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Fall 2018 Course Descriptions: Literature Courses

ENGL 2200.01 Foundations of Literary Study 

Marzia Milazzo

MWF 9:10 - 10:00 AM

This course will explore stories and thoughts about freedom and confinement. We will begin with reading Giovanni Verga’s epistolary novel Sparrow (1871), which tells the story of a young woman forced to become a cloistered nun in 19th century Sicily, and we will close with Sabrina Jones and Marc Mauer’s graphic novel Race to Incarcerate (2013)which deals with the racialized expansion of prisons in the United States. As we engage in the fundamentals of literary study, we will pay particular attention to the relationship between form and content, the politics of literary genre, and the art of critical interpretation. The works examined will include novels, short stories, plays, poems, a graphic novel, creative nonfiction, and film.


ENGL 2200.02 Foundations of Literary Study

Mark Wollaeger

MWF 10:10 - 11:00 AM

Required of all English majors, this course introduces fundamental concepts of literary interpretation as well as some key issues in literary criticism and theory. The course presupposes deep affinities between creative and critical thought and therefore speaks to students in all tracks. We will read poetry and fiction alongside critical, contextual, and theoretical texts in order to widen your range of options when thinking about how to talk and write about literature. Writing assignments include attention to effective use sources to enhance your persuasiveness and to ways of tapping into your creativity as a writer.


ENGL 2310 Representative British Writers to 1660

Roger Moore

TR 9:35 - 10:50 AM

In this course, we will read classic texts by some of the most important writers in English literature, including Geoffrey Chaucer, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Donne, and John Milton, and place them within their historical and religious contexts.  Requirements include essay examinations and one or two papers.  This course will be of interest to English majors as well as non-majors who want a broad introduction to representative masterpieces. 


ENGL 2311 Representative British Writers 1660-Present                                                             

Elizabeth Covington

MWF 10:10 - 11:00 AM

This course is a survey of British Literature from 1660 to the present. We will read works from many of the influential and significant writers from five literary periods: Restoration/18th Century, the Romantics, the Victorians, the Modernists, and the 20th Century and Beyond. In addition to a sweeping view of British literature, this course will challenge the traditional canon of British culture. We will explore texts by authors who were disregarded because of their gender, race, class, sexuality, and other factors. Ultimately, we will develop broad but robust vision of the development of British literature over the past three hundred years. Grades are based on participation and in-class, open-book exams.


ENGL 2316 Representative American Writers: The Rise of the Novel

Gabriel Briggs

TR 9:35 - 10:50 AM

This course will cover the rise of the novel in the United States from the end of the revolutionary period to the 1850s. We will read the work of authors who dominate American literary history, such as Charles Brockden Brown, James Fenimore Cooper, and Herman Melville, but we will also study additional writers who challenge conventional wisdom, and help us to imagine alternative literary histories in the U.S.  In our reading, we will focus on two related questions: how does the novel capture the social and political pressures of a particular historical moment? Where is the line between fiction and history, dreams and reality? The novels we will examine cut across several literary genres, including the Sentimental Novel, the American Gothic, and the Historical Romance, and we will attempt both to understand and to theorize the relationship between literary and historical writing.


ENGL 2318W World Literature: Classical

Pavneet Aulakh

TR 1:10 - 2:25 PM

The focus is on concepts of heroism and courage, paying particular attention to the hero’s reaction to change, instability, adversity, and death.  How do these texts portray the task of the hero?  How does his quest affect relations between mortals and immortals?  Within the models offered by our texts, is it possible for women to be heroic?  How do fear and grief become avenues for challenging the social and order, and how do these emotions contribute towards the hero’s education?  Texts include Gilgamesh, the Iliad, Medea, Gawain, the Igor tale, Don Quixote.


ENGL 2319 Modern World Literature

Akshya Saxena

TR 2:35 - 3:50 PM

What does the literature we read have to do with the world we live in? Is there a kind of literature that is particularly “worldly”? This course examines writings that thinkers since Goethe have called “world literature”? As we read these, it is hard not to wonder what makes the cut to world literature? What do we mean by world literature when the world itself remains unequal and shifting? This course is neither greatest hits, nor world tour, nor Norton Anthology. It is also not comprehensive. Instead, we will interrogate our literary institutions and habits. We will explore the practices of production, circulation, and reception that make world literature possible. We are as much interested in the literary texts considered “world literature” as we are in translations, translators, book prizes, reviews, bestseller lists, and million-dollar advances that influence what we understand as “worldly,” and “literary.” Readings will include a wide selection of works from the modern world by writers such as J.M. Coetzee, Rabindranath Tagore, Goethe, Arundhati Roy, Marjane Satrapi, Okot p’Bitek, Lu Xun, Bob Dylan, and Julio Cortazar among others.


