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Courses

Our courses bring to bear a variety of historical, critical, cultural, theoretical, and creative approaches to texts and media through richly varied, and often collaborative, teaching and scholarship.

Section Descriptions

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

Course Descriptions

The following information is from the 2018-19 Vassar College Catalogue.

English: I. Introductory

101 The Art of Reading and Writing 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

Development of critical reading in various forms of literary expression, and regular practice in different kinds of writing. The department.

Open only to first-year students; satisfies the college requirement for a First-Year Writing Seminar. Although the content of each section varies, this course may not be repeated for credit; see the First-Year Handbook for descriptions.

Two 75-minute periods.

170 Approaches to Literary Studies 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

Each section explores a central issue, such as "the idea of a literary period," "canons and the study of literature," "nationalism and literary form," or "gender and genre" (contact the department office for current descriptions). Assignments focus on the development of skills for research and writing in English, including the use of secondary sources and the critical vocabulary of literary study. The department.

Open to first-year students and sophomores, and to others by permission; does not satisfy college requirement for a First-Year Writing Seminar.

174 Poetry and Philosophy: The Ancient Quarrel 0.5Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

When Plato famously banished poets from his ideal Republic, he spoke of an ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy. That argument has continued, in various forms, down to the present, culminating in Heidegger's notorious question, "What are poets for?" This six-week course looks at a number of key texts in this contentious history, along with exemplary poems that illustrate the issues. Writers include Plato, Aristotle, Dante, Shelley, Wordsworth, Wilde, Eliot, Blanchot, Derrida, and others. Paul Kane.

No specialized knowledge of poetry or philosophy required. The class is ungraded.

First and second six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods.

177 Special Topics 0.5

(Same as AMST 177 and URBS 177)

First six-week course.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

181 Inside Out Taconic Prison Course - Disability and Identity 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as EDUC 181) In this course, we use a multidisciplinary lens to examine the individual, social, and institutional structures that shape the experiences of disabled people. We consider how the fields of psychology, medicine, legal studies, and media representations of disabled people influences how they are received in society, schools, and in prisons. We devote a significant portion of this class to reading about how disability intersects with other identities including race, gender, class, and sexuality and how societal understandings produce inequalities in schools and in prisons. Leslie Dunn and Erin McCloskey.

This course is held at the Taconic Correctional Facility for Women. By application only to the Dean of the College and must be over 21.

One 3-hour period.

English: II. Intermediate

203 These American Lives: New Journalisms 1

(Same as AMST 203) This course examines the various forms of journalism that report on the diverse complexity of contemporary American lives. In a plain sense, this course is an investigation into American society. But the main emphasis of the course is on acquiring a sense of the different models of writing, especially in longform writing, that have defined and changed the norms of reportage in our culture. Students are encouraged to practice the basics of journalistic craft and to interrogate the role of journalists as intellectuals (or vice versa). 

Not offered in 2018/19.

205 Introductory Creative Writing 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry. Reading and writing assignments may include prose fiction, journals, poetry, drama, and essays.

Not offered to first-year students in the fall semester.

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

206 Introductory Creative Writing 1Semester Offered: Spring

Prerequisite(s): open to any student who has taken ENGL 205.

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

207 Intermediate Creative Writing: Literary Non-Fiction 1

Open to any student who has taken ENGL 205 or ENGL 206.

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

209 Advanced Creative Writing: Narrative 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

Development of the student's abilities as a writer and reader of narrative, with particular emphasis on the short story.

Topic for 2018/19 a&b: Constructing Fiction. In this class you hone your skills as fiction writers, reinforcing the basic elements—sustained, authentic voice, point of view, vibrant characters, setting, and plot—necessary to create vivid narrative. You are free to explore a wide range of styles—from writing prose that "feels" close to memoir/non-fiction, to writing in more traditional short story modes. Students are expected to draft stories, participate in a workshop, and revise with care. We form a cohesive, comfortable, deeply respectful, coherent, useful classroom environment in which we critique new work in a constructive, supportive manner. Weekly exercise and readings are assigned.  Readings may include:  Samuel Beckett, Ben Lerner, Anton Chekhov, Grace Paley, ZZ Packer, Lorrie Moore, Langston Hughes, James Joyce, Isaac Babel, Gish Jen, Katherine Mansfield, George Saunders, Alice Munro, Mary Gaitskill, Lucia Berlin, Lydia Davis, Danielle Evans, Gayle Jones, Julio Cortazar, Haruki Murakami, Flannery O'Connor, John Edgar Wideman, Franz Kafka, to name a few. David Means.

Special permission. Writing samples are due before preregistration. Check with the English Office for the exact date of the deadline.

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

211 Advanced Creative Writing: Verse 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

Development of the student's abilities as a writer and reader of poetry. In addition to written poetry, other forms of poetic expressions may be explored, such as performance and spoken word.

Special permission. Writing samples are due before preregistration. Check with the English Office for the exact date of the deadline. 

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

213 The English Language 1Semester Offered: Spring

Study of the history of English from the fifth century to the present, with special attention to the role of literature in effecting as well as reflecting linguistic change. Treatment of peculiarly literary matters, such as poetic diction, and attention to broader linguistic matters, such as phonology, comparative philology, semantics, and the relationship between language and experience. Robert DeMaria.

