Courses: Current and Upcoming

Next Semester Courses

Course Listing Spring 2018

ENGL 10900-01, 02 Introduction to Drama HU LA 3a

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Paul Hansom, Muller 321

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section

PREREQUISITES: None.

STUDENTS: Open to all students.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class provides a general introduction to modern European and American drama, exploring some of the key themes and stylistic developments of the form. We will examine works by playwright’s such as Ibsen, Shaw, Pirandello, O’Neill, Brecht, Shepard, and Parks, among others.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Limited lecture. The class is designed around focused discussions of the primary works.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Response papers, formal essays, presentations, final exam.

 

ENGL 11200-01, 02: Introduction to Short Stories  HU LA 3a h

3 credits

ICC Theme: Identities; Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation

INSTRUCTOR: Jean Sutherland, Muller 434, jsutherl@ithaca.edu

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 (A to F) is based on the requirements, with emphasis placed upon class participation. 

 

ENGL 11300-01, -02   INTRODUCTION TO POETRY

3 CREDITS

ICC DESIGNATIONS:  Themes:  1) Identities or 2) Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation;  

Perspective:  Humanities
INSTRUCTOR: Kevin Murphy, Muller 332, Ext. 4-3551
ENROLLMENT: 20 per section
PREREQUISITES: None
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 villanelle, etc.) The chronological survey from the 16th century 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: Some lecture, mostly discussion.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: One five-page and one eight-page critical essay, homework assignments in preparation for discussion, a mid-term, and a final examination. Grading is based on attendance, participation in class discussion, examinations, and papers.

 

ENGL 11300-03, 04   INTRODUCTION TO POETRY
3 CREDITS
ICC DESIGNATION: Themes: (1) Identities, or (2) Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation
INSTRUCTOR: James Swafford, 330 Muller, ext. 4-3540
ENROLLMENT: 20 per section
PREREQUISITE: None.
OBJECTIVES: 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 range 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 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 short 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. 

ENGL-11300-05 INTRODUCTION TO POETRY

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR: Danielle Ruether-Wu, 108 Rothschild

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section

PREREQUISITES: None.

OBJECTIVES: Why read poetry? A poem often seems to be the most difficult way to share or understand a message. In this class we will explore what poetry can do (what cannot be said another way—what is meaningful in how it is said). We will explore poetry’s connection to the senses, to the body and self, to our relationship with time and perception. As an introduction to how we write and think about poetry, this class will help you hone the skills of close reading. We will address key poetic elements from the stanza and poetic line to rhyme, rhythm and figurative language as well as popular verse forms like the ballad, sonnet, and free verse. We will read a range of British and American poetry from the medieval to the modern, often juxtaposing works from different periods in order to explore their structural and thematic resonances and the revealing ways they diverge. Through in-depth class discussion and frequent writing assignments, this class will seek to provide practical ways to encounter the moving power of poetry—to soothe, to unsettle, and to provoke change sometimes beyond expectation.

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Two 5-page essays, reading response for every class, and 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 18200-01,02           The Power of Injustice & the Injustice of Power  HU LA 3A h

TOPIC: Life at the Margins in American Literature

3 Credits          

ICC ATTRIBUTE:       Diversity, Humanities Perspective, Power & Justice and Identities Themes

INSTRUCTOR:           Derek Adams, Muller 304

ENROLLMENT:         20 per section

PREREQUISITES:      none

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 19405 - Eyes on the Prize: Race, Gender, and the Politics of the Booker Prize

3 CREDITS

ICC DESIGNATION: World of Systems 

INSTRUCTOR: Chris Holmes, 318 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students

PREREQUISITE: None

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The Man Booker Prize is England’s most prestigious and most anticipated literary award (the awards presentation is watched live by millions). The past winners of the Booker prize constitute a collection of the some of the most widely read and studied books in the field of contemporary British literature. If there is such a thing as a new canon of British literature, the Booker is assuredly its kingmaker. Inseparable from its glitzy relationship to the publishing industries in London and New York is the Booker’s complicated association with the category of Commonwealth Literatures (former colonies, now members of a “commonwealth of nations”). As more than half of the prizes awarded since 1969 have gone to novels from former British colonies, the Booker Prize is also very much a postcolonial prize, with all the political weight that such a designation carries. Our class will read selected winners from outside the United Kingdom, using the Booker as a barometer for some of the most pressing questions for the contemporary novel in English. Writers may include: V.S. Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Arundhati Roy, J.M. Coetzee, Aravind Adiga, and Paul Beatty.

