Spring Course Descriptions

English Courses

Detailed Course Descriptions for Selected Courses

Adolescence EducationLiteratureProfessional Writing
400 Level Course 200 Level Courses 200 Level Courses
600 Level Course 300 Level Courses 300 Level Courses
400 Level Courses 400 Level Courses
500/600 Level Courses

Adolescence Education Courses

AED 408: Teaching Writing
Davies, T 3-5:30 p.m.

In AED 408, students develop practical strategies for teaching writing that are grounded in contemporary writing research and theory. This course requires 30 fieldwork observation hours.

Students will design writing activities, assignments and assessments, plan and deliver lessons that address different stages in the writing process, and practice responding to and evaluating student writing. The course projects ask students to design instructional materials for a variety of commonly assigned genres in secondary English language arts. Students will also read and analyze foundational writing pedagogy theories and compose a philosophy of teaching writing that is in conversation with these theories. Students will explore the intersections between reading and writing and the implications of literacy, culture, and language policies on the teaching of writing in secondary schools.

AED 408 will be held at Homer Junior High School. As part of this course, AED 408 students will tutor 7th and 8th grade students in a 10th-period “Writing Workshop” every Tuesday afternoon. This shared fieldwork experience will give students the opportunity work with student writers and to see first-hand how writing is taught in secondary classrooms.

AED 668: Language Development in Adolescence
McKenzie, Th 4:20-6:50 p.m.

Grammar instruction has a bad reputation. The words “grammar lesson” elicit feelings of fear and boredom, and the ubiquitous practice of “correcting” student papers with gashes of red ink sends the message that some people speak and write “properly” while others are deficient in the English language. But grammar instruction does not have to be painful, and it is possible to teach grammar in ways that honor adolescents’ literacy practices. In this course, students will deepen their knowledge of English grammar, develop strategies for grammar instruction, and grapple with the relationship between language use, schooling, and patterns of power and oppression.

Back to Top

Literature Courses

ENG 200, Introduction to Literature (GE7)
Pittsley, Section 001 MWF 11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

In Introduction to Literature, students will explore short stories, poems, and plays written by authors from a variety of time periods and cultures. Some of these authors include Eudora Welty, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ZZ Packer, Adam-Troy Castro, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Charles Bukowski, Eavan Boland, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, ee Cummings, Sophocles and William Shakespeare. Students will cultivate an ability to write about literature through close reading and analysis.

ENG 203: Introduction to Poetry (GE7/WI)
Alwes, MWF 10:20-11:10 a.m.
       MWF 11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

The class will look at a variety of poets and poems with an eye toward theme, imagery, form and the pure enjoyment of the English language.

ENG 203: Introduction to Poetry (GE7/WI)
Masselink, MW 3-4:15 p.m.

Poems are a bit like puzzles just waiting for attentive readers to solve them. From Old English riddles to contemporary rap, Mother Goose to Shakespeare’s sonnets, poetry speaks a language like no other. In this course, we will examine the way poets over the centuries break new ground, while at the same time building upon and acknowledging the contributions of those who wrote before them. Students will learn to read critically as well as for enjoyment and will write one paper in three parts, with opportunities for revision along the way.

ENG 208: Introduction to Film Analysis (GE7/WI)
Leffel, Section 001 TR 11:40 am.m-12:55 p.m.
        Section 003 TR 1:15-2:30 p.m. 

Students will learn the basics of film analysis by viewing, discussing, and writing critically about a diverse range of films (and film clips). Required readings will cover a range of topics, including cinematography, mise-en-scene, directing, editing, acting, and so on. Film directors to be considered include: Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola, and others.

ENG 208: Introduction to Film Analysis (GE7/WI)
Bradway, TR 1:15-2:30 p.m.

Lights, camera… analysis? This course will introduce you to the interpretation of film as an art form. You will watch a wide range of films—from contemporary blockbusters and classic horror films to documentaries and indie-arthouse dramas—and you will develop a critical language to analyze, discuss, and write about how films use form to make meaning. Topics will include: cinematography, sound design, editing, lighting, and narrative structure. At the end of the course, students will also have the opportunity to produce a short film.

