English Courses

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Below, you can find a list of courses from our current semester. To see a full listing of our regular courses, please refer to the college catalog. To see the current and recent course brochures produced by the English Department, please download the pdfs here:

Current English Courses: Fall 2016

ENGL 150: Sympathy for the Devil: the Diabolical in Literature and Film, Professor Lisa Darien

The Rolling Stones are not the only artists who have implied that the diabolical can also be attractive. For example, the poet William Blake famously wrote of Paradise Lost that its author, John Milton, was “of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” Despite the clear fact that the Devil by definition must be bad, throughout time, artists have portrayed him as fascinating and enchanting, rather than repellant. What makes the Devil appealing? And what does his appeal reveal about the culture in question? Students in this course will explore the figure of the Devil from his first appearance as Satan (Hebrew for “adversary”) in the Book of Job through more recent diabolical characters such as Futurama’s Robot Devil and Lucifer’s, well, Lucifer! We will also examine, in part or whole, Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita; the Fausts of Marlowe, Goethe, and Gounod; Shakespeare’s Richard III; Milton’s Paradise Lost; and other diabolical works of art.

ENGL 190: Introduction to Literature and Criticism, Professor David Cody

This course, an interdisciplinary seminar in which the primary emphasis is on discussion and the free-wheeling exchange of intriguing ideas, is both a seminar open to all first-year students and a “gateway” prerequisite course for English majors. We will be reading, discussing, and writing about a wide range of texts in a number of genres (literary, artistic, and cinematic): primary readings will include poems by Robert Frost, Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, and William Shakespeare; short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Rudyard Kipling and Charlotte Perkins Gilman; engravings by William Hogarth; films by Charles Chaplin, Preston Sturges and Alfred Hitchcock; and novels by Vladimir Nabokov and Stanislaw Lem. By semester’s end, engaged and hard- working students will have acquired a valuable critical vocabulary, a degree of familiarity with a number of important literary and critical texts, and an understanding of basic assumptions underlying various critical and scholarly perspectives. Students will write individual papers and work collaboratively on class projects that may include library, museum, and on-line exhibits.

ENGL 213: Introduction to Creative Writing, multiple sections offered

The course will approach reading as a way to develop the imagination of the writer of both poetry and short fiction. Students will read widely in both genres, write poems and short stories in response to the readings, and participate in workshop discussions of their writing. The class will also consider relations between poetry and fiction, in terms of both their historical development and contemporary practice. Several short analytical essays on the assigned readings as well as the students’ original poetry and fiction will be expected.

ENGL 248: Hitchcock, Professor David Cody

This course will be an in-depth look at the most significant films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, including Blackmail (1929), The 39 Steps (1935), Sabotage (1936), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Rebecca (1940), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Notorious (1946), Rope (1948), Strangers on a Train (1951), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955), Vertigo (1958), and Psycho (1960). To Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock seems one of the great “artists of anxiety,” taking his place beside Poe, Dostoyevsky, Kafka and Freud—names to which we might add those of Poe, Hawthorne, Dickens, Conrad, and Borges. To Robin Wood, Hitchcock’s films are predicated on the notion that our “ordered life depends on the rigorous and unnatural suppression of a powerfully seductive underworld of desire.” And as Lindsay Anderson notes, Hitchcock “is intimately bound up with the history of cinema” itself. In exploring these and other commentaries on the Hitchcockian metaphysic, we will pay particular attention both to Hitchcock’s relationships with other directors (including Fritz Lang, Richard Thorpe, Orson Welles, and Preston Sturges) and to connections between his films and the literary and artistic works that helped to inspire them. Our goal will be to immerse ourselves in, and explore the implications of, the aesthetic of fear developed by the man who remains perhaps the most iconic of all cinematic auteurs.

ENGL 300: Teaching Assistant in Composition, Professor Julia Suarez-Hayes

Training and practice in the teaching of writing. Students will serve as tutors at the Writing Center, working with Level I students and walk-in appointments under the supervision of the coordinator. Tutors will assist the coordinator with development of teaching strategies and materials and will discuss samples of their own writing. Open to students of strong writing ability regardless of major who have been recommended by faculty. Consent of coordinator required early in term preceding enrollment. May be taken twice for credit. Tutors who complete two semesters are eligible to continue as paid tutors.

ENGL 311: Creative Writing: Fiction, Professor Jake Wolff

In this course, we will aim to improve our skills as readers and writers. Through close readings of published fiction, we will examine the choices made by the authors and apply that same decision-making to our own work. This class is first and foremost a workshop, meaning you will be reading the work of your fellow students and then thoughtfully and constructively critiquing their pieces via written comments and—most importantly—class discussion. Above all, this course offers a tough but nurturing environment in which the primary goal is to make our fiction better.

