English Courses


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: January-Spring 2020

J-Term 2020

ENGL 250-1: When the Cutting Edge Was Mainstream: Hollywood Film, 1967-1976, Professor Rob Seguin
For a time in the mid-nineteen sixties Hollywood underwent a shift in how things were usually done. With the demise of the old studio system (which had kept a tight hold on what movies got made) and before the rise of the new class of corporate bean counters who only cared about the bottom line, a space opened up for new kinds of filmmaking. Sure, plenty of forgettable stuff still came out, but many talented young directors, some influenced by the intense cultural and political ferment of the 1960s, were able to find support and studio backing for “mainstream” productions that in reality were anything but. These were often dark and intense stories that probed commonsense assumptions about American culture and the myths and ideologies that sustain it. In this course we will screen a number of the these landmark films, from directors like Arthur Penn, Bob Rafelson, Francis Ford Coppola, Alan J. Pakula, and Robert Altman.

ENGL 250-2: Being Seen: Cinematic Speculations on Gender, Professor Susan Navarette
“The Gaze” is an arguably clichéd term and concept–even as it remains a salient consideration in relation to identity and gender politics in narrative cinema.  Two decades ago, Feminist critics Laura Mulvey, Luce Irigaray, and Carol Clover taught readers how to “see” and understand important narrative and cinematic phenomena such as scopophilia and specularization in relation to the en-gendering of character.  With such texts as Gaslight (d. Cukor, 1944), The Birds (d. Hitchcock, 1963), and Fatal Attraction (d. Lyne, 1987) constituting our case studies, we will consider how gender is refracted through the lens of narrative cinema. 
Limited enrollment; by permission for Honors Program members.

Spring 2020

ENGL 190-4: Intro to Literature & Criticism, Professor Lisa Darien
This course is a gateway to the English major, and thus to literary study, both literally and figuratively. It is a literal gateway in that it is required that all English majors take any section of this course within one semester of declaring their intention to major in English. Thus at the beginning of their study of English at Hartwick College, all majors must (successfully) pass through this or another section of ENGL 190.
But more importantly, the term “gateway” is itself at heart a metaphor: this is a college course, not an actual gate through which one passes. And thus this gateway course is not just a door one passes through and forgets: it is an opening, an entryway into the beautiful and exciting world of literature and literary study. In that sense, this course is figurative gateway, an entrance into the imaginative spaces of the great works of literature. After introducing the terms and methods of literary scholarship and criticism, we will explore a small section of this enormous space, the world of literature, as we read, discuss, and analyze works from a great variety of times, places, and genres, works that are united only by their ability to speak to us and teach us both about literature and about human life.

ENGL 213-2: Intro to Creative Writing*, Professor Tessa Yang
Introduction to Creative Writing acquaints students with the techniques of reading, writing, and discussing contemporary poetry and fiction. The course is designed for both interested general education students and as the first in a series of courses for creative writing majors. Throughout this class, students will develop a common vocabulary for articulating the strengths and weaknesses of written pieces—their own, their classmates’, and those of published authors. The primary focus will be on analyzing elements of craft such as image, metaphor, line-break, sound, and voice in poetry, and dialogue, plot, character, setting, and conflict in fiction. Students should be prepared to create and share their original poems and stories, and to channel feedback into revisions that demonstrate a growing understanding of the tools and conventions of each genre.
*Please note that additional sections of this course will be offered at the “B & C” (Lichtenstein) hours.

ENGL 247-4: Four Modern American Poets: Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Eileen Myles, and Claudia Rankine, Professor Brad Fest
By focusing on the work of Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Eileen Myles, and Claudia Rankine—four significant intersectional feminist writers from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries—this section of ENGL 247 Four Modern American Poets will investigate the important role that poetry has played in US social justice movements over the past fifty years, particularly with regard to issues of gender, sexuality, and race. Restricting our view to this small group of poets will allow us to focus our attention: we will read each writer closely and carefully, think about the historical, political, and cultural contexts of each writer’s work, trace the influences these writers have upon each other, and investigate the world in which they lived and to which their poetry responds. Beginning with writing emerging from the civil rights and women’s movements of the 1960s—the political poetry and boundary-breaking essays of lesbian writers Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde—the course will then delve into the work of genderqueer punk rock poet Eileen Myles, and will conclude with Claudia Rankine’s important meditations on contemporary racism and racial violence. Specific topics to be covered include but are not limited to: second- and third-wave feminism, LGBTQ+ writing and activism, African-American writing and activism, #BlackLivesMatter, economic inequality, and New York City. We will also be reading critical and theoretical essays by and about our four writers, and students will write critical essays of their own.

ENGL 250-6: Racial Mutations, Professor Rob Seguin
Science fiction can sometimes suffer from a certain image problem: it strikes many as the province of nerds and geeks, obsessed with gee-whiz technological fantasies, and pretty much explicitly male and at least implicitly white. But SF has long been much more than this: as a space for speculative excursions into all manner of cultural and political matters, it has since the 1960s at least attracted a steady stream of writers of color and others from outside the perceived “mainstream” who have been intent on pushing against and reshaping the boundaries of the genre. In this course we will explore this ongoing tradition in which (black, brown, female, queer) writers stretch the themes of racial and sexual identity—and much else besides—into the far future and across the event horizons of technological innovation and alien encounter. Beginning with pioneers like Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler and moving to contemporary practitioners such as N. K Jemisin and Nnedi Okarafor, this class will offer some of the most exciting and thought-provoking science fiction out there.

