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III. Advanced Courses

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

Senior Year Requirements


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

Description of English 300:  All senior English majors should consider taking this course.  The tutorial should reflect and extend the intellectual interests you have developed in your earlier course work.  The tutorial itself involves working with an individual faculty member to produce a long paper (approximately 10,000 words or 40 pages).  The project may consist of a sustained critical essay or a series of linked essays, or one of several alternatives, such as primary research in the Special Collections department of the Library, a piece of translation, a work of dramaturgy, a work of fiction, a collection of poems, or a scholarly edition of a particular work or group of works.

300 a or b

Senior Tutorial

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



Mr. Joyce          R          6:30-8:30

Creative Writing Seminar

An advanced writing seminar welcoming non-majors, accommodating the multiple approaches, genres, forms and interests that represent the diversity of a contemporary writing life with special attention to how to foster and sustain a writing life after graduation. Participants present seminar sessions, prompts, and readings. Special Permission

Open to juniors and seniors in all departments with permission of the instructor.

Writing samples are due before pre-registration.  Check with the English office for the exact date of the deadline.


Mr. Kumar        T          3:10-5:10

Senior Creative Writing Seminar

Advanced study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry.  Open to students from all majors.  Special Permission.

This is the second half of a year-long course and is open only to those currently enrolled in English 305.


Ms. Dunn            T          3:10-5:10

Writing for Performance

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

Topic for 2019b: Performing Disability This course explores disability both in and as performance across a range of media. Topics include: the performance of disability in everyday life; disability as metaphor; representations of disability in drama, film, and television; disability arts and culture; and the work of disabled performing artists. Texts include plays from Shakespeare to the present, as well as readings in disability studies, performance studies, feminist and queer theory.                                                                                            


Ms. Kane             W         1:00-3:00

Studies in Literary Traditions

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 2019b:  Telling it Slant.  How do past stories lure contemporary imaginations? The course presents canonical works that have been translated, adapted, or rewritten by authors who approach them sideways.  Be prepared to read deeply and to discover alterity where you may not expect it.  Our readings will likely include the first translation of the Odyssey into English by a woman, Emily Watson, as well as the Penelopiad, a novel by Margaret Atwood; 1001 Nights, with contextualization of its  early European translations by scholar Marina Warner and a recent retelling in English by Hanan al-Shaykh; Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and a Caribbean rewriting, Windward Heights, by Maryse Condé, originally in French;  and selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, set next to Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” and A. Ignosi Barrett’s Nigerian Blackass.     


Mr. Perez                         T  3:10-5:10 /  R  3:10-5:10 Film Screening

Challenging Ethnicity     

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

(Same as AFRS 326) Topic for 2019b: Racial Melodrama Often dismissed as escapist, predictable, lowbrow or exploitative, melodrama has also been recuperated by several contemporary critics as a key site for the rupture and transformation of mainstream values. Film scholar Linda Williams argues that melodrama constitutes “a major force of moral reasoning in American mass culture,” shaping the nation’s racial imaginary. The conventions of melodrama originate from popular theater, but its success has relied largely on its remarkable adaptability across various media, including print, motion pictures, radio, and television. This course investigates the lasting impact of such fictions as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Fannie Hurst’s Imitation of Life, the romanticized legend of John Smith’s encounter with Pocahontas, and John Luther Long’s Madame Butterfly. What precisely is melodrama? If not a genre, is it (as critics diversely argue) a mode, symbolic structure, or a sensibility? What do we make of the international success of melodramatic forms and texts such as the telenovela and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain? How do we understand melodrama’s special resonance historically among disfranchised classes?  How and to what ends do the pleasures of suffering authenticate particular collective identities (women, the working-class, queers, blacks, and group formations yet to be named)? What relationships between identity, affect and consumption does melodrama reveal? 


Ms. Graham            T          1:00-3:00

American Modernism

American Modernism pivots between high culture (stylistically spare, muscular in attitude) and popular fiction (mawkish, sentimental) to understand the stakes in gendering literary modernism. In academia, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Faulkner, Eliot, Pound, and Hemingway anchor the male modernist masthead; screenwriters and novelists, Fanny Hurst, Olive Higgins Prouty, and Anita Loos, the popular canon. Men penned ‘tearjerkers’, stories that lent themselves to filmic adaptation for a mass audience; yet, only women were disparaged as authors of melodramas and romance fiction. Examining the gendered meanings of nostalgia, consumption, celebrity, this course further challenges the notion of an exclusively male ‘avant-garde’ (a military term designating an advanced guard of culture) through an exploration of lesbian modernism: H.D., Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes.


Ms. Sweany         M         3:10-5:10

Studies in Medieval Literature

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 in 2019b: Medieval in the Flesh. Bodies and flesh are sites of dialogue and debate in medieval literature. These debates can be literal, such as the soul and body dialogue tradition in which disembodied souls engage with their decomposing corpses. Bodies in medieval texts refuse to stay dead, in the traditional sense, for a variety of reasons; and undead corpses bear witness to and demand action from the living, sometimes pointing to crimes and other times demonstrating the veracity of Christian belief. More often, these debates are metaphorical, such as women religious ascetics negotiating their places in largely patriarchal social and religious hierarchies through deprivations of their flesh and representations of encounters with divine flesh. Medical texts treat flesh and skin as sites of health mediation, even for afflictions that we would regard as internal. Parchment, the material of books of the western European Middle Ages, is itself non-human animal skin employed by humans in communication across geographic and temporal distance.

This class will explore the literary and cultural functions of bodies, flesh, and bodily remains in primarily Old and Middle English texts, but also the 20thand 21st century material engagements with medieval fleshy (and formerly fleshy) remains. Some of the texts we will read include (but are not limited to): The Dream of the Rood, Old English riddles and medical charms, The Tale of St. Swithun, St. ErkenwaldSir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Shewings of Julian of Norwich, Chaucer’s “Prioress’ Tale,” and the Croxton Play of the Sacrament. While Old English texts will be read in translation, students will have the opportunity to improve their Middle English proficiency with a variety of Middle English dialects. 


Mr. DeMaria          M         4:00-6:00


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


Ms. Zlotnick           W         1:00-3:00

Studies in Nineteenth-century British Literature

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 2019b: 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. 


Notice to Majors

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


JWST 350.51

Mr. Antelyes         T          3:10-5:10

Confronting Modernity

Topic for 2019bJews, Comics, and Graphic Novels. An in-depth exploration of the contributions of Jewish writers and artists to the field of comics and graphics novels from historical, regional, and topical perspectives.  Issues and texts may include: Jews, Assimilation, Aniconism, and the Comics: the Jewish creation of the American superhero (Superman, Funnyman, and the Golem); Reading/Writing in Jewish: satire from a Jewish eye (Jules Feiffer’s Voice comics); Gender: Second Wave feminism and the rise of the Jewish woman’s graphic novel (Aline Kominsky’s Love that Bunch and Diane Noomin’s Didi Glitz), contemporary women’s graphic art (Keren Katz’s “My Skeleton Week,” Liana Finck’s A Bintel Brief, and Vanessa Davis’s Make Me a Woman); History: reimagining the great migration (Leela Corman’s Unterzakhn), comics and the Holocaust (Spiegelman’s Maus); Place: the graphic novel from and in Israel (Rutu Modan’s The Property and Miriam Libicki’s Jobnik!), Jewish comics and urban nostalgia (Ben Katchor’s Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer), Jews in Europe and Northern Africa (Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat). Materials also include criticism and theory from media and comics studies, among other approaches. Peter Antelyes.