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DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH

Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Spring 2017

LING 151: The Nature of Language
MW 9:30-10:45
Instructor: Mythili Menon

Have you ever wondered why your brain is so good at processing language or the connection between language and mathematics or language and music?
 
This seminal, introductory course explores the nature of language at its interfaces with other cognitive domains. We will talk about what distinguishes the human language faculty from animal communication, draw links between the way memory and learning work in tandem with speech production and comprehension. This course will also connect language with visual cognition, music perception, emotions, and psychology. We will also briefly look at some of the cutting edge research connecting language with mathematics, computer science, and artificial intelligence.

ENGL 230: Exploring Literature
Online
Instructor: Kerry Jones

This is a general education introductory course designed to expose students to the reading of literature in its major traditional period or genres (fiction, poetry, drama).. Prerequisite (or co-requisite): ENGL 102. This course may not be counted for credit toward the English major or minor.

ENGL 232:
Online
Instructor: Carrie Dickison

This is a general education introductory course designed to expose students to the reading of literature in its major traditional period or genres (fiction, poetry, drama).. Prerequisite (or co-requisite): ENGL 102. This course may not be counted for credit toward the English major or minor.

English 232: The American Dream
MW 9:30-10:45
Instructor: Mary Sherman

Definitions of the “American Dream” abound, but, in common usage, the term suggests that hard work, determination, a positive outlook, and perhaps a bit of good luck can enable those of us who identify ourselves as Americans to improve our lot in life and to achieve a reasonable degree of prosperity, security, and contentment. That said, all of us know that this idea is an over-simplification—one that can lead to frustration, discouragement, and even tragedy instead of happiness. Our goal in this course, therefore, will be to analyze and reflect upon the complexities of the American Dream as we explore how authors of diverse eras and backgrounds have approached this concept. Readings will include fiction, drama, and memoir and will be chosen to provide historical context for our discussions and to permit us to examine how gender, class, race, and ethnicity have influenced how writers have defined the American Dream. We will read from a mix of classic and contemporary authors, some familiar and other less so, all of whom have written works of literary and historical significance. The course will help us to understand better the struggles of many different groups of Americans who have longed to be good citizens and to enjoy the best of what life in America has to offer. 

ENGL 285: Introduction to Creative Writing
12:30-1:45 MW
Instructor: Sam Taylor

ENGL 301 / 401: Fiction Writing
T 1:30-4:00
Instructor: Darren DeFrain

ENGL 303 / 403: Poetry Writing
W 1:30-4:00
Instructor: Albert Goldbarth

ENGL 310: The Nature of Poetry
TR 9:30-10:45
Instructor: T.J. Boynton

Poetry is perhaps the most caricatured and misunderstood of literary forms.  Pop-cultural depictions of poetry portray it as a spontaneous gushing of flowery or sentimental language devoted to wooing a love interest, rhapsodizing over one’s passions, or brooding over one’s sufferings.  Anyone who has these universal motivations and experiences can write poetry; he/she need only purchase a fountain pen and moleskin notebook and find a secluded forest glade or a quiet corner of the local coffee shop.  As this course will show, the popular perception of poetry is as wrong as it is cliché.  Poetry is not only a serious literary form marked by extreme technical discipline and imaginative creativity; it is, per square inch of text, perhaps the most difficult one to engage with.  This course will train you in the concepts and skills required to appreciate and interpret this extremely challenging literary form.  We will examine a wide variety of poetic genres by a historically and nationally diverse range of poets, and in the process we shall see that, in sharp contrast to its popular image, poetry is both one of the most demanding and one of the most rewarding of human creative pursuits.

LING / ENGL 315: Introduction to English Linguistics
TR 9:30-10:45
Instructor: Mythili Menon

The main goal of this course is twofold: (i) to introduce students to the basic methodology and results of modern linguistics, (ii) to teach analytic reasoning through the examination of linguistic phenomena and data. This means that you will be taught a basic introduction to some of the main results and ideas of modern linguistic theory  as well as the scientific reasoning behind them, so that you might apply that reasoning to novel cases, both in language and in other spheres of life.

LING / ENGL 317: History of the English Language
MW 12:30-1:45
Instructor: Mythili Menon

The main goal of this course is to provide a thorough investigation of the processes in the historical development of languages and specifically of the English language from its Proto-Indo-European origins to its present use around the world. It includes an examination of both the historical and socio-cultural influences on the language and of the changes in the various linguistic subsystems: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and vocabulary. The methodology used in this course will deal with historical corpus data, such as ARCHER and others.

