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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 2017-18 Vassar College Catalogue.

English: I. Introductory

101a and b. The Art of Reading and Writing 1

Development of critical reading in various forms of literary expression, and regular practice in different kinds of writing. The content of each section varies; see the Freshman Handbook for descriptions. The department.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar. Although the content of each section varies, this course may not be repeated for credit; see the Freshman Handbook for descriptions.

Two 75-minute periods.

170a or b. Approaches to Literary Studies 1

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 2017/18 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 freshmen and sophomores, and to others by permission; does not satisfy college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

174 Poetry and Philosophy: The Ancient Quarrel 0.5

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

Not offered in 2017/18.

Two 75-minute periods.

177a and b. Special Topics 0.5

(Same as AMST 177 and URBS 177) Topic for 2017/18 a & b: Imagining the City. This six-week course surveys various approaches to thinking and writing about the city. How do our surroundings change us? What power does an individual have to reshape or reimagine the vast urban landscape? We consider a diverse array of depictions: the ethnic underground of Chang-rae Lee's Queens; the forlorn Baltimore depicted in the television show The Wire; the midnight wanderings of Teju Cole and Junot Diaz; the global bustle of Jessica Hagedorn's Manila; present-day graffiti artists and urban farmers reclaiming their "right to the city." Hua Hsu.

First six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods.

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). Amitava Kumar.

205a and b. Introductory Creative Writing 1

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 freshmen in the fall semester.

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

206a and b. Introductory Creative Writing 1

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

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

207a. Intermediate Creative Writing: Literary Non-Fiction 1

Topic for 2017/18a: Writing About Culture. This seminar considers the relationship between individuals and "culture" broadly defined, with special attention paid to the question of "taste." Guided by an eclectic range of texts-music and film reviews, memoir, travel writing, arts reportage-we pursue the possibility of a cultural criticism attentive to the subjectivity and instability of personal experience. Our semester is guided by a few basic questions: does criticism matter? What shapes our personal tastes? What can we demand from culture? What does it mean to love or hate a song? And how do our arguments about books, bands and TV-the ephemeral stuff of "culture"-connect to broader dreams about politics, faith, our sense of the world? Hua Hsu.

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

One 2-hour period.

208 Intermediate Creative Writing: Literary Non-Fiction 1

Development of the student's abilities as a reader and writer of literary nonfiction, with emphasis on longer forms. Assignments may include informal, personal, and lyric essays, travel and nature writing, memoirs. M Mark.

Prerequisite(s): open to students who have taken ENGL 205 or ENGL 207, or by permission of the instructor.

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

209a. Advanced Creative Writing: Narrative 1

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

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

Yearlong course 209-ENGL 210.

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

210b. Advanced Creative Writing: Narrative 1

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

Continuation of yearlong course ENGL 209-210.

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

211 Advanced Creative Writing: Verse 1

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.

Deadline for submission of writing samples is before spring break.

Yearlong course 211-ENGL 212.

Not offered in 2017/18.

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

212 Advanced Creative Writing: Verse 1

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.

Deadline for submission of writing samples is before spring break.

Yearlong course ENGL 211-212.

Not offered in 2017/18.

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

213 The English Language 1

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.

214b. Process, Prose, Pedagogy 1

(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.

Topic for 2017/18b: Gender Transgression on the Early Modern Stage. According to Jonathan Goldberg, the early modern theatre was "permitted to rehearse the dark side of Elizabethan culture…[it was] a recreative spot where sedition could wear the face of play." This course explores how drama represented "seditions" against the gendered social order. Our subjects include cross-dressers, disobedient wives, adulterers, witches, husband-murderers, and characters whose desires transgress boundaries of both gender and class. We take varied approaches to the plays, situating them in their historical and cultural contexts, examining their structure and language, reading them through the lenses of contemporary performance and criticism, and occasionally performing scenes ourselves. Leslie Dunn.


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 2017/18.