ENG 256: Introduction to American Indian Literature (GE7/WI)
Radus, MWF 10:20-11:10 a.m.

“In the Great American Indian novel, when it is finally written / all of the white people will be Indians and all of the Indians will be ghosts.” In this course, we’ll consider these sardonic lines, by the Spokane author Sherman Alexie, as we investigate the major genres, themes, and periods of American Indian literature. We’ll begin with traditional genres, like origin stories and trickster tales, before moving to familiar forms: autobiographies, stories, poems, and novels. Throughout, we will situate authors and texts in their cultural, political, and historical contexts so that we can better consider how this literature has, from its origins to the present, reflected and responded to the realities of American Indian experience. Our active in-class discussions will be supplemented by short papers, informal presentations, and creative exercises.

ENG 260: The Literature of Sports (GE7)
Anderson, MWF 1:50-2:40 p.m.

In their A Brief History of American Sports, Gorn and Goldstein tell us that sports have “always been Janus-faced.” That in sports literature, while we witness the “beauty, grace, and passion” of human achievement, we also experience the “strange mixture of sordidness and transcendence, crudity and refinement, venality and selflessness” that make this literature an appealing and significant art. For athletes, they insist, sports can be seen as the “expressive outlets for people who did not compose symphonies, publish treatises, or design buildings.”

In this course we will read and share the essays, stories, novels, and poems that explore the joys and sorrows of the best sports literature; how it so completely involves each of us in the ethical, emotional, social, and even political realities that define our apparently dominant sports culture.

ENG 290: Introduction to Literary Study (GE7/WI)
Stone, TR 1:15–2:30 p.m. 

What is “literature”? How do we “study” it? These seem like simple questions but, as this course will show, these questions have been debated since English Departments were first created in American universities in the late 19th century. What gets to count as literature, and how has this changed over time? What kinds of literature do we focus on in the Cortland English Department today? When I read a piece of literature, what should I pay attention to and why? How do I write an analysis of a literary text? These are some of the questions we will address in this first class for English majors at Cortland.

ENG 302: Writing About Literature (WI)
Stone, TR 10:05–11:20 a.m.
       TR 11:40 a.m.-12:55 p.m.

Techniques for writing about literature have radically expanded in the 20th and 21st centuries. In the early twentieth century essentialist beliefs about language and meaning guided much literary scholarship. In the 1970s, scholars began destabilizing these so-called ‘truths’ through identity politics. In the end of the twentieth century, scholars wrote about literature as both a participant in and a shaper of history. Today, scholars are exploring posthumanist methods of literary analysis. The purpose of this course is to survey the most influential thinkers promoting these radical shifts in order to develop our own beliefs and methods of writing about literature.

ENG 325: American Literature Before 1900
Radus, MWF 11:30 a.m-12:20 p.m.

What does it mean to describe a work of literature as “American”? What does that term signify? Who decides, and who has been excluded? How has that term—and the literature it defines—changed in response to the cultural, social, and political forces that have shaped our nation? In this course, we will consider these questions by examining literature produced in “America,” beginning with the literature of pre-Columbian indigenous societies and finishing on the eve of the 20th century. We will devote particular attention to how writers from different ethnic, racial, and gendered backgrounds address issues that influenced the development of the United States. In-class discussions on assigned readings and their broader contexts will be supplemented by informal writing exercises, one formal paper, and two exams.

ENG 326: American Literature since 1900
Bradway, TR 11:40 a.m.-12:55 p.m.

This course will survey American literature since 1900, focusing on aesthetic styles such as Realism, Regionalism, Modernism, Postmodernism, Post-Postmodernism, among others. Our broader goal will be to think critically about why literary study has been categorized around national and historical categories. This will be a “reading intensive” course, teaching you to read carefully and deeply to understand how literature responds to and reimagines its historical contexts. The course will be particularly helpful for students preparing to teach English and/or planning to conduct a senior thesis project in the fields of American literature or American studies.

