Fall Course Descriptions

English Department Courses

Detailed Course Descriptions for Selected Courses

Literature Professional Writing
200 Level Courses 200 Level Courses
300 Level Courses 400 Level Courses
400 Level Courses 400 Level Courses

Literature Courses

ENG 200.001: Introduction to Literature
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, ZZ Packer, Adam-Troy Castro, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Charles Bukowski, Eavan Boland, Bjorn Hakansson Yusef Komunyakaa, 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
Masselink MW 6-7:15

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 two parts, with opportunities for revision along the way.

ENG 208: Intro to Film Analysis
Section 001: TR 11:40-12:55 pm in Sperry Center 0305
Section 002: TR 10:05-11:20 pm in Sperry Center 0305

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, editing, acting, and so on. Directors to be considered will likely include: Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Roman Polanski, Jordan Peele, Alfred Hitchcock, and Steven Spielberg.

English 210: Introduction to Fantasy and Science Fiction (Honors)
Harbin TR 10:05-11:20

On your 11th birthday, did you watch for a letter from Hogwarts? Harry Potter seems as though it’s based in our world, but the differences draw us in. Fantasy and science fiction take this world and twist it, and how they twist it tells us something about the culture that produced these works and about the function of stories. This course will consider how J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and other works of fantasy and science fiction twist our world, and what that might say about us.

ENG 252: Modern American Multicultural Literature
Section 001 MWF 9:10-10:00
Section 002 MWF 12:40-1:30

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
TR 1:15-2:30

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. However, you certainly don’t have to be Irish to join the course and we will be looking into our family histories no matter our origins. We’ll read a selection of poetry, short stories, a play and a novel by the Belfast writer, Anna Burns, that 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.

English 260: The Literature of Sports
Dr. A.R. Anderson MWF 1:50-2:40

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 261: Women in Literature
Knight TR 1:15-2:30

This GE-7 writing-intensive course will examine the literary depiction of women by female and male authors representing different periods and nationalities. We will examine how gender roles develop and how gendered identities are reflected in the writings. Various types of literature (short fiction, novels, a play, and poetry) from the nineteenth century through today will be covered. Specific topics to be addressed include the literary depiction of women and self-image; female sexuality; women’s health and well-being; maternity; race, class and gender issues; and patriarchal and cultural assumptions about femaleness and feminism. Among the authors we will be reading are Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Larry Brown, Ntozake Shange, and Kaye Gibbons. Three short (4-5-page) papers, in-class writing exercises, and regular quizzes will be required.

ENG 269: LGBTQ Literature
Section 001 T/Th 11:40-12:55
Section 002 T/Th 1:15-2:30

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. This course will survey key works of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer literature, and it will introduce you to key debates in queer literary studies, particularly as they pertain the problem of reading, writing, and representing LGBTQ+ lives and cultures in contemporary America. We will touch on major historical moments such as Stonewall, the AIDS crisis, and gay marriage, as well as problems such as homo/bi/trans phobias, the closet, generationality, coming out, and the politics of intersectionality.

English 290: Introduction to Literary Study
Radus MWF 9:10-10:00

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 a formal paper, to be drafted in stages and revised in consultation with peers and the instructor.

ENG 307: New Media Literacies and ELA
Ahern, Tues/Thurs 10:05am-11:20am

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.

English 325: American Literature Before 1900
Radus MWF 10:20-11:10

In this course, we will read literature produced in the United States—and its colonial precursors—prior to 1900. We’ll devote particular attention to how writers from various ethnic, racial, and gendered backgrounds addressed issues that influenced the development of the United States. Our readings may include Rowlandson's Narrative (1682), Franklin's Autobiography (1793), Foster's The Coquette (1797), 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 355: Major Figures in British Literature to 1780
Masselink MW 4:25-5:40

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 402: Grammar
Masselink MW 3:00-4:15

Have you ever wondered why no words native to the English language end in “v” or “j”? Or why “thorough” “thought,” “bough” “rough,” “cough” and “through” share the same four-letter combination, but do not rhyme? Do you wish you had a better grasp on spelling, the parts of speech, or various comma rules? Are you intrigued with words and word formation in general? If you said “yes” to any of the above, ENG 402 is the course for you.