ENGL 320: Nature of Drama
MW 11-12:15
Instructor: Mary Sherman

This course will introduce students to drama as a literary genre as we read landmark plays drawn from a variety of historical periods, including classical and medieval, Renaissance (including Shakespearean), seventeenth and eighteenth century, and modern and contemporary theatre. As we learn about the major elements of drama and discuss issues surrounding dramatic performance, we will also attempt to understand the plays we study as a reflection of their particular historical and cultural contexts. To enhance our appreciation of theatre as a performance art, we will also watch brief video excerpts of some of the plays we read as time and technology permit.

ENGL 323: World Literature
TR 12:30-1:45
Instructor: T.J. Boynton

The history of literature is filled with examples of authors alluding to, quoting, adapting, and outright stealing from previously published works.  A special category of such forms of literary borrowing is the wholesale rewriting of classic texts.  This course will emphasize this unique type of aesthetic repackaging by highlighting contemporary rewritings of canonical or classic works.  We will read three classic source texts and their more recent, modified versions and will attempt thereby to probe the ongoing utility and relevance of classic literature to the contemporary world. Why do old stories, plays, and poems continue to speak to us, and what advantages might rewriting them hold over the creation of original works?  We will pursue this question through “classic” texts from ancient Greece to Victorian England, through contemporary rewritings from Africa to the Caribbean, and amid literary forms such as the short story, epic poetry, and the novel.  Along the way we will also develop our skills as close readers, writers, and thinkers about literature and will gain increased awareness of and insight into the diverse cultures from which our chosen texts originate.

ENGL 360: Major British Writers I
MW 12:30-1:45
Instructor: Chris Brooks

Covers British literary writing from Cædmon’s Hymn (7th century CE) (to Lyrical Ballads (1798), including works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton.

ENGL 362: Major American Writers I
TR 11-12:15
Instructor: Rebeccah Bechtold

“Major American Writers I” emphasizes the various social, political, and economic upheavals that mark early American lives. A survey of American literature and culture from Exploration to the mid nineteenth century, the course will introduce you to representative works that frame our understanding of early American culture. We therefore will be examining a wide range of texts from the early conquest and colonization period through the American Renaissance and Civil War, all the while attempting to understand how and why we define American literature as we do. In addition to more conventional genres of literature (namely poetry and fiction), we will be reading and discussing a variety of textual forms, from sermons and scientific texts to personal narratives, essays, and pamphlets, as well as secondary sources that help historicize our readings. “Major American Writers I” thus challenges the traditional sense of narrative—what literature is and does—in order to seek a broader understanding of the place of literature and writing within the period we explore and within the field of American Studies as well.

ENGL 363: Major American Writers II
MW 9:30-10:45
Instructor: Kerry Jones

This is a general education advanced further study course, and covers important American writers from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. Authors include Whitman, Gilman, Eliot, Hurston, Hughes, Faulkner, O’Connor, Plath, Barak Obama and Sherman Alexie, among many others. Prerequisites are ENGL 102 and, for students seeking general education credit, ENGL 230 or 232. ENGL 362 is not a prerequisite for this course!

ENGL 365: African-American Literature
MW 11:00-12:15
Instructor: Jean Griffith

This course will survey African American literature from the colonial period to the present, from slavery through Emancipation, segregation, the civil rights movement, and beyond. We will be reading multiple genres—poetry, fiction, nonfiction—and, while our primary focus will be on the texts themselves, we will pay some attention to the historical forces and events that helped to shape and were shaped by the literature. We will also explore African American literature alongside other arts, especially music. In addition to giving you a background in African American literature and, more generally, some understanding of how people of African descent have influenced American culture, this class will teach you how to: 1) critically engage with a variety of texts; 2) analyze and discuss formal, structural, thematic, and contextual aspects of those texts with others; and 3) draft and revise essays that include specific claims supported by research and the works you analyze.
   