217a. Literary Theory and Interpretation 1

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

Topic for 2017/18b: Race, Social Justice, and the Digital Humanities: Theory and Methods. This is an introductory DH methods class for humanities research that keeps race, social justice, and inclusivity as cornerstones in its pedagogy. The traditional divides witnessed in the tech world are only replicated in a DH course without attention to race, social justice, gender, sexuality, disability, etc. This class shows how, through an interdisciplinary, intersectional, and critical race theory framework, both race and social justice are at the center of the digital humanities as it pertains to literary and historical archives, mapping, games, new media, and multimodality. The course pays special attention to queer theory, critical ethnic studies, postcolonial theory, WOC/Black feminism, Indigenous studies, and disability studies as they currently help to reshape digital humanities theoretical methods and praxis. Dorothy Kim.

Two 75-minute periods.

218 Literature, Gender, and Sexuality 1

(Same as WMST 218) Topic for 2017/18a: 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.

222 Founding of English Literature 1

These courses, English 222 and ENGL 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. English 222 begins with Old English literature and continues through the death of Queen Elizabeth I (1603). ENGL 223 begins with the establishment of Great Britain and continues through the British Civil War and Puritan Interregnum to the Restoration. 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. Both courses address the formation and evolution of the British literary canon, and its significance for contemporary English studies.

Not offered in 2017/18.

223b. The Founding of English Literature 1

(Same as MRST 223) These courses, ENGL 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. ENGL 222 begins with Old English literature and continues through the death of Queen Elizabeth I (1603). ENGL 223 begins with the establishment of Great Britain and continues through the British Civil War and Puritan Interregnum to the Restoration. 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. Both courses address the formation and evolution of the British literary canon, and its significance for contemporary English studies.

Topic for 2017/18b: From the Faerie Queene to The Country Wife: Introduction to Early Modern Literature and Culture. 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 students with a representative selection of works from the mid-1500s through the late 1600s. With this two-pronged approach, we will 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. Zoltán Márkus. 

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

Two 75-minute periods.

225a. 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). Peter Antelyes.

Not offered in 2017/18.

226 American Literature, 1865-1925 1

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 1

(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.

228b. African American Literature 1

(Same as AFRS 228 and DRAM 228) Topic for 2017/18b: From the Page to the Stage: Turning Black Literature to Black Drama. This course explores the dramatic possibilities of 20th century canonical black literature by means of critical reading, critical writing, and critical performance. Students examine key novels in their historical context paying attention to the criticism and theory that have shaped their reception. They then attempt to transform parts of these texts into scenes as informed by past and present theories of performance and theatre making. Their work culminates in a public performance of the pieces they have conceived. Tyrone Simpson and Shona Tucker.

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

229b. Asian-American Literature, 1946-present 1

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 1

(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.

Two 75-minute periods.

235a. Old English 1

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

236b. Beowulf 1

(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 Chaucer 1

This course serves as an introduction to Chaucer, as well as an introduction to Middle English. We explore portions of Chaucer's best-known work, The Canterbury Tales, alongside his other masterpiece, Troilus and Criseyde, and an assortment of "dream visions," including The House of Fame. In doing so, we situate Chaucer within a broader international context and chart out French, Italian, and Latin influences, including Dante, Boethius, and Boccaccio. We also explore contemporary reactions to Chaucer – and witness how Chaucer's works were transformed and responded to in the years following his death.

No prior experience with Middle English is needed. We  read slowly and carefully, and track Chaucer's dynamic experiments with a molten language. Our areas of exploration include: the role of gender and sexuality in Chaucer's work; heresy and religious debate; self-censorship, and the limits of "free" expression; translation and adaptation; poetic authority; and the complexities of interweaving fiction, philosophy, fart jokes, and pseudo-autobiographical "I" narrators. We see Chaucer himself dangle from the talons of an eagle. We see him pen a masterwork, and then immediately disavow it. When all is said and done, we see Chaucer stumble his way to the helm of English literature. Sebastian Langdell.


Two 75-minute periods.

238b. 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.