In this rigorous course, you will study phonology (the study of sound patterns)--particularly in relationship to reading and spelling, morphology (the study of word formation), and syntax (the rules for the formation of grammatical sentences). Former students who’ve completed the course say it should be required of all education majors, but whether you plan to teach or you just want to learn more about grammar, you will leave this class feeling far more confident in your ability to explain how our language works. While the reading load for this course is fairly light, in addition to a midterm and a final, students will complete written exercises, honing their ability to explain every letter, every word, every phrase in any sentence.

English 417: American Literature 1820–1865
Radus MWF 12:40–1:30

Some of the most enduring works of American literature were produced in the period between 1850 and 1855. You might’ve heard of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850), Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851), Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), Thoreau’s Walden (1854), and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855). Others you haven’t: Warner’s The Wide, Wide World (1850), the first bestseller; Brown’s Clotel (1853), the first novel by an African American; Ridge’s Joaquin Murieta (1854), the first novel by a Native American. In this discussion-oriented seminar, we’ll read some—not all!—of these texts and others. We’ll assess their formal, thematic, and aesthetic qualities, and we’ll use these assessments to consider how historical events influenced the creation and reception of literature in the antebellum United States. Active in-class discussions will be supplemented by informal writing assignments, a presentation, and two short essays.

ENG 429: Digital Divides: Race, Class, and Gender in the Age of the Internet
Savonick MWF 10:20-11:10

Is Google racist? Is Wikipedia sexist? In this course, we will critically reflect on the digital tools, technologies, and platforms that mediate so much of our daily lives. More specifically, we will explore how digital technologies can reproduce and challenge conditions of racial, class, and gender inequality. Together, we will consider the ethics and politics of topics such as digital redlining, surveillance, privacy, education technologies, and algorithms. In addition to blogging, likely assignments include analyses of digital tools and projects, a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, and a creative final project. 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. It is also perfect for beginners; no advanced knowledge of digital technologies is necessary.

ENG 433: Shakespeare
Leffel TR 2:50-4:05 pm in Old Main G-24

This class is a critical survey of William Shakespeare’s poetic and dramatic art. In addition to a selection of Shakespeare’s sonnets, plays to be studied include: Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 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 481: Genre Studies: Eco-Fictions
Stone TR 10:05-11:20

How do different cultures construct nature? “Culture” can signal differences in national or embodied belonging, but it can also indicate differences in intellectual training. Environmental scientists construct knowledge about ecosystems. Fiction writers construct environmental worlds that feel, or don’t feel, real. Poets describe a garden. All of these writers rely on tropes—figurative language invested with different cultural resonances—to construct their real and unreal depictions. The line between scientific and literary writing on the environment, like the line between truth and fiction, is not as stable as we might think. How do scientific writers rely on literary language to construct their truths? How do literary writers fictionalize scientific truths? These are the questions we will take up in Eco-Fictions. This class is designed for both students of literature and students of environmental science. As we trace some of the history of environmental writing, we will look for commonalities between the sciences and the humanities.

ENG 529.002: Weird Selves in Experimental Literature
Bradway W 4:20-6:50

What does it mean for a book, a character, or a writer to be "weird"? Why is weirdness sometimes interesting and enticing or off-putting and distressing? Why might a writer strive for weirdness in literature? In this course, we will read weird texts from the 20th and 21st Centuries, which innovate, disrupt, and playfully remake conventional literary forms. Dead characters will speak. Prose will become poetry. The impossible will become possible. Pages will become blank, plots will disappear, and readers will confront weirdness as an emotional and intellectual paradox. Our primary focus will be on the aesthetic and interpretative significance of weirdness within experimental literature, but we will also look to theories of the weird and the strange to conceptualize the politics of weirdness in contemporary culture.

ENG 530: Chaucer
Harbin M 4:20-6:50

In The Canterbury Tales, twenty-nine pilgrims, accompanied by an innkeeper, travel from London to Canterbury Cathedral at least ostensibly to worship at the shrine of Saint Thomas A’Becket who had been brutally murdered before the altar in 1170. Along the way, each of these pilgrims tells a tale to entertain the others. The tales themselves represent a wide variety of medieval genres and styles. The pilgrims tell tales of love, revenge, religion, science, and the arithmetic of fart division. Some tales are elevating and serious, some funny – even dirty.

In this course, we will be looking at the Canterbury Tales in light of its historical context. Chaucer writes in a time of great unrest and uncertainty. In his life he saw the reigns of three kings, the Peasants’ Revolt, the Hundred Years War, the Black Death, and religious upheaval. Even the language itself is changing. This course strives to consider how Chaucer’s work engages with these contemporary issues.

