Go to navigation (press enter key)Menu

II. Intermediate Courses

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

205b

Introductory Creative Writing

Sections of Introductory Creative Writing are open by application to the department.  No writing sample is required, but an application form available in the English department office must be completed prior to the end of the pre-registration period.  Spaces in the course are assigned according to the students’ preferences and the priorities indicated in the College Catalogue.  All sections are writing intensive, but the focus of the individual sections will vary.  See descriptions below.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

205.51

Ms. Mark                   W        1:00-3:00

Introductory Creative Writing

Students in this course will read and write narratives in a number of modes. Though we’ll focus on short fiction and the elements of its composition (characterization, plot, structure, point of view, dialogue, voice, style, and so forth), we’ll also explore the increasingly permeable boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, prose and poetry. This section of Introductory Creative Writing is both a seminar and a workshop: students will read the work of experienced practitioners, analyze what they've read, and apply what they've learned to their own work. Readings may include works by Ashbery, Baldwin, Bambara, Barth, Barthelme, Beattie, Bishop, Bloom, Borges, Calvino, Carey, Carson, Chekhov, Cortázar, Edson, Erdrich, Faulkner, Hughes, Jen, Joyce, Kafka, Kincaid, Lahiri, Mullen, Munro, Nabokov, O'Connor, Packer, Paley, Saunders, Simic, Trevor, Wallace, Winterson, Wolff, and Woolf. Frequent conferences.

205.52

Mr. Langdell               T         1:00-3:00

Introductory Creative Writing

This course serves as an introduction to fiction writing. Students will explore voice, dialogue, plot, movement, tone, natural description, and other elements of the craft. An emphasis will be placed on exploring the interplay between fiction and other written forms – such as poetry and nonfiction – and examining the peculiar place of fiction. As we develop our own work, we will study a range of inventive short fiction – from Alice Munro, Stuart Dybek, Lydia Davis, Junot Diaz, Denis Johnson, ZZ Packer, and others. 

206b

Introductory Creative Writing

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry.  Open to any student who has taken English 205 or an equivalent course.  Registration is by draw number as in any other course.  Special permission is not required.  No application form is required.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

Prerequisite:  open to students who have taken English 205 or 207.

206.51

Mr. Joyce                         M         6:30-8:30

Introductory Creative Writing (Writing as a Healing Art)

In this section we will pay special attention to writing as a healing art. We will read and write narratives, poems, and memoirs as well as explore hybrid forms, including non-fictional narratives, multimedia, imagetexts, and so on. The course will be of particular interest to— but not restricted to— those interested in medical professions. In writing about how a “physician enjoys a wonderful opportunity actually to witness the words being born,” the American poet and physician William Carlos Williams spoke of how healers “begin to see that the underlying meaning of all that [patients] want to tell us and have always failed to communicate is the poem, the poem which their lives are being lived to realize.”  We will try to approach that poem together here.

206.52

Mr. Joyce                    R          3:10-5:10

Introductory Creative Writing (Long Forms)

Writing as gerund: inviting your attention to longer forms, being the novel, novella, long poem or sequence, (screen)play, libretto or performance art scenario, and especially those blurring genre boundaries from poem to narrative to performance and less easily classified texts, continuing an attempt at intervening at the stage of conception rather than reception, moving beyond the workshop to some other forms of reading and writing. Those creating spare, silent, tentative, reclusive or meditative texts being especially welcome.

206.53

Mr. Langdell               R          1:00-3:00

Introductory Creative Writing

This course is open to students who have taken either English 205 or English 207. The course builds on creative writing skills developed in earlier classes, and focuses on the creation and revision of fiction writing. We will study a range of short fiction -- from Alice Munro, Michael Chabon, Jamaica Kincaid, George Saunders, JD Salinger, Grace Paley, and others – and will access different forms of fiction through a range of creative exercises. We will explore narrative elements, such as voice, point of view, plot, movement, characterization, and narrative echoes, while also considering the role of empathy, desire, and subtlety in constructing fictional narratives. 

210.51

Ms. Kane                  M         3:10-6:10

Advanced Creative Writing:  Narrative

Development of the student’s abilities as a writer and reader of narrative, with particular emphasis on the short story.  This is the second half of a year-long course and is open only to those currently enrolled in English 209.