ENGL 250-9M: Intro to Grant Writing, Susan Navarette
In this service-learning course, students will hone their research, writing, professional, and interpersonal skills by writing and submitting a grant proposal on behalf of a local non-profit organization. Students will learn about the mission, strengths, and needs of the organization with which they partner; will research possible funding sources for the organization; and finally, will write a grant proposal or report for an existing grant, seeking at each stage feedback from both the organization and course instructor.   In past years, “Grant Writing” student-written grant proposals secured funding for Girls on the Run, Valleyview Elementary School, the Oneonta Fire Department, and the Community Arts Network of Oneonta.  Grant-writing and proposal-writing skills are highly sought by employers, and students who gain experience with this unique kind of writing will gain rare marketable skills and experiences. These skills align with Hartwick’s mission of melding the liberal arts with experiential learning, as students generate actual proposals on behalf of actual organizations. This course is inspired in part by the recent PayScale survey, in which 80 percent of Hartwick alumni responded that they believe their work “makes the world a better place.”  
Enrollment is limited to ten students.

ENGL 310-B: Creative Nonfiction Workshop, Professor Tessa Yang
Creative Nonfiction Workshop explores the genre of creative nonfiction (CNF), which uses literary techniques to create factually accurate narratives about real people and events. In addition to drawing on lived experience, students will examine how research can enrich the personal narrative by revealing connections between wider social forces and their day-to-day lives. Students will read a wide variety of contemporary personal essays and write several of their own. As this is a workshop-based class, they will also spend significant time reading and responding to one another’s work, channeling the feedback they receive into a polished and expanded revision of at least one essay. Writers covered may include Eula Biss, Jamaica Kincaid, Philip Lopate, Claudia Rankine, David Sedaris, Esmé Weijun Wang, and others.

ENGL 311-D: Intermediate Fiction Workshop*, Professor Tessa Yang
Building upon work done in Intro to Creative Writing, students in Intermediate Fiction Workshop will deepen their understanding of elements of storytelling craft, including but not limited to: significant detail, point of view, plot, conflict, character, revision, and theme. We will cover a wide range of contemporary short stories in order to better understand the techniques and conventions of strong fiction writing. As this is a workshop-based class, students will also spend significant time reading and responding to one another’s work, channeling the feedback they receive into a polished revision of at least one story. Authors covered may include Kevin Brockmeier, Stuart Dybek, Jhumpa Lahiri, ZZ Packer, George Saunders, Amy Tan, and others.
*Prerequisite is ENGL 213

ENGL 336-C: Shakespeare I, Professor Lisa Darien
This course focuses on the advanced study of the first half of Shakespeare’s dramatic career.  During this period, Shakespeare wrote most of his great history plays, including the so-called HenriadRichard 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 some others as well), but also their cultural context, performance history, and critical reception. In addition, we will consider two broad (and unanswerable) questions: How does historical drama affect history? And what makes comedy funny? Course requirements include several short writing assignments, two exams, an in-class presentation, and a substantial paper (approximately 15 pages) using secondary and critical sources. Please note that the “1” in the course title does not mean that this is an introductory Shakespeare course, but rather that this course covers the first half of Shakespeare’s dramatic career. Thus, although there is no prerequisite, this course — like all upper-level English courses — requires advanced analytic and writing skills for student success. In addition, it is assumed that all students in the class already have some facility in reading and understanding Shakespeare’s language. If you have any questions about whether or not this course is appropriate for you, please talk to Professor Darien before enrolling.

ENGL 370-3: American Literature: Beginnings through Civil War, Professor Rob Seguin
This course traces the development of American literature from its roots in the 17th century to the 19th century flowering of the “American Renaissance,” with a primary emphasis on major works by authors such as Bradstreet, Poe, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, Douglass, and Dickinson.  Emphasis throughout is on the development of a distinctively American voice, sense of identity, and awareness of social complexity.

ENGL 380-B: Everyday Modernisms: Robert Frost & Willa Cather, Professor Rob Seguin
Frost and Cather, two of the more revered writers in American Literature, are nonetheless hard to classify in some ways, from a literary perspective. Both fiercely ambitious, and fully aware of the challenging stylistic upheavals that their modernist contemporaries like Joyce, Pound, Proust, and Eliot were bringing to prose and poetry, they nonetheless clung to the hope of reaching a wide audience. They thus strove to maintain a readable and inviting surface for their works while at the same time artfully imbedding all sorts of complex ironies and pointed judgments. In this course, then, we will explore the strategies needed to appreciate in full these captivating yet cunning “low modernists.”

ENGL 470-67: John Ashbery in Context, Professor Brad Fest
John Ashbery’s passing at the age of ninety in September 2017 occasioned an outpouring of appreciation commemorating his distinguished career. His death reminded many that he was, quite simply, one of the most important United States writers of the last sixty years. In addition to being a prolific, celebrated, and widely-read poet, authoring over two dozen books of poetry, he was a distinguished critic, collagist, playwright, novelist, and teacher whose true influence on American letters is only beginning to be felt. This course will read broadly, selectively, and deeply into his life and work. We will also read Ashbery’s work in context: we will look at his influences—French symbolism, surrealism, and Wallace Stevens, among others; we will investigate and think about the political, social, and cultural milieu of the times and places in which he wrote; and we will explore Ashbery’s poetic legacy. The course will also focus on important works of literary theory and criticism from the period, including specific readings of Ashbery by Harold Bloom, Marjorie Perloff, and many others, along with important essays on postmodernism. The course will enable students to shape their own reading, writing, and research projects about Ashbery’s work in order to prepare them to produce an original work of scholarship by semester’s end.



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