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Two longer essays (5-8 pgs.), one midterm exam, short informal writing assignments. Final grade will be based on attendance, written work, performance on the exam, and class participation.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Some lecture, mostly discussion. 

 

ENGL 19416 Coming-of-Age Fiction

3.0 CREDITS

ICC ATTRIBUTE: Identities

INSTRUCTOR: Jen Spitzer, Muller 305, Ext 4-7056

ENROLLMENT:  20

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Why do some characters grow up while others refuse to adjust to maturity and socialization?  Why do some narratives progress and resolve while others seem to resist closure altogether? This course will focus on twentieth-century coming-of-age narratives that undermine realist principles of development and progress. We will examine literary narratives in which youth is extended and maturity is delayed. We will consider how these narratives of delay are informed by their sociohistorical and geopolitical contexts and by the specific conditions of modernity. We will consider how the refusal to grow up may be a form of protest against normative values as well as a longing to remain enclosed within the supposed magic and innocence of childhood. We will think about how modern and contemporary coming-of-age fictions challenge the nineteenth-century bildungsroman, or novel of development.

Expanding the frame, we will examine the resistance to heteronormative development in LGTBQ writing, and the critique of social norms of adjustment and assimilation in fictions by and about women and people of color.  We will read short and long fictions from the turn of the century to the present, and we will view films that reflect this theme. Texts will include J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, James Joyce’s “Araby” and “Eveline,” Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding, Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy, and Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.

PREREQUISITE: None

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Two longer essays (5-6 pgs.), one midterm exam, short informal writing assignments. Final grade will be based on attendance, written work, performance on the exam, and class participation.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Some lecture, mostly discussion. 

 

ENGL 19419-01, 02  Daunted Daughters and Fraught Fathers: Gender, Power, and Class in Fairy Tales

3 CREDITS

ICC DESIGNATION: Identities AND Mind, Body, Spirit

Cross-listed with Women’s and Gender Studies

INSTRUCTOR: Julie Fromer, 434 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section

PREREQUISITE: None

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Why do fairy tales have such enduring power to shape the stories that we tell ourselves and our children?  How have these stories shifted and transformed through time and across different media and cultures?  What can we learn about gender roles, class structures, social and political values, and the goal and function of storytelling itself? We will focus on a number of “classic” fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast, reading English translations of the tales collected by German, French, and Italian folklorists.  While we all know the basic plots of many of the stories we’ll be reading, we will allow the texts to speak to us in new ways.  Then, we will follow these tales’ transformations, reading revisions of older tales and exploring the ways oral and literary fairy tales have shifted as they have been adapted to the big and small screen.  Our discussions will be informed by critical readings in folklore and cultural studies.  

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Three short (2 pages) response papers, one 3-4 page essay and one 4-5 page essay, a take-home final exam, a presentation, and class participation.  Grading will be A-F.  Due to the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an important part of students’ final grades.

 

ENGL 20100-01 APPROACHES TO LITERARY STUDY (LA)

3 CREDITS

ICC DESIGNATION: Writing Intensive

INSTRUCTOR: Hugh Egan, 306 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 15 students per section

PREREQUISITES: One course in English.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is designed to encourage English majors 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—including Joyce’s “The Dead,” Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,  Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Morrison’s Sula—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 and align them with relevant critical schools of thought. The course will thus involve both formal analysis and scholarly commentary.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Largely discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Three 3-5 page essays, an in-class presentation, and a longer final research project.    

 

21900-01          SHAKESPEARE

3 CREDITS

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.

Course Description:   By studying comedies, tragedies, romances, and histories, the course will introduce Shakespeare’s theatre to both initiates and novices.  As we read the plays themselves we will study Shakespeare’s time, politics, religious, cultural, and scientific beliefs; 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 foreground of the texts and the background of context we will approach larger questions of meaning, both for Shakespeare’s time and for our own.  Substantial emphasis will 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.

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 six 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 during the course of the semester; two five-page essays; 

 

ENGL 21900-02 Shakespeare

3 CREDITS

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

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

ENROLLMENT: 20

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

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

In this course, we will study six plays that show William Shakespeare working in different genres and at different times in his career: two early comedies, The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; two tragedies, Othello and Macbeth; and two late romances, The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale, the second of which is sometimes classed as a “problem play.” We will explore the textual and performance histories of these plays and scholarly debates about them. We’ll also study the many and various adaptations of the plays and then create and perform our own. All of our work will involve close textual study coupled with investigations of the political, social, and historical pressures with which these plays grapple, including: debates about marriage, race, gender and sexuality, about authority and authorship, and about colonial expansion and the human relationship to the surrounding world.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Primarily discussion, some lecture.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: One short (3-4 pg) and one longer (6-8 pg) essay; an individual presentation; a midterm and a final exam; several quizzes, forum posts, 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. 