ENG 355: Major Figures in British Literature to 1780
Masselink, MW 4:25-5:40 p.m.

If you like a challenge and want to be able to say that you have read some of the greatest writers ever to put pen to paper (or in most cases, quill to vellum), then ENG 355 is the course for you. In ENG 355, you will tackle classics like Beowulf, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Because many of the works are challenging, students will be provided with study questions to guide their reading, and grades are determined on the basis of efforts put into answering those study questions (and/or responses to the assigned readings), participation in class discussions, and three tests.

ENG 356: Major Figures in British Literature 1780-Present
Leffel, TR 4:25-5:40 p.m.

A survey of major British authors and literary movements, from Romanticism to Modernism. Authors to be studied include: the Romantic poets, Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Shelley, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde.

ENG 374: Literature for Adolescence
McKenzie, TR 1:15-2:30 p.m.

Adolescent literature has taken the world by storm. Harry, Katniss, and Bella have become household names, and adolescents and adults alike turn to their stories for escape and entertainment. Eager to draw from student interest in YA literature, many teachers have begun to incorporate such texts into their curriculum; other teachers, however, have been reluctant to so. In this course, we will read YA classics (like Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) and some recent YA texts (like Angie Thomas’s 2017 The Hate U Give) and consider why and how a teacher might weave YA literature into a secondary English Language Arts class.

ENG 407: The Study of English (WI)
Harbin, TR 10:05-11:20 a.m.

Do you understand how English works? How do we, as a society and as individuals, interrelate with our language? In this course we will study language and literacy acquisition and development; diversity in language use, historical and social influences on language, and second language and bilingual learning. More specifically, we will focus on the social domains that affect and are affected by our language. How does our language use relate to our identity and to our understanding of others? In making this inquiry, we will explore dialect, gendered language, first and second language acquisition, the history of English, and the differences between written and spoken language.

ENG 429: Literature of the Great Depression (WI)
Lessig, MW 4:25-5:40 p.m.

The economic and social calamity brought about by the Great Depression challenged dominant American ideas of historical progress, individual agency, liberal democracy, and free market capitalism. This course will look at how American culture registered and responded to these historical crises in a variety of genres including photo documentary, hard-boiled crime stories, experimental modernist narrative, and proletarian poetry. Course readings will include works by Tillie Olsen, Nathaniel West, Raymond Chandler, Muriel Rukeyser, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, and others.

ENG 429: Introduction to the Digital Humanities
Harbin/Rutherford/Faulkenbury/Moranda, TR: 4:20-6:50 p.m.

The humanities offer us ways of understanding the world around us, to think both creatively and critically. How might digital tools facilitate our work in the humanities, and what might be the value of this sort of knowledge in an increasingly digital world? This interdisciplinary workshop course will introduce students to the basic theories and methodologies of the digital humanities, including data visualizations, augmented reality texts, mapping, public history, and game theory. Students will work in small groups with a variety of faculty on digital humanities projects.

ENG 433: Shakespeare (WI)
Harbin, TR 8:30-9:45 a.m.

Did you know that Shakespeare died over 400 years ago? (401 in April 2017)? Yet, he is still the most performed playwright, has influenced innumerable modern authors, has been translated into at least 80 languages, and has brought us movies such as He’s the Man, West Side Story, and 10 Things I Hate about You. You probably often quote him without knowing it. So, many people talk about Shakespeare as universal. We will not. In this course, we will be considering Shakespeare as a production of his own time. To this end, we will examine some of Shakespeare’s plays within their historical context. The plays will include: Much Ado about Nothing, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and The Taming of the Shrew. We will consider questions such as: What were some of the major social concerns of Elizabethan England? And, how do these plays engage with these concerns? We will be looking at not only the plays themselves, but also other contemporary documents. Because drama should be seen, we will be reading and watching productions of the plays and will do a bit of performance as well. Perhaps, just for fun, we’ll consider why we might go to hear Shakespeare today.

ENG 438: Sex, Death & Salvation
Masselink, MW 6-7:15 p.m.

