentative paper, and a longer, research-based paper. Rigorous class participation and regular attendance will be factored into the grade.

ENGL 36600-01   STUDIES IN POETRY     HU LA 3a h



INSTRUCTOR: Kevin Murphy, 332 Muller, ext. 4-3551

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section

PREREQUISITE: Any three courses in English

COURSE DESCRIPTION: In this course we will study the style and development of four modern poets: Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, and Seamus Heaney. While  Frost famously said writing free verse was like playing tennis with the net down, each of these poets both embrace and resist traditional lyric forms even as they interact with each other throughout their overlapping poetic careers.
In addition, even though each poet has a distinctive style and vision, one of the objectives of the course is to examine the extent to which they share stylistic traits and thus collectively form an alternative to the "modernism" advocated and practiced by T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and their followers earlier in the century.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion, with some lecture.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: There will be three short papers (4-5 pages) due on individual works of Frost, Bishop, and Lowell as we consider each of them in the semester, and one longer paper (8-10 pages) at the end of the term which will link at least two of the figures in the course.  In addition, there will be a take-home midterm due in class at the midterm and a takehome final examination which due Wednesday of finals week at my office.  Grading will be A-F.  Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an important element of students’ final grades.

ENGL 36700-01 STUDIES IN DRAMA                                                                                       HU LA

TOPIC: Over Her Dead Body: Dangerous Women in Dramatic Literature


INSTRUCTOR: Claire Gleitman, 303 Muller, ext. 4-3893

PREREQUISITE: 9 credits of English.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: In this course, we will read a range of plays, beginning in the ancient Greek period and extending to the present day, all of which feature female characters who challenge status quo assumptions about femininity and a woman’s role in her society. In each case, we will consider what constitutes female danger in the play and the culture that we are addressing: what norms are being challenged so that the female elicits male fear and violence (and often, also and simultaneously, desire)?  What is it about her that is so threatening that she needs to be controlled, contained, and sometimes killed? Is the playwright using her to question the norms that she challenges, or to reinscribe them? As we read these plays, we will situate them within their cultural contexts and we will read secondary material (historical and theoretical) in order to better understand how notions regarding female danger change over time. Our plays will include some or all of the following: Medea, Lysistrata, Dulcitius, The Duchess of Malfi, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Hedda Gabler, Machinal, A Streetcar Named Desire, All My Sons, Top Girls, Oleanna, Venus.  

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion, with some context-setting lectures.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Two 6-8 page formal papers, final 10-12 page paper, class participation. Grading will be A-F. Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an important part of students’ final grades.

ENGL 38000-01     Magical Realism: Around the Day in Eighty Worlds


INSTRUCTOR: David Kramer, Muller 322, Ext 4-1344


PREREQUISITES: Any three courses in the humanities or social sciences, preferably one of which is in English literature.

OBJECTIVES: Magical Realism takes root in Latin American political discontent, then flowers into a world movement as its liberating practices are adopted across the globe.  These fictions of world creation and invented history, by turns delightful, disorienting, inspiring, grotesque, will ground our work and discussion as we attempt to come to terms with a literary movement as fantastic, extensive, and various as imagination itself. 

TEXTS: Authors will include some or all of the following: Kafka, Bulgakov, Borges, Carpentier, Fuentes, Garcia-Marquez, Allende, Calvino, Grass, Rushdie, Chabon.

STUDENTS: Open to all interested students who fulfill prerequisites.
FORMAT AND STYLE: Lecture and active student participation.

REQUIREMENTS: Regular attendance, active participation, reading responses, two papers, mid-term, final.

ENGL 46900-01 Seminar in Contemporary African American Literature HU LA 3A h

TOPIC:            Toni Morrison through the Decades

3 Credits

INSTRUCTOR: Derek Adams, Muller 304


PREREQUISITES: Four English courses; junior standing

COURSE DESCRIPTION: To be clear, I love Toni Morrison! She is, quite simply, one of the greatest authors of the 20th and 21st centuries. Although Morrison’s inclusion in the American literary canon now goes unquestioned, rarely is her work examined in a single author course. As a result, much of what we learn about her and her fiction are fragments of a whole. This class will attempt to cultivate a more comprehensive understanding of Morrison and her entire body of work through an examination of her literature spanning five decades. We will focus on one text from each decade – Sula (1973), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), A Mercy (2008), God Help the Child (2015) – devoting three full weeks to each. We will consider how issues of race, gender, sexuality, and social class shape a reader’s understanding of the material and how the material influences our understanding of those same identity categories. Too, we will pay particular attention to motifs such as home/homelessness, memory, family, trauma, violence, love, and history.    


COURSE REQUIREMENTS:   Regular attendance and active participation in class discussions, along with an open mind. Students will complete one midterm essay, one final research essay (based on the midterm), a reading journal, an annotated bibliography, and a group discussion facilitation.



INSTRUCTOR: Michael Twomey, Muller 329, Ext. 4-3564,

ENROLLMENT: 10 students (seminar)

PREREQUISITE: Undergrads:  Four English courses, one of which must be at level 3, or permission of instructor; required of English with Teaching Option majors.  Grads: required of students in the M.A.T. program in English.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The main purpose of this course is to give you a broad and deep knowledge of the linguistic concepts that inform our speech and writing.  Whether we are English teachers, writers, or simply literate citizens, we must know how the English language works.  Without that, we cannot understand what distinguishes correct from incorrect usage, why we spell the way we do, how to make sense of difficult sentences, where to go for information about the English language, and, most of all, why we should enjoy using the English language.  Topics: “The Language Instinct”; phonology (sounds), morphology (word-formation), and lexicon (vocabulary); grammar, syntax, and punctuation; history and development of English; variation in and varieties of English. 

COURSE FORMAT AND STYLE: Discussion, in-class exercises and oral reports by students, topical lectures by the instructor.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Short response pieces and other kinds of homework, prelims on the major units; research paper.


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