 

ENGL 24500-01,02 Modern and Contemporary American Literatures HU LA 3a

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Paul Hansom, Muller 321

ENROLLMENT: 20 per section

PREREQUISITES: 1 crs ARTH, ENGL, HIST, etc.

STUDENTS: Open to all students

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Modern and contemporary American literature draws its subjects and creative materials from the enormous and bewildering changes that have taken place since the end of World War Two. While the obliteration of Germany and Japan certainly placed America in an unprecedented position, this was by no means a coherent or a comfortable one. Rather, these historic realignments, economic dislocations, constant wars, rapid technological and demographic shifts, worked together to produce an experienced reality that was astonishing, terrifying, and almost beyond belief. Modern and contemporary American literatures embody a tremendous creative energy and force in response to these social and historical dynamics. The sheer range of their forms and the power of their visions, images and metaphors have not only shaped writing, reading, and thinking on an international scale, but have changed the very idea of culture, history, fact, and fiction. 

This literature explores ambiguity and disorientation, it blurs boundaries, it breaks inhibition, it  frees up concepts of identity, and shatters comforting national images into sharp, often ironic, fragments. This is a powerful literature that reflects, creates, and mediates a radically diversified cultural landscape, giving us an America that is elusive, enigmatic, plural and polyglot.   

This class will examine some of the ways in which American writers and artists have both contributed and responded to these seismic shifts, exploring the relationships between multi-cultural perspectives, post-industrial realities, and the increasingly complex connections between mass media and national identity. As the American landscape morphs into the post-modern and the post-post-modern, so does the American literary form, radically re-mapping our conceptions of family, politics, history, gender, race, and even the sacred self.   

To help us with our investigations, we will focus on a range of American literatures (including novels, stories, poems and plays) by the likes of Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, Don Delillo, Philip Roth, Maxine Hong Kingston, Gish Jen, Leslie Silko, and Paul Auster. To name just a few.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Limited lecture. The class is designed around focused discussions of the primary works.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Response papers, formal essays, short presentations, final exam.

 

ENGL 27200: The Dark Side of the Enlightenment

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR:  David Kramer, 322 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students

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

Course Description: The Enlightenment is often thought of as an era of… enlightenment, wherein the shackles of religious bigotry, aristocratic rule, even male privilege first begin to be interrogated, and alternative social and artistic structures formulated (i.e., representative democracy, free-market economics, the symphony, the novel).  Mozart, Jefferson, Newton, Locke, Goethe, Adam Smith, Voltaire all seem representative of this new era.

            But this course will explore the dark side of this “enlightened” time, for slavery is rampant, women are still second class or even non-citizens, there is prostitution, depravity, cruelty even as the intelligentsia forges ahead into their blazing light.  If the Declaration of Independence is a product of the Enlightenment, so is the guillotine.

            We’ll read slave narratives, the experimental work of early women writers, such explorers of the dark side of human nature as the Marquis de Sade and some of the early gothic novelists.  There will be sex, violence, degradation, revolution… and there is much great and entertaining writing about it.  The course should be an engaging traversal of the shadow world behind the great Enlightenment from which we, as Americans, claim descent.

FORMAT AND STYLE: Class is highly conversational.

REQUIREMENTS: Two five-page essays; reading quiz and reading response every class; take-home essay mid-term and final.

Grading: Based on attendance, participation, and completion of the above requirements.    

 

ENGL 28100-01   ROMANTIC AND VICTORIAN LITERATURE: TRANSGRESSORS

3.0 CREDITS
ICC DESIGNATION: Writing intensive
INSTRUCTOR: James Swafford, 330 Muller, ext. 4-3540
ENROLLMENT: 20
PREREQUISITE: One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing.
OBJECTIVES:  William Blake publishes proverbs in the voice of the Devil; S. T. Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner murders an albatross and consequently is held responsible for the loss of 200 shipmates; William Morris’s Queen Guenevere defends her adulterous love for Sir Lancelot.  This course will focus on 19th-century writers’ fascination with transgressors, whose violations of the bounds of law or custom allow an exploration of the values and dangers of radical individualism and the benefits and evils of an ordered social world.  Among the other writers we’ll study are Mary Wollstonecraft, Lord Byron, Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), Charles Dickens (Great Expectations), Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Oscar Wilde. 
COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Mostly discussion.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Two critical essays, assorted quizzes and response pieces during the course of the term, and a final examination. Grading is A-F, based on the above as well as on attendance and participation in class discussion. 