What topics hit closer to home than these three? In this course, students will reflect on their own beliefs about sex, death, and salvation while exploring those expressed by a wide range of seventeenth-century writers writing in a variety of genres. Our focal point will be the poetry and prose of John Donne, who wrote wittily (and sometimes blasphemously) on all three topics--sometimes in the same work. Consideration will also be given, however, to the writings of Donne's contemporaries (e.g., George Herbert, Ben Jonson, Katherine Philips, Jeremy Taylor) who seem, at times, to be equally preoccupied with these topics. Students should be aware of the fact that nearly all of the assigned readings are deeply rooted in the Christian worldview, a worldview we will be discussing extensively, particularly as it contrasts with post-modern beliefs and practices concerning sex, death, and salvation as those beliefs are reflected in the contemporary play W;t and in literature of AIDS written at the end of the twentieth century. This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement.

ENG 455: The English Novel to 1900 (WI)
Alwes, MW 3:00-4:15 p.m.

This class will explore the evolution of the English novel through writers whose lives as well as their novels are of fascination, including Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Bronte, Oscar Wilde, and Ann Radcliffe.

ENG 549: Modern Irish Drama
Gonzalez, T 4:20-6:50 p.m.

This course is designed to range broadly over the work of the major Irish playwrights of the twentieth century. The course’s main objective will be to give students a sense of Irish drama as distinct from English or American drama in terms of approaches, themes, and cultural context. Lines of influence will be traced among the playwrights that we study.

The course will concentrate on the most important playwrights from the Irish Renaissance (1890-1930) such as W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Edward Martyn, Lady Gregory, Peadar O’Donnell, and, of course, Sean O’Casey. Post-Renaissance dramatists include Paul Vincent Carroll, Brendan Behan, and Brian Friel. I am enthusiastic about teaching this course and look forward to a very lively semester.

ENG 619: Seminar: Literature for Adolescence
McKenzie, T 4:20-6:50 p.m.

Adolescent literature has taken the world by storm. Harry, Katniss, and Bella have become household names, and adolescents and adults alike turn to their stories for escape and entertainment. Eager to draw from student interest in YA literature, many teachers have begun to incorporate such texts into their curriculum; other teachers, however, have been reluctant to so. In this course, we will read YA classics (like Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) and some recent YA texts (like Angie Thomas’s 2017 The Hate U Give) and consider why and how a teacher might weave YA literature into a secondary English Language Arts class.

Back to Top

Professional Writing Courses

PWR 212: Writing Fiction (GE8/WI)
Hernandez, TR 2:50–4:05 p.m.

This semester we will drink each other’s dreams from oaken casks. This is a writing workshop with a focus on self-discovery, on moving our brains like planchettes across the Ouija board of our daydreams and experiences. In this course we will read exclusively what we and our classmates write, in an open-ended, workshop atmosphere of inspiration and analysis. We will write a lot, but we will not revise. Our objective is to confront the chaos of human events with the divining rod of fantasy.

PWR 295: Introduction to Professional Writing (WI)
Franke, TR 11:40 a.m.-12:55 p.m.

Introduction to Professional Writing (PWR 295) introduces writers to new genres and re-introduces them to familiar ones (such as poetry and argument). Two things make the course stand out. First, “Intro” is a working community of writers. Your teacher is a writer, as is everyone else in the class for the semester. As writers, we work through myths and realities of inspiration, feedback, writer’s block, revision, writing communities, and the like. There is, as you might expect, a lot of writing. Secondly, you will produce a portfolio of works by the end of the semester that reveals your work in a number of different genres, useful wherever you end up writing later. Intro is a challenging 200-level Professional Writing course for anyone who writes creatively, professionally, technically or academically, and a required introduction to the major.

PWR 340: Writing Sports Literature (WI)
Emerson, WEB

What makes sports writing more than an account of last night’s game? Why do so many major writers also write about sports? What are national sports writers doing to make their work so appealing? And how can you learn to do what they do?