214 Process, Prose, Pedagogy 1Semester Offered: Spring

(Same as MEDS 214) This course is a study of the ways in which the Academy mediates knowledge: What is an argument? Are there fundamental differences between popular and scholarly arguments? What about critical and creative arguments? And how should knowledge/scholarship be communicated in the 21st century? What is authorship for that matter? It is also interested in the ways scholars undermine the structures of the Academy from the center and the periphery alike in order to challenge, if not change, the system. What are their methods? What are their agendas? One thing is certain, the ways in which scholars present their work and their reasons for doing so are becoming as diverse, complex, and unique as the scholars themselves. 

As such, we pay particular attention to the boundaries between argument and opinion or fact, creative and critical work, popular and scholarly discourses, old and new media, and between producers and consumers of knowledge. The aim of this course, then, is to help you develop both a practice and a habit of mind––a way of writing and a way of thinking about writing. As scholars, we all must attend to an extraordinary and disparate set of concerns ranging from matters of argumentation and evidence to questions of style, coherence, and correctness; therefore, our multimodal texts span the deeply theoretical and insistently practical––even the imaginative––as we consider selections of rhetoric, fiction, and creative non-fiction that foreground their status as arguments. Matthew Schultz.

215 Pre-modern Drama: Text and Performance before 1800 1

(Same as WMST 215) 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.

 

 

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

216 Modern Drama: Text and Performance after 1800 1

Study of modern 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.

Not offered in 2018/19.

217 Literary Theory and Interpretation 1Semester Offered: Fall

A study of various critical theories and practices ranging from antiquity to the present day.

Topic for 2018/19a: Knowledge, representation, and power. This course introduces literary criticism and theory through tracing several dominant strains of thought about Western representation from antiquity to the present day. We focus particularly on theories of truth and representation; of subjectivity; and of linguistic systems of signification and knowledge production. The last two sections of the course highlight the role of power. We investigate formalism, psychoanalytic criticism, Marxist criticism, feminist criticism, poststructuralist theory and postcolonial critique. Jean Kane

 

 

Two 75-minute periods.

218 Literature, Gender, and Sexuality 1Semester Offered: Spring

(Same as WMST 218) Topic for 2018/19b: Gender, Sexuality, Disability. This course examines the intersecting categories of disability and gender, both in social constructions of disability and in the lived experiences of disabled people. We explore how disability is gendered, and how it intersects with race, class, and sexuality in both historical and contemporary contexts. We examine representations of disability, and the self-representations of disabled people, in a variety of literary forms and media, including poetry, essays, memoirs, comics, photography, film, and performance pieces.  We also attend to our own changing understandings of disability as the course progresses. Disability in this course is defined broadly, to include all the ways in which bodies and minds are construed as different from medical or cultural norms. Leslie Dunn.

Two 75-minute periods.

219 Queer of Color Critique 1

"Queer of Color Critique" is a form of cultural criticism modeled on lessons learned from woman of color feminism, poststructuralism, and materialist and other forms of analysis. As Roderick Ferguson defines it, "Queer of color analysis...interrogates social formations as the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and class with particular interest in how those formations correspond with and diverge from nationalist ideals and practices." This course considers what interventions the construction "queer of color" makes possible for queertheory, LGBT scholarship and activism, and different models of ethnic studies.We will assess the value and limitations of queer theory's "subjectless critique" (in other words, its rejection of identity as a "fixed referent") in doing cultural and political work. What kind of complications (or contradictions) does the notion "queer of color" present for subjectless critique? How might queer of color critique inform political organizing? Particular attention will be devoted to how "queer" travels. Toward this end, students will determine what conflicts are presently shaping debates around sexuality in their own communities and consider how these debates may be linked to different regional, national or transnational politics. Throughout the semester, we evaluate what "queer" means and what kind of work it enables. Is it an identity or an anti-identity? A verb, a noun, or an adjective? A heuristic device, a counterpublic, a form of political mobilization or perhaps even a kind of literacy? Hiram Perez.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

222 Early British Literature 1Semester Offered: Spring

This course offers an introduction to British literary history, beginning with Old and Middle English literature and continuing through the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the establishment of Great Britain, the British Civil War, the Puritan Interregnum, and the Restoration. Topics 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; and the formation and evolution of the British literary canon. Authors, genres, critical and theoretical approaches, historical coverage, and themes may vary from year to year. Zoltán Márkus.

Two 75-minute periods.

223 The Founding of English Literature 1

(Same as MRST 223)

Please note that ENGL 222 is not a prerequisite for this course; it is open to all students, including first-year students.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

225 American Literature, Origins to 1865 1

Study of the main developments in American literature from its origins through the Civil War: including Native American traditions, exploration accounts, Puritan writings, captivity and slave narratives, as well as major authors from the eighteenth century (such as Edwards, Franklin, Jefferson, Rowson, and Brown) up to the mid-nineteenth century (Irving, Cooper, Poe, Emerson, Hawthorne, Fuller, Stowe, Thoreau, Douglass, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson). 

Not offered in 2018/19.