 

ENGL 31100-01   DRAMATIC LITERATURE I  (LA)

3 CREDITS

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 31200-01, 02  Dramatic Literature II: Modern and Contemporary Dram

Topic: Race, Class and Gender in the Modern Drama.

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR: Claire Gleitman, 303 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students

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

OBJECTIVES: In this course, we will read a range of modern and contemporary dramatists with an eye to how these authors stage the influence of race, class and gender on identity and human interactions. Beginning with Ibsen’s groundbreaking play, A Doll House (1879), and concluding with Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves (2016), each of our plays will concern the attempt by marginalized characters to survive within or assert themselves against an oppressive (usually white and patriarchal) power system. Yet each play’s representation of this conflict is complex, in part because of our authors’ implicit understanding of the complex and intersectional nature of identity. Does Nora’s status in A Doll House as not just female but middle-class have an impact on her fate in the play? Is A Streetcar Named Desire’s Blanche to be pitied because Stanley brutalizes her as a female, or is she to be critiqued for her class-bound assumptions about white genteel superiority? What bearing does it have on our evaluation of the African American and Japanese American characters in Smart People that they are all associated with Harvard? How does it influence their construction as characters that Prior and Belize, in Angels in America, are both marginalized as gay men, yet one descends from a long line of Protestant white Americans whereas the other is Caribbean American? In short, our focus will be upon the modern drama’s rich exploration of the entangled and interwoven effect that race, class and gender have upon who we are, how we are perceived, and our status in any given society. Authors will include Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, Bertolt Brecht, Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett, Wole Soyinka, Anna Deavere Smith, Caryl Churchill, Tony Kushner, Lydia Diamond, and

Sarah DeLappe.

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Two 5-7 page essays, midterm, one 10-12 page final essay, 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 31900-01    GREAT AMERICAN WRITERS BEFORE 1890   HU LA 3a

Topic: Declarations of independence; revelations of confinement

3 CREDITS

ICC ATTRIBUTE: Writing intensive

INSTRUCTOR: Hugh Egan, 306 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students

PREREQUISITES: 9 credits in the humanities.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Throughout its relatively short recorded history, America has trumpeted itself as an exceptional experiment in nationhood—a democratic, self-reliant citizenry that serves as a model to the world. In this class we will interrogate some of the assumptions behind the idea of "American exceptionalism" and the myth of the "American dream." Beginning with accounts of European contact, we will follow the “new world” theme through the Puritan, Colonial, and Transcendental eras, through the Civil War to the brink of the 20th century. In one sense, the cultural trajectory of this course traces a familiar path—from a sense of early expectation and unlimited potential to the sobering realities of human pain and historical contingency. Throughout the term, we will examine how America's declarations of independence often reveal or conceal painful episodes of confinement— literal enslavement and also psychological imprisonment. To trace this theme, we will read a variety of American documents, including religious sermons, political treatises, philosophical essays, autobiographies, poems, short stories and, at the end of the term, a novel by Kate Chopin.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Largely discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Three 5 page essays, and a substantial end-of-term research project.    

 

ENGL 33100-01 Milton: Unconventional

3 CREDITS

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

ENROLLMENT: 20

PREREQUISITE: Three courses in the humanities or social sciences and sophomore standing, or permission of the instructor.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Milton’s poetry—including his most famous poem, Paradise Lost—is difficult, opaque, sometimes esoteric. It is also damn good poetry. In this course, we will study not only Paradise Lost but also samples of Milton’s early poetry, his idiosyncratic dramas A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle and Samson Agonistes, and selections from his controversial prose on the subjects of marriage, divorce, freedom from press censorship, and monarchical government. We will focus on Milton’s deep and textured knowledge of conventions—religious, social, political, poetic—and on his deeply unconventional attitudes toward sexuality and love, Biblical interpretation, his classical and Renaissance precursors (particularly Shakespeare), and political authority. As a participant in the English Revolution in the 1640s, he supported the execution of King Charles I, whom he saw as a tyrannical king; Milton used his poetry and prose to reflect on and to shape the chaotic political landscape that he inhabited. In his textual landscapes—cosmic chaos, the Garden of Eden, heaven and hell, oceans, caves, forests, deserts, and mountains—he imagines utopias but also prisons and territories ripe for colonial conquest. Studying his writings can spur us to examine how easily an idyllic place might conceal a hell, or a terrifying expanse inspire self-reflection, love, or good citizenship.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Primarily discussion, some lecture.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: One short essay (3-5 pg) and one substantial research essay (10-15 pg); an individual research presentation; a midterm and a final exam; several forum posts 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. 