Topic for 2017/18b: Medieval Travel Writing. Examining medieval travel literature from the Old English period to the early exploration accounts of sixteenth-century explorers in the New World, this class considers how the area of medieval travel writing exposes how race is framed in relation to gender, disability, multifaith encounters, critical animal studies, and thick mapping. We look at pilgrimage accounts to Rome and Jerusalem, the Old English Wonders of the East, Alexander romances, medieval mappa mundi including the Hereford World Map, medieval bestiaries, The Book of Margery Kempe, crusader romances including Beves of Hamtoun, King Horn, and Richard Coer de Lion, the letter of Prester John, and the Siege of Jerusalem. We examine what "global Middle Ages" means in examining the travel writing of the Mediterranean from the point of views of Jewish and Muslim writers. In this class, we think about bodily wonders: troglodytes, giants, "monsters," fabulous beasts, and dragons. We also think about how these texts develop imaginary or historical encounters with divergent bodies: fairies, elves, green children, Saracens, Jews, demons, Ethiopians. We encounter some cannibalism, interfaith and interracial marriages, miracles both religious and political, and the early constructions of race that becomes the background behind Western Europe's "contact" with the New World. Along with a regular research paper for the class, students work on creating a small DH project to think through medieval and digital mapping. We use Story Maps by Ersi (free online) as well as google maps to consider the stakes of critical cartography. Dorothy Kim.

Not offered in 2017/18.

240b. Shakespeare 1

Study of some representative comedies, histories, and tragedies. Sebastian Langdell.

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

241a. Shakespeare 1

(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. 

Not open to students who have taken ENGL 240.

Yearlong course 241-ENGL 242.

Not offered in 2017/18.

242b. Shakespeare 1

(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. 

Not open to students who have taken ENGL 240.

Yearlong course ENGL 241-242.

Not offered in 2017/18.

245 Pride and Prejudice: British Literature from 1640-1745 1

Study of various authors who were influential in defining the literary culture and the meaning of authorship in the period. Authors may include Aphra Behn, John Dryden, Anne Finch, John Gay, Eliza Haywood, Mary Leapor, Katherine Philips, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

Not offered in 2017/18.

246b. 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 2017/18.

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 2017/18.

Two 75-minute periods.

248 The Age of Romanticism, 1789-1832 1

Study of British literature in a time of revolution. Authors may include such poets as Blake, Wordsworth, and Keats; essayists such as Burke, Wollstonecraft, Hazlitt, Lamb, and DeQuincey; and novelists such as Edgeworth, Austen, Mary Shelley, and Scott.

Topic for 2017/18b: The Age of Romanticism: Revolution and Rebellion. 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 in a number of ways. 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 William Blake, Helen Maria Williams, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Mary Robinson, William Cowper, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and John Keats; fiction writers include Jane Austen, Mary Shelley and John Polidori; and prose writers include Edmund Burke, Thomas De Quincey, Mary Prince and Mary Wollstonecraft. Kathleen Gemmill. 

249 Victorian Literature: Culture and Anarchy 1

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 2017/18.

251 Topics in Black Literatures 1

(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.

Topic for 2017/18b: Monsters, Zombies and Time Travelers in African American Fiction​. While many believe African American literature is bound by the generic and political expectations of American literary realism, black Americans have lived and imagined the "un-real" from the moment of their enslavement in the Americas. This course considers how black creatives have used and continue to use speculative fiction/afrofuturism/sci-fi to critique forms of racial difference and imagine alternatives to the here-and-now of the American experience. Over the semester, we explore narratives that feature time travel, texts that craft racial utopias only to plot their deterioration, and tales of monsters and zombies to explore key themes associated with black speculative fiction and black literary production. Questions of genre, its limits and expectations, are also central to this course. This course may include writings by Octavia Butler, Kiese Laymon, Victor LaValle, Colson Whitehead, and others. 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 2017/18.

253a. Topics in American Literature 1

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).

Not offered in 2017/18.

Two 75-minute periods.

255 Nineteenth-Century British Novels 1

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 Novels 1

Significant twentieth-century novels from Great Britain and Ireland.

Topic for 2017/18b: The Storyteller. In his 1936 essay "The Storyteller," Walter Benjamin observes that one encounters fewer and fewer people these days who really know how to tell a story. Cut off from a face-to-face community in which stories are passed down, and bereft of experience that can be hammered into wisdom, those who want to relate their ineffable inner life to an audience larger than themselves find solace in writing literature. "The novelist has secluded himself," says Benjamin. "The birthplace of the novel is the individual in his isolation, the individual who can no longer speak of his concerns in exemplary fashion, who himself lacks counsel and can give none. To write a novel is to take to the extreme that which is incommensurable in the representation of human existence."

