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II. Intermediate Courses

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


Mr. Hsu          MW 1:30-2:45

These American Lives: New Journalisms

(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).  


Introductory Creative Writing

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry.  Reading and writing assignments may include prose fiction, journals, poetry, drama, and essays.  Not open to first-year students in the fall semester.

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


Ms. Mark            W         1:00-3:00

Introductory Creative Writing

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

This section is open only to first-year students.


Ms. McGlennen            F          1:00-3:00

Introductory Creative Writing

With the use of in-class exercises, longer writing projects, journals, and frequent conferences with the instructor, we develop our abilities as intelligent readers/listeners and writers of poetry and other short forms.  The final project will be a collection of your work.   We use a number of writing prompts/exercises in order to steer our creative expression. We also study the work of a number of writers as models, inspiration, and for discussion purposes.


Mr. Joyce              M         6:30-8:30

Introductory Creative Writing

Topic for 2019b: Healing.  In this section we will pay special attention to writing as a healing art. We will read and write narratives, poems, and memoirs as well as explore hybrid forms, including non-fictional narratives, multimedia, imagetexts, and so on. The course  will be of particular interest to—but not restricted to— those interested in medical professions. In writing about how a “physician enjoys a wonderful opportunity actually to witness the words being born,” the American poet and physician William Carlos Williams spoke of how healers “begin to see that the underlying meaning of all that [patients] want to tell us and have always failed to communicate is the poem, the poem which their lives are being lived to realize.”  We will try to approach that poem together here.

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


Mr. Means              T          3:10-5:10

Advanced Creative Writing:  Narrative      

Development of the student's abilities as a writer and reader of narrative, with particular emphasis on the short story.  Topic for 2019b: Constructing Fiction.  In this class you’ll hone your skills as fiction writers, reinforcing the basic elements—sustained, authentic voice, point of view, vibrant characters, setting, and plot—necessary to create vivid narrative. You’ll be free to explore a wide range of styles—from writing prose that “feels” close to memoir/non-fiction, to writing in more traditional short story modes. Students will be expected to draft stories, participate in a workshop, and revise with care. We’ll form a cohesive, comfortable, deeply respectful, coherent, useful classroom environment in which we’ll critique new work in a constructive, supportive manner. Weekly exercise and readings will be assigned. Reading may include:  Samuel Beckett, Ben Lerner, Anton Chekhov, Grace Paley, ZZ Packer, Lorrie Moore, Langston Hughes, James Joyce, Isaac Babel, Gish Jen, Katherine Mansfield, George Saunders, Alice Munro, Mary Gaitskill, Lucia Berlin, Lydia Davis, Danielle Evans, Gayle Jones, Julio Cortazar, Haruki Murakami, Flannery O’Connor, John Edgar Wideman, Franz Kafka, to name a few.  Special permission.

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

*ENGLISH 209 is no longer a year-long course but is now being offered as a semester-long course for Fall and Spring semester.


Mr. Kane         T          1:00-3:00

Advanced Creative Writing:  Verse

This course aims to develop and enhance the student’s abilities as a writer and reader of poetry. Particular attention will be paid to poetic form and the resources of verse.

Special permission.

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

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


Mr. Schultz      TR        10:30-11:45

Process, Prose, Pedagogy

An exploration of the intersections among language, form, genre, and medium, this course aims to deepen our appreciation for and understanding of multimodal authorship. To do so, we will focus our critical gaze upon one of the more experimental periods of textual production: literary modernism. Together, we will consider selections of poetry, short fiction, the novel, woodcut narratives, autobiography, letters, manifestos, essays, and film produced by a diverse range of authors such as Mina Loy and Djuna Barnes, Mu Shiying and Mikhail Bulgakov, Max Ernst and Zora Neale Hurston––as well as more canonical figures like James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Beckett. Our discussions will center on the ways in which writing emerges from its immediate historical contexts, and also how genre and medium look beyond their present moment, revising models inherited from the past and anticipating future forms of expression. Ultimately, this course will help us to better analyze and construct arguments about distinct types of texts through the sustained practice of close critical reading and recursive writing, and to sharpen our ability to facilitate dialogue about complex ideas and various modes of communication. Students who take Media Studies/ENGL 214 will be given preference for Writing Center employment; it is not, however, a pre-requisite for employment.


Ms. Dunn             TR        12:00-1:15      

Literature, Gender, and Sexuality

(Same as WMST 218) Topic for 2019b: 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. 


