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Spring 2018 Course Descriptions


Dear Students,
Please verify course selections in YES to see the complete selection of course dates and times. You will need to meet with your adviser in person before your registration appointment window, at which time, your adviser will release an electronic academic hold on your account so that you may register. E-mail your adviser for an appointment. The name of your adviser, as well as the time of your registration appointment window is listed on your YES landing page.
Admittance to Honors sections and 3000-level writing workshops are subject to instructor approval. Please refer to the individual course listings for instructions.
The descriptions that appear below for Spring 2018 are grouped chronologically by course number. If you do not find your section number, it likely means that the instructor has not yet provided a course description. The webmaster will continue to make every effort to update this page, so check back often.
Please click here for a list of courses that satisfy the (History, Diverse Perspectives, Approach, Program II Creative Writing) requirements for English Majors and Minors.


Course Descriptions: Spring 2018

ENGL 1111.35 – First Year Writing Seminar: The World of Pride and Prejudice
Andrea Hearn
TR, 9:35 – 10:50 AM

Literary critics and casual readers alike consider Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice one of the great reading experiences. In this course, we will explore the novel on its own terms and in its relationship to Austen’s life, times, and others works; we will also consider its immense cultural value in the present.  Students will read Austen's beloved novel twice; watch excerpts from film and television adaptations; research historical, cultural, and biographical contexts; write literary analyses; and read at least one more of Austen’s works alongside Pride and Prejudice, likely Northanger Abbey and/or a selection from Austen’s juvenilia or unfinished works.


ENGL 1111.49 – First Year Writing Seminar: Writing About Place

Elizabeth Meadows

TR, 9:10 – 10:00 PM

Through exploring where we live while reading and writing about place and identity, students will analyze how locations shape the experiences of the people within them, even as people shape the places they occupy through their social interactions. Students will read selections from classic texts on urban planning, creative non-fiction, Romantic poetry, guidebooks, in conjunction with exploring Vanderbilt and adjoining Nashville neighborhoods. Through writing personal narratives and histories of their hometowns, the Vanderbilt campus, and the larger community of Nashville, students will examine the connections among place, identity, and community.  


ENGL 1210W.04 – Prose Fiction: Forms and Techniques

Alex Oxner

MW, 2:35 – 3:50 PM

Gendering Genre: Thinking about Genre Fiction

What is the relationship between form and content? How might writers reimagine gender roles through their use of particular genres? To consider how gender plays out in a range of forms, we will examine genres from ghost stories and detective fiction to realism, science fiction, romance, and others. We will read genre fiction from the 18th century to the present by authors such as Henry James and Zora Neale Hurston. You’ll write two “mini” essays and two formal essays that incorporate creative writing, close-reading, and other writing conventions that can be adapted to writing in your own major.


ENGL 1210.05 – Prose Fiction: Castaways from Robinson Crusoe to The Martian

Katie Mullins

TR, 11:00 – 12:15 PM

What can we learn from reading about shipwrecked or abandoned castaways? What do their stories of lone survival reveal about our social, political, religious, technological, and ethical ways of being? And what happens to the traditional castaway story when an author exchanges the desert island for Mars, or when the sinking ship is our own destroyed planet? We will tackle these inquiries and more as we trace the evolution of castaway narratives from Daniel Defoe’s influential Robinson Crusoe (1719)to the twenty-first century. Our discussions will also address the range of prose genres and techniques represented in these texts. Your grade will be based primarily on your writing, in the form of two analytical essays and one short piece of original castaway fiction.


Partial list of texts (subject to change):

  • Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719)
  • Unca Eliza Winkfield’s The Female American (1767)
  • Johann David Wyss’s Swiss Family Robinson (1812)
  • William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954)
  • Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007)
  • Andy Weir’s The Martian (2012)


ENGL 1220W.02 – Cult of Personalities: Infatuation, Dangerous Charisma, and Performance

Lauren Mitchell

TR, 1:10 – 2:25 PM

They say that some people are born leaders, and some are meant to follow. But what is so intoxicating, and horrifying, about charismatic leaders, and the seductive promise of community?  What do we want from those people and those experiences?  In this class we’ll think about charisma, hope, and herd mentality, by routing them through traditions of theatrical performance.  In addition to reading plays such as Top Girls, Equus, and Salome, we will incorporate music videos, cinematic performances, and some theories of acting into our conversation. Students are (very) welcome to incorporate interdisciplinary topics from their majors into their four required essays for the course, two of which will require a creative component.


ENGL 1230W.01 – Literature & Analytical Thinking: Pursuits of Happiness

Lucy Kim

MWF, 9:10 – 10:00 AM

We live in a culture in which the right to pursue happiness is enshrined as an “unalienable Right.” What explains this modern obsession with happiness? Hone your critical thinking and writing skills by engaging with texts across a range of literary genres that address in common the quest for happiness. A tentative list of works we will consider (subject to change) includes Samuel Johnson’s The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (1759), Jane Austen’s Emma (1815), Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), the United States Declaration of Independence, and films such as The Matrix (1999), among others. You will be graded based on four formal papers, paper revisions, regular reading responses, and a presentation, all designed to improve your skills of using academic writing conventions to communicate ideas clearly and effectively across disciplines.