226 American Literature, 1865-1925 1Semester Offered: Fall

Study of the major developments in American literature and culture from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Literary movements such as realism, naturalism, regionalism, and modernism are examined, as well as literatures of ethnicity, race, and gender. Works studied are drawn from such authors as Twain, Howells, James, Jewett, Chestnutt, Chopin, Crane, London, Harte, DuBois, Gilman, Adams, Wharton, Dreiser, Pound, Eliot, Stein, Yezierska, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, O'Neill, Frost, H. D., and Toomer.  Wendy Graham.

227 The Harlem Renaissance and its Precursors 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as AFRS 227) This course places the Harlem Renaissance in literary historical perspective as it seeks to answer the following questions: In what ways was "The New Negro" new? How did African American writers of the Harlem Renaissance rework earlier literary forms from the sorrow songs to the sermon and the slave narrative? How do the debates that raged during this period over the contours of a black aesthetic trace their origins to the concerns that attended the entry of African Americans into the literary public sphere in the eighteenth century? Eve Dunbar.

Two 75-minute periods.

228 African American Literature 1Semester Offered: Spring

(Same as AFRS 228) Tyrone Simpson.

Two 75-minute periods and one 2-hour lab.

229 Asian-American Literature, 1946-present 1Semester Offered: Spring

This course considers such topics as memory, identity, liminality, community, and cultural and familial inheritance within Asian-American literary traditions. May consider Asian-American literature in relation to other ethnic literatures. Hua Hsu.

230 Latina and Latino Literature 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as LALS 230) Students and instructor collaborate to identify and dialogue with the growing but still disputed archive of "Latinx Literature." The category "Latinx" presents us then with our first challenge:  exactly what demographic does "Latinx" isolate (or create)? How does it differ from the categories "Hispanic," "Chicanx," "Raza," "Mestizx," or "Boricua," to name only a few alternatives, and how should these differences inform our critical reading practices? When and where does Latinx literature originate? Together, we work to identify what formal and thematic continuities might characterize a Latinx literary heritage. Some of those commonalities include border crossing or displacement, the tension between political and cultural citizenship, code-switching, indigeneity, contested and/or shifting racial formations, queer sexualities, gender politics, discourses of hybridity, generational conflict, and an ambivalent sense of loss (differently articulated as trauma, nostalgia, forgetting, mourning, nationalism, or assimilation). Hiram Perez. 

Two 75-minute periods.

231 Native American Literature 1

(Same as AMST 231) This course examines Indigenous North American literatures from a Native American Studies perspective.  Native American literature is particularly vast and diverse, representing over 500 Indigenous nations in the northern hemisphere and written/spoken in both Indigenous languages and languages of conquest (English, Spanish, French).  Because of this range of writing and spoken stories, our goals for the class are to complicate our understanding of "texts," to examine the origins of and evolution of tribal literatures (fiction, poetry, non fiction, graphic novel, etc.), and to comprehend the varied theoretical debates and frameworks that have created and nurtured a robust field of Native American literary criticism.  A Native American Studies framework positions the literature as the creative work of Native peoples on behalf of their respective Nations or communities and complicated by the on-going legacy of colonialism.  Authors include William Apess, Luther Standing Bear, Pauline Johnson, Mourning Dove, Gerald Vizenor, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Silko, Louise Erdrich, Wendy Rose, Thomas King, Beth Brant, Kimberly Blaeser, and Richard Van Camp, among other Native theorists, spoken word artists, filmmakers, and artists. Molly McGlennen. 

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

235 Old English 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as MRST 235) Introduction to Old English language and literature. Mark Amodio.

236 Beowulf 1Semester Offered: Spring

(Same as MRST 236) Intensive study of the early English epic in the original language. Mark Amodio.

Prerequisite(s): ENGL 235 or demonstrated knowledge of Old English, or permission of the instructor.

237 Medieval Literature 1

This course serves as an introduction to medieval literature, with a focus on Middle English literatures (c. 1066-1550). Students will become familiar with the linguistic and stylistic features of Middle English, and will read a variety of texts from the period. Special topics for the course will vary from year to year; examples of topics include: Arthurian literature, Chaucer, the Chaucerian tradition, women's writing in the Middle Ages, transnational/comparative medieval literatures (including French and Italian), medieval "autobiography," the alliterative tradition, Piers Plowman and the Piers tradition, dream visions, fifteenth century literature and the bridge to the "early modern," literature and heresy, gender and sexuality in the Middle Ages, and medieval mystical writing. Students will engage throughout with the process of establishing English as a "literary" language; authorial identity; the grounding of English literary tradition; and the role of translation and adaptation in medieval writing. The course will also prepare students who might wish to pursue work in medieval literature at the 300 level, and/or pursue a senior thesis in the period.

 

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

238 Middle English Literature 1

Studies in late 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 vision.

 

Not offered in 2018/19.

240 Shakespeare 1Semester Offered: Spring

Study of some representative comedies, histories, and tragedies. Leslie Dunn.

Not open to students who have taken ENGL 241-ENGL 242.

241 Shakespeare 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as DRAM 241) Study of a substantial number of the plays, roughly in chronological order, to permit a detailed consideration of the range and variety of Shakespeare's dramatic art. Zoltán Márkus.