 And yet. For all the cloistered textual experiment and overturning of good narrative manners that are signatures of the modern novel, the storyteller remains. Like a guest who overstays his welcome, this gregarious figure repeatedly talks over the scene of writing that conjured him as a parlor trick. This semester we read an array of early-mid twentieth century British and Irish novels that foreground the storyteller: Heart of DarknessThe Good SoldierThe Waves, Good Mornning, Midnight, Malone Dies, and Ulysses, of which its author James Joyce once said, "They are all there, the great talkers, them and the things they forgot." Heesok Chang.

Prerequisite(s): AP credit or one unit of Freshman English.

Two 75-minute periods.

257 The Novel in English after 1945 1

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

Not offered in 2017/18.

Two 75-minute periods.

260a. 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 2017/18.

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 2017/18.

262 Postcolonial Literatures 1

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.

Not offered in 2017/18.

265 Selected Author 1

Topic for 2017/18b: Octavia Butler.  In 2000 Octavia Butler told the New York Times why she began writing science fiction: "When I began writing science fiction, when I began reading, heck, I wasn't in any of this stuff I read. The only black people you found were occasional characters or characters who were so feeble-witted that they couldn't manage anything, anyway. I wrote myself in, since I'm me and I'm here and I'm writing." Anomalous and iconoclastic as an African American woman writing science fiction, Octavia Butler would go on to produce dozens of novels and short stories exploring and exposing the most dubious and disturbing elements of American culture. In this course students work through a selection of Butler's oeuvre, as well as select secondary and theoretical material to make sense of the possibilities that Butler imagined for her readers. Gender, race, sexuality, class, justice, environmental and societal destruction, history and hope are among the many themes explored. Eve Dunbar.

Topic for 2017/18b: 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 2017/18.

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.

Topic for 2017/18a: Victorian Revenants in Contemporary Caribbean Literature: Cultures in Dialogue. The ongoing multidisciplinary dialogue between Caribbean literature and Victorian culture has been one of the most dynamic catalysts for the development of the novel in the region. The course examines a number of trans-Atlantic/Caribbean interchanges that include the exploration of the ghost story in M. R. James (Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, 1904) and Edgar Mittelholzer (My Bones and My Flute, 1955); the critique of Kew Gardens and its biota exchanges in Jamaica Kincaid (My Garden Book, 1999); the re-writing of British canonical texts in Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) and Caryl Phillips' The Lost Child (2015); Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War and the Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857); the Morant Bay rebellion (1865) and the Eyre Affair (1866) seen through H.G.  de Lisser's Revenge (1918) and V. S. Reid's New Day (1949); British iconography (postage stamps and the Union Jack) in Derek Walcott's Omeros (1992) and Austin Clarke's Growing Up Stupid under the Union Jack (1980); and Michelle Cliff's  reversing of Marlow's journey in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899) in Into the Interior (2010). Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert.

Two 75-minute periods.

280 Modernism, Sexuality and Science, 1890-1950 1

The development of literary modernism in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth century coincides with the emergence of sexual science. In this historical moment, literary authors and scientists shared an interest in developing new forms of expression to understand sexuality and articulate sexual possibilities. This course examines how a range of canonical and lesser-known authors negotiated scientific ideas about sexuality in novels, short stories and autobiographical works. It also investigates how literature shaped scientific understandings of sexuality. Students discover tensions as well as moments of exchange and collaboration between literary and scientific writers. The course covers diverse sexualities and focuses on the intersections of sexuality and gender, class, race, age, nationality, citizenship and religion. Literary texts may include Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Gertrude Stein's "Melanctha", E.M. Forster's Maurice, Mina Loy's "The Black Virginity", Bryher's Development, Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage, D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, Virginia Woolf's Orlando, Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, Djuna Barnes' Nightwood, H. D.'s Tribute to Freud, and Carson McCuller's The Member of the Wedding. Jana Funke.