ENGL 1230W.02 – Literature & Analytical Thinking: Genre Bending: Blurring the Boundaries Between Literary Forms and Moments

Courtney Brown

MWF, 10:10 – 11:00 AM

This course will focus primarily on the performative power of literature across genres—from poetry, to drama, to short fiction, and even some music and film! We will confront various literary forms and historical moments—from the Renaissance, to the Black Arts movement, to our 21st-century moment—in order to think about what happens when the lines between those forms and moments start to blur. Our focus on basic rhetorical analysis and strategy will help you build the tools necessary to engage with and improve upon your own writing both as process and as critical text.


ENGL 1230W.03 – Literature & Analytical Thinking: Black Feminist Ideas: The Outlaw and the Renegade

Danielle Procope Bell

MWF, 10:10 – 11:00 AM

How do questions of being an outlaw and a cultural renegade intersect with nationality, class, gender, race, and sexuality factor into the perspectives of black women writers? How does black women’s writing speak to questions of power, authority, and resistance? In this writing-intensive course, we will answer these questions and many others through our exploration of diverse black women’s writing from the nineteenth century to the present-day. We will look at what it means to be a cultural and/or legal “outlaw” with fresh eyes whether from the perspective of an escaped slave or a runaway bride. We will be reading various authors including Harriet Jacobs, Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison. Your final grade will mostly be determined by three revised critical essays. Get ready to improve your college-level writing while also becoming more familiar with black women’s literary thought!


ENGL 1230W.05 – Literature & Analytical Thinking: Fame in Fiction

Marianne Zumberge

MWF, 9:10 – 10:00 AM

In this writing-intensive course, we will compare the presentation of fame and celebrity across different forms of narrative. Examining the function of fame via traditional novels, contemporary poetry, classic film, dramatic literature and rap lyrics, together we will unpack the cultural symptoms of public exposure. With an eye toward our current socio-political landscape, we will distinguish between the concepts of fame, infamy and notoriety. Be prepared to connect hypotheses developed in class with your own observations about popular culture and mass media. You'll be assessed through a series of both formal and informal writing assignments that will expand your analytical, reflective, and creative writing toolkit.


ENGL 1230W.06 – Literature & Analytical Thinking: Crime and Punishment

Thea Autry

TR, 9:35 – 10:50 AM

What does it mean for the punishment to fit the crime? Develop your critical reading and writing skills by engaging with prose, film, image, and poetry selections that force ethical questions about the nature of crime and the line between justice and punishment. Grading is based on four formal papers in multiple genres, paper revisions, a presentation, and regular informal writing, all designed to prepare you for conversing across a broad range of ideas and disciplines.


ENGL 1230W.12 – Literature & Analytical Thinking: I Just Work Here: Jobs and Literature

Jesse Montgomery

TR, 8:10 – 9:25 AM

Good jobs, bad jobs, dream jobs, dead-end jobs. Part time, student, and full employment. Job creators. Day laborers. Interns. Slackers. When we talk about jobs we talk about values. What is a good job? What does it mean to do a good job? Develop your critical reading and writing skills by exploring the ways in which literature and film both examine and shape our attitudes about jobs, work, and slacking off. Write and revise three essays over the course of the semester to sharpen your essay writing skills. Texts may include: Intern Nation, Ross Perlin; Storming Heaven, Denise Giardina; Under the Feet of Jesus, Helena Maria Viramontes; “Bartleby the Scrivener,” Herman Melville; Pastoralia, George Saunders; Matewan, dir. John Sayles; The Parking Lot Movie, dir. Meghan Eckman; and Office Space, dir. Mike Judge.


ENGL 1250W.01 – Introduction to Poetry: “Self vs. Soul: Poetry and Theories of Desire”

Chance Woods

MWF, 9:10 – 10:00 AM

What should we desire? As seemingly straightforward as this question may seem, it has proven endlessly and frustratingly difficult to answer throughout Western civilization.  More interesting still is the fact that the most robust explorations of human desire have issued from the pens of poets over the ages. Commonly, questions of desire are inextricably bound up with questions of personal identity. Many poets have thus explored theories of the self and concepts of the soul through their verse. Moreover, modern ideas about identity, personality, and individuality stem, in many respects, from notions first pioneered by poets in different historical contexts. This course serves as a radical introduction to poetry through explorations selfhood and identity throughout Western culture from Plato to the twentieth century. Beginning with Plato’s Symposium, we will work our way through representative thinkers/writers such as Augustine, Petrarch, Shakespeare, John Donne, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, T. S. Eliot, and Jay Wright. Students will participate in class discussion by bringing discussion questions to each session. Students will compose four 4-6 pp. papers throughout the semester. By the end of the semester, students will have learned how to compose rhetorically powerful and analytically nuanced explorations of poetry. Finally, we will learn to appreciate how poetry can serve not only as a profound meditation on the difficult concept of personal identity, but also serve as a catalyst for appreciating the hidden complexities of other people.



ENGL 1250W.02 – Introduction to Poetry 

Lisa Dordal

TR, 4:00 – 5:15 PM 

The main objectives of this course are to widen your knowledge of poetry, to help you become close readers of poetry, and to help you develop your critical writing skills. The first part of this course will be organized around formal considerations (diction, tone, imagery, figures of speech, sound, etc.). The first part of the course also will include brief case studies of Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Langston Hughes. In the second half of the course, we will read and discuss Natasha Trethewey’s Native Guard, Li-Young Lee’s Book of My Nights and selections from Mark Doty’s collection Fire to Fire. Requirements will include three papers (plus revisions), one class presentation, short response papers and homework assignments, and participation in class discussions. 