Not open to students who have taken ENGL 240.

Yearlong course 241-ENGL 242.

242 Shakespeare 1Semester Offered: Spring

(Same as DRAM 242) Study of a substantial number of the plays, roughly in chronological order, to permit a detailed consideration of the range and variety of Shakespeare's dramatic art. Zoltán Márkus.

Not open to students who have taken ENGL 240.

Yearlong course ENGL 241-242.

245 The Enlightenment 1Semester Offered: Fall

Study of poetry, intellectual prose, and drama of importance in Great Britain in the late seventeenth and throughout the eighteenth century. Famous Enlightenment philosophers include John Locke, Isaac Newton, Voltaire, David Hume, and Adam Smith. Focus, however, will be on the great literary writers of the period: including John Dryden, Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift, Anne Finch, William Congreve, Joseph Addison, Alexander Pope, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Samuel Johnson, Mary Leapor, William Cowper, James Boswell, and Olaudah Equiano. Robert DeMaria.

Two 75-minute periods.

246 Sense and Sensibility: British Literature from 1745-1798 1

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. 

Not offered in 2018/19.

247 Eighteenth-Century British Novels 1

One of the major literary events of eighteenth-century England was the "rise" of the novel, as critics have long described it. But where do they imagine it rose from and to? In this course we will build a literary-historical context for asking this question by reading English prose fiction of the long eighteenth century, from Aphra Behn's fictional slave narrative Oroonoko (1688) to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1811). In considering why the novel gained commercial and cultural popularity in this period, our main questions will include—how did the novel absorb and adapt existing literary genres, such as the drama, the diary, and the letter? How did writers of the period use prose fiction to make fresh explorations of sexual politics, identity and power? How did the priorities and techniques of realism interact with those of more stylized narrative modes, such as the gothic and the sentimental novel? Authors include Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Cleland, Sterne, Radcliffe, Lewis and Burney. 

 

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

248 The Age of Romanticism 1

Study of texts from the Romantic era, a period charged with revolutionary spirit and a desire for new forms of thought and literature. Topics may include the French revolution and the emerging discourse of individual human rights; the gothic, the supernatural and the sublime; poetry and its relationship to altered states of consciousness; literary renderings of nature and landscape; introspection, imagination and the self; and political movements such as abolitionism, workers' rights and feminism. Authors may include such poets as William Blake, William Wordsworth, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Hannah More, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron and John Keats; prose writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Edmund Burke, William Hazlitt, Charles Lamb and Thomas De Quincey; and novelists such as Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen, Walter Scott and Mary Shelley. 

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

249 Victorian Literature: Culture and Anarchy 1Semester Offered: Spring

Study of Victorian culture through the prose writers of the period. This course explores the strategies of nineteenth-century writers who struggled to find meaning and order in a changing world. It focuses on such issues as industrialization, the woman question, imperialism, aestheticism, and decadence, paying particular attention to the relationship between literary and social discourses. Authors may include nonfiction prose writers such as Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, Pater, and Wilde as well as fiction writers such as Disraeli, Gaskell, Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, George Eliot, and Arthur Conan Doyle. Wendy Graham.

250 Victorian Poets 1

A study of major English poets in the period 1830 to 1900, with special emphasis on the virtuosity and innovations of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning. Other poets include Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Brontë, Matthew Arnold, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, William Morris, Algernon Swinburne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper), and Thomas Hardy. Consideration will be given to Pre-Raphaelite art and to contemporaneous works of literary criticism.

Not offered in 2018/19.

251 Topics in Black Literatures 1Semester Offered: Spring

(Same as AFRS 251) This course considers Black literatures in all their richness and diversity. The focus changes from year to year, and may include study of a historical period, literary movement, or genre. The course may take a comparative, diasporic approach or may examine a single national or regional literature. Eve Dunbar.

 

Two 75-minute periods.

252 Writing the Diaspora: Verses/Versus 1

(Same as AFRS 252) Black American Culture expression is anchored in rhetorical battles and verbal jousts that place one character against another. From the sorrow songs to blues, black music has always been a primary means of cultural expression for Afirican Americans, particularly during difficult social periods and transition. Black Americans have used music and particularly rythmic verse to resist, express, and signify. Nowhere is this more evident than in hip-hop culture generally and hip-hop music specifically. This semester's Writing the Diaspora class concerns itself with close textual analysis of hip-hop texts. Is Imani Perry right in claiming that Hip-Hop is Black American music, or diasporic music? In addition to close textual reading of lyrics, students are asked to create their own hip-hop texts that speak to particular artists/texts and/or issues and styles raised.

Prerequisite(s): one course in literature or Africana Studies.

Not offered in 2018/19.

253 Topics in American Literature 1Semester Offered: Fall

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 2018/19a: American Environmentalism: Literature & Ecology. (Same as ENST 253) This course examines the development of environmental literature, from the classic "nature writing" of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the emergence of contemporary ecological texts and various theories of ecocriticism. Readings draw from multiple disciplines and feature a wide range of writers, such as Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, Leslie Silko, Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibben and others. Some local field trips included. Paul Kane.

 

 

Two 75-minute periods.