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Professional Writing Courses

PWR 212: Writing Fiction
Ahern TR 11:40-12:55

In Writing Fiction we will push at the boundaries of what makes a story. Through focusing on character-driven narratives we will investigate what is sparse, complicated, chilling, and compelling in the human condition. Along the way we will read authors representing a range of traditional and experimental approaches to storytelling and engage with some of those approaches in our own writing. Our explorations in writing fiction will culminate in thoughtful and focused workshops of each other's short stories.

PWR 212: Writing Fiction
Bartlett TR 10:05-11:20

What’s in a story? This writing workshop is an introduction to the craft writing short fiction. You will spend most of your time writing your own short stories and reading stories and craft essays by contemporary writers. Throughout this course, there will be a real emphasis on exploring and discovering personal voice and style. This is a workshop, which is dependent upon a community of conscious and willing writers. A workshop is much more than a simple discussion of your work; it requires a commitment from every writer in the class to give close attention to new and developing work. In fact, a major text for the course is the raw efforts of its writers. By the end of the course, you will generate and revise multiple stories and a reflection on your own craft.

PWR 295: Introduction to Professional Writing
Rutherford, MWF 3:00-3:50PM

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 330: Rhetoric in the Public Sphere
Davies TR 10:05-11:20

How do people use public rhetoric to argue for their rights, for reform, and for revolution? Hop onboard our rhetorical time-travel machine as we journey back 100 years to explore this question.

This semester, PWR 330 will be taught under the subtitle 1919: Rhetorics of Rights, Reform, and Revolution. We will focus on major U.S. events in 1919 as a case study to investigate how arguments about political, social, and economic rights are composed, delivered, and circulated.

1919 was a watershed year in American history: the 18th amendment (Prohibition) went into effect; Congress passed the 19th amendment (women’s suffrage); the Red Summer racial riots exploded in over 30 cities; workers went on strike across the country; and the U.S. refused to ratify the Versailles Treaty. We will study these events and others through an investigation of speeches, manifestos, posters, monuments, declarations, and other texts that make arguments for a public audience. We plan to take a field trip to Seneca Falls as part of the course. Students will compose projects that connect the rhetorical work done in 1919 to rhetoric in circulation today around issues of rights, reforms, and revolution.

PWR 393: Technical Writing
Ahern TR 2:50-4:05

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.

PWR 395: Revising and Editing
Rutherford MWF 12:40-1:30

In this course, we will take the time to revisit and revise our writing. We can then 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 processes. 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 398: Business Writing
Dunbar MWF 12:40–1:30

If you can’t imagine a workday without writing, you’re not alone; but if you imagine all that writing as easy, dull, or straightforward, you may want to recalibrate. Professional writers are to the 21st century what guild craftspeople were to the 19th—essential cultural agents whose skills and knowledge are born in the intersections of old and new, formal training and informal group learning . . . and lots (and lots!) of practice.

This fall, come explore what it means to be a workplace wordsmith in PWR 398. We’ll develop your capacity for rhetorical agility by practicing with a wide range of problem-based scenarios. You’ll get insider information from our guest speakers, who will share insights gained from the best and worst of their professional experiences with on-the-job communications. You’ll also get a grounding in the fundamentals of InDesign, a standard graphic design software that will add a useful—and fun— line to your portfolio of skills.

If you have CPN 101 or 103, you qualify. PWR 398 takes all comers, regardless of major, writing interest, or future plans. The only thing you need to know is that we’re not your grandparent’s steno pool: Join us!

PWR 425: The Publishing Industry
Bartlett T 4:20-6:50pm

Our course objective will be to develop fundamental skills in the craft of publishing through hands-on experience. This course will primarily be a practicum, with the primary goal being to edit, publish, and promote a national online literary journal. We will focus on different topics related to publishing, which we will explore through discussion and analysis of other magazines in terms of content, strategies, and approaches. In this course, you will serve as assistant editors for the journal in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, book review, and web design. As editors, you will work through the process of publishing from beginning to end, from soliciting and reviewing submissions, to choosing pieces for publication, to contacting authors and agents, to designing and publishing an issue. You will have a hand in shaping literary trends and conversations, and you will emerge with the skills and experience integral to building and maintaining a literary community.

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