ENGL 1250W.03 – Introduction to Poetry

Sari Carter

MWF, 12:10 – 1:00 PM

Women’s Poetry as Ethics

What does poetry have to say about ethics—right and wrong, justice and injustice? More specifically, how does poetry’s take on ethics intersect with questions of identity so urgent today? The idea of poetry may call up intimidating assumptions about obscure and elitist language, inaccessible and irrelevant to those caught in the day-to-day grind of survival made even more oppressive by systemic forces of social injustice. However, this course invites students to explore how poetry can be one of the most powerfully relevant methods of calling out injustice. We will focus on poetry written by women from a variety of historical time periods and places, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. We will practice argumentative academic writing to closely analyze the variety of poetic forms they choose and how they address ethical issues of justice and injustice, expression and repression, freedom and discrimination, power and vulnerability, desire and sacrifice, belief and skepticism. In-class discussions will engage these and other questions about how poetry is uniquely suited to suggest the intertwined nature of identity and ethics, and about how poetry by women offers its own distinctive reflection on this intertwining. These activities of reading, writing, and discussion aim to empower students toward their own creative reflection on personal identity and ethics, enabling them to develop more articulateness to effectively communicate their unique experiences and connect with others.


ENGL 1250W.06 – Introduction to Poetry: Questions and Answers

Rachel Gould

MWF, 3:10 – 4:00 PM

Across the centuries, poetry has grappled with some of our deepest questions about life from William Blake asking, “Little Lamb who made thee?” to Emily Dickinson declaring, “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” This course will listen in to the questions these poets and others raise and will consider the answers they offer as they reflect on issues of memory, identity, enchantment, and grief. This course will offer a broad introduction to some of the most important poetic forms from the Anglophone tradition – the sonnet, the ode, and free verse – while covering authors from the Renaissance through our modern time. As a course focused on the language and form of poems, we will also be exploring the language and form of your own writing processes through informal in-class writing and three formal essays.


ENGL 1250W.07 – Introduction to Poetry 

Lisa Dordal

TR, 2:35 – 3:50 PM

The main objectives of this course are to widen your knowledge of poetry, to help you become close readers of poetry, and to help you develop your critical writing skills. The first part of this course will be organized around formal considerations (diction, tone, imagery, figures of speech, sound, etc.). The first part of the course also will include brief case studies of Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Langston Hughes. In the second half of the course, we will read and discuss Natasha Trethewey’s Native Guard, Li-Young Lee’s Book of My Nights and selections from Mark Doty’s collection Fire to Fire. Requirements will include three papers (plus revisions), one class presentation, short response papers and homework assignments, and participation in class discussions.   


1250W.10 – Introduction to Poetry: Worker-Poets and the Work of Poetry

Kira Braham

TR, 9:35 – 10:50 AM

Do you know any plumber-poets? How about accountant-poets? There’s something funny about the very idea of this, right? Whether you’ve consciously considered it or not, you likely have a pre-established idea of what kind of person writes poetry, and it’s not the same kind of person who becomes a plumber or an accountant. But the truth is: all kinds of workers throughout history have written poetry. Workers have often turned to verse to ease the drudgery of repetitive labor, to celebrate the contributions of their underappreciated profession, or to protest dangerous and dehumanizing working conditions. In this course, we will examine a long tradition of worker-poets to consider the impact poetry can have on the daily lives of those who write and read it. You will learn about a wide range of poetic forms and techniques and will employ this new knowledge to strengthen your critical reading and analytical writing skills.


ENGL 1260W – Introduction to Literary & Cultural Analysis

Shelby Johnson

MWF, 12:10 – 1:00 PM; MWF 1:10 – 2:00 PM

In a 1991 confidential World Bank memo, Lawrence Summers mused: “I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable … I’ve always thought that countries in Africa are vastly under polluted … Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the Least Developed Countries?” As this memo suggests, communities of color frequently bear a disproportionate burden of toxic contamination as a result of pollution in and around their neighborhoods. Moreover, these communities have historically had a diminished response capacity to fight such policies, as global environmental activism labors to intersectionally link the demands of racial, gendered, and environmental oppressions. For the purposes of this course, we will consider these two problems (environmental toxicity in communities of color and attendant expressions of protest) via literature, including prose fiction, film, poetry, creative non-fiction, journalism, and visual art, in order to explore how the concatenations of race, poverty, and environmental contamination is imagined and represented. In particular, we will pay attention to how these narratives are constructed and circulated, given that toxic racism remains fundamentally a problem of representation. The violences of environmental toxicity frequently happen slowly, are challenging to see (especially at the cellular or microscopic level), or have diffuse and unexpected effects, making it difficult to construct narratives that can account for all its varied manifestations and impacts. How do you narratively represent ecological violences that occur in the banal or mundane reportage of company memos, in abstract state policies, or in Third World labor practices? How do you imaginatively connect toxic spills, rising global temperatures and sea levels, and waste dumping throughout the globe to its specific impact in a local environment? How do these stories negotiate the emblematic burden of toxic ecosystems on impoverished communities with the singular experiences of a particular narrator? In this way, questions of narrative, imagination, and representation will drive our class discussions and writing this semester, prompting us to think through the relationship between literary production and its circulation in global formations of environmental activism.