255 Nineteenth-Century British Novels 1Semester Offered: Fall

Readings vary but include works by such novelists as Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, the Brontës, Trollope, George Eliot, and Hardy. Susan Zlotnick.

Two 75-minute periods.

256 Modern British and Irish Literature 1Semester Offered: Fall

British and Irish Literature from the first half of the 20th century. The mix and focus of genres, topics and authors  varies depending on the instructor. However, the period in question covers such writers as Joseph Conrad, W. B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Vera Brittain, Samuel Beckett, George Orwell, and Graham Greene. 

Topic for 2018/19a: Phenomenal Flesh. High modernist writers are particularly taken with the relation of perception and consciousness to lived experience. Their work shows close kinship with phenomenological philosophy, which explores the flesh as the medium of material existence. The course brings questions of the flesh as central attributes of particular groups certain groups to bear on these paradigms. We attend to the subtexts of gender, sexuality, desire,  race, class, religion, nation, and ability.  We read novels such as Conrad's Lord Jim, Forster's A Passage to India, Ford's The Good Soldier, Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, and Samuel Beckett's Murphy; poems by W. B. Yeats, Wilfrid Owen, and T. S. Eliot; and some theory. Jean Kane.           

Prerequisite(s): AP credit or one unit of First-Year English.

Two 75-minute periods.

257 The Novel in English after 1945 1Semester Offered: Spring

The novel in English as it has developed in Africa, America, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Great Britain, India, Ireland, and elsewhere. Heesok Chang.

Two 75-minute periods.

260 Modern British Literature, 1901-1945 1

Study of representative modern works of literature in relation to literary modernism. Consideration of cultural crisis and political engagement, with attention to the Great War as a subject of memoir, fiction, and poetry, and to the new voices of the thirties and early forties. Authors may include Hardy, Yeats, Eliot, Lawrence, Woolf, Conrad, Graves, Vera Brittain, Rebecca West, Orwell, and Auden. 

Not offered in 2018/19.

261 Literatures of Ireland 1

Authors, genres, themes and historical coverage may vary from year to year. Readings may range from the Táin Bó Cuailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley) and other sagas; to Anglo-Irish authors of various periods, including Swift, Goldsmith, Thomas Moore, Maria Edgeworth, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde; to the writers of the Irish literary revival, including Roger Casement, Lady Gregory, Padraic O'Conaire, Pádraig Mac Piarais, Synge, and Yeats; to modernists Joyce, Beckett, Flann O'Brien, and Elizabeth Bowen; to contemporary Irish poets, novelists, dramatists, and musicians.

Not offered in 2018/19.

262 Postcolonial Literatures 1Semester Offered: Spring

Study of contemporary literature written in English from Africa, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere. Readings in various genres by such writers as Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood, Janet Frame, Nadine Gordimer, V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Derek Walcott, Patrick White. Some consideration of post-colonial literary theory. Amitava Kumar.

265 Selected Author 1Semester Offered: Spring

Topic for 2018/19b: Jane Austen. Over the last two decades, Jane Austen has emerged as the most popular of the great nineteenth-century British novelists.  Her novels have been adapted and rewritten by contemporary authors, and they've been translated into films and mini-series. Austen's presence on the web has been formidable as well, from the Republic of Pemberley to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. While this course investigates our current investment in Austen through an examination of a variety of modern adaptations, it also places Austen back into her original literary and historical contexts.  It considers her contributions to the development of literary realism as well as her status as a transitional novelist who wrote on the cusp of modernity.  Readings include Northanger AbbeySense and SensibilityPride and PrejudiceMansfield ParkEmma, and Persuasion. Susan Zlotnick.

 

Two 75-minute periods.

275 Caribbean Discourse 1

(Same as AFRS 275 and LALS 275) A topics course examining the multiple forms of cultural expression and resistance that arise in response to systemic racial oppression. This course focuses on transnational and/or historical variants of racial and colonial domination. Key concepts and methodologies may include border studies, comparative racializations, decolonization, diaspora, hip hop, indigeneity, nation, and sovereignty. Contents and approaches vary from year to year.

Open to sophomores, junior, and seniors with one unit of 100-level work or by permission of the associate chair.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

277 Crossings: Literature without Borders 1

(Same as AFRS 277) This course explores themes, concepts, and genres that span literary periods and/or national boundaries. The focus varies from year to year.

 

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods.

281 The Comics Course 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as MEDS 281) An exploration of topics in comics history, theory, aesthetics, and politics.  Subjects and texts may include: women's diary comics (Julie Doucet's My New York Diary and Gabrielle Bell's July 2011), conflict comics (Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde), graphic horror and representation (Charles Burns's Black Hole), race and representation (Jennings' and Duffy's The Hole: Consumer Culture, Volume 1), genre and gender (Wonder Woman from origins to contemporary permutations), meta-comics (Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan), comics and the culture of children (Schulz's Peanuts, Jansson's Moomin, and Barry's Marlys), comics and sexuality (Carol Swain's Gast, Bisco Hatori's Ouran High School Social Club, and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home), disability comics (the Oracle series, Matt Fraction's Hawkeye, and Allie Brosch's "Hyperbole and a Half"), and comics and silence (Shaun Tan's The Arrival).  Readings also include materials in comics studies, media studies, and literary studies. Peter Antelyes.

