Spring Course Descriptions

English Courses

Detailed Course Descriptions for Selected Courses

LiteratureProfessional Writing
200 Level Courses 200 Level Courses
300 Level Courses 400 Level Courses
400 Level Courses
500/600 Level Courses

Literature Courses

ENG 200: Introduction to Literature GE 7, LASR
Pittsley, MWF 11:30-12:20

In Introduction to Literature, students will explore with me short stories, poems, and plays written by authors from a variety of time periods and cultures. We will delve into topics relevant today such as growing up and learning hard lessons, the treatment of women and minorities, strength, cowardice, life, and death. Some of these authors include William Faulkner, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, John Updike, Adam-Troy Castro, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Charles Bukowski, Eavan Boland, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Theodore Roethke, Gwendolyn Brooks, ee Cummings, Sophocles and William Shakespeare. Students will cultivate an ability to think critically and write about literature through close reading and analysis.

ENG 203: Introduction to Poetry GE 7, WRIT, LASR
Alwes, MWF 11:30 and 12:40

An introduction to the poetry we have grown up with, and the poetry we continue to know. We will look at the poetry of different eras and diverse writers.

ENG 208: Introduction to Film Analysis GE 7, WRIT, LASR
Bradway, T/Th 1:15-2:30

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. At the end of the course, you will have the opportunity to produce and screen an original short film.

ENG 252: Modern American Multicultural Lit GE 4, GE 7, GE 11, LASR, PRES
Savonick, MWF 12:40-1:30, 3-3:50

What is literature and why does it matter? How can literary texts help us think differently about the world? In this course, we will explore these and other questions through works of modern and contemporary U.S. literature. In particular, we will consider the ways resources are unevenly distributed along embodied axes of race, class, gender, and sexuality and the roles that language, literature, and culture play in producing and altering these conditions. Students will learn to closely read literary texts in relation to different genres, historical moments, and literary and social movements, and as tools for making sense of the world. We will experiment with the artistic strategies we encounter by producing our own critical and creative texts and attend to each other’s work with the same care and scrutiny given to assigned readings. Thinking alongside Audre Lorde, we will work together to “envision what has not been and…make the reality and pursuit of that vision irresistible.” Note: this course emphasizes experimentation, creativity, collaboration, and student-centered learning.

ENG 257: Introduction to Irish Literature GE 7, LASR
Stearns, T/TH 2:50-4:05

What does it mean to be one of a fifth of the population living in the northeast who claim to be of Irish descent? In this course we’ll attempt to define that “Irishness” by reading some of the literature of a country that has been called a land of saints and sages, bards and braggarts and has produced 4 Nobel Literature Prize winners. We’ll read a selection of poetry, short stories, a play and a novel by the Belfast writer, Anna Burns, who just won the prize for the best fiction published in the United Kingdom in 2018. We’ll also view some contemporary Irish films, including, one of the 2016 Academy Award nominees for best picture, Brooklyn, adapted from Colm Toibin’s novel of the same name. We’ll end the semester with an opportunity to hear a talk by Toibin himself. Fulfills: GE 7; LASR

ENG 262: War in Literature GE 7, LASR
Anderson, MWF 1:50-2:40

In 500 B.C. Greek poet Sappho wrote “To an Army Wife in Sardis.” “Some say a cavalry troop, /others say an infantry, and others, still,/ will swear that the swift oars/ of our fleet are the best/sight on dark earth/ but I say/that whomever one loves is.” Centuries later, Paul Fussell writes “from the days of the Trojan horse, [modern] war has necessitated ruses, espionage, deceptions . . . and other fiction.” And, in The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien warns us that “if a war story seems moral do not believe it . . . you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie.” In works by Fast, Crane, Remarque, O’Brien and others, we will explore the sadly unending literature of war.

ENG 269: LGBTQ Literature GE 7, GE 11, LASR, WRIT
Bradway, T/Th 4:20-5:40

From Gertrude Stein to RuPaul, LGBTQ+ people have innovated literary and cultural forms to reflect the vitality and complexity of queer life. Yet these contributions have often been ignored, stigmatized, and marginalized. In this course, you will discover the exciting diversity of styles and themes in LGBTQ literature and culture. We will touch on major historical moments such as Stonewall, the AIDS crisis, and gay marriage and engage key topics such as homo/bi/trans-phobia, the closet, and coming out.

ENG 290: Introduction to Literary Study
Lessig, T/Th 2:50-4:05

English 290 introduces students to methods of close reading and literary analysis essential to the study of literature. Students will become familiar with the critical terms and analytical strategies used for discussing and writing about literary texts while reading poetry and fiction in English from a wide range of literary periods and cultural traditions.

ENG 290: Introduction to Literary Study GE 7, LASR, WRIT
Radus, MWF 9:10-10

What is literature? How do we study it? How do we write about the books we read? Though these questions seem simple, in fact they've been debated for centuries. In this course, we'll address these questions and others. Our objective will be to create a solid foundation for further study in English. Short readings and active in-class discussions will inform a series of informal writing assignments and one formal paper, to be drafted in stages and revised extensively in consultation with classmates and the instructor.