ENGL 1260W.02 – Introduction to Literary & Cultural Analysis: Planet Bollywood?: South Asian Literature and Film

Akshya Saxena

MWF, 1:10 – 2:00 PM

South Asia is almost a third of the world’s population, but what do we know about its literature and culture? This course offers an introduction to the literature and films of 20th and 21st century South Asia. Bollywood from India and writings in English from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh more broadly have received much global attention in recent times. We will study some of these texts along with literary and cinematic works translated and dubbed from other South Asian languages such as Hindi, Urdu, and Bangla. We will think about cultural difference in our fast globalizing world, and will critically reflect on the ways in which we have come to view, read, and know South Asia.  As we do that, we will also learn to write critically about literature and film. (All texts and readings will be in English.)


ENGL 1260W.04 – Introduction to Literary & Cultural Anaylsis: Where Do We Go From Here?: Black America and the Question in Search of an Answer

Magana Kabugi

TR, 8:10 – 9:25 AM

In 1967, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. needed to isolate himself from the increasing chaos of the Civil Rights Movement. He rented a small isolated beach house in Jamaica with no telephone and wrote his final book, Where Do We Go From Here?: Chaos or Community, in which he grapples with the emerging Black Power movement, critically assesses the state of American race relations, and proposes radically transformative social policies necessary for Black progress. Fifty years after Dr. King’s assassination, Black America has come a long way, but at the same time, our television screens and Twitter feeds still flash with disturbing images of police brutality, mass incarceration and white nationalist anger. This course uses Dr. King’s burning question, “Where do we go from here?” as a critical entry point for examining how black intellectuals envision the way forward for Black America. Through readings of novels, short stories, films and television programs, music and social media, and contemporary events, we will confront the question head-on: where do we, as a nation, go from here?


ENGL 1260W.07 – Live from the Underground: Subterfuge, Appropriation, Fugitivity, and Resistance within American Literature & Culture

Terrell A. Taylor

TR, 9:35 – 10:50 AM

This course explores the how various groups in American society function in the shadow of the dominant culture. “The underground” as a trope within American culture carries a wide variety of suggestions: criminality, concealment, covert organization, rebellion, and many more. Various American writers have used tropes informed by the concept of the underground in their works, while others have defined their very practice as a kind of operation from below. Discussion topics will include the significance of the underground for the marginalized and subjugated, the flight from mainstream society toward the underground, and the different expressive, political, and cultural opportunities afforded by the underground. Texts will include essays, novels, poems, movies, and other media, and students will write frequent short informal papers and four longer formal papers throughout the semester.


ENGL 1260W.12 – Introduction to Literary & Cultural Analysis: The Marriage Market and the Politics of Power

TJ Cienki

MWF, 9:10 – 10:00 AM

“Reader, I married him.” So says Jane Eyre in the final chapter of Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel. Such a succinct declaration superimposes a so-called “happy ending” atop Brontë’s tale of elided colonialism, Christian piety, and suppressed sexuality. The heroine has at last nabbed her man. Cultural critics from the nineteenth century to today insist that although Charlotte Brontë, her predecessors, and successors wrote novels that ended in marriage, wedding bells aren’t the only things that chime throughout the marriage plot! Instead women writers like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charlotte Brontë herself used the marriage plot to engage with complex political issues of the day. This course will explore how representative novels like Austen’s Mansfield Park, Gaskell’s North and South, and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre dealt with politically-charged issues like the West Indian slave trade, rapid industrialization, and arguments about a woman’s place in society. Along the way, we will seek to answer questions in the following vein: how do novels about marriage unearth ideas about gender, politics, and power? What does it mean that we tend to overlook the radical political ideas espoused by women’s writing? How do film and television adaptations of these novels stay true to the political contours of these texts or otherwise flatten and aestheticize their political purchase?

  Representative texts (subject to change):

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

Caroline Norton, Pamphlets and A Letter to Queen Victoria

Elizabeth Rigby, review of Jane Eyre (1847)

John Ruskin, selections from his writings

Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (excerpt)

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

  Representative films:

Patricia Rozema, Mansfield Park (1999)

Cary Fukunaga, Jane Eyre (2011)

BBC, North and South (2004); mini-series


E NGL 1260.13 – Introduction to Literary & Cultural Analysis: Reading the Prison: Women's & Gender Studies

Robbie Elizabeth Spivey

MWF, 2:10 – 3:00 PM

Why does the U.S. incarcerate so many of its citizens – more than any other nation in the world? What role does prison play in the national imagination? In this course we will explore answers to both questions as we read literature by and about prisoners. We’ll also examine the political and cultural context of prison literature using two non-fiction texts: Discipline and Punish, which describes and theorizes the shift from public torture to private discipline in western culture, and The Race to Incarcerate, which reveals the tragic costs of unequal imprisonment in the United States.


ENGL 1270.01 – Introduction to Literary Criticism: Western Literary Theory

Women's & Gender Studies

Robbie Elizabeth Spivey

MWF, 10:10 – 11:00 AM

This course begins with a survey of major figures in the development of Western literary theory, including Plato, Aristotle, Pope, Johnson, Wordsworth and Arnold. The course continues with attention to select twentieth century critical approaches such as formalism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, and cultural criticism. We will identify characteristics of these movements and use their methods to develop our own critical interpretations of literary texts.


ENGL 1270.02 – Introduction to Literary Criticism: Western Literary Theory

Women's & Gender Studies

Robbie Elizabeth Spivey

MWF, 11:10 – 12:00 PM

This course begins with a survey of major figures in the development of Western literary theory, including Plato, Aristotle, Pope, Johnson, Wordsworth and Arnold. The course continues with attention to select twentieth century critical approaches such as formalism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, and cultural criticism. We will identify characteristics of these movements and use their methods to develop our own critical interpretations of literary texts.


