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II. Intermediate Courses

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


Introductory Creative Writing

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

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


Mr. Joyce           M         6:30-8:30

Introductory Creative Writing

In this section we will pay special attention to poetic writing, including narrative poems and hybrid poetic forms, such as multimedia, imagetexts, and so on. The course is, however, not restricted solely to those interested in writing poetry and we will welcome (and benefit from) the contributions of those interested in narrative and dramatic writing as well as transgressive, experimental, and lyrical forms of writing that verge upon the graphical, kinetic, and performative.


Mr. Joyce          R          6:30-8:30

Introductory Creative Writing

In this section we will pay special attention to the idea of translation, whether translation as traditionally understood, i.e., between languages, as well as works that translate language into hybrid forms including multimedia, sound, imagetexts, and so on. Everyone will attempt at least one translation of each kind, although you will not have to be fluent in your second language or an accomplished media person or a visual or sound artist to take part.


Ms. Kane           W        1:00-3:00

Introductory Creative Writing

This course will help students develop their basic skills in writing verse and short prose forms. The assignments focus on some of the fundamental elements of writing in these genres, and all students will be expected to experiment with both genres in their own work. (Scripts, genre literature, and illustrated work will not be covered or accepted as submissions.) In addition, literary analysis of published writing is a crucial aspect of the course.  Later in the semester, students will have the opportunity to generate longer, self-directed assignments.  We will discuss student work as well as other readings, which aim to expand writers' repertoire of models, techniques, theories, and structures.  Responsible participation in the workshop, through comment and discussion of all assigned reading and punctual submission of manuscripts, is an essential requirement. Each student must also meet with me in an individual conference at least twice during the semester.  At the end of the term, each student will submit a final portfolio, which must include at least one substantial revision.


Ms. Mark             R          4:00-6:00

Introductory Creative Writing

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

207 / 208 a or b Intermediate Creative Writing: Literary Non-Fiction

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.

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

Prerequisite for 207:  open to students who have taken English 205 or 206. 

Prerequisite for 208open to students who have taken English 207 or by permission of the instructor.                                                                                                                    

Mr. Hsu              M         3:10-5:10
Literary NonfictionWriting 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 text––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?


Mr. Sassone         F          1:00-3:00

Advanced Creative Writing:  Narrative

This year-long course will develop the student's abilities as a rigorous writer and reader of narrative, with particular emphasis on the short story. Students will be expected to write and revise comprehensively and to participate actively in discussions of peer and published work. The syllabus will be flexible according to the emerging needs of the class, but it will undoubtedly include the work of contemporary narrative writers as well as earlier masters of the form. Frequent conferences with the instructor will be required.

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

Writing samples are due before pre-registration.  Check with the English office for the exact date of the deadline.  Yearlong course 209-ENGL 210.


Ms. Dunn             MW     1:30-2:45

Gender, Sexuality, Disability

(Same as WMST 218) 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 will explore how disability is gendered, and how it intersects with race, class, and sexuality in both historical and contemporary contexts. We will 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 will 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.


Ms. Graham           TR       9:00-10:15

American Literature, 1865-1925

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.


Ms. Dunbar              TR       12:00-1:15

The Harlem Renaissance and its Precursors

(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?


Mr. Perez                 MW     1:30-2:45

Latina and Latino Literature

(Same as LALS 230) Students and instructor will 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 will 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). 


Mr. Amodio             MW     10:30-11:45

Old English

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


Mr. Langdell           TR       3:10-4:25


This course serves as an introduction to Chaucer, as well as an introduction to Middle English. We will 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’ll situate Chaucer within a broader international context and chart out French, Italian, and Latin influences, including Dante, Boethius, and Boccaccio. We’ll 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 will read slowly and carefully, and track Chaucer’s dynamic experiments with a molten language. Our areas of exploration will 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’ll see Chaucer himself dangle from the talons of an eagle. We’ll see him pen a masterwork, and then immediately disavow it. When all is said and done, we’ll see Chaucer stumble his way to the helm of English literature.


Mr. Foster              TR       10:30-11:45


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

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


Ms. Zlotnick            TR  10:30-11:45 and  W  1:00-3:00 (lab)

Nineteenth-Century British Novels

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


Ms. Paravinisi-Gebert            TR       1:30-2:45

Crossings:  Literature Without Borders

Topic 2017a:  Victorian Revenants in Contemporary Caribbean Literature: Cultures in Dialogue

(Same as AFRS 277) 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).


Ms. Funke           WF      10:30-11:45

Modernism, Sexuality & Science, 1890-1950

This course will focus on the crafting of narratives that free us from traditional binaries of real or fake. 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 creating new forms of expression to understand sexuality and articulate sexual possibilities. You will examine how a range of canonical and lesser-known authors negotiated scientific ideas about diverse sexualities in novels, short stories and autobiographical works. You will also investigate how literature shaped scientific understandings of sexuality. The course explores tensions as well as moments of exchange and collaboration between literary and scientific writers. We will cover literary and scientific writings about diverse sexualities and consider 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, D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood, Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, H. D.’s Tribute to Freud, and Carson McCuller’s The Member of the Wedding.

290 a or b.

Field Work

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

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

Independent Study

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

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

298 a or b.                                                                                          (1/2 Unit)

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

399 a or b.                                                                                          (1/2 Unit)

Senior Independent Work

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