Two 75-minute periods.

281 The Comics Course 1

(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.

282 The History of Mediascapes: Critical Maker Culture 1

(Same as STS 282) This class takes as its jumping off point the point made in Colonial Mediascapes and the work of Arjun Appadurai's "Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy" and his definition of "mediascape,": "the second of the five "scapes"… an elementary framework for understanding the new phenomenon of information distribution in "a world in which both points of departure and points of arrival are in cultural flux…" (Germaine Warkentin, "Dead Metaphor or Working Model?, Colonial Mediascapes, 49). This class decolonizes book history and "maker culture." In particular, we consider issue of race, gender, disability, neurodiversity, sexuality in working and making an alternative history of the book that includes the khipu, the girdle book, the wampum, pamphlets, zines, and wearable media technology. This is also a media maker class in which you are asked to scrape vellum, try your hand at papermaking, sew, knot, and sodder circuits, and tackle an Arduino kit. Dorothy Kim.

290a or b. Field Work 0.5 to 1

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.

298a or b. Independent Study 0.5 to 1

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

300a or b. Senior Tutorial 1

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.

302b. 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 2017/18.

One 3-hour period.

305 Creative Writing Seminar 1

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry for experienced creative writers. Open to seniors majoring in English. Writing samples are due before preregistration. Check with the English Office for the exact date of the deadline. David Means.

Deadline for submission of writing samples immediately before spring break.

Yearlong course 305-ENGL 306.

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

306 Creative Writing Seminar 1

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry for experienced creative writers. Open to seniors majoring in English.
 David Means.

Deadline for submission of writing samples immediately before spring break. Check with the English office for exact date.

Yearlong course ENGL 305-306.

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

307b. Senior Creative Writing 1

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry for experienced creative writers. Amitava Kumar (a); Michael Joyce (b).

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

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

315b. Studies in Performance 1

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.

This course is designed as preparation for the senior thesis, as preparation for graduate level work (in an Anti- or Post-Theory environment), and as a capstone to the English major, answering the puzzling question of why certain critical perspectives are favored or ignored by professional readers of poetry, prose, epic, specific periods of literature, or literary schools.  Although Derrida is dead and pundits and journalists seem all too ready to bury his legacy, we are not entitled to dismiss him without a reading.  In addition, we address questions pertaining to the relation of literature to history and to social life (Gadamer, Lukacs, Benjamin, Adorno, Said, Hayden White), literary language to 'objective' language (Saussure, Benveniste, Austin, Bakhtin), and metaphor to metonymy (Jakobson, J. Hillis Miller, De Man, Derrida, Lacan, Ricoeur) as well as Reader Response criticism (Iser, Fish) and theories of Discourse/Textuality (Foucault, Barthes). Wendy Graham.

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. Donald Foster.

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

One 2-hour period.

319 Race and its Metaphors 1

(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 2017/18a: "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 1

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. 

Topic for 2017/18b: Transatlantic Romanticism: Ecology & the Sublime. This course looks at nineteenth-century British and American romanticism from the dual perspective of the sublime (in mind and nature) and the environment (as it intersects with issues of democracy and pluralism).  These two seemingly contradictory impulses are part of a larger movement that could be thought of as radical, in the original sense of 'forming the root,' in establishing modern British and American culture.  Readings include works by William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Clare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Walt Whitman, William James, W.E.B. Du Bois and others. One or two field trips to local sites are included. Paul 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 2017/18

One 2-hour period.

326b. Challenging Ethnicity 1

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


Not offered in 2017/18.

One 2-hour period.

328 Literature of the American Renaissance 1

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.

Not offered in 2017/18.

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. Wendy Graham.

330a. American Modernism 1

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. Peter Antelyes.

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. Jean Kane.

340a. 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.