JS 2260 – Literature & Film: Coming of Age

Allison Schachter

TR, 9:35 – 10:50 AM

In this course, we will examine coming-of-age novels, stories, memoirs, and films from multiple Jewish cultural perspectives. What does it mean to grow up in the Russian empire in the late nineteenth century?  In Vilna on the eve of World War II? In French Algeria Tunisia? In 1950s American suburbia?  What were the different protagonists’ challenges as they embraced or rejected the Jewish lives their parents lived? What role did sexuality and gender play in Jewish coming of age narratives? We will address a range of themes in the course, ranging from minority identity, the Holocaust, colonialism, and Zionism. This course counts towards the diverse perspectives requirement for the English major and the International Cultures Requirement for AXLE.

Course eligible for English.


ENGL 2310 – Representative British Writers to 1660

Jessie Hock

MWF, 3:10 – 4:00 PM

This course serves as an introduction to some of the major works of English literature from the Anglo-Saxon period through the mid-seventeenth century. Major readings will likely include Anglo-Saxon poems; Anglo-Norman poems; selections from Beowulf, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and Spenser’s Faerie Queene; Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. We will also read selections from the poetry of Wyatt, Sidney, Donne, Lanyer, Herbert, Jonson, Herrick, Philips, and Marvell. Works will be read in light of contemporary cultural, philosophical, and religious contexts. Assignments include active participation, short written assignments, and three exams.


ENGL 2316W – Representative American Writers

Shelby Johnson

MWF, 9:10 – 10:00 AM

Written at the successful conclusion of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), Haiti’s 1805 Constitution declared, “All acception of colour among the children of one and the same family, of whom the chief magistrate is the father, being necessarily to cease, the Haytians shall hence forward be known only by the generic appellation of Blacks.” Here, Haiti’s constitutional notion of racial citizenship sharply contrasts with the U.S. Constitution (1789), which heavily restricted citizenship to, primarily, white men, and defined U.S. slaves 3/5ths of a person. By naming every inhabitant – whether ethnically African or not – “Black,” the Haitian Constitution puts pressure on what it means to be a representative, or a citizen, of a country in the Americas. The United States and Haiti’s constitutional definitions of citizenship also interrogate what it means to be a representative writer of that country, particularly in the aftermath of the Revolutions that United States and Haiti originated in. How should histories of the American and Haitian Revolutions be written? For what purpose – and by whom? What historical events and figures recede from memory, or fail to appear in official or well-known histories of these revolutionary decades – and why? How should citizenship, and its legal, political, and cultural meanings, be defined? And how are the Revolutions, and the nations they inspired, reimagined in the literature of the Americas? Composed between 1776 and the present, the texts we will read and analyze take a range of generic forms – history, legal writing, autobiography, drama, poetry, prose fiction, film, and musicals – and prompt us to examine how the meanings of these Revolutions change depending on its generic form. In this way, we will explore how these Revolutions have inspired writers of the Americas to imagine – and continually rehearse – national identity, notions of citizenship and representation, and their histories. 


ENGL 2319 Honors (3.4 GPA required)

Julia Fesmire

TR, 1:10 – 2:35 PM

“I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are.  They deserve respect.  If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.”


The above quote from Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing explains why I think the study of literature is important.  This course is an opportunity to become familiar with some of the most powerful texts of our literary tradition.  The texts I have chosen for this class will, I hope, provide an opportunity for us to learn something about how literature has developed and changed from the Renaissance through the present.  We will focus 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?


Readings will include the following:

Marlowe, Dr. Faustus (New Mermaids)

Molière, Don Juan (trans. Richard Wilbur, Harvest)

Pope, The Rape of the Lock and other Poems (Signet)

Byron, Don Juan (Penguin)

Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (trans. Walter Arndt, Ardis)

Flaubert, Madame Bovary (trans. Paul deMan, Norton)

Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac (trans. Anthony Burgess, Vintage)

Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (Harcourt)

Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (trans. Burgin and O’Connor, Vintage)

McEwan’s Atonement (Anchor)

Stoppard, Arcadia (Faber)

Roy, The God of Small Things (Harper)


UNIV 3200 Race, Place, and Power

Milazzo, Marzia

TR 9:35 – 10:50 AM

Race, Place and Power  will examine the crucial entanglement between race and place from an interdisciplinary and transnational perspective. Paying attention to three different national contexts—Brazil, South Africa and the United States—the course will investigate the politics of spatial segregation and consider the global dimensions of racialized injustice and decolonial resistance. Through the study of literary texts, scholarly essays, film, music, video and news media, we will ask how and why what appear to be vastly different racial regimes and socio-political contexts produce similar socio-economic outcomes and dominant ideologies. Students will also interrogate the spatial and racial politics of Nashville.

In this discussion-based course we will answer several questions: What is racism and what is its social function? What is the purpose of spatial segregation? How are the spatial dynamics of race similar or different in Brazil, the United States and South Africa? How do the antiracist politics articulated in the works examined intersect with women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, human rights and resistance to global capitalism and the neoliberal order? What do these works tell us about the legacies of colonialism in our time? And what do they teach us about the possibility to create a more livable world for all?