Mr. Markus          TR       3:10-4:25        

Early British Literature

This course offers an introduction to British literary history, beginning with Old and Middle English literature and continuing through the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the establishment of Great Britain, the British Civil War, the Puritan Interregnum, and the Restoration. Topics may include discourses of difference (race, religion, gender, social class); tribal, ethnic, and national identities; exploration and colonization; textual transmission and the rise of print culture; authorship and authority; and the formation and evolution of the British literary canon. Authors, genres, critical and theoretical approaches, historical coverage, and themes may vary from year to year.

Topic for 2019b:  From Grendel’s Mother  to The Country Wife: Introduction to Early British Literature and CultureThis is a thematically organized “issues and methods” course grafted onto a chronologically structured survey course of early British literature and culture. Its double goal is to develop skills for understanding early texts as well as to familiarize the students with a representative selection of works from the Middle Ages through the late 1600s. We explore a great variety of genres and media, including canonical works such as Beowulf and medieval plays as well as works by Chaucer, 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 British literature and culture in ways that are productive to the understanding of our own culture as well.


Mr. Simpson           MW     1:30-2:45

African American Literature

(Same as AFRS 228) Topic for 2019b: Black Modernism and Beyond: On Ghosts, Mystics, And Prophets.  What is African American Literature? Can writing be black? What makes it so? Is there a one-to-one or one-to-some correlation between identity and literary practices? Beginning with the modernist innovations of African American writers after the Harlem Renaissance, this course ranges from the social protest fiction of the 1940s and 50s through the Black Arts Movement and postmodernist experiments of contemporary African American writers. In giving our attention to the aforementioned questions, we will cover the debates that have informed African American literary production, particularly the tensions that aesthetic and political imperatives have brought to bear on black imaginative writing. Our readings this term will also explore the idea of the past (signaled by the presence of ghosts and mystics) as well as that of the future (signaled by the presence of mystics and prophets). We will explore why time travel—both backward and forward—is a prominent narrative feature in black fiction. William Melvin Kelley, Lorraine Hansberry, Robert Hayden, Anna Deveare Smith, and Jamaica Kincaid are among the writers we will engage. 


Mr. Hsu             MW     12:00-1:15

Asian American Literature

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.


Mr. Amodio         MW     10:30-11:45


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

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


Ms. Sweany             MW     12:00-1:15

Medieval Literature

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

Topic for 2019b: Arthur Through the (Middle) Ages. The figure of a heroic warrior named Arthur originated in the 9th century. You know about King Arthur today because as a popular figure he has been continually rewritten from the Middle Ages all the way into the 21st century to serve shifting cultural, political, literary, and artistic tastes and purposes. In this class we will read some of the earliest narratives of King Arthur (Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain and The Life of Merlin), and then follow the character and his ever-growing and shifting court as he moves through medieval literature. This will allow us to explore the literary themes, forms, and conventions of the English Middle Ages more broadly. Some of the texts we will read include (but are not limited to): Laȝamon’s Brut, Marie de France’s Lanval, Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale” from The Canterbury TalesSir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, and Gerald of Wales’s The Tomb of King Arthur. Finally, this class will consider how Arthur appears in contemporary popular culture and what his medieval literary history brings to his representation in modern media. We will watch at least two films: Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (a movie that The Guardian termed an “epic fail”).


Ms. Dunn          MW     1:30-2:45


Study of some representative comedies, histories, and tragedies.

Shakespeare Through Performance. The first half of the semester will focus on early modern theatrical conditions and practices. We will explore the playtexts as scripts for performance through workshops on speaking verse, staging scenes, and rehearsing "in parts" as early modern acting companies did. We’ll learn to read printed texts for imbedded stage directions, and to imagine them bodied forth on the stages for which Shakespeare wrote. And we’ll place plays in their historical and cultural contexts in order to better understand their resonance for early modern audiences. In the second half of the semester, the emphasis will shift to contemporary contexts and modes of performance, including theater, television, and film, and to performances as acts of interpretation.

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


Mr. Markus           TR       10:30-11:45


(Same as DRAM 242) As the second half of our yearlong study of Shakespeare, this course focuses on representations of affect and “love” (filial, parental, sexual, etc.) in five Shakespeare plays written after 1600: Troilus and Cressida, Measure for Measure, All's Well That Ends Well, Othello, and King Lear. By situating these plays in the cultural and historical contexts in which they were written and performed, we will be able to appreciate significant differences as well as intriguing continuities between early 17th century and early 21st century interpretations and representations regarding such basic concepts and institutions as gender, family, filial and marital duties, marriage, the “private sphere,” sexuality, etc.  Moreover, by examining these plays in production both on the stage and on the screen, we explore their current meanings and cultural significance. To attain this second aim, we will view and discuss stage productions as well as several film adaptations of our plays, and stage a part of All’s Well That Ends Well and/or King Lear.

Not open to students who have taken English 240.

Year-long course 241-242.


