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III. Advanced Courses

Course descriptions from the English Department to supplement the information in the college catalogue.

Senior Year Requirements

The College requires a special exercise to distinguish the work of the senior year in one’s major.  In the English department, that requirement takes the form of English 300, Senior Tutorial, or enrolling in at least one of the four required 300-level courses in the senior year.

Description of English 300:  All senior English majors should consider taking this course.  The tutorial should reflect and extend the intellectual interests you have developed in your earlier course work.  The tutorial itself involves working with an individual faculty member to produce a long paper (approximately 10,000 words or 40 pages).  The project may consist of a sustained essay or a series of linked essays, or one of several alternatives, such as primary research in the Special Collections department of the Library, a piece of translation, a work of dramaturgy, or a scholarly edition of a particular work or group of works.  Senior projects that are not essays in themselves should be accompanied by a complementary analytical essay.  Students admitted to 305-306 (Creative Writing Seminar), must also enroll in English 300 in the a-term, and it follows the special guidelines established in the context of 305-306.

300 a or b

Senior Tutorial

Preparation of a long essay (40 pages) or other independently designed critical project.   Each essay is directed by an individual member of the department.  Special Permission. 


Ms. Mark                 R          4:00-6:00


(Same as CLCS 302 and MEDS 302)  If works of art continue each other, as Virginia Woolf suggested, then cultural history accumulates when generations of artists think and talk together across time. What happens when one of those artists switches to another language, another genre, another mode or medium? In the twenty-first century we may reframe Woolf’s conversation in terms of intertextuality—art invokes and revises other art—but the questions remain more or less unchanged: What motivates and shapes adaptations? What role does technology play? Audience? What constitutes a faithful adaptation? “Faithful” to what or whom? In this course we’ll consider the biological model, looking briefly at Darwin’s ideas about the ways organisms change in order to survive, and then explore analogies across a range of media. We’ll begin with Virgil’s Georgics; move on to Metamorphoses, Ovid’s free adaptations of classical myths; and follow Orpheus and Eurydice through two thousand years of theater (Euripides, Anouilh, Ruhl, Zimmerman); painting and sculpture (Dürer, Rubens, Poussin, Klee, Rodin); film and television (Pasolini, Cocteau, Camus, Luhrmann); dance (Graham, Balanchine, Bausch); music (Monteverdi, Gluck, Stravinsky, Birtwistle, Glass); narratives and graphic narratives (Pynchon, Delany, Gaiman, Hoban); verse (Rilke, H.D., Auden, Ashbery, Milosz, Heaney, Atwood, Mullen, Strand); and computer games (Battle of Olympus, Shin Megami Tensei). During the second half of the semester, we’ll investigate other adaptations and their theoretical implications, looking back from time to time at what we’ve learned from the protean story of Eurydice and Orpheus and their countless progeny. 


Mr. Means                 T         3:10-5:10

Creative Writing Seminar

Advanced study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry.  Open in the senior year to students concentrating in English.  This is the second half of a year-long course and is open only to students currently enrolled in English 305.


Mr. Joyce                   R          7:00-10:00

Senior Creative Writing

An advanced writing course in parallel with the long-established senior creative writing sequence, accommodating the multiple approaches, genres, forms and interests that represent the diversity of a contemporary writing life.

Open to seniors from all departments.

Writing submissions due by October 24, 2016. 

One 3-hour period with individual conferences with the instructor.


Mr. Foster              M         3:10-5:10

Writing for Performance

This course offers advanced study in the relationship between performance and text. Performance in this case is broadly conceived. It can include dramatic performances of plays, as well as storytelling, comic or musical performance, performance art, and poetry. The course may also explore such categories as gender or identity as forms of performance.

Topic for 2017b:  Writing for Performance.  This seminar examines a range of culturally significant entertainments from Homer to Homer Simpson; Euripides to YouTube; Beowulf to Snoop Dogg; and Shakespeare to Shakira—but it is designed chiefly as a workshop for theatrical writers who already know, and value, the Western dramatic tradition. Coursework includes theater visits and the rehearsal of one another's original writing (monologues, forms of dialogue, scenes, a one-act play). Our emphasis is insistently dramaturgical, though not without a dose of criticism, and performance theory. Focus: writing for the stage, not for TV or film. 

Limited enrollment.

Prerequisites: an original writing sample; evidence of successfully completed coursework in dramatic literature; and permission of the instructor.


Mr. Perez                 W        1:00-3:00

Challenging Ethnicity

Topic for 2017b:  Racial Melodrama.  (Same as AFRS 326) Often dismissed as escapist, predictable, lowbrow or exploitative, melodrama has also been recuperated by several contemporary critics as a key site for the rupture and transformation of mainstream values. Film scholar Linda Williams argues that melodrama constitutes “a major force of moral reasoning in American mass culture,” shaping the nation's racial imaginary. The conventions of melodrama originate from popular theater, but its success has relied largely on its remarkable adaptability across various media, including print, motion pictures, radio, and television. This course investigates the lasting impact of such fictions as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Fannie Hurst’s Imitation of Life, the romanticized legend of John Smith’s encounter with Pocahontas, and John Luther Long’s Madame Butterfly. What precisely is melodrama? If not a genre, is it (as critics diversely argue) a mode, symbolic structure, or a sensibility? What do we make of the international success of melodramatic forms and texts such as the telenovela and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain? How do we understand melodrama’s special resonance historically among disfranchised classes? How and to what ends do the pleasures of suffering authenticate particular collective identities (women, the working-class, queers, blacks, and group formations yet to be named)? What relationships between identity, affect and consumption does melodrama reveal? 