ENGL 3618 19th Century English Novel

Scott Juengel

TR 2:35 - 3:50 PM

Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, the Brontës, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, Henry James.  The novel ‘came of age’ as a literary genre during the nineteenth century, emerging as the delivery system for understanding modern psychology and sociology.  How did this happen?  In this course we’ll study British fiction from the Romantics to the dawning of Modernism, paying close attention to the challenge of gender norms and the marriage plot, the aims of class ascension, the rise of modern institutions, and the criminalization of behavior.


ENGL 3694 America on Film

Sam Girgus

2:35 - 3:50 PM

The course studies American culture and character on film.  It will consider film as a modern art form, a system of cultural production, and an expression of the diversity of the American experience. Beginning with a discussion of the structure and composition of film as an art form, the course also will consider the relationship of film to American studies, ethical philosophy, and culture. Thus, it will relate visual images and cinetext to cultural and philosophical contexts. We will examine how films treat basic American themes such as the individual and community; frontier and urban violence; race, ethnicity, and minorities; the representation and role of women; visual desire and sexual exploitation; the family and authority.  We will study classic and current films.


ENGL 3720 Literature, Science, and Technology: The History of Digital versus Indexical

Jonathan Lamb

TR 9:35 - 10:50 AM

This course will chart a division in the theory of knowledge that is still with us. It began to be acute with the arrival of the New Science when empiricism collided with variations of Platonism. The neo-Platonics did not view knowledge as an acquirement that perfected us, rather as a timeless truth that we recollected; and for demonstrable truths they turned to mathematics and geometry.  Empiricists believed that all we knew arrived through the senses, imperfect because of sin, but improvable by machines; and for proof they turned to experiment.  Where has this debate got us?


ENGL 3726 New Media: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Jay Clayton

MWF 9:10 - 10:00 AM

This course explores the impact of new media on narrative through a focus on digital games.  Beginning with Lord of the Rings Online, a massively multiplayer role playing game (MMO), and indie games such as Braid, Journey, and Portal, the course introduces students to the literary and artistic challenges of constructing narratives in a digital environment and the implications of social media for concepts of self and society. In addition to the novels and films of Tolkien, the course looks at a variety of new media, films, and digital tools from Ready Player One to Twitter fictions, eSports, mapping programs, timelines, and video editing software.


ENGL 3728W Science Fiction: Living with Aliens

Vera Kutzinski

TR 4:00 - 5:15 PM

How do we imagine the future of humanity? How can we test it out? Speculative Fiction (SF) is a veritable laboratory for creating worlds in which characters can explore what possibilities might exist for humans to live together with off-world non-humans. In this seminar, you will learn how several contemporary American writers—including Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Ursula LeGuin, and Jeff Vandermeer—envision differences and commonalities between human and so-called aliens. In the process, you will also learn how SF experiments with literary forms and with different literary genres.


ENGL 3730 Literature and the Environment: 21st Century Climate Fiction

Teresa Goddu

TR 2:35 - 3:50 PM

This course surveys contemporary literary fiction that addresses climate change. We will consider a range of cultural texts that imagine how our present and future worlds are/will be shaped by climate change and offer ways to approach this paradigm shift’s challenges and possibilities. Texts may include: Ben Lerner, 10:04; Cormac McCarthy, The Road; Karen Thompson Walker, The Age of Miracles; Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation; Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones;as well as an array of short stories, films, and non-fiction works.

This course counts toward the minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies.


ENGL 3742 Feminist Theory

Candice Amich

TR 1:10 - 2:25 PM

An introduction to feminist theory, this course is designed to provide you with the basic skills necessary to use gender as a tool of cultural analysis. We will read theory from and about twentieth-century “second-wave” feminism, as well as explore more recent queer and transgender engagements with feminism. Rubrics of study include gender and difference, gender and media, and gender and globalization. In addition to theoretical texts, we will examine a variety of feminist media, including poetry, performance and film. Research projects derived from students’ individual interests will be an important part of understanding the theory.


ENGL 3890 Movements in Literature: Modernist Experimentation in Literature and Art

Mark Wollaeger

MWF 12:00 - 1:00 PM

What does it mean to perform aesthetic as opposed to scientific experiments? “Modernism” names a massive outpouring of aesthetic experimentation across the arts and across Europe in the early 20th C, and in this course we will study not only major modernist literature by writers such as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and T. S. Eliot but also the broader culture from which modernist writing emerged:  representative works of  art (Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse), philosophy (e.g., Henri Bergson and William James), and psychology (Freud). We will also ask how modernism’s legacy of aesthetic experimentation continues to inform our culture today.


ENGL 3894 Major Figures: Ernest Hemingway

Gabriel Briggs

TR 11:00 - 12:15 PM

This course examines one of the most influential writers in twentieth-century American Literature. To better understand Hemingway’s enduring cultural presence, students will read a number of short stories, novels, and non-fiction prose he produced between 1924 and 1951. Students will also develop strategies for positioning the author and his work within specific historical and theoretical contexts. Those interested in this course should consider tackling longer novels such as For Whom the Bell Tolls and Farewell to Arms over the summer to provide ample time for reading and reflection. A required reading list can be found on YES under course syllabus.