Previous Semester Courses

Course Listing Fall 2020


ICC DESIGNATIONS: Themes: Identities; Inquiry, Imagination, Innovation

                                    Perspectives: HU; CA

INSTRUCTOR: Hugh Egan, 306 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section

PREREQUISITES: Open to all students.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This American Life  

In this course we will read a wide range of American short fiction, gathered loosely around the themes of childhood, adolescence, adult relationships, aging and death. In the course of our reading and discussion, we will traverse issues related to American identity, especially as they are inflected by race, ethnicity, and gender. We will also become familiar with formal elements of the short story, including point of view, plot, tone, and dialogue. Over the course of the term, we will read a combination of classic and contemporary American stories. We will end the term by reading Alexander Weinstein’s collection, Children of the New World.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Largely discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Short written assignments, two five-page essays, a mid-term and a final examination.



ICC DESIGNATION: Themes and Perspectives: Humanities; Identities; Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation.

INSTRUCTOR: Dyani Johns Taff, Muller 307, ext. 4-7976

ENROLLMENT: XX per section



What is poetry? What happens when you read it? To answer these questions, we will read a temporally, thematically, and formally broad range of poems and implement an equally broad set of approaches to reading, thinking, and writing about poetry. (Note: this is not a poetry writing course, though we will occasionally write creatively in order to develop our critical and analytical skills.) We will begin the semester by studying syntax and versification, familiarizing ourselves with poetic terminology and exploring the contents of The Norton Anthology of Poetry in search of poems that exemplify (or challenge!) the forms, sonic features, concepts, and themes we are learning. Then, we will read poems from across historical periods and geographical regions, tracing several recurrent themes: water, poems about (writing) poems, love, death, and science. We will contextualize our study with attention to notions of race, class, gender, and environment that shape and are shaped by our poems.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Primarily discussion, some lecture.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Two essays and two individual presentations; several quizzes, forum posts, daily note cards, and other small assignments. Grading will be A-F. Because of the discussion-based format of the course, participation will be an important part of students’ final grades.

ICC THEMES: Identities; Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation
ICC PERSPECTIVES:  Humanities and Creative Arts
INSTRUCTOR: Christine Kitano, Smiddy 417
ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section
MEETING TIME: MWF 9:00am-9:50am

This course has three main objectives: 

  • Students will learn how to read poetry. This necessitates an understanding of the various elements that make up a poem. We will spend a significant amount of time in this class learning about the craft of poetry. 
  • Students will learn how to write about poetry. This objective is closely related to the first objective—in order to write about literature, students must know how to read literature. A significant portion of this class will be spent on how to write about a poem. 
  • To provide an historical overview of modern and contemporary American poetry. In order to understand contemporary poetry, we must begin with an understanding of what came before. Part of our focus in this class will be tracing the influence of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson through the 20th Century and up to the poetry of today. 

We will read modern and contemporary American poetry, with an emphasis on how contemporary poets work to enlarge the forms and subjects of the American literary tradition. By examining how poems respond to their historical contexts, we will explore how contemporary poems function within today’s cultural contexts. 

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion and Lecture. 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Two short essays; midterm and final exams; book review and oral presentation; attendance and engaged participation. Grading will be A-F.

ENGL 18200-01           The Power of Injustice & the Injustice of Power                      HU LA 3A h

TOPIC:                       Life at the Margins in American Literature

3 Credits          

ICC ATTRIBUTE:      Diversity, Humanities Perspective, 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, ZZ Packer, and Sherman Alexie.  

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion with the occasional lecture

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

ENGL 19417-01,02: Earth Works: Literature, Nature, and the Environment. LA 3a HU
3 credits
INSTRUCTOR: Paul Hansom, Muller 321
ENROLLMENT: 20 per section
STUDENTS: Open to all students.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: What is the nature of nature? This class offers an exciting literary, cultural, and historical exploration into the idea of “nature” and the “natural.” While it may seem self-evident to us that nature is all of that stuff “out there” – trees, rocks, oceans, animals, you know what I mean – this class will explore how natural environments in literature are not simple, common-sense places, but are in fact dynamic cultural constructions that change over time. What do we actually mean by nature? How do we understand it as a place, as an object, or as a literary form? Might nature be nothing more than a unique human experience? As you can see, this class will raise many intriguing questions, and by examining the “eco-literature” embodied in novels, stories, poems, biographies, and non-fictions, our sense of the natural will be challenged, and hopefully, expanded. We will be helped on our journey by Thoreau, Wordsworth, Cather, Wolfe, Krakauer, Snyder – among many others.  