This course examine the literature of sports and what techniques and approaches make it work so well. Students learn how to apply the concepts of creative non-fiction to sports writing, to craft and structure multiple storylines, how to shape those stories, how to effectively incorporate character, dialogue, scene, and how to begin to write in a unique and interesting personal voice.

Students also learn the craft of writing, the tools of the trade, from intertwining elements to diction and style, metaphor and symbol, strong paragraphs and powerful sentences, vibrant word choices and emphasis. The role of research and revision is revealed, along with how doing these well can bring an article to life.

And of course, students get hands-on guidance in creating their own sports literature articles, from inception to shaping to final copy. While this course is online, students are welcome, in fact, encouraged, to take advantage of office hours to work together in person on their writing.

PWR 329: Rhetorics of Mind and Matter (WI)
Saur, MWF 1:50-2:40 p.m.

What is consciousness? Does it exist? How do we think? How do we feel? What part does rhetoric play in each of these processes? And why does any of this matter? In this course, we will explore concepts of the mind and the role of language in the construction of our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Drawing from literature in rhetorical theory, neuroscience, cultural studies, philosophy, psychology, mindfulness, composition studies, and more, we will consider various theories about the human mind as we seek to develop an awareness of our own thought processes. In class, we will think, talk, and write about how we engage in reason and feeling, how we write about these experiences, and how these processes manifest in material ways.

PWR 393: Technical Writing (WI)
Rutherford, MW 4:25-5:40 p.m.

You write differently in the workplace than you do in school. In school, you write to prove what you know, whereas in the workplace you write to achieve some specific outcome. Most college courses focus on preparing you for the kinds of writing you will do in academic settings, but the purpose of PWR 393 is to prepare you for the different writing activities you will likely be asked to perform in the workplace. This course will introduce writing strategies and skills that will prepare you to communicate effectively in technologically advanced workplaces (and in the “real world” outside either school or work).

PWR 395: Revising and Editing (WI)
Saur, MWF 12:40-1:30 p.m.

In this course, we will explore what can be achieved by not waiting until the last minute to complete a writing task. That is, when we take the time to revisit and revise our writing, we come to understand language’s potential—how playful it can be, what it can do, and how we can make it do its work more effectively. To develop such an understanding of our own writing as well as the writing of others, this class will be dedicated toward thinking, talking, and writing about style and the revision and editing process. This means that we will play with language through new writing (words, sentences, paragraphs, phrases, meanings, punctuation, etc.), as we experiment with revising old writing and develop a greater awareness of how we can make all this writing do what we want it to do.

PWR 409: Evolution of Writing (WI)
Franke, TR 10:05-11:20 a.m.

The Evolution of Writing, PWR 409, is a senior-level course that takes seriously the claim that writing is always a technology, and the particular technology used — skywriting, graffiti, inscriptions on buildings, tattoos, ancient papyrus scrolls — deeply affects the cultural meaning of that message. We study the nature of writing itself (and seriously ask whether all writing began with ancient emojis 😮). We examine the emergence of Sumerian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Phoenician alphabet, Plato’s worries about writing (he was no fan), medieval monasteries, claims about the way writing affects consciousness, and research from the field of Composition and Rhetoric on the reduction (or is it an increase?) in the amount of writing people do today, changes that affect our cultural conversations and personal identities.

PWR 497: Senior Seminar (WI)
Rutherford, MW 3:00-4:15 p.m.

Over your college career in Professional Writing, you’ve done a lot of writing. This course is where we bring it all together: all of the writing in various genres that you've produced over the last four (or more) years, the theory and history of writing/rhetoric that you've learned, the editing/revising you've performed, the specific topics you've chosen to pursue, and relevant experiences you’ve had outside the classroom. Senior Seminar is your chance to read, reflect, discuss, and write about all of these experiences as you prepare for the transition to post-college life. The class is organized around creating/defining a portfolio composed of major genres you’ve written over your college career, and presenting those in a way that demonstrates your growth to employers/admissions committees/outside audiences. In other words, Senior Seminar is a place is to further develop an understanding of what it means to be a practicing rhetorician (in both academic and workplace contexts).