215.51

Ms. Kim                MW     12:00-1:15

Pre-modern Drama: Text and Performance before 1800

Study of selected dramatic texts and their embodiment both on the page and the stage.  Authors, critical and theoretical approaches, dramatic genres, historical coverage, and themes may vary from year to year.

Topic for 2017b: Medieval Play: Critical Play in Medieval Drama, Video Game, and LARP.  Johan Huizinga’s mid-twentieth century Homo Ludens began a critical conversation about the term “ludens” (latin. play). Play then, and particularly medieval play, has had a long history. This class will take the definition of play from Brian Upton’s The Aesthetics of Play (MIT, 2015) based on Huizinga’s as the underlying framework for this class to consider medieval drama, video game, and LARP: “Play is free movement within a system of constraints” (Upton, 15). This class will address multiple iterations of medieval play: in medieval drama as it was produced from the medieval to contemporary period; in medieval video games; and in the world of LARP (Live Action Role Playing). This class will analyze critical play in these three areas to ask questions about play structures and design, gender, race, disability, sexuality, and the performance of play in creating alternative worlds. How do the real vs. play worlds intersect, disrupt, or create friction with each other? How do the possibilities of bodies and the matter of bodies get worked out in medieval play? We will be working with a selection of medieval mystery plays and saints’ lives drama (the superhero narratives of the medieval universe); a selection of medieval video games for both children and adults—Dragon AgeSkyrim, the first Assassin’s CreedWitcher 3, and Playing History game trilogy: The VikingsThe Plague, and The Slave Trade. We will also be creating LARP worlds. You will be required to play in all three areas. This will include costume curation and prop acquisition for this class. This class will examine issues of embodiment in relation to all these forms of medieval play-gender, class, race, disability, sexuality, etc. and the possibilities of play for social justice.  

218.52

Mr. Russell                      TR       10:30-11:45

Literature, Gender, and Sexuality

This course considers matters of gender and sexuality in literary texts, criticism, and theory. The focus varies from year to year, and may include study of a historical period, literary movement, or genre; constructions of masculinity and femininity; sexual identities; or representations of gender in relation to race and class. 

Topic for 2017b: Gay Male Narratives in America, 1945-1995.  This course considers a fifty-year period beginning with the mass demobilizations following World War II that gave rise to modern urban gay subculture. We will examine a range of gay fiction, much of it now neglected, from the late forties, fifties and sixties; the importance of underground magazines, pornography, and censorship trials in the growing gay civil rights movement; the Stonewall riots and other political manifestations of Gay Liberation; the golden age of gay fiction in the seventies, eighties, and early nineties; and the simultaneously catastrophic and galvanizing unfolding of the AIDS holocaust up until 1995, when life-saving retroviral therapies were first introduced.  Texts may include William Maxwell's The Folded Leaf, Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, Fritz Peters’ Finistère, Charles Jackson’s Fall of Valor, Lonnie Coleman’s Sam, Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man, Andrew Holleran’s Dancer from the Dance, Mark Merlis’ An Arrow’s Flight, and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.  Films may include The Boys in the BandThe Times of Harvey MilkTongues Untied, Parting Glances and How To Survive a Plague.

222/223

Founding of English Literature

English 222 and 223 offer an introduction to British literary history through an exploration of texts from the eighth through the seventeenth centuries in their literary and cultural contexts.  The fall term begins with Old English literature and continues to the early sixteenth-century. The spring term begins with the Protestant Reformation and continues through the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I, the Civil Wars and Puritan Interregnum, to the Restoration in 1660. Critical issues may include discourses of difference (race, religion, gender, social class); tribal, ethnic, and national identities; exploration and colonization; textual transmission and the rise of print culture; authorship and authority.

223.51

Mr. Márkus                    MR      3:10-4:25

The Founding of English Literature

From the Faerie Queene to The Country Wife:  Introduction to Early Modern Literature and Culture.  (Same as MRST) This is a thematically organized “issues and methods” course grafted onto a chronologically structured survey course of early modern literature and culture.  Its double goal is to develop skills for understanding early modern texts (both the language and the culture) as well as to familiarize the students with a representative selection of works from the mid-1500s through the late 1600s.  With this two-pronged approach, the students acquire an informed appreciation of the early modern period that may well serve as the basis for pursuing more specialized courses in this field.  We explore a great variety of genres and media, including canonical authors such as Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton, but we also attend to less well-known authors, many of them women, through whose writings we can achieve a more nuanced and complex understanding of the times. By paying special attention to correlations between literature and other discourses, as well as to issues of cultural identity and difference based on citizenship, class, ethnicity, gender, geography, nationality, race, and religion, we engage early modern literature and culture in ways that are productive to the understanding of our own culture as well. 