ENG 377: Graphic Novel
Online
Instructor: Darren DeFrain 

Students will explore the history of the genre (along with its decades-long struggle for legitimacy).  They will gain an understanding of significant cultural differences between American graphic novels and other important traditions (such as the Franco-Belgian Bande-Dessinee, Japanese Manga, and Italian Fumetti) and how those differences influence narrative.  And students will be encouraged to critically reflect on their own social identities and how those are reflected or shaped by image and text. The online format for this course will allow students to complete “virtual posters,” which will be “displayed” on a class blog and which will demonstrate how themes or issues of socially-constructed oppression and privilege have been addressed through a work (comic or graphic novel) not covered in class readings.  The class will learn how to promote this blog and how to solicit, accept, and process criticism from local, national, and global respondents.  Students will also master the terms and skills of visual narrative, rhetoric, and analysis – all skills necessary for successfully navigating a culturally and socially diverse world.
 

ENGL 508: Critical Studies in Film
MW 9:30-10:45
Instructor: Chris Brooks

Critical Studies in Film will instruct students how to assess films in a variety of critical methods. Selected films will feature critical ideologies that represent prominent schools of thinking, those methodologies used to understand human interaction and cultural values. Students will discuss how assigned films represent different modes of perception, including race, gender, and age. Class discussion will promote this exchange of ideas. Students will designate the last four films to be examined through a nomination process.

ENG 515: Studies in Shakespeare: Revenge!
TR 11-12:15
Instructor: Fran Connor


'No place indeede should murther sanctuarise, / Reuendge should haue no bounds.'
(Q2 Hamlet, 17.122-3)

Revenge tragedies of Shakespeare's time feature an individual who has suffered a horrible wrong, but who has no recourse to justice except to take matters into his own hands. This individual earns his revenge, often luridly, although his fatal decisions engender other deleterious consequences that result in a pile of bodies on the stage by the final scene, often including his own. These plays revel in the catharsis of the act of revenge even as they recognize that the individual's desire for revenge, though understandable and even admirable, is societally disruptive. William Shakespeare's most famous play (indeed, perhaps the most famous play in Western Culture), Hamlet, is an exemplar of this genre, and notions of revenge as imagined in this play and others of Shakespeare's time continue to inform contemporary popular culture. (Horror films, for example, quite often model themselves consciously or unconsciously on the tropes of early modern revenge tragedy.)

This course will examine revenge, and Shakespeare's Hamlet will be our centerpiece–we'll read two versions of it–along with his earliest revenge tragedy, Titus Andronicus. To put Shakespeare's ideas about revenge in perspective we will read plays that inspired Shakespeare (Seneca's Thyestes; Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy) and revenge tragedies from some of his contemporaries and followers (possibly including Thomas Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy, John Marston's Antonio's Revenge, and Cyril Tourneur's The Atheist’s Tragedy). We will also think about how Shakespearean notions of revenge continue to reverberate in our own time by considering film versions of some of the plays on our reading list and contemporary films for which revenge is a central thematic concern, such as Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

ENGL 524: Restoration and 18th Century Literature
M 4:30-6:50
Instructor: Chris Brooks

English 524 will introduce the student to the periods of literature often described as neoclassical and enlightenment works. With the political act of Restoration English society enters an “early-modern” period of thought. Women playwrights emerge, satire begins to dominate, and England becomes the subject—and target—of many literary modes. And through all this, the novel is born. English 524 will investigate the how the 1700s predict the 2000s.

ENGL 590: Senior Seminar: British Romantic Literature: Politics and Aesthetics
T 4:30-6:50
Instructor: Mary Waters

This class will explore poetry, fiction, and non-fiction prose from the Romantic period to develop an understanding of the ways in which aesthetics and literary form both influence and respond to wider cultural events that may seem far removed from literature. We will balance the reading of traditional major figures of British Romanticism (Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats) with lesser-known literary figures and with writers on such controversies as human rights, the abolition of slavery, and the controversy over the revolution in France to reveal a vibrant and dynamic body of literature where investment in issues of immediate social concern can be considered in tandem with enduring aesthetic power.

ENGL 680: Theory and Practice in Composition
R 4:30-630
Instructor: Danielle Koupf

This course introduces students to theories of rhetoric and writing, major research questions in composition studies, and best practices for teaching writing in schools and colleges. We will investigate writing processes, analyze varieties and examples of student writing, and hone our writing skills by drafting, revising, and evaluating our own and others’ work. As we read significant publications in the field, we will continually consider the relationship between theory and classroom practice. Assignments will give students experience reading challenging pedagogical and theoretical texts, performing research, drafting course materials for current or future writing classes, reading instructional texts critically, and responding effectively to student writing.