Topic for 2017/18b. Conversations with the Dead. Stephen Greenblatt opens a seminal work on Shakespeare by voicing his "desire to speak with the dead." It's a familiar desire for literary critics: to connect with authors long dead, to open up a current, a connection through still-living language. This course explores both this critical impulse and works of literature that enact the actual practice of speaking with the dead. We explore Dante's Divine Comedy, and Dante's interactions with the "shades" of dead friends, mentors, and enemies; a range of medieval writing, including works by Chaucer, Julian of Norwich, and Christine de Pizan; adaptations of the Orpheus myth; and works within the medieval Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) tradition. We'll also explore excerpts from a twentieth-century epic poem crafted from transcripts of Ouija board sessions (James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover), criticism from Harold Bloom and Oscar Wilde, poetry by Mary Jo Bang, and contemporary fiction by George Saunders and Toni Morrison. We trace a current of influence and resonance among these authors, and see how different ages imagine different means of crossing over, conversing, and connecting. Sebastian Langdell.

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. 

Topic for 2017/18b: 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. Zoltán Márkus.

One 2-hour period.

342 Studies in Shakespeare 1

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

Topic for 2017/18b: Shakespeare and Disability. Shakespeare's characters exhibit a wide range of what would today be called disabilities, from physical and sensory impairments (spinal deformity, amputated limbs, blindness), to neurological disorders (epilepsy) to cognitive difference ("foolish wits," madness). This seminar explores the performance of disability in Shakespeare's plays, focusing on points of contact between pre-modern and contemporary understandings of human variability. In addition to studying selected plays through the lens of disability studies, we consider how the work of disabled actors and directors is challenging contemporary audiences to think "differently" about both disability and Shakespeare. Leslie Dunn.

One 2-hour period.

345a. Milton 1

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

Not offered in 2017/18.

350b. 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 2017/18.

One 2-hour period.

351 Studies in Nineteenth-Century British Literature 1

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 2017/18b: 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. Kathleen Gemmill.

353a. 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 2017/18.

One 2-hour period.

355a. Modern Poets 1

Intensive study of selected modern poets, focusing on the period 1900-1945, with attention to longer poems and poetic sequences. Consideration of the development of the poetic career and of poetic movements. May include such poets as Auden, Bishop, Eliot, Frost, Hopkins, Moore, Pound, Stein, Stevens, Williams, and Yeats. 

Not offered in 2017/18.

356b. 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 2017/18.

One 2-hour period.

357a. 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 2017/18.

362 Text and Image 1

(Same as AFRS 362)

Not offered in 2017/18.

One 2-hour period.

365 Selected Author 1

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.

Topic for 2017/18b: Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Life Writing, and the Life of Writing. This course examines the life and works of Samuel Johnson, poet, playwright, lexicographer, biographer, critic, journalist, translator, scholar, philosopher, and hack writer.  In addition to studying Johnson's works, this course explores this writer's great influence on British literary culture, visible, for example, in the writings of Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Beckett. Robert DeMaria.

One 2-hour period.

370 Transnational Literature 1

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 2017/18b: The World, In Short. This course in transnational literatures approaches the world through a reading of novellas. We don't have clarity on what constitutes a novella: a tale longer than a short-story and shorter than a novel. So, on one end we have the Canadian writer Alice Munro's The Bear Came Over the Mountain or James Joyce's The Dead and, on the other, Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen or Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold. (Having said that, I should mention that I have also cheated a bit and have thrown into the mix a couple of novels. Maybe the longest of them can be read over the Spring break. On the list are a few novellas that are read the world over and, perhaps as a proof of this, are available free online. I should add that as this is a course which looks outward at the rest of the world, we won't read The Old Man and the Sea or Miss Lonelyhearts, staples on most lists of novellas.)

We read a couple hundred pages each week and write, apart from very brief book reports, two papers 5-7 pp. in length. Here is the complete list which will be winnowed down but not by much: Anton Chekhov, Ward No. 6; Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich; Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; James Joyce, The Dead; Thomas Mann, Death in Venice; Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower; Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John; Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis; Albert Camus, The Stranger; Marguerite Duras, The Lover; Nawaal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero; Nadine Gordimer, The Late Bourgeois World; J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians; Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold; U.R. Ananthamurthy, Samskara; Anita Desai, The Artist of Disappearance; Alice Munro, The Bear Came Over the Mountain; Tove Jansson, The True Deceiver; Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen; Ge Fei, The Invisibility Cloak; Jean-Christophe Valtat, 03; Han Kang, The Vegetarian. Amitava Kumar.