Please note that English 222 is not a prerequisite of this course; it is open to all students, including freshmen. 

228.51

Mr. Simpson / Ms. Tucker           TR 10:30-11:45 / R  4:00-6:00 screening

African American Literature

Topic for 2017b: From the Page to the Stage: Turning Black Literature to Black.  (Same as AFRS 228 and DRAM 228) This course will explore the dramatic possibilities of 20th century canonical black literature by means of critical reading, critical writing, and critical performance. Students will examine key novels in their historical context paying attention to the criticism and theory that have shaped their reception. They will then attempt to transform parts of these texts into scenes as informed by past and present theories of performance and theatre making. Their work will culminate in a public performance of the pieces they have conceived.

229.51

Mr. Hsu               WF      1:30-2:45

Asian American Literature

During this semester-long course, we will conduct a survey of the literary works produced by and about Asians in the United States, from poetry carved on the walls of immigration detention centers, early Chinese American travel literature and legal briefs to coming-of-age novellas, experimental fiction, graphic novels and zines. 

236.51

Mr. Amodio                 MW     10:30-11:45

Beowulf

Intensive study of the early English epic in the original language.

Prerequisite: English 235 or demonstrated knowledge of Old English, or permission of the instructor.

238.51

Ms. Kim                         TR       1:30-2:45

Middle English Literature

Studies in post-Conquest medieval literature (1250-1500), drawing on the works of the Gawain-poet, Langland, Chaucer, and others.  Genres studied may include lyric, romance, drama, allegory, and dream vision.  Topic for 2017b: Arthurian Literature in Medieval Britain.  In 1191, the Glastonbury monks purportedly found the remains of King Arthur and Guenevere.  They proceeded to publish their discovery and invited “reliable” witnesses (in the figure of Gerald of Wales) to come and experience the exhumation. The Glastonbury monks could funnel this find into a potentially large money-making venture for the monastery as the future site of an Arthurian pilgrimage.  For the Norman royal house, this meant that they could use this find to squash any potential and future Welsh rebellion.  Gerald of Wales writes up his account of this momentous exhumation and this is one of the many pieces of Arthurian literature that we will be looking at in this class. This class will consider how Arthurian material becomes part of the political and religious rhetoric used to secure a sense of what constitutes medieval Britain and who should control it.

This class will examine the beginnings and rapid spread of Arthurian materials from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Brittaniae to Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. We will move from historiography and chronicle to romance and lai, in both prose and verse. We will begin in the twelfth century and finish at the end of the fifteenth century with the Winchester Malory and Caxton’s printed version of Malory’s work.  We will be reading materials from Latin, Middle Welsh, Anglo-Norman French, Middle Scots, and Middle English texts. Some of the texts we will examine: Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Brittaniae; La3amon’s Brut; Marie de France’s Lanval; Chrétien de Troyes’ Yvain, Perceval, Lancelot; Cullhwch and Olwen; The Dream of Rhonabwy; the Welsh Peredur and Ywain; the Welsh Triads; Of Arthour and Merlin, The Stanzaic Morte Arthure; The Alliterative Morte Arthure; Prose Tristan; The Awntyrs of Arther; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Lancelot of the Laik and Sir Tristem; and Malory’s Le Morte Darthur.

240.51

Mr. Foster              TR       10:30-11:45

Shakespeare

(Same as DRAM 240) “Shakespeare,” wrote Voltaire, “is a drunken savage with some imagination whose plays please only in London and Canada.” “Now we sit through Shakespeare,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “in order to recognize the quotations.” But here in Po’town, where the plays still please, we shall sift through Shakespeare in order to sharpen our critical pens, our wit, our rhetoric; to hone our skill as close readers, as performers, as observers of culture; and perhaps to ruin our faith, patriotism, complacency, and morals.  In this course, kindred spirits of the Bard--drama majors, English majors, undeclared geniuses, and the occasional drunken savage with some imagination–shall study Shakespeare's great-and-above-average plays, early and late.  Course objectives shall further include how to read a script, how to construct a critical argument, and how to write.