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion/ limited lecture. The class is designed around focused discussions of primary works.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Active class participation, response papers, analytical essays, presentations, final exam.

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Cross-listed with Women and Gender Studies

INSTRUCTOR:  Julie Fromer, 316A Muller

ENROLLMENT:  20 students per section


COURSE DESCRIPTION:  Reading, like detecting, involves locating and interpreting clues, putting pieces together in order to recognize the larger issues at stake, and looking carefully at both the minute details and the overall picture.  The authors of the novels we’ll be reading in this course emphasize the parallel between reading fiction and detecting the “truth” by gradually revealing meaning through clues, hints, and symbols.  But, as these authors attest, our interpretation of those clues can be affected by our own perspective, our emotions, our biases, and by the possibility that there is no clear, undeniable “truth” at all—only narratives and fictions.

Gothic fiction tends to offer “mysterious muddles,” confusing, boundary-crossing, question-riddled muddles which are never completely cleared up at the end of the story.  Detective fiction, however, promises a straight, streamlined narrative in which all of the clues are meaningful and all of the boundaries needed to ensure security are reestablished. 

But as we’ll see, this isn’t always what happens.  The questions which plague Gothic fiction are incredibly powerful, and even the most ingenious detective cannot always resolve them.  And one of the most troublesome is the question of gender.  Cultural ideals of masculinity and femininity rely on deeply embedded shared narratives, and the texts in this course explore the repercussions of unsettling those narratives and blurring the boundaries between gender identities. 

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING:  Three 2-page response papers, one 4-page essay, one 5-page essay, a short presentation, a take-home final exam, and class participation.  Grading will be A–F based on the above requirements.  Since this is a discussion-based course, class participation will be an essential part of students’ final grades.

ENGL 19412 Banned Books and Censorship Trials: Obscenity in the 20th Century

Instructor: Jennifer Spitzer

IC designation: Inquiry, Imagination, Innovation

In this course we will read a range of literary texts that have been censored, banned, suppressed, or made infamous through high profile trials and legal battles. Our purpose is twofold: 1) to indulge the pleasurable act of reading “subversive” texts, and 2) to interrogate the forms and meanings of literary censorship in the twentieth century. While our key term will be obscenity, we will probe obscenity’s relationship to other categories of disapproval, including blasphemy, indecency, and pornography. We will also think about the unexpected effects of censorship, how the suppression of a text can become a sign of its merit, how censorship can both promote and hinder a text’s circulation and reception, and how censorship can turn authors into literary celebrities. A guiding question for our explorations will be when and under what conditions (if any) is it appropriate to censor literature? Authors for the course may include Vladimir Nabokov, Kate Chopin, Toni Morrison, Alison Bechdel, and Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Enrollment: 20 students

Format: Discussion-oriented seminar with student presentations and some brief opening lectures.

Course Requirements and Grading: Active class participation, one in-class presentation, short response papers, and formal essay.



ICC DESIGNATION: Writing Intensive

INSTRUCTOR: Paul Hansom, Muller 321

ENROLLMENT: 15 students per section

PREREQUISITES: One course in English.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: As long as literature has existed there have been theorists thinking and writing about that literature. Theorists are a quirky bunch of interpreters who grapple with the tough questions: what is literature? What are its component features? How does it produce meaning? What might these meanings be? Where do these potential meanings come from? Theorists are a self-conscious lot, and this class will encourage English majors (and minors) early in their careers to become self-conscious readers, writers, and thinkers.

We will grapple with some of the major schools of Twentieth Century theory – New Criticism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, Postmodernism, and Feminism, among many others. But we will also be putting these theories into practice. Afterall, what’s the point of a tool kit if you don’t use it? As we explore the defining features and concepts of these theories, we will also read a broad range of literary texts through the lens of each theory, thereby becoming active theorists ourselves. 

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Largely discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: three 5-page essays, three short responses, an in-class presentation.