ENG 302: Writing About Literature LASR, WRIT
Stone, T/Th 11:40–12:55 and 1:15–2:05

How does a metaphor work differently than a simile in a poem? How do race, gender, and sexuality shape a story? How does history inform the way a hero is depicted? What role do objects play in a text? These are some of the questions we will address in ENG 302.

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 nonhuman methods of literary analysis. This course is an historical survey of 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 LASR
Radus, MWF 10:20-11:10

What does it mean to describe a work of literature as American? What does that term signify? Who decides? 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 class, we'll consider these questions, devoting particular attention to how writers from various ethnic, racial, and gendered backgrounds addressed issues that influenced the development of the United States. Readings may include Rowlandson's Narrative (1682), Franklin's Autobiography (1793), Foster's The Coquette (1797), Apess's A Son of the Forest (1829), Douglass's Narrative (1845), Melville's Benito Cereno (1855), the poetry of Whitman and Dickinson, and Crane's Maggie (1893), in addition to shorter works. Our active in-class discussions will be supplemented by short response papers and two exams.

ENG 326: American Literature Since 1900
Lessig, TR 11:40

This course aims to deepen your interpretative and critical skills, and to show some of the range and diversity of twentieth- and twenty-first century American literature. The United States has had a rich and varied literary history, and any introduction to American literature must make some difficult choices as to what to include in the syllabus and what to leave out. We will sample a variety of cultural movements and moments, such as modernism, the New Negro Renaissance, proletarian literature, postmodernism, Black Arts, and more. We will not only read closely, but we will also examine texts within their historical, political, and literary contexts in order to explore how American literature has engaged with some of the important issues of our nation's history. Assigned texts likely to include the Heath Anthology of American Literature, Vol D & E; Faulkner, As I Lay Dying; Kingston, The Woman Warrior.

ENG 355: Survey of British Lit. to 1780 LASR
Leffel, T/Th 10:05-11:20

A critical survey of British Literature, from Chaucer to Jane Austen. Other authors to be studied include John Milton, Edmund Spenser, Alexander Pope, Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift, Eliza Haywood, William Blake, and Maria Edgeworth.

ENG 356: Major Figures, British Literature II LASR
Alwes, MWF 3:00-4:15

We will enjoy the 19th century British Romantics, Victorians, and early 20th century Moderns, who have left a legacy of words and images that continue to impress. They are "a thing of beauty," and it is "a joy forever."

ENG 407: The Study of English LASR, WRIT
Harbin, T/Th 8:30-9:15

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 419: American Modernisms
Lessig, T/Th 10:05-11:20

This course will explore the range of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction that constituted various literary modernisms in the years between WWI and WWII, including imagism, the New Negro Renaissance, proletarian literature, and documentary. We will consider the relationships among modern American writers' representational strategies and the social and political contexts in which they wrote.

ENG 433: Shakespeare LASR, WRIT
Leffel, T/Th 1:15-2:30

This class is a critical survey of William Shakespeare’s poetic and dramatic art. Plays to be studied include: Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Macbeth, and The Tempest. Besides reading aloud and performing select scenes, we will also watch film and stage versions to enliven discussion and emphasize issues of performance and adaptation. Students will also analyze the plays in relation to literary, cultural, and historical texts and contexts.

ENG 440: Eighteenth-Century Brit Lit: “Mothers of the Novel” LASR, WRIT
Leffel, T/Th 2:50-4:05

Virginia Woolf famously wrote that “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.” In this course we will study the “Mothers” of the English novel, analyzing works by Behn, Eliza Haywood, Fanny Burney, Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen.

ENG 480: Queer Theory WRIT
Bradway, T/TH 11:40-12:55

If you’re dying to discover the queerness of Harry Potter or Jay Gatsby, this is the class for you. In Queer Theory, you will learn to read between the lines. Queer Theory emerged in the 1980s to trouble heteronormative readings of gender and sexuality. Scholars discovered the queer eroticism at play in canonical literature, which previous scholars had ignored or disavowed. Since then, queer theory has exploded in a range of exciting interdisciplinary and intersectional directions, putting sexuality in conversation with critical race studies, trans studies, and disability studies. This course will introduce you to the core concepts and current debates in queer theory, and you will be encouraged to draw on queer theory to read texts of your choosing.

ENG 506: Computers and the Study of English
Ahern, M 4:20-6:50

Throughout this course we will engage with a variety of different types of media, modes of composing (visual, kinesthetic, sonic,) and ways of thinking about teaching with technology. We will compose using different technologies, platforms, and programs and reflect on what their use might mean in our own writing and within our own notions of teaching. We will be working in collaborative and exploratory ways to arrive at thoughtful and critical understandings of technology use for ourselves and our future students.

