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 Term and Spring 2019

January Term 2019
ENGL. 248: Alfred Hitchcock, Professors David Cody and Susan Navarette

Penelope Houston has described Alfred Hitchcock as a craftsman of genius “who liked to hear an audience scream.”  This course will explore the literary, psychological, and political aspects of the Hitchcockian metaphysic, with particular emphasis on his relationships (some obvious, others unexpected) with other directors (including Lang, Welles, and Sturges) and with the literary works (by Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Joseph Conrad, Sigmund Freud, John Buchan, Daphne Du Maurier, Lord Dunsany, and Hitchcock himself) that inspired films such as Blackmail (1929), Murder! (1930), Sabotage (1938), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Rebecca (1940), Mr. and 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), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963). There will be two papers, a midterm, and a final examination.

ENGL. 250: Graphic Novels, Professor Rob Seguin

Over the last 30 years, the graphic novel has emerged as one of the most innovative and dynamic in the literary arts. This course will survey a number of the outstanding achievements in the genre, and will explore a range of issues attendant upon this work: How do graphic novelists develop the interplay between word and image? What capacities of expression do they possess in comparison to other literary modes? How do these works draw upon other artistic practices (cinema, painting, photography) to create their own forms? In what ways does these forms seem especially attuned to the dynamics of postmodern society and culture?  The reading list may include such works as: Maus, Art Spiegelman, American Splendor, Harvey Pekar, Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware, Watchmen, Alan Moore, Fun Home, Alison Bechdel, Ghost World, Daniel Clowes, Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi, Asterios Polyp, David Mazzuchelli, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Emil Ferris, Sabrina, Nick Drnaso, Kindred, Duffy/Jennings
Here, Richard MacGuire.

Spring 2019
ENGL 190-4: Intro to Literature & Criticism, Lisa Darien

This course is a gateway to the English major 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 our use of the term “gateway” is itself at heart a metaphor: this is a college course, not an actual gate through which one passes.  And, more importantly, 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 232-6: The Warrior and the Poet: Gender and Identity in the Middle Ages, Lisa Darien

This course focuses on exploring the complex nature of gender and identity in the Middle Ages through a close examination of literary works from the medieval period in Western Europe that contain two common figures: the warrior and the poet.  During the Middle Ages, both warriors and poets were more complex than is implied by modern stereotypes of the medieval barbarian warrior and/or otherworldly poet. As we read the literary works of the medieval period, we will discover warriors and poets that do not conform to simplistic stereotypes. These sensitive warriors, women warriors, and even warrior poets demonstrate how modern gender stereotypes of the past (and present) are particularly inapt and will lead us to a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the complexity of gender and identity in the medieval period.  Among our readings will be a number of major works, most in translation, including the Celtic epic The Tain, the Old English poem Beowulf, the Old French Lais of Marie de France, the Middle English lai Sir Orfeo, and the Icelandic saga Egil Skallagrimsson’s Saga.

ENGL. 250: Intro to Grant Writing, Carolyn Cooper

In this service-learning course, students will hone their research, writing, revising, professional, and interpersonal skills by researching funding options and writing a grant proposal for a local non-profit organization. Students will partner with an organization to learn about its mission, strengths, and needs; to research possible funding sources for the organization; and finally, to write a grant proposal or report for an existing grant on behalf of the organization, seeking feedback from both the organization and course instructor at each stage. In 2017 and 2018, students wrote successfully funded grant proposals 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 highly marketable skills and experiences. These skills align with Hartwick’s mission of melding the liberal arts with experiential learning, as students will work with real proposals and real 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.”

ENGL. 250: Introduction to Media Studies*, Professor Umayyah Cable

What is media? How and why should we study media? What role does media play in society and politics? How is media produced? How does media effect our everyday lives? This course defines media as a diverse array of cultural forms, tools, and practices by which information, ideas, and entertainment are communicated and circulated. It is through media that people, societies, governments, institutions, and corporations express ideas, information, and creative impulses. Media can be print/textual, visual, televisual, cinematic, aural, musical, digital, and more. This course offers a representative overview (although by no means exhaustive) of key theories and topics in the field of media studies. We will learn how to analyze a variety of media forms—print news, cinema, television, music, social media, and more—as well as how the production, reception, and influence of that media effects society, culture, and politics.