ENGL 3220 – Advanced Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Joy Castro

M, 3:10 – 6:00 PM

Description: This generative workshop in reading and writing creative nonfiction will explore issues of craft and ethics in relation to a genre that oscillates explicitly between self and world:  the essay.  We will form a supportive, informed, critical community in which to share new work; respond in class to multiple writing prompts; come to understand the range of the genre and the issues that concern it; think together about form and possibilities; analyze published work; generate 20 or more pages of new creative nonfiction; and revise manuscripts with an eye toward possible future submission for publication.  Students will attend and respond to three literary events during the semester and read and critique (in writing and in class discussion) original narratives by peers.  Texts will include The Best American Essays 2017, edited by Leslie Jamison, and Vivian Gornick’s The Situation and the Story:  The Art of Personal Narrative.  Admission is by consent of instructor and based on the approval of a writing sample submission.


ENGL 3230 – Intermediate Fiction Workshop

Lorraine López

TR, 3:10 – 6:00 PM

This course focuses on the development of narrative techniques related to the short story.  As such, the workshop is designed to help members gain greater proficiency in creating effective characterization, building sound narrative structures, using perspective judiciously and consistently, balancing summary with scene, developing setting and imagery that evokes the physical world of the story, applying significant detail, and acquiring revision and editing strategies.  Over the semester, students will compose two original short stories, complete three writing exercises, attend and respond to three literary events, and read and critique original narratives by peers.  Workshop members will also analyze, present on, and discuss published short stories in Best American Short Stories, 2017 (edited by Meg Wolitzer and Heidi Pitlor) in conjunction with chapters in Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (Janet Burroway, et al) and/or craft articles by various authors.

Admission is by consent of instructor and is based on the approval of a submission.


ENGL 3337.01 – Shakespeare

Kathryn Schwarz

TR, 1:10 – 2:25 PM

It is not necessary to take English 3336 as a prerequisite for English 3337.

This course focuses on the second half of Shakespeare’s career, during which he wrote comedies, histories, tragedies, and romances.  Rather than take a strictly chronological approach, we will look at clusters of plays that invite us to think across genres.  How does a tragedy such as Othello ask the same questions about social identity and personal responsibility as a comedy such as Twelfth Night?  How might a romance such as The Winter’s Tale illuminate and complicate both the mythological grandeur of Antony and Cleopatra and the political cynicism of King Lear?  If Measure for Measure and Macbeth were written within a year or two of one another, in what ways do they meditate on the same cultural issues and problems, and in what ways do those issues and problems change shape in response to the demands of form?  Throughout the semester, we will look for different angles on what might broadly be termed politics: the politics of nationalism, gender, history, violence, identity, community, literary production, and social norms.

Discussions will draw on historical, performative, and critical contexts, considering both the initial conditions of theatrical and textual production and the ways in which these plays have been read, staged, filmed, and rewritten across time.
Course requirements include a presentation and related short paper, a longer, research-based paper, and regular class participation.


ENGL 3642 – Film & Modernism: Allen, Scorsese, and Eastwood

Sam B. Girgus

T, 2:35 – 5:30 PM

The course will offer close readings of major films by three of America’s greatest current directors who have profoundly influenced modern film and contemporary culture and values. All three directors have changed our understanding and appreciation of film as art and cultural product. They have directed modern masterpieces as cinematic scenes of cultural engagement, conflict, and transformation. Leaders in developing the creative potential of film art, these directors emphasize certain themes in their work, including changing views of masculinity, the revolution in sexual and gender relationships, violence in contemporary culture, ethnic and racial identities and tensions, the search for meaning and belief, irony and humor.


ENGL 3642 – Film & Modernism

Sam B. Girgus

MW, 2:35 – 3:50 PM

The course focuses on the relationship of film to the forces and movements that define and impel modernism, including changes regarding sexuality and gender, ethics, belief, identity, values, and lifestyles. Readings will include classics of literary modernism and the modern tradition. We will relate these readings to the cinema of modernism from a variety of national film traditions, including Italian, French, British, Russian, Swedish, American, and other cultures. The course will structure this learning and viewing experience in terms of the personal quest in modernity for belief and commitment. We will examine how film originated with the modernist movement and grew to maturity with the great modernists of art, literature, and philosophy.


A Journey in Two Parts: The Crisis and the Quest

I. Film originated with the modernist movement and grew to maturity with the great modernists of art, literature, and philosophy.  The course will study film from the perspective and within the context of the major themes of modernism: the divided self, the break between language and realism, nihilism and the search for belief, narrative space and time in film, ideology and identity, politics and aesthetics, the body and film. 

 II. The course also will engage what Julia Kristeva terms the crisis of “therapeutic and moral value” in modern times by considering Richard Kearney’s idea of the “phenomenology of the flesh” as a means for rethinking the relationship of the body and “soul” as expressed in film aesthetics and contemporary thought. Students will document their intellectual and personal experiences of their individual journeys toward understanding and renewing ethical relationships.


ENGL 3658 – Latino/a American Literature: Murder and Mayhem Latin-style

Lorraine López

TR, 1:10 – 2:25 PM

This course focuses on “brown noir”: detective fiction and mysteries by contemporary Latina/o authors.  “With its emphasis on reason, order, justice, and alienation, the detective novel,” observes Richard Rodriguez in Brown Gumshoes, “is better suited than other genres to identify the shifting terrain of post-nationalism and to address the existential concerns that change entails.”  Further, the genre provides an effective lens for exploring myths, legends, and folktales: religion and spirituality; cultural and linguistic identity; racism, sexism, and homophobia; justice and socioeconomic equality; human and civil rights; and national identity.  We will read, discuss, analyze, write about, and present on suspenseful narratives by authors including Daniel Alarcón, Joy Castro, Lucha Corpi, Teresa Dovalpage, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Michael Nava, and Marcos M. Villatoro.  Texts will be examined in historic, cultural, and literary contexts to apprehend connections to and disconnections from established traditions from which the writing emerges and to formulate ideas about where it is headed.   