Two 75-minute periods.

290 Field Work 0.5 to 1Semester Offered: Fall or Spring

Prerequisite(s): 2 units of 200-level work in English, and permission of the associate chair. 1 unit of credit given only in exceptional cases.

298 Independent Study 0.5 to 1Semester Offered: Fall or Spring

Prerequisite(s): 2 units of 200-level work in English, and permission of the associate chair. 1 unit of credit given only in exceptional cases.

English: III. Advanced

300 Senior Tutorial 1Semester Offered: Fall or Spring

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.

302 Adaptations 1

(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 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 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.

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 3-hour period.

304 Creative Writing Seminar 1Semester Offered: Spring

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry for experienced creative writers. Michael Joyce.

 

 

 

 

Open to juniors and seniors in all departments with permission of the instructor. Writing samples are due before preregistration. Check with the English Office for the exact date of the deadline. 

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

305 Senior Creative Writing Seminar 1Semester Offered: Fall

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry for experienced creative writers. Amitava Kumar.

Prerequisite(s): permission of the instructor.

Open to seniors in all departments. Writing samples are due before preregistration. Check with the English Office for the exact date of the deadline.

Yearlong course 305-ENGL 306.

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

306 Senior Creative Writing Seminar 1Semester Offered: Spring

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry for experienced creative writers. Amitava Kumar.

Prerequisite(s): permission of the instructor.

Open to seniors in all departments.
 Writing samples are due before preregistration. Check with the English Office for the exact date of the deadline.

Yearlong course ENGL 305-306.

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

315 Studies in Performance 1Semester Offered: Spring

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. Leslie Dunn.

 

Limited enrollment.

One 2-hour period.

317 Studies in Literary Theory 1

Advanced study of problems and schools of literary criticism and theory, principally in the twentieth century. May include discussion of new criticism, structuralism, deconstruction, reader-response theory, new historicism, and Marxist, psychoanalytic, phenomenological, and feminist analysis.

 

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

318 Literary Studies in Gender and Sexuality 1

(Same as WMST 318) Advanced study of gender and sexuality in literary texts, theory and criticism. The focus will vary from year to year but will include a substantial theoretical or critical component that may draw from a range of approaches, such as feminist theory, queer theory, transgender studies, feminist psychoanalysis, disability studies and critical race theory. 

Open to Juniors and Seniors with two units of 200-level work in English or by permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

319 Race and its Metaphors 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as AFRS 319) Re-examinations of canonical literature in order to discover how race is either explicitly addressed by or implicitly enabling to the texts. Does racial difference, whether or not overtly expressed, prove a useful literary tool? The focus of the course varies from year to year.

Topic for 2018/19a: "Blacks and Blues: Blues as Metaphor in African American Literature"  Ralph Ellison wrote of the blues that it is "an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one's aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism." This course takes the blues as a metaphor and follows it through canonical African American writing to consider multiple themes: black sonics, black vernacular traditions, sexuality and freedom, social critique, joy, pain, and futurities of blackness. Students interested in this course need not have a musical background, but interest in the links between sound and black literature is expected. Eve Dunbar.      

One 2-hour period.

320 Studies in Literary Traditions 1Semester Offered: Spring

This course examines various literary traditions. The materials may cross historical, national and linguistic boundaries, and may investigate how a specific myth, literary form, idea, or figure (e.g., Pygmalion, romance, the epic, the fall of man, Caliban) has been constructed, disputed, reinvented and transformed. Topics vary from year to year. Jean Kane.

 

 

 

One 2-hour period.

325 Studies in Genre 1

An intensive study of specific forms or types of literature, such as satire, humor, gothic fiction, realism, slave narratives, science fiction, crime, romance, adventure, short story, epic, autobiography, hypertext, and screenplay. Each year, one or more of these genres is investigated in depth. The course may cross national borders and historical periods or adhere to boundaries of time and place.

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

326 Challenging Ethnicity 1Semester Offered: Spring

An exploration of literary and artistic engagements with ethnicity. Contents and approaches vary from year to year. Hiram Perez.

 

One 2-hour period.

328 Literature of the American Renaissance 1Semester Offered: Fall

Intensive study of major works by American writers of the mid-nineteenth century. Authors may include: Cooper, Poe, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, Fuller, Stowe, Delany, Wilson, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson. In addition to placing the works in historical and cultural context, focusing on the role of such institutions as slavery and such social movements as transcendentalism, the course also examines the notion of the American Renaissance itself. Peter Antelyes.

329 American Literary Realism 1

Exploration of the literary concepts of realism and naturalism focusing on the theory and practice of fiction between 1870 and 1910, the first period in American literary history to be called modern. The course may examine past critical debates as well as the current controversy over realism in fiction. Attention is given to such questions as what constitutes reality in fiction, as well as the relationship of realism to other literary traditions. Authors may include Henry James, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Charles Chestnutt, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, and Willa Cather. 

Not offered in 2018/19.