*This class is by permission only. To gain permission, please write a 100 word statement explaining why you’re interested in taking the course. 

ENGL. 262-3: Utopia & Dystopia in Literature, Professor Rob Seguin

As REM sang once upon a time, it’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine. Certainly that would seem to be the case today, given the tremendous popularity of post-apocalyptic and dystopian literature: we really do like our doom-laden scenarios. But why? Do we simply not believe in progress anymore, thinking instead that some form of social and/or ecological catastrophe is more likely? What if, though, such narratives were secretly meditating upon the possibility of a better future, nourishing unfashionable thoughts of political and social redemption? Indeed, the Utopian impulse has been making something of a comeback of late, with signs of a revival visible in our culture and politics alike. In this course, we will survey the contemporary cultural landscape for signs of both hope and despair, and reflect on some of the Big Questions: what is the nature of human destiny? Is failure and destruction our fate, or can we mount a project that will transform our lifeworld? We will read an eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction, spin some tunes, and watch a few films.

ENGL. 310-67: Creative Writing: Nonfiction, Professor Brad Fest

In Creative Writing: Nonfiction, students will explore the genre of creative nonfiction by reading the work of published essayists and memoirists, composing essays of their own, and writing critically about contemporary creative nonfiction. Building upon work students have already done in Introduction to Creative Writing, this class continues the creative writing program’s focus on craft by engaging with the “nuts and bolts” of nonfiction writing, the techniques, choices, and strategies that will allow students to find and exercise their unique voice. We will cover a wide range of modern essays in order to learn about and explore the formal elements necessary for successful prose composition in different genres. Students will write a memoir, an essay on their experience of culture, and an essay devoted to looking creatively at an everyday object. The course will foreground an attention to form, to the effective use of voice, scene, point of view, information, objectivity, rhetoric, and experimentation in nonfiction prose. This focus on form will give students a better understanding of the various writers we will be reading and help workshop participants explore the possibilities of the essay as a genre.  Readings will include essays from James Baldwin, Anne Boyer, Roxane Gay, Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson, and short books in the Objects Lessons Series. Encountering the work of important modern essayists will prepare students to think about broad issues within contemporary prose art, analyze and assess other students’ writing, and evaluate their own compositions. Readings will also invite students to think about the role and function of nonfiction writing at the present time. As people increasingly rely on digital platforms for both writing and reading, the digital age has seen an explosion in the quality and quantity of creative nonfiction. Given the realities of our era, this course will explore how the essay—considered as a medium capable of delivering information and a site for creative, critical thinking—might continue to respond to the pressing challenges facing inhabitants of the twenty-first century.

ENGL. 311: Intermediate Fiction Workshop, Professor Brad Fest

In Intermediate Fiction Workshop, students will read the work of published fiction writers, compose short stories of their own, and write critically about contemporary fiction. Building upon work students have already done in Introduction to Creative Writing, this class continues the creative writing program’s focus on craft by engaging with the “nuts and bolts” of nonfiction writing, the techniques, choices, and strategies that will allow students to explore their fictional voice. We will cover a wide range of modern fiction in order to learn about and explore the formal elements necessary for successful narrative composition. Along with paying careful attention to the effective use of dialogue, plot, character, setting, conflict, and scene in stories, we will also be particularly interested in exploring the boundaries of what is possible in the short story form. This focus on form will give students a better understanding of the various writers we will be reading and help workshop participants explore the possibilities of their narrative art.  Readings will include stories by Donald Barthelme, Raymond Carver, Helen DeWitt, Deborah Eisenberg, Jamaica Kincaid, Lydia Millet, and others. Encountering the work of important modern short story writers will prepare students to think about broad issues within contemporary narrative art, analyze and assess other students’ writing, and evaluate their own compositions. Readings will also invite students to think about the role and function of fiction at the present time. As the stories we tell increasingly move from the page to the screen, what is the role of the short story in 2019? Given the realities of our era, this course will explore how we might tell different stories, give voice to narratives not yet heard, and imagine other ways of inhabiting our present.