Mr. DeMaria            MW     1:30-2:45

Eighteenth Century British Novels

The novel was one of the great literary inventions of the eighteenth century.  It emerged gradually from the older genre of romance, fueled by societal and technological changes that expanded the potential readership for many kinds of popular publications, including travel narratives, newspapers, celebrity letters and memoirs, self-help books, and biography.  Those kindred genres are often visible in the works that eventually led to the fully realized novel of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  The works of the great innovators in this genre show how the novel gradually came into its own.  Authors may include Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, Mackenzie, Walpole, Burney, and Austen.  


Ms. Graham          TR        10:30-11:45

Victorian Literature: Culture and Anarchy

Study of Victorian culture through the critical prose, poetry, and novels 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 the tensions between traditional and emergent values (pressure of modernization) exemplified by religious uncertainty in the wake of evolutionary theory, industrialization and labor, colonialism, the woman question, homosexuality and aestheticism, paying particular attention to the relationship between literary and social discourses. We will consider the role of literacy and the burgeoning periodical press in democratizing the Victorian public sphere. Authors include nonfiction prose writers such as Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, and Pater, as well as fiction writers such as  Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Oscar Wilde. We will read an autobiographical pamphlet by Florence Nightingale and a memoir by Edmund Gosse.


Ms. Dunbar         TR       130- 2:45

Topics in Black Literatures

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.

(Same as AFRS 251) Topic for 2019b: Afrofuturism and the Speculative in African American Literature. 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 the genres of 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.


Mr. Perez            TR        12:00-1:15

Topics in American Literatures

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).

(Same as AFRS 253) Topic for 2019b: Narratives of Passing. The phrase “passing for white,” peculiar to American English, first appears in advertisements for the return of runaway slaves. Abolitionist fiction later adopts the phenomenon of racial passing (together with the figure of the “white slave”) as a major literary theme.  African American writers such as William Wells Brown and William Craft incorporated stories of passing in their antislavery writing and the theme continued to enjoy great currency in African American literature in the postbellum era as well as during the Harlem Renaissance. In this class, we examine the prevalence of this theme in African American literature of these periods, the possible reasons for the waning interest in this theme following the Harlem Renaissance, and its reemergence in recent years. In order to begin to understand the role of passing in the American imagination, we look to examples of passing and the treatment of miscegenation in literature, film, and the law. We consider the qualities that characterize what Valerie Smith identifies as the “classic passing narrative” and determine how each of the texts we examine conforms to, reinvents, and/or writes against that classic narrative. Some of the themes considered include betrayal, secrecy, lying, masquerade, visibility/invisibility, and memory. We also examine how the literature of passing challenges or redefines notions of family, American mobility and success, and the convention of the “self-made man.”


Mr. Kumar           TR        10:30-11:45

Postcolonial Literature: 

This course will grapple with the contemporary moment in postcolonial writing. Our readings will include short stories like Hanif Kureishi’s “My Son, the Fanatic,” Zadie Smith’s “Embassy of Cambodia,” Tiphanie Yanique’s “How to Escape from a Leper Colony,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Cell One,” and Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Brotherly Love.” Also, a taste of poetry, from Derek Walcott to Warsan Shire. Two plays: Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced and Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Also, three novels: Kamel Daoud, The Mersault Investigation, Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, and Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways.


Ms. Zlotnick          TR        10:30-11:45

Selected Author: 

Topic for 2019b: Jane AustenOver 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


Ms. McGlennen           TR        3:10-4:25

Indigenous Women’s Decolonial Narratives

(Same as AMST/WMST 286) In their article “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor,” Aleut scholar Eve Tuck and Ethnic Studies scholar K. Wayne Yang warn that “the metaphorization of decolonization makes possible a set of evasions, or settler moves to innocence, that problematically attempt to reconcile settler guilt and complicity, and rescue settler futurity.” As an approach to wrestle with this warning, our class examines the ways in which Indigenous women (from primarily Native North American nations) imagine and safeguard Indigenous futures in light of settler colonial efforts to deny and erase indians. How do Indigenous women imagine anti- and decolonial narratives toward critical sovereignty and autonomous resistance? How does the creative labor of Indigenous women – through prose and poetry, art, and film – destabilize the persistent colonial formations that are gendered, racialized, and genocidal. Indigenous women artists, scholars, theorists, and activists  provide our course with its materials, and include: Louise Erdrich, Layli Longsoldier, Marcie Rendon, Debra Barker, Eve Tuck, Renya Ramirez, Dian Million, Mishuana Goeman, Shan Goshorn, Sarah Sense, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Annie Pootoogoook, Shelley Niro, Arigon Starr, Matika Wilbur, Bethany Yellowtail, and others.

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.