330 American Modernism 1Semester Offered: Spring

Intensive study of modern American literature and culture in the first half of the twentieth century, with special attention to the concept of "modernism" and its relation to other cultural movements during this period. Authors may include Dreiser, Wharton, Cather, Frost, Anderson, Millay, Pound, Stein, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, O'Neill, H. D., Faulkner, Wright, Eliot, Williams, Moore, Stevens, Crane, Yezierska, Toomer, Hughes, Cullen, Brown, Hurston, McKay, and Dos Passos. Wendy Graham.

331 Postmodern American Literature 1

Advanced study of American literature from the second half of the twentieth century to the present date. Authors may include Welty, Ellison, Warren, O'Connor, Olson, Momaday, Mailer, Lowell, Bellow, Percy, Nabokov, Bishop, Rich, Roth, Pynchon, Ashbery, Merrill, Reed, Silko, Walker, Morrison, Gass, and Kingston. 

Not offered in 2018/19.

340 Studies in Medieval Literature 1

Intensive study of selected medieval texts and the questions they raise about their context and interpretation. Issues addressed may include the social and political dynamics, literary traditions, symbolic discourses, and individual authorial voices shaping literary works in this era. Discussion of these issues may draw on both historical and aesthetic approaches, and both medieval and modern theories of rhetoric, reference, and text-formation. 

Not offered in 2018/19.

341 Studies in the Renaissance 1

(Same as MRST 341) Intensive study of selected Renaissance texts and the questions they raise about their context and interpretation. 

 

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

342 Studies in Shakespeare 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as DRAM 342) Advanced study of Shakespeare's work and its cultural significance in various contexts from his time to today. Zoltán Márkus.

 

One 2-hour period.

345 Milton 1Semester Offered: Spring

Study of John Milton's career as a poet and polemicist, with particular attention to Paradise Lost. Robert DeMaria.

350 Studies in Eighteenth-century British Literature 1

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

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

351 Studies in Nineteenth-Century British Literature 1Semester Offered: Spring

Study of a major author (e.g., Coleridge, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde) or a group of authors (the Brontes, the Pre-Raphaelite poets and painters) or a topical issue (representations of poverty; literary decadence; domestic angels and fallen women; transformations of myth in Romantic and Victorian literature) or a major genre (elegy, epic, autobiography).

Topic for 2018/19b: The Gothic. This course explores the development and the evolution of the Gothic novel in Britain from the mid-eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century.  We begin with Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis, three of the most important practitioners of the eighteenth-century Gothic novel, before moving to nineteenth-century adaptations and transformations of the Gothic form.  Students read a wide variety of texts, including The Castle of OtrantoA Sicilian RomanceThe MonkNorthanger AbbeyWuthering HeightsThe Woman in White, and Dracula, as well as some of the key theorists of the Gothic. The course addresses different aspects of Gothic writing (e.g., female Gothic, economic Gothic, alien Gothic, urban Gothic) in order to consider how the Gothic's mad, monstrous and ghostly representations serve as a critique and counterpoint to dominant ideologies of gender, race, nation and class. Susan Zlotnick.  

One 2-hour period.

352 Romantic Poets: Rebels with a Cause 1

Intensive study of the major poetry and critical prose of Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge (ENGL 352), and Byron, Shelley, and Keats (ENGL 353) in the context of Enlightenment thought, the French Revolution, and the post-Napoleonic era. Readings may include biographies, letters, and a few philosophical texts central to the period. Some preliminary study of Milton is strongly recommended.

Why is it that the most influential and ambitious work in queer studies has rarely emerged from the field of Romanticism? As Michael O'Rourke and David Collings rightly note, "We have had [scholarly studies called] Queering the Middle Ages, Queering the Renaissance, Victorian Sexual Dissidence, and Queering the Moderns—but no Queering the Romantics." Accounting for this critical gap, Richard Sha argues that the Romantic period has been mischaracterized as a "seemingly asexual zone between eighteenth-century edenic 'liberated' sexuality...and the repressive sexology of the Victorians." In reality, this relatively brief cultural moment in England produced a diverse range of queer figures, both historical and literary: from Anne Lister, whose diary records hundreds of pages in code about her sexual relationships with women, to the Ladies of Llangollen, who openly cohabited with the support of English high society, to the myth of the modern vampire, a deeply sexualized and often queer figure. Given the richness of the terrain, then, why are queer studies lagging behind in Romantic circles?

In this advanced seminar, we address this underdeveloped area of scholarly research through our reading of primary and secondary texts, our class discussion, and our critical research projects. Reading theory and criticism from Romanticism studies and adjacent scholarly fields, we ask ourselves—what is queer about this literary-historical moment that has not yet been accounted for? Our goal is to redefine the boundaries of queer Romanticism—beyond a simplistic search for queer characters in the primary texts—to include broader theoretical categories such as queer affect and queer temporality, among others. We focus primarily on the poetry of the period, but also attend to some prose genres, including the diary and the essay.

Not offered in 2018/19.

353 Romantic Poets: Rebels with a Cause 1

This seminar explores the work of William Wordsworth and John Keats both individually and in comparison.  Although we focus on their poetry, we also study Wordsworth's Preface to LYRICAL BALLADS and Keats's letters, and consider both the emergence of Romanticism in the first generation of English Romantics (Wordsworth) and its development in the second generation (Keats). 