Not open to students who have taken English 241, 242.

242.51

Mr. Márkus                       TR       10:30-11:45

Shakespeare

(Same as DRAM 242) Study of some representative comedies, histories, and tragedies.

This is the second half of a year-long course and is open only to those students currently enrolled in English 241.

246.51            

Mr. DeMaria                     MW     10:30-11:45

Sense and Sensibility: British Literature from 1745-1798

Study of the writers who represented the culmination of neoclassical literature in Great Britain and those who built on, critiqued, or even defined themselves against it.  Authors may include Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Edmund Burke, William Beckford, William Cowper, Olaudah Equiano, Hester Thrale Piozzi, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ann Radcliffe, Anne Yearsley, and Hannah More.

248.51

Ms. Gemmill               TR       1:30-2:45

The Age of Romanticism, 1789-1832

This course surveys the literature of the Romantic period through the lens of revolution and rebellion, both of which characterize this period in British history on a number of levels. Across the English Channel, French civilians were overthrowing their monarchy; revolutions in science and technology were catapulting Europe into the industrial era; English poets were rebelling against what they perceived to be the antiquated poetic forms of the eighteenth century; and prose writers were producing some of the original human rights manifestos, calling for women’s empowerment and the abolition of the British slave trade. Paying close attention to these historical and political contexts, we will examine how writers of the period mobilized the concept of revolution in their literary works and used it as an impetus for experimentation, on both thematic and formal levels. Surveyed poets include Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Barbauld, Robinson, Byron, Shelley, and Keats; fiction writers include Austen, Shelley and Polidori; and prose writers include Burke, De Quincey, Prince, Hazlitt, and Wollstonecraft. 

253.51

Ms. Moynihan                  TR       12:00-1:15

Topics in American Literature

The specific focus of the course varies each year, and may center on a literary movement (e.g., Transcendentalism, the Beats, the Black Mountain School), a single work and its milieu (e.g., Moby-Dick and the American novel, Call It Sleep and the rise of ethnic modernism); a historical period (e.g., the Great Awakening, the Civil War), a region (e.g., Southern literature, the literature of the West), or a genre (e.g., the sentimental-domestic novel, American satire, the literature of travel/migration, American autobiography, traditions of reportage, American environmentalist writing).

Topic for 2017b:  The American Novel Since 2000.  This course aims to introduce students to the range and diversity of American novels published since 2000.  Through close readings of novels by both established and emerging writers, it will foreground questions of postmodernity, globalisation, identity (race and ethnicity, class, gender, religion), the representation of history, affect, and the ethics of representation.  It will also interrogate the literary forms and genres (bildungsroman; epic; memoir; historical novel, mock biography, satire) that these writers employ, revise and/or transform.  It will consider the extent to which contemporary American novels are embedded in the politics of the literary marketplace.  It will also encourage students to read the novels in the context of a range of established and emerging critical frameworks such as whiteness studies, ecocriticism, trauma theory, cultural memory studies, transnationalism and postsecularism. Students may expect to read works by some of the following authors: Dave Eggers, Philip Roth, Marilynne Robinson, Louise Erdrich, Joyce Carol Oates, Don DeLillo, Junot Díaz and Jesmyn Ward.  

290 a or b.

Field Work

Field work is open by special permission of the associate chair, and is usually offered for one-half unit of credit.

Field Work projects are sponsored by individual faculty members in the department.  Students interested in Field Work should see page 30 for further details on the requirements.

Independent Study

Independent Study is open by special permission of the associate chair. Independent Study is intended to supplement (not duplicate) the regular curricular offerings by defining special projects in reading and writing under the direction of an individual faculty member.  The prerequisite for Independent Study at the 200- or 300-level is 2 units of 200-level work in English.

Application forms for Independent Study are available in the English department office. 

298 a or b.                                                                                          (1/2 Unit)

Open by permission of the associate chair. 1 unit of credit given only in exceptional cases.

399 a or b.                                                                                          (1/2 Unit)

Senior Independent Work

Open by permission of the associate chair.  1 unit of credit given only in exceptional cases.