 

ENGL 34100      Studies in the Enlightenment: Early Women Novelists

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR:  David Kramer, 322 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 20 students

PREREQUISITES: Nine credits in English, or permission of the instructor.

Course Description:  Women writers, for so long marginalized in the world of drama and poetry, take to the new form of longer prose fiction with great energy and daring, creating in-depth explorations of aspects of life that had never received attention from their better-known male counterparts.  The works of this new wave of women novelists treats such subjects as slave rebellion, women gone mad from isolation and reading, women so intimidated they couldn’t speak, women immured in imagined worlds of fearsome villains, haunted castles, and all the gothic machinery the age could conceive.  Our reading will conclude in the early work of Jane Austen, which will appear as a natural outgrowth of these new subjects, new voices, new forms.  We will read our way through these great explorers of the new medium, and the new age in which women could frame the unwritten truths of their world in new forms that could contain them.

FORMAT AND STYLE: Class is highly conversational.

REQUIREMENTS: two 8-10 page essays; reading quiz and reading response each class; essay mid-term and final; emphasis placed upon class participation.

 

ENGL 35200-01     STUDIES IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY NOVEL    HU LA

FALLEN WOMEN AND RUINED MEN

3 CREDITS

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

ENROLLMENTS: 20

PREREQUISITES: Nine credits of literature courses

OBJECTIVES: Few characters in nineteenth-century British literature provided more ample fodder for direct, didactic moralizing than the sexually-fallen woman and the financially-ruined man, whose proliferation contributed significantly to the image many contemporary readers still hold of the Victorians as prudes and penny-pinchers.  In this course we will be reading novels in two ways.  We will consider them first as the negative examples they were presumed to offer.  Reading through the lenses of social campaigns to control investment “manias” and sexually transmitted diseases permits an exploration of how the concepts of contagion and taint were made to function outside the medical model.  However, we will also be reading against the grain to consider the less-obvious educational and social purposes served by the discourse of downward mobility in a culture that was obsessed with personal improvement, self-determination and “raising oneself up.”  To that end, we will read with an eye for what these novels could teach a reader about how to present oneself, control one’s public image, and assess the character of others both for self-protection and for profit.  The goal is to construct our own understanding of how the Victorians defined character and deployed reputation.

Authors include: William Thackeray, Anthony Trollope, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Ellen Wood, Thomas Hardy, George Gissing, and Oscar Wilde.

FORMAT AND STYLE: Discussion

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

 

ENGL 46000-01,       SEMINAR IN JAMES JOYCE’S ULYSSES     HU LA 3a h

3 CREDITS

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

ENROLLMENT: 10 students

PREREQUISITE: Any four courses in English, or permission of the instructor

COURSE DESCRIPTION.  James Joyce’s Ulysses is arguably the most important novel written in the past century.  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 century.  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, stylistical, and textual) within which and against which the novel was written.  Given its experimental nature, the novel has also lent itself to a number of innovative theoretical approaches to the nature of literature itself which will also be considered in the course of the semester.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: There will be occasional background lectures, films, and audiotapes, but the seminar will proceed on the basis of student reports and presentations focused on the eighteen different episodes of the novel.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Each student will be expected to give two oral presentations on aspects of the novel, one before and one after the midterm.  In addition, there will be two papers due, a five-page essay at the midterm and a 10-12 page research essay due at the end of the semester.

 

ENGL 4800-01          SEMINAR IN LITERARY CRITICISM: THEORY NOW!

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR: Chris Holmes, 318 Muller

ENROLLMENT: 10 students

PREREQUISITE: Any four courses in English, or permission of the instructor

COURSE DESCRIPTION: We will read six works of literary theory/criticism that have changed the landscape of literary studies over the past decade. Each book will be drawn from a different influential subfield: affect studies, world literature, Marxism/Neoliberalism, formalism/genre, cultural studies, and queer theory. Scholars from these fields will visit our class in person and via skype. This course will be specially designed to prepare students for graduate study in English, Comparative Literature, and related fields that employ theory in their explorations. As such, preparation, discussion, and written work of the highest level will be expected for each class session.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: There will be occasional lectures, but the course will function largely as a graduate seminar with regular student presentations, response papers, and student-led discussions.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Each student will be expected to give two presentations on texts of their choosing. In addition, there will be two papers due, a five-page conference paper, which will be delivered as part of an informal conference, and a 10-15 page research essay due at the end of the semester.

 

 

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