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

355 Twenty- and Twenty-First Century Poetry 1Semester Offered: Fall

Intensive study of selected Anglophone poets.  The course may focus on particular eras, schools, topics, and theories of prosody, with consideration of identity groups or locations. Paul Kane.   

One 2-hour period.

356 Contemporary Poets 1

(Same as AMST 356 ) Intensive study of selected contemporary poets, with attention to questions of influence, interrelations, and diverse poetic practices. May include such poets as Ashbery, Bernstein, Brooks, Graham, Harjo, Heaney, Hill, Merrill, Rich, and Walcott. 

 

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

357 Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature 1

Intensive study of literatures of the twentieth century, with primary focus on British and postcolonial (Irish, Indian, Pakistani, South African, Caribbean, Australian, Canadian, etc.) texts. Selections may focus on an author or group of authors, a genre (e.g., modern verse epic, drama, satiric novel, travelogue), or a topic (e.g., the economics of modernism, black Atlantic, Englishes and Englishness, themes of exile and migration).

 

Not offered in 2018/19.

362 Text and Image 1

(Same as AFRS 362)

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

365 Selected Author 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

Study of the work of a single author. The work may be read in relation to literary predecessors and descendants as well as in relation to the history of the writer's critical and popular reception. This course alternates from year to year with ENGL 265. a) Heesok Chang; b) Paul Russell.

 

One 2-hour period.

370 Transnational Literature 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as AMST 370) This course focuses on literary works and cultural networks that cross the borders of the nation-state. Such border-crossings raise questions concerning vexed phenomena such as globalization, exile, diaspora, and migration-forced and voluntary. Collectively, these phenomena deeply influence the development of transnational cultural identities and practices. Specific topics studied in the course vary from year to year and may include global cities and cosmopolitanisms; the black Atlantic; border theory; the discourses of travel and tourism; global economy and trade; or international terrorism and war. 

Topic for 2018/19a: Indigenous Transnationalisms. This course focuses on the ways in which transnational studies has become a more helpful tool in unpacking particular critical questions that both American Studies and literary/cultural criticism produce. In many ways, transnational literatures and visual culture continue to serve as a means to subvert dominant narratives of the nation-state as a static and stable territory.  Many contemporary North American Indigenous writers and artists – across colonial and tribal borders alike – utilize their work to more accurately reflect the global flow of Indigenous peoples, ideas, texts, and products etc. and call into question the geo-political boundaries of colonial nation-states.  Indigenous transnationalism as a theoretical position demonstrates how some Native American/First Nation/Indio literatures and visual culture produce a mobilizing force of shared cultural and political alliances across nationalistic lines while remaining steadfast to tribally-specific and inter-tribal identities and citizenships.  In this way, many Indigenous artists are critiquing national identity and imperialism, and radically challenging the histories, geographies, and contemporary social relations that define the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Molly McGlennen.

One 2-hour period.

378 Black Paris 1

(Same as AFRS 378 and FFS 378) This multidisciplinary course examines black cultural productions in Paris from the first Conference of Negro-African writers and artists in 1956 to the present. While considered a haven by African American artists, Paris, the metropolitan center of the French empire, was a more complex location for African and Afro-Caribbean intellectuals and artists. Yet, the city provided a key space for the development and negotiation of a black diasporic consciousness. This course examines the tensions born from expatriation and exile, and the ways they complicate understandings of racial, national and transnational identities. Using literature, film, music, and new media, we explore topics ranging from modernism, jazz, Négritude, Pan-Africanism, and the Présence Africaine group, to assess the meanings of blackness and race in contemporary Paris. Works by James Baldwin, Aime Césaire, Chester Himes, Claude McKay, the Nardal sisters, Richard Wright. Ousmane Sembène, Mongo Beti, among others, are studied. 

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period.

380 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 3-hour period.

381 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2018/19.

382 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2018/19.

383 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2018/19.

384 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2018/19.

385 English Seminar 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as AMST 385) Topic for 2018/19a: Then Whose Negro Are You?: On the Art and Politics of James Baldwin. When interviewers sought out some sense of James Baldwin's ambition, the artist often responded, "I want to be an honest man and a good writer." The forces constellated around Baldwin's career made this hardly a simple declaration. The issue of becoming a writer was an arduous task in itself, so much so that Baldwin felt he had to leave the United States, particularly his adored Harlem, to do so. Getting in the way of his artistry was the nation's troubled negotiation with its own soul: the US was trying to figure out what it wanted to be—an apartheid state? An nuclear dreadnought? A den of prudish homophobes? An imperial power? A beloved community? A city on the Hill? This course looks at all things Baldwin, or at least as many things as we can cover a four moth period. It certainly indulges his greatest hits-his essays, Notes of A Native Son; his novel, Giovanni's Room; his play, Blues for Mr. Charlie's--and several other writings both published and unpublished. It does so with an eye toward understanding Baldwin's circulation as a celebrated author and a public intellectual both in the mid-twentieth century and the present day. Tyrone Simpson.

One 3-hour period.

386 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2018/19.

399 Senior Independent Work 0.5 to 1Semester Offered: Fall or Spring

Open by permission of the Chair. One unit of credit given only in exceptional cases.