English 3730: Literature and the Environment: Contemporary Climate Fiction

Teresa Goddu

TR, 2:35 -  3:50 PM 

This course surveys twenty-first century literary fiction that focuses on climate change. What do contemporary writers have to tell us about the natural, social, political, psychological, and cultural changes that we are currently or may soon experience? We will consider a range of cultural texts (literature, film, art, new media) that imagine worlds shaped by climate change and which offer ways to approach its challenges and possibilities. Texts may include: Ben Lerner, 10:04; Cormac McCarthy, The Road; Karen Thompson Walker, The Age of Miracles; Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilatio, 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.

This course satisfies the “approaches” requirement for the English major.  


ENGL 3734 – From the Plantation to the Penitentiary: Interpretation, Literature, and the Law

Colin Dayan

MWF, 11:10 – 12:00 PM

Whilst society in the United States gives the example of the most extended liberty, the prisons of the same country offer the spectacle of the most complete despotism.—Beaumont and Tocqueville, On the Penitentiary System in the United States (1831)

This course will examine how punishment, prisons, incapacitation, and torture not only became critical to the meaning of democracy and freedom in the United States but also shaped a history of property and possession essential to what Thomas L. Dumm in Democracy and Punishment has called "the American project." 

Crucial questions to be considered: What is the connection between slavery and imprisonment? Is there any connection between the criminal as "slave of the state" and the slave as property or thing? What does it mean to be dead in law? How do we recognize the limits of torture? Is there a connection between incarceration on the mainland and "extraordinary rendition" and "isolation" in "black sites," Guantanamo--or other "receptacles for that race of men," to quote Thomas Jefferson.

We will examine legal, philosophical and historical texts, as well as fictional and film re-enactments of lockdown and criminality, the death penalty, chain gangs, and supermax confinement. Films to be viewed: "I am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang"; "I Want to Live!"; and "Thin Blue Line." Texts include: Albert Camus, "Reflections on the Guillotine; Jessica Mitford, Kind and Usual Punishment; Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish; Mumia Abu Jamal, Live from Death Row; selected fiction of Poe, Melville, Cheever and Mailer, as well as selected legal cases and selections from John Locke, Jeremy Bentham, Giorgio Agamben, and Angela Davis.


Case law is central to this course.  So if you’re not prepared to read carefully some rather long cases, then this is not the class for you.


ENGL 3890.01 – Movements in Literature: English Reformation Literature
Roger Moore
TR, 9:35 – 10:50 PM

This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement.

The transformation of England from a Catholic to a Protestant nation was, to say the least, a disruptive phenomenon.  Monks and nuns were cast out of their monasteries, Catholic and Protestant martyrs suffered public tortures and executions, and Catholic plotters attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament.  Religious enmities ran high, and intolerance was the order of the day.  In this course, we will analyze the influence of the English Reformation on the literature of early-modern England.  We will begin with William Tyndale’s The Obedience of a Christian Man, a highly influential compendium of Protestant themes and arguments that even Henry VIII regarded as essential reading.  We will then study a series of anti-Catholic dialogues, lampoons, plays, and satires (including works by John Bale, Richard Weaver, Robert Crowley, William Baldwin and the mysterious “Luke Shepherd”) as well as Catholic writings against Protestantism.  Religious violence and the responses to it will demand much of our attention; we will examine selections from John Foxe’s popular Book of Martyrs as well as the literature that emerged after the Gunpowder Plot.  In the last third of class, we will read canonical texts (Book I of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus or Tamburlaine, selections from Sir Philip Sidney’s Defense of Poesy)whose engagement with Reformation themes and doctrines is significant.  Assignments will include tests, a couple of essays, and a research project. 


ENGL 3890.04 – Movements in Literature: The Decadent Movement

Rachel Teukolsky

TR, 4:00 – 5:15 PM

What kind of art do you make art when the world seems to be ending? Writers and artists in Britain in the 1890s formed the Decadent movement with the sense that the British empire was entering into its final, decadent phase. They wrote novels and poetry about dressing up, partying, sleeping with prostitutes, taking drugs, and wandering city streets as though lost in a dream. They experimented with sexuality and gender performance—culminating in Oscar Wilde’s arrest and trial for committing acts of “gross indecency.” We will consider the art and politics of decadence in works such as: Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray; J.-K. Huysmans, À Rebours (“Against Nature”); R. L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (a Sherlock Holmes novel); Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams; H.G. Wells, The Time Machine; “New Woman” fiction by Mary Bright and Violet Paget; illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley; and decadent poetry by Arthur Symons, Algernon Swinburne, Michael Field, Oscar Wilde, Olive Custance, and others. We will conclude by tracing some of the inheritors of Decadence, from Andy Warhol to the film Velvet Goldmine. The course will likely require two 5-6 page papers, a course presentation, and a take-home final.