One 2-hour period.

378 Black Paris 1

(Same as AFRS 378 and FREN 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 2017/18.

One 2-hour period.

380 English Seminar 1

Topic for 2017/18b: 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.

381a. English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2017/18.

382 English Seminar 1

Topic for 2017/18a: Global and Refugee Canterbury Tales. In Britain in the last several years, the hashtag #WhyIsMyCurriculumSoWhite? has agitated for a change in the complexion and primacy of white colonial literature and history in UK universities. Likewise, you see this also in the US with #blacklivesmatter protests in the university and have seen it in our field of English literature with the protest at Yale regarding the core canonical authors class. In those demands, Yale English students demanded to know why their curriculum and core required class is a bastion of colonial male white privilege. They want their classes decolonized and they have, of course, named Chaucer as part of the problem. In South Africa, this has sparked a huge student push in activism with the hashtag #RhodesMustFall. The student protests and the accompanying hashtags have only highlighted a global issue in higher education and particularly in our English curriculum. What does the major (usually white, usually dead, usually male, usually European) author mean in an English curriculum? And is there a way to decolonize this category?

Gauri Viswanathan wrote in 2014 in the preface of her 25-year anniversary republication of the now classic Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India that now "Perhaps the most significant effect of postcolonialism—with all its shortcomings, blind spots, and metropolitan evasions—is that the curricular study of English can no longer be studied innocently or inattentively to the deeper contexts of imperialism, transnationalism, and globalization in which the discipline first articulated its mission" (xi). She points out in this study but also in thinking of the work done since the first publication of her book that English literature as a field has a very short history (150 years) and in fact began as a colonial project and thus was formed internationally before become a "national" literary field (xii-xiii). We need to ask ourselves as Viswanathan suggests: "precisely where is English literature produced?" Medieval English studies should always already be seen as global, inclusive, multilingual, multicultural. But Viswanathan's point should also alert us to that fact that Chaucer's Middle English oeuvre and particularly his Canterbury Tales was first taught as part of an English literary curriculum not in Britain but abroad in its colonies. Chaucer's place in the contemporary canon has everything to do with his creation for the global colonial classroom. Thus, Chaucer had a global curricular readership long before he had an English curricular one.

This class focuses on situating Chaucer, and particularly The Canterbury Tales, as a global work and especially in lieu of recent projects that address the plight of international refugees (http://refugeetales.org). In particular, we read The Canterbury Tales in relation to the compelling work of black feminist writers, playwrights, and poets of the African diaspora (in the Caribbean, Africa, and black London) who have revised, adapted, extrapolated, and voiced The Canterbury Tales in Jamaican patois, Nigerian pidgin, and the south London dialects of Brixton. We consider the place of Global English in relation to creating this Chaucerian black diasporic and feminist cluster of works. These include Patience Agbabi's Telling Tales (2014) that sets The Canterbury Tales in multicultural London with a distinctly London musical beat. Likewise, Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo's recent song and dance adaptation of the "Miller's Tale," Wahala Dey O!, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012 with the cadences of Nigerian pidgin English. Jean Breeze's poem, "The Wife of Bath Speaks in Brixton Market" includes the weaving-in of Jamaican patois. It also includes the 2016 publication of Refugee Tales that includes Patience Agbabi's work as well as the work of a cluster of British and diasporic British (Middle Eastern and African) writers as they take up the task of communicating refugee's tales that they have encountered at one UK refugee detention centre. And finally, this class considers the reach of Global Chaucer and thinks about translation and adaptation. We examine the master list of the Global Chaucer project (https://globalchaucers.wordpress.com/resources/translations-and-adaptations-listed-by-country/). This class includes a workshop with Patience Agbabi (Telling Tales, Refugee Tales). Students are welcome to work on translation projects, creative projects, archive projects, digital storytelling, as well as traditional critical papers in relation to the Global Chaucer site and the Refugee Tales project. Dorothy Kim.

383 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2017/18.

384 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2017/18.

385 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2017/18.

386 English Seminar 1

Not offered in 2017/18.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work 0.5 to 1

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