ICC ATTRIBUTE: Writing Intensive

INSTRUCTOR: Katarzyna Bartoszynska


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 expectations and assumptions that guide us as readers. Focusing on a handful of texts—including James Joyce’s, The Dead; Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and Nella Larsen’s Passing and poetry by T.S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Li-Young Lee, and Gwendolyn Brooks--we will attempt, first, to inhabit these works as worlds unto themselves, and second, to place them in appropriate critical conversations and align them with relevant critical schools of thought.

PREREQUISITE: One course in English. This course is designed primarily for first-years and sophomores who are working towards an English major, though others are welcome.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Three short essays, several more informal (also short) writing assignments, and a final research essay. Final grade will be based on attendance, written work, and class participation.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Some lecture, mostly discussion. 

ENGL 21000-01  Literature of Horror (LA, HU)


INSTRUCTOR: Christopher Matusiak, 326 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students

PREREQUISITE:  One course in literature.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: “Horror” refers most obviously to our emotional and physical response in the face of primal or sociocultural fears, an experience so intense that we tend instinctively to recoil or turn away.  Yet “horror” is also our name for a highly popular—and controversial—artistic genre, one defined by a weird constellation of narrative conventions, recurrent tropes, and targeted audience reactions.  It is a curious fact, long recognized, that while the authentic horrors of everyday life typically shock, dismay, and nauseate us, we tend to find artistic representations of the horrific fascinating, gratifying, even pleasurable.  From this longstanding paradox arise the central questions of our course.  Is an attraction to horrific fiction, for instance, symptomatic of an unhealthy mind?  Or a natural consequence of human evolution, and representative of cultural sophistication?  Are those who scorn the genre for its apparent perversity justified?  Or does horror warrant a better reputation—like that of its culturally elevated cousin, tragedy?  By what aesthetic principles and rhetorical techniques does horror fiction generate its complex effects?  And how should we conceive the relationship between fictional horror and the all-too real atrocities that inspire artists produce it?  To better wrestle with such questions, students will first delve into modern horror’s cultural and stylistic roots, gathering evidence from canonical tales by Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and H.P. Lovecraft, as well as Robert L. Stevenson’s classic ‘Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde.’  We will then examine the genre’s cultivation by an increasingly diverse group of Anglo-American artists.  The later twentieth century enriched the field considerably, introducing the gothic postwar fables of Shirley Jackson and Flannery O’Conner; the apocalyptic futurist visions of Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Octavia Butler; and disturbing meditations on the limits and integrity of the body by “splatterpunks” such as Clive Barker and Poppy Z. Brite.  Post-millennial fears and the proliferation of new media have since further expanded the genre’s boundaries.  Hovering over Penguin’s recent reissuing of Thomas Ligotti’s masterpiece of philosophical pessimism ‘The Conspiracy Against the Human Race’ are the specters of environmental ruin and mass extinction.  The tales of Caitlin R. Kiernan, Alyssa Wong, Carmen Maria Machado, and Nuzo Onoh recalibrate tradition to give powerful expression to feminist, queer, and post-colonial trauma.  John Fawcett’s ‘Ginger Snaps’ and Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’  cinematically explore unsettling threats to familial and societal bonds.  And in recent graphic novels such as ‘House of Penance’ and ‘Infidel,’ sequential art addresses in colorfully phantasmagorical ways the gun violence and xenophobia that haunt present-day America.  Interested students, please be advised: given the course’s content, we will necessarily address sensitive topics, including mental illness, suicide, discriminatory and sexualized violence, genocide, and harm to animals. 


COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING:  active participation; a short “primal scream” assignment; a formal essay; a take-home final exam.

ENGL 21900-01, -02 SHAKESPEARE


ICC DESIGNATION:  Identities; Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation

INSTRUCTOR: Christopher Matusiak, Muller 326

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section

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

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  Shakespeare’s enduring cultural relevance has much to do with his capacity to speak to present political concerns.  The violent game of thrones that his English history plays dramatize, for instance, has long provided British audiences with the opportunity to reflect upon the nature and consequences of monarchical power, rebellion, and revolution.  Americans, by contrast, tend to find Shakespeare’s depictions of ancient Greece and Rome most politically resonant—not surprisingly, given our indebtedness to the institutions and ideals of those cultures.  Each of four plays we’ll study this semester—‘Julius Caesar,’ Antony and Cleopatra,’ Timon of Athens,’ and ‘Coriolanus’—exhibits Shakespeare’s general interest in charismatic rulers and the operations of governmental power.  But more pointedly, each also addresses questions of enormous public concern as we approach our next presidential election, a contest that promises to profoundly alter, one way or another, the nation’s future.  To what extent do reason and critical thinking actually inform political decision-making?  In what ways do ideological polarization, moral corruption, economic inequality, and collective violence threaten a political system? And perhaps most pressingly, at what point do institutions break down under the pressures of populism, demagoguery, and authoritarianism?  No prior knowledge of Shakespeare is necessary to achieve success in this course—only an inquisitive mind, thoughtfulness with regard to past and present political circumstances, and a readiness to be surprised and challenged by four English language masterpieces.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion/lecture.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: active participation; a reading journal; a take-home final exam.

ENGL 22101-01, 02 Survey of African American Literature 

3 credits

ICC THEMES:  Culture and History, Diversity, Humanities, Women and Gender Studies

INSTRUCTOR:  Lenora Warren, Office Location 307 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section

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


This class explores African American literary production between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries by looking at both canonical and non-canonical texts and the ways in which they problematize traditional readings of the history of African American literature. Specifically, we will think about the ways in which the eras of slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, and post-Civil Rights moment created their own micro categories of African American literature.

In addition to tracing the history and politics of African American Literature this class will discuss the ways in which the literature by black authors raises compelling questions about the role of representation in art-making, the intersection between race, gender, and class, and the ongoing problem of labeling such a varied field under a single category. From Phillis Wheatley to Octavia Butler we will look at how that variation both reflects and rejects prevailing views on race and racism. 

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING:  Weekly journal entries,  one 4-6 page essay, a midterm exam. a final 5-7 page essay, and class participation.  Grading will be A-F based on the above requirements.   Since this is a discussion-based course, class participation will be an essential part of students’ final grades.



ICC DESIGNATION: Writing Intensive

INSTRUCTOR: Alexis Becker, Muller 330

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section

PREREQUISITES: One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing; WRTG10600 or equivalent.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course provides a partial introduction to the huge range of literature written between c. 800 and c. 1500 CE, with a partial focus on the British Isles. Who produced medieval literature? Who read it or listened to it? How did medieval writers wrestle with the social, economic, political, economic, and ecological problems of their time? How did they think about history? How did they tackle the question of what it means to be a person, a citizen, a friend, a lover, and/or a fictional character? This course will explore how imaginative literature in the Middle Ages created different kinds of human, nonhuman, and superhuman subjects, real and imaginary. How, we will ask, can this literature help us think through our own ideas about how to read and how to live? Readings may include, among others, Beowulf, the Roman de Silence, “A Disputation Between the Body and Worms,” and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Short response papers, a creative project, midterm exam, and term paper. Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an essential part of students’ final grades.



ICC DESIGNATION: Writing Intensive

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

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section

PREREQUISITE:  One course in the humanities or sophomore standing; WRTG 10600

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This course aims to present a broad-based chronological survey of many different literary genres that we’ll use as a guide for an investigation of the social and intellectual status of writing in England in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.  How do authors use literature to address conflicts, provide instruction, or produce entertainment, and what expectations do audiences bring to different kinds of writing?  In addition, we’ll read work by Continental authors in order to place England within the context of the broad intellectual and artistic movement that we’ve come to know as the European Renaissance.  Texts will include More’s Utopia, Marlowe’s Faustus, selections from Milton’s Paradise Lost, Wroth’s Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, and other poems by Petrarch, Wyatt, and Sidney. 

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.

ENGL 27800-01,02    Jane Austen and Her Contemporaries


INSTRUCTOR: Katarzyna Bartoszynska

ENROLLMENT: 15 students per section

PREREQUISITES: Six credits in English. 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is designed to introduce students to practices of close reading and critical thought, and give them a richer sense of both Jane Austen, and her historical and literary context. Students will read Austen's novels alongside texts written by her contemporaries, such as Frances Burney's Evelina and Maria Edgeworth's Belinda, and examine questions of technique and style, as well as socio-historical questions about the status of women, and debates around slavery and its abolition. As we work to better understand Austen's fiction in relation to a more complex sense of her time, we will also consider what her continuing popularity tells us about her work and our own cultural moment. The course will thus combine formal analysis and cultural commentary.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Largely discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Weekly reflection essays, two 3-page papers.



INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Bleicher, Muller 313, ext. 4-1531


PREREQUISITES: Nine credits of literature courses

OBJECTIVES:  A brief introduction to the major poets of the Romantic era will lay the foundation for our study of Victorian fiction that both promotes and interrogates the potential of societies and individuals to respond effectively to change. Our readings will enable us to examine the role fiction played in expressing and shaping Victorian concerns about class, education, psychology, and the environment during a period of unprecedented shifts in transportation, science, technology, demographics and social policy. In the process, we will build more three-dimensional definitions of the terms “Romantic” and “Victorian,” and will investigate Realist fiction’s paradoxical aim of using fiction to portray reality and convey truths. Throughout the course, we will study our readings as works of art, sources of entertainment, cultural artifacts, and consumable products of a growing publishing industry. The goals are to: Introduce you to some of the major Nineteenth-century English novelists and the British poets of the early century from whose influences they grew. Study the characteristics of Romanticism and Realism and trace their persistence through the course of English fiction throughout the century. Analyze some factors leading to the rise of the Victorian novel. Interrogate the ethos of personal and social improvement with which these authors grappled. Cultivate your growing ability to analyze literature and craft compelling, supported arguments in written and verbal expression.

Authors include: Wordsworth, Coleridge, the Shelleys, Keats, Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Gaskell, Wilde and others.

FORMAT AND STYLE: This is a discussion based course.

REQUIREMENTS: Extensive reading, curiosity, full and prepared participation, regular attendance, short essays, written responses, occasional quizzes, a brief presentation and a final paper.

ENGL 28500: Queer Lit


INSTRUCTOR: Jennifer Spitzer

This course will survey key works of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer literature, and will introduce key debates in queer literary studies. We will read literary works by modern and contemporary authors with attention to their social, political, and legal context; we will explore representations of sexuality, gender, intimacy, sociability, and desire, as well as the affective and political potential of these texts. We will be especially alert to the complex intersections of sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, class, age and ability. Authors include Carson McCullers, James Baldwin, Justin Torres, Carmen Maria Machado, and Maggie Nelson. We will read these authors in conjunction with short critical readings on LGBT history and queer theory by Sarah Ahmed, Eve Sedgwick, Lauren Berlant, Michael Warner, and José Esteban Muñoz.

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section
PREREQUISITES: One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Active class participation, one in-class presentation, short response papers, and formal essay.

ENGL 29700--02 Professional Development Practicum (Graphic Novels) 

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



OBJECTIVES:: The "Graphic Novel Advisory Board" is a group of IC students who get together to review children's and teen's graphic novels.  They share their findings with rural librarians and discuss ways for them to enhance their collections of graphic novels. The group puts out a monthly newsletter reviewing a wide range of graphic novels. This 1.5 credit experimental course is a great opportunity for anyone interested in education, promoting reading, or marketing/publishing graphic novels.

FORMAT/STYLE: Small group collaborative activities, regular writing assignments, weekend site visits.

GRADING:  Performance of assigned tasks, participation in site visits, regular writing assignments, end-of-semester assessment based on personal goals (may involve event planning, reviewing, editing, or doing website enhancement), reflection on event and personal achievement.



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.

ENGL 35100: Studies in Young Adult/Children’s Literature:

Girlhoods in Literature


INSTRUCTOR: Katharine Kittredge, 317 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section

PREREQUISITES: sophomore standing or permission of instructor.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course consists of a wide-ranging selection of Children’s and Young Adult books from the Eighteenth to Twenty-first century. We will look at them for the way that they reflect trends in children’s literature, the perception of children, and the way that race, class, and gender are defined.  The texts include books for young children (7-10 years old), books for Young Adults, one films and at least one graphic novel.   Throughout the semester we will also be looking at the critical response to children’s literature both in the academic community and in the popular press.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Largely discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Daily reading quizzes or response essays, mid-term paper or exam, an in-class presentation, and a longer final research project.

ENGL 36800-01, 02  Dangerous Women in Dramatic Literature, or: Over Her Dead Body


ICC DESIGNATION:  Writing Intensive

INSTRUCTOR:  Claire Gleitman, 303 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students 

PREREQUISITES:  one course in ENGL or WRTG; and WRTG 10600 or ICSM 10800 or ICSM 11800; sophomore standing.