ENGL 3892 – Topics in Literary Study: Translation

Akshya Saxena

MWF, 10:10 – 11:00 AM

Imagine the sheer variety of translations we encounter every day—in writing and printing technologies, in films and their adaptations, in Google Translate, in Bing-powered translations on Facebook, in captioning and fan subtitling on YouTube, and in tourist-friendly mobile phone applications. Without translation, we would know neither Greek mythology nor the Bible, nor even “Gangnam Style.” We regularly depend on translational practices to understand the “foreign,” whether it be in the military, media, science, medicine, religion, or education. It brings to us the world’s great literatures, philosophy, and cinema, and creates a global community across diverse linguistic cultures. In its simplest sense, a translation is an act of making meaning—across languages, media, dialects, and discourses. But a translation not only deciphers the foreign for us in terms of the familiar, it also defines our sense of what is foreign and what is familiar. As it expands the limits of our worlds, a translation is, in fact, the most tangible manifestation of that world.

In this course, we assume an expansive approach to translation—both as a practice and as a metaphor—to examine the ways in which it shapes our understanding of literature and of the world. Through three main sections, this course explores how our multifarious translations create, maintain, and dismantle meaning and power structures. With a mix of works of fiction and other media, we will interrogate the nature and vitality of language, examine linguistic hybridity as a translation, explore translation as a metaphor for transition into dominant narratives such as modernity, nation, and the global, reflect on the ethics of translation and the politics of the original, ask questions about the hegemony of global languages, analyze the necessary utopia of translations, and investigate the relation between the human and the technological. (The course will be conducted in English and no knowledge of other languages is required).


ENGL 3898 – 1968-2018: Then and Now, A Half-century.

Michael Kreyling

TR, 9:35 – 10:50 AM

How many times and in how many contexts have we heard “The nation is more divided now than at any other time in our history.” Suspend for the moment that 1861-65 (and decades before and after) were pretty divisive years.

How would cultural division manifest itself? Can we measure cultural change? Is 50 years enough time to answer the question of divisions? Where would the symptoms be found, if they could be found? What would this knowledge (if we could put our hands on it) do for us now? The course outlined in the following is a tentative map toward answering these questions.


ENGL 4960.02 – Senior Capstone Course: Word and Image

Rachel Teukolsky

TR, 2:35 – 3:50 PM

What happens when you combine words with images to make new, experimental kinds of artworks? Picasso glued pieces of newspaper into his paintings; Art Spiegelman narrated his father’s experiences of the Holocaust in the form of a graphic novel. We will study examples from the eighteenth century to the present day, considering many different variations on the theme. Image-texts might include: John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”; William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience; Oscar Wilde, Salomé; Art Spiegelman, Maus; Alison Bechdel, Fun Home; fairy tales and their illustrations; photographs by Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger; and works by contemporary African-American artists who use words provocatively in their images, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nina Chanel Abney, and Matthew Thomas (in his pictorial ebook Love, Sex, and Drunk-Texts). For the final project, students will write a 10-12 pp. research paper on a topic of their choosing, with an option for a creative project.


ENGL 7450 Graduate Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Joy Castro

W 3:10 – 6:00 PM

Description: Following Theodor Adorno’s claim that “[t]elling a story means having something special to say, and that is precisely what is prevented by the administered world, by standardization and eternal sameness,” this generative workshop will explore issues of craft and ethics in relation to a genre that oscillates explicitly between self and world:  the personal essay.  Narratives of personal experience can function simultaneously as aesthetic objects and sociopolitical interventions.  To this end, we will create the conditions for eliciting each writer’s “something special to say” by forming a supportive, informed, critical community in which to share new work; responding in class to multiple writing prompts; understanding the range of the genre and the issues that concern it; thinking about form and possibilities; analyzing published work; gaining experience giving craft lectures; producing 30 or more pages of new creative nonfiction; revising manuscripts; and identifying appropriate venues for publication.  Texts will include Rigoberto González’s Autobiography of My Hungers; The Best American Essays 2017, edited by Leslie Jamison; and Margot Singer’s and Nicole Walker’s Bending Genre:  Essays on Creative Nonfiction.


WGS 8304 – Gender, Power, & Justice (Eligible for English)

Kathryn Schwarz

T, 3:00 – 6:00 PM

In a sense, this course revolves around a two-part question: How might we read activist practices as theoretical arguments? And how might we read theoretical arguments as activist practices? Pushing back against the distinction between abstract thought and concrete engagement – or between master narratives and the raw materials onto which they can be mapped – we will take seriously the idea that academic discourse not only reflects on activism but also participates in and emerges from it. Our collective goal, then, is to recognize intersections rather than presume distinctions, and to illuminate productive, reciprocal dynamics between texts and acts too often held apart by taxonomies of kind.

In our attempts to elucidate the three key terms of the course title – and in particular to ask what concepts of justice might emerge from the nexus of gender and power – we will focus on some core texts. From Audre Lorde and Ti-Grace Atkinson to Patricia Williams and Barbara Johnson, from Gloria Anzaldúa and Eve Sedgwick to Dean Spade and Sara Ahmed, we will look at authors who imagine the fusion of theory and practice in contexts that range from rights movements to pedagogy to diversity initiatives to law. Although I will set some of these texts, the evolution of our archive will be a collaborative project. Each of you will have opportunities to share readings across the arc of the semester: from your own disciplines, from contemporary popular discourses, and from any other context that adds texture, depth, and vitality to our conversations. We will work together to develop vocabularies that at once recognize the long reach of ideological histories and engage the urgencies of the current moment.

Course eligible for English.