ENG 529: Special Topics in English
Tradition and Modernity in the Contemporary Native American Novel
Radus, M 4:20-6:50

In this course, a discussion-oriented seminar for advanced undergraduates and graduate students, we will appreciate and assess the formal, thematic, and aesthetic power of the Native American novel, and we will likewise attend to its social, cultural, and historical contexts. Though our in-class discussions will range widely, we will attend throughout to how Native authors have wrestled with the demands of tradition and modernity as matters of both craft and culture. As Sean Teuton has noted, the “Indigenous novel . . . persists, ironically, not only by preserving but in fact by rewriting narrative traditions.” Readings will include Momaday’s House Made of Dawn (1968), Silko’s Ceremony (1977), Hale’s The Jailing of Cecilia Capture (1985), Vizenor’s Heirs of Columbus (1991), Womack’s Drowning in Fire (2001), Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God (2017), and Orange’s There There (2018). Students should expect to read one novel per one or two weeks. Assignments will include opportunities to lead in-class discussion and a ten-page, research-intensive paper, to be completed in stages.

ENG 660: Seminar in Professional Writing
Ahern, W 4:20-6:50

Technical writing often involves negotiating multiple levels of complexity within a writing situation. For instance, technical writing may involve communicating technical information to a non-expert audience, translating technical information and making it “ready-to-use” in another context, and/or navigating client/customer relationships and requirements for productivity, profit, and ethics. In this class we will practice the professional writing genres most applicable to the Sustainable Energy Systems Program such as white papers, reports, memos, and requests for proposals. Additionally, we will create documents translating research in technical communication related to sustainability. Our key concepts will involve understanding audience, context-awareness, and accessible and inclusive document design.

ENG 619: Literature for Adolescence
Bender, T 4:20-6:50

What makes adolescents want to read? How are adolescents portrayed in literature that’s geared for them? How can literary texts best be brought to life for young readers by creative instruction? What counts as “literature” in the secondary classroom? This course seeks to answer these and related questions through a critical study, examination, and evaluation of literature written specifically for and about adolescents. Texts are selected to represent a variety of cultural perspectives and are written by authors who cast the world in diverse ways. In addition to reading, students will learn a range of methods to teach adolescent readers effectively, will deploy these methods through individually constructed and team-taught lessons, and will, ultimately, design units for middle or high school classrooms that organize teaching ideas into well-orchestrated plans of action. The class will also consider current scholarly work on young adult fiction and a series of assessment techniques, always with an eye to bringing out the best that kids can do.

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Professional Writing Courses

PWR 210: Writing in the Digital Age GE 12, LASR
Ahern, MWF 11:30-12:20 & lab W 12:40-1:30

What is “writing in the digital age?” In this course we will confront the large questions of what it means to read, write, and research with/among/against many possible digital environments. Some of our exploration will focus on the “new” kinds of reading and writing made possible through digital tools and platforms, and some of our exploration will involve the planning, design, and creation of research-based webtexts. Throughout we will question our position in a so-called “digital age” as researchers, scholars, and citizens of our various worlds.

PWR 295: Introduction to Professional Writing LASR, WRIT
Rutherford, MWF 3-3:50PM

This course examines basic principles of professional writing as both an academic field and daily practice. We’ll discuss varied issues across various media – everything from argumentation and research to page design, genres and conventions, and professional style. Students will develop skills in analyzing rhetorical situations and producing context-appropriate texts for particular audiences and purposes.

PWR 409: Evolution of Writing WRIT
Franke, T/Th 11:40-12:55

Where did writing come from? This small set of 26 letters, nine numbers and a handful of punctuation marks is all it takes to write just about anything, from Shakespeare to a parking ticket. But we didn’t always have 26 letters, or individual words (they used to allruntogether) or even an alphabet. How our system of writing developed is a story of a technology that started a kind of picture-code that used to be this: . Something changed: now we use writing to freely communicate all sorts of ideas and emotions, technical instructions and discoveries. In the Evolution of Writing, we start from the assumption that writing is always a technology, and that the particular technology used to communicate a message — skywriting, graffiti, inscriptions on graves, tattoos, ancient scrolls, iphones — deeply affects the cultural meaning of that message. We study Plato, ancient Egypt, the detective work of deciphering ancient alphabets, medieval monasteries, Google’s text-to-speech. This year we have a grant to take a few students to New York City to explore a medieval monastery there, see the oldest fragments of writing in the world (and the freshest graffiti), visit a printing press and make a book, etc. Sustained final paper, midterm, lots of reading as well as writing on clay, cave painting, and the like.

PWR 429: The Rhetoric of Video Games
Rutherford, W 4:20-6:50

This course approaches videogames as objects of serious critical inquiry. How do writing and criticism change in respect to interactive literary environments? Are video games—arguably the most important media form of our day—a form of narrative art, or are games essentially diversions? How does the study of narrative, mechanics, and emergence help us understand/obscure how video games construct meaning? What is lost and what is gained in the birth of these new media forms?

In order to answer these (and other) questions we will 1) use rhetoric as a method for understanding different media forms 2) learn to navigate and analyze the structures of digital media artifacts and 3) investigate and employ a wide range of concepts that will assist us in our interpretation of new, emergent experiences. Throughout the semester we will not only have the opportunity to study these forms academically but also engage with them in order to produce creative digital narratives and critical texts. That is, we will not only think about new media narratives, but we will think with and through them by creating and designing our own games.

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