ENGL 312: Poetry Workshop, Professor Bob Bensen

We will consider the opportunities for poetry on and off the page. Accordingly, I will be asking you to write in various situations, in various forms, and answerable to the expectations of the audience and situation of the poem. We will also consider various modes of publication (“to make public”), both print, electronic, and spoken. We may try our hand and voice at these methods. William Butler Yeats said that rhetoric is made from the quarrel with others; poetry from the quarrel with ourselves. T.S. Eliot said poetry raids the unconscious. Seamus Heaney said we dwell both in the dream -world and in the wide-awake world of the day-to-day; that you must your living and that the gift of writing poetry is a grace. It lives in the realm of the unsayable. The ability to use the English language—its resources and ways it fits together to create verbal energies—in a competent, precise, masterful way is requisite. In these fourteen weeks, you have the opportunity to live a writer’s life. In addition to class time, you should expect to spend an hour per day in writing & reading for the pleasure–and ordeals—of reading and writing. We will each write a poem each day for the first six weeks, and possibly longer. These will be the subject of our workshops and your occupation with revision. The class will be a lively combination of writing, discussion, and workshop, with attention both to reading and writing poetry, and writing ON poetry as well, as a poet writes on poetry. You will learn to read as a writer. Papers should focus on the expressive value of the poem: something in the subject, technique, language, imagery, sentences, voice, shape, and structure that speaks to you and gives you something you can use for your own writing.

ENGL 329: Shakespeare I, Professor Lisa Darien

This course focuses on the advanced study of the first half of Shakespeare’e dramatic career. During this period, Shakespeare wrote most of his great history plays, including the so-called Henriad—Richard III, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, Henry 5—as well as many of his most famous comedies, including Taming of the Shrew, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, and The Merchant of Venice. Students will study not only these particular plays (and others as well), but also their cultural context, performance history, and critical reception. We will consider two broad (and unanswerable) questions: How does historical drama change history? And what makes comedy funny?

ENGL 329: British Lit: Beginnings through Milton, Professor Lisa Darien

In this course we will read and analyze some of the greatest works of English literature, those that were written in the earliest periods of English literary history beginning with, well, the beginning, and ending with the death of John Milton in the late seventeenth century. We will start by reading a few works in Old English, paying particular attention to Beowulf: an unquestioned masterpiece. The Middle English period will be represented by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and by selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Moving from the medieval to the early modern, we will explore the development of the sonnet and other lyric forms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We will also read substantial parts of the two great epics of early English literature: Spenser’s Faerie Queene and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Students will explore the historical and linguistic contexts of these works of literature as well as their formal qualities and their relation to one another. We will concentrate on learning to understand poetic genres and conventions, as almost all of the works we will read are verse.

ENGL 375: Contemporary American Literature, Professor Rob Seguin

This course will survey some of the most exciting developments in American literature over the last twenty years or so. These years have seen a surge of creativity outside of the confines of traditional literary fiction, and hence we will be interested in reading works that come from more marginal places on the literary map: science fiction and fantasy, graphic novels, and assorted genre-bending voices from outside the mainstream. Writers will include Colson Whitehead, Alison Bechdel, David Foster Wallace, Junot Diaz, Claudia Rankine, Paul Beatty, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Eileen Myles.

ENGL 391: Modes & Methods of Scholarship: The Scholar-Adventurer, Professor David Cody

It is the grand, daunting, and ultimately fascinating task of the literary scholar to explore, understand, and share with others something of the meaning of texts in which what Herman Melville once referred to as “the ungraspable phantom of life” may be more or less obscurely set forth. In this course we will read, analyze, and write about primary texts containing enchanting problems (allusions, codes, conundrums, cruxes, cryptograms, enigmas, frauds, hoaxes, mysteries, parables, references, riddles, winks, nods, and nudges) the solution of which may lead to delightful epiphanies. In the process, we will engage with some classic works of literary criticism, explore a range of critical and scholarly perspectives, learn to handle some of the tools (both traditional and modern) of the scholar’s trade, and work (individually and collectively) on some very intriguing original scholarly projects (Edgar Allan Poe meets Google Books; Emily Dickinson’s Valentine; the scholarship of eBay; a literary history of environmentalism, &c. &c. &c.)

ENGL 470: Rude and Anarchic: Sterne and Joyce, Professor Susan Navarette

“Arch meta-narrative”; “consciously absurdist fragmentation”; “transgressive” stylization ranging from “stream-of-consciousness” to “surrealism.” These are a very few of the many rollicking terms applied to what is generally considered the greatest post-modern novel ever written. My reader no doubt assumes that I speak of a work of David Foster Wallace. Pshaw. Of Dave Eggers? Nope. Of someone not named “David” or “Dave”: Karen Russell? Not. Can I possibly be naming the work of anyone who wasn’t born in the late twentieth century when “(ersatz-)outré” was in full bloom? Wallace; Eggers; Russell: small fry. Guppies. The terms cited in this description have—along with “rude” and “anarchic”—been applied by readers and scholars to a novel written by “the granddaddy of experimental novelists, the most daring of the early innovators, … an Anglican clergyman born in 1713” (Ted Gioia, Fractious Fiction [July 15, 2013]). Grandaddy’s novel? The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759), which has been described as “a post- modern classic before there was a modernism to be post about” (qtd. in examiner.com [April 12, 2012]). This course—intended for sophisticated readers reading at the top of their game—will take up two monumental works of post-modern fiction (one a pre- post-modern novel): the above-mentioned Sterne’s outrageous ne plus ultra jeu d’esprit tour de force (if there were another French term, I’d jam it into that strung-out string) and the even better known, more famous, and less-often read masterpiece created by fellow -Irishman and devoted Sterne admirer, James Joyce: here, of course, we refer to Ulysses (1922). I hope in this course to make it possible for my readers to read and “come to terms with” two of the greatest novels ever written. I’d also like us to have fun reading together. That’s pretty much it.

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