Mr. Márkus                W        1:00-3:00

Studies in the Renaissance

Intensive study of selected Renaissance texts and the questions they raise about their context and interpretation.

Topic for 2017b:  Sex and the City in 1600:  Gender, Marriage, Family, and Sexuality in Early Modern London. This course explores everyday life in the rapidly expanding early modern metropolis of London. We pay special attention to religious, social, legal as well as informal control mechanisms that influenced issues of gender, marriage, and sexuality in various layers of London society. We anchor our investigations in a handful of plays (mainly city comedies) by Beaumont, Dekker, Jonson, Marston, Middleton, and Shakespeare, but also discuss ballads, homilies, conduct books, legal and travel narratives, pamphlets and treatises, literary works by female authors, and other literary and non-literary texts.


Mr. DeMaria                T         1:00-3:00

Studies in Eighteenth Century British Literature

Focuses on a broad literary topic, with special attention to works of the Restoration and eighteenth century.

Topic for 2017b: The Origins of Periodical Writing in Britain.  (Same as MEDS 350) Although periodical publications got started in Europe shortly after the invention of printing, there was in England such a vast increase in their numbers and importance during the British Civil Wars (1642-60) that it’s reasonable to think of that period as giving rise to periodical writing in its modern form.  In the later seventeenth century periodical publications became important vehicles for a new kind of writing aptly called the periodical essay.  Among the most important eighteenth-century practitioners of this form were John Dunton, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, Eliza Haywood, Samuel Johnson, and Oliver Goldsmith.  This course will examine the periodical writing of these authors in the context of the newspapers and journals for which they wrote: The Athenian Oracle; The Review; The Tatler; The Spectator; The Female Tatler; The Gentleman’s Magazine; The Rambler; and The Bee, among other.   There will be several meetings of the class in Special Collections, and students will be expected to write on an early journal or periodical writer, making use of the original publications.  


Ms. McGlennen                    T         3:10-5:10

Contemporary Native American Poets

(Same as AMST 356) In our course, we study contemporary North American Indigenous poets through various lenses, including American Indian Literary Nationalism, Indigenous Transnationalisms, and tribally-specific frames.  Poets include Natalie Diaz, Adrian Louis, Sherman Alexie, Luci Tapahonso, Wendy Rose, and Orlando White, among others.  


Mr. Russell                     T       3:10-6:10

English Seminar

Topic for 2016b:  Finnegans Wake.  A sustained mad romp through James Joyce’s late incomparable hilarious and moving masterpiece Finnegans Wake. We will follow the scandalous exploits of HCE (Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, Here Comes Everybody, etc.), his stalwart wife ALP (Anna Livia Plurabelle, American Lake Poetry etc.) and their rambunctious competitive offspring Shem the Penman, Shaun the Postman and heartbreaking Issy. In the name of Annah the Allmaziful, the Bringer of Plurabilities (haloed be her eve, her singtime sung, her rill be run, unhemmed as it is uneven), we will strive to become fluent in the stuttering unbridled tongue of the night. A certain degree of ambitious insanity is required. 


Mr. Simpson                     T       3:10-6:10

English Seminar

Topic for 2016b:  Black Literary Urbanism.  This course aims to explore how African American creative artists have staged black encounter with the American city. None of the writers we will study this semester conceives of the metropolis in the same way and this diversity of urban visions will greatly enrich our discussion.  The following inquiries, however, will tame and shape our study of what may appear to be seemingly disparate voices and perspectives. To what extent do these fictional blacks feel at home in their cities? Does the city—through its public places (bars, salons) and private spaces (apartments, churches) appear so inhospitable that it hinders these characters from making a claim on the place they (must) live? How is the black body read and understood in the urban environment? How are black characters read by those who perceive them? How do they perceive themselves? Finally, if we understand black urban spaces as carceral constructs, what factors allow characters movement and transport? Do these characters ever transcend the immobility that the metropolis seeks to impose upon them?  Among the writers explored are Wright, Petry, Brooks, Himes, Naylor, Goines, Hayden, and Whitehead.



Notice to Majors

Students may receive credit toward the major for other courses offered in the programs (when taught or team-taught by members of the department) upon the approval of the curriculum committee. Please consult with the chair if you have questions about a particular course.

JWST 350

Mr. Antelyes

Confronting Modernity

Topic for 2017b: Jews, Comics, and Graphic Novels. An in-depth exploration of the contributions of Jewish writers and artists to the field of comics and graphics novels from historical, regional, and topical perspectives.  Issues and texts may include: Jews, Assimilation, and the Comics: the Jewish creation of the American superhero (Superman, Batman, Spiderman, the X-Men, and the Golem), Reading/Writing in Jewish: midrash meets comics (J. T. Waldman’s Magillat Esther), satire from a Jewish eye (Jules Feiffer’s Voice comics), Gender: Second Wave feminism and the rise of the Jewish woman’s graphic novel (Aline Kominsky’s Love that Bunch and Diane Noomin’s Didi Glitz), contemporary women’s graphic art (Keren Katz’s “My Skeleton Week,” Liana Finck’s A Bintel Brief,  and Vanessa Davis’s Make Me a Woman), History: reimagining the great migration (Leela Corman’s Unterzakhn), comics and the Holocaust (Spiegelman’s Maus and Bernice Eisenstein’s I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors), Place: the graphic novel in and about Israel (Rutu Modan’s The Property and Miriam Libicki’s Jobnik!), Jewish comics reimagine the urban (Ben Katchor’s Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer), Jews in Europe and Northern Africa (Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat), and online Jews (Eli Valley’s “I Ran So Far Away” and “Food Fight”).