OBJECTIVES:  In this course, we will read a range of plays, beginning in the ancient Greek period and extending to the present day, that 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 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 to males that they wish to control, contain, and at times kill her? If she survives, upon what does her survival depend? Is the playwright using the dangerous female to question the norms that she challenges or to endorse them? Is the female dangerous because she resists the status quo or because she perpetuates it? To what degree is her danger represented as associated with and intrinsic to her gender?  As we read each of our plays, we will situate them within their cultural contexts and we will read secondary material in order to better understand how notions regarding female danger change (or do not change) over time.

READINGS: Playwrights may include Aeschylus, Euripides, William Shakespeare, John Webster, John Ford, Henrik Ibsen, Arthur Miller, Caryl Churchill, Djanet Sears, Tarell McCraney.  

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING:  Three 6-8 page essays, frequent informal “think” pieces, take-home final exam, class participation.  Grading will be A-F based on the above requirements.  Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an essential part of students’ final grades.

ENGL 36900              Multicultural American Literature                   HU LA 3A h

TOPIC:                       Coming of Age in a Multicultural Landscape

3 Credits          

ICC ATTRIBUTE:      Diversity

INSTRUCTOR:          Derek Adams, Muller 304

ENROLLMENT:        20 per section

PREREQUISITES:     9 credits of English

COURSE DESCRIPTION: What does it mean to talk about “ethnic experience” or “multicultural” literature? This course will attempt to answer these questions through navigating literature written by authors belonging to a variety of cultures, some very clearly defined and others vaguely so. More specifically, we will focus on how they describe the experiences of characters growing up within and often moving between seemingly disparate cultures. Along the way, we will consider what is implied for the reader who reads from a position outside (the cultural inside of) a text. In what way is the act of reading “multiculturally” an anthropological activity? How do you see yourself in terms of the tourist/observer paradigm when engaging a culture you do not belong to?  As we engage these questions we will be examining how a national history of racial and ethnic antagonisms has shaped the American imagination and literary discourse. We will read the works of Tommy Orange, Joy Harjo, Gish Jen, Nellie Wong, Adam Mansbach, Stephen Chbosky, Benjamin Alire-Saenz, Gloria Anzaldua, ZZ Packer, and Roxane Gay.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion with the occasional lecture

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Students will closely examine course materials, actively engage in class discussions, maintain a reading journal, put together an in-class presentation, and write a research essay.



INSTRUCTOR: Alexis Becker, Muller 330

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, histories, and social forms that inform our speech and writing. As English speakers, writers, and/or teachers, understanding how the English language works and why helps us make sense of why we read, write, speak, and think the way we do. Among other things, we will explore what distinguishes “correct” from “incorrect” usage, why we spell and pronounce words the way we do, how social and political histories inhere in our language, and why the English language is so very strange. Topics: phonology (sounds), morphology (word-formation), and lexicon (vocabulary); grammar, syntax, and punctuation; history and development of English; variation in and varieties of English. Textbook is This Language, A River, by K. Aaron Smith and Susan M. Kim, with other texts and media drawn from literature, popular culture, and linguistics.

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Short response pieces and other kinds of homework; quizzes and exams; research and creative projects.




INSTRUCTOR: Kevin Murphy, Muller 332

ENROLLMENT: 10 students

PREREQUISITES: Four courses in English, two of which at the 2-4 level

COURSE DESCRIPTION: James Joyce’s Ulysses is arguably the most important novel written in the last 100 years.  The work is a radical departure from traditional forms and assumptions in literature, and, along with T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” which was also published in 1922, the novel establishes the foundation of literary modernism.  As such, the novel’s experimental structure and stream-of-consciousness narration has had a profound impact on the fiction written throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Given the special difficulty attendant reading such a dense and experimental work, the primary purpose of this seminar is to provide and structure a close reading of the novel, one which will emphasize the integrity of the work and the multiple contexts (social, psychological, stylistic, and textual) within which and against which the novel was written.


COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Two seminar presentations, accompanied by a short essay, a midterm essay (5-7 pages), and a longer research essay (10-12 pages) at term’s end.