ENGL 324 / THEA 324: British Drama Lit since 1950

Oh, What a Lovely Course!   Where else are you assigned to read Harry PotterWhat does it mean to be British in postcolonial, multicultural Britain? That’s one question we will explore as we experience works of the past sixty years penned by Welsh/Scottish/Pakistani/English/South African/Irish writers. We will come to an understanding of why these living documents are important on the page, on the stage, and in history.  Texts: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Pink Mist by Owen Sheers, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time adapted by Simon Stephens, Brand New Ancients by Kate Tempest, Blackwatch by National Theatre of Scotland, East is East by Ayub Khan-Din,
Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill, “Master Harold” … And The Boys by Athol Fugard, Woza Albert by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon
4:48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane, The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, Look Back in Anger by John Osborne, The Birthday PartyThe HomecomingMountain Language – by Harold Pinter, Oh, What a Lovely War by Theatre Workshop, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard, Bent by Martin Sherman, Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, Hysteria by Terry Johnson, Blasted by Sarah Kane, The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh, Loot by Joe Orton.

ENGL. 337-B: Shakespeare II, Professor Lisa Darien

This class covers the second half of Shakespeare’s dramatic career, the period in which he wrote most of his great tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear. In addition to these works, we will study other plays of interest to the class, including The Tempest, along with selected critical and historical readings.  In our analysis of these plays, we will explore issues of gender, sexuality, hegemony, race, religion, and even the nature of human life. We will also consider the historical context in which Shakespeare wrote and the practices of the early modern stage.  Please note that Shakespeare I is NOT a prerequisite for taking Shakespeare II; students may take either or both courses in any particular order they wish. But one should also note that this is an upper-level English course, not an introduction to Shakespeare, and thus some familiarity with Shakespeare’s language is assumed.

ENGL. 350-34: Media Activism, Professor Umayyah Cable

Media is a powerful tool. The term “media activism” refers to how media is used to campaign for or bring about social or political change. This class will primarily focus on how underrepresented identity-based and cause-based groups in the United States have used different kinds of media in the service of social justice activism. We will examine a wide range of media objects and practices, including documentary and narrative film, film festivals, public television, culture jamming, street art, and memes, as well as musical genres such as punk and hip-hop. We will read texts from the fields of critical race and ethnic studies, gender studies, and postcolonial studies to understand the relationship between representation and power and to identify how and why certain forms of media activism emerge at particular moments. 

ENGL. 350-C: Arab American Arts & Cinema, Professor Umayyah Cable

In writing on the relationships between culture and power, Edward Said wrote that “culture is a sort of theater where various political and ideological causes engage one another.” This course focuses on Arab-American cultural productions—film, visual art, literature, and performance—as a way to examine various issues that are of concern to Arab American communities. We will begin with a brief overview of how Arab culture and identity has been represented in US, with a focus on the construction of stereotypes and media bias. We will then examine Arab-American cultural productions as self-representations that challenge those stereotypes and biases. Readings in postcolonial theory, women of color feminist theory, and queer of color critique will provide analytical lenses through which to explore the aesthetic and political aspects of Arab American arts and cinema. 

ENGL. 367: British Authors: Jane Austen, Professor Susan Navarette   

This course will examine Jane Austen’s writings in the context of the late-eighteenth-century culture that helped to shape her philosophy, worldview, and aesthetic.  We will also consider contemporary responses to her work (Ralph Waldo Emerson declared that he would rather commit suicide than be forced to live in the society portrayed in Miss Austen’s novels), as well as current critical trends and popular reassessments, including the Austenmania of the 1990s and the unwavering devotion of her apostles, known as “Janeites.”  Austen’s juvenalia, her correspondence, and her novels, major and minor, will constitute primary reading.  Excursions into selected works of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century literature, as well as twentieth-century biographies and criticism, will provide the background and context for our consideration and analysis of her work.  We will also see film treatments of Austen’s novels. 

ENGL 370: American Literature: Beginnings through Civil War, Professor David Cody   

As its title suggests, this course serves as an introduction to some of the most significant American literary figures of the pre-Civil-War period. In it we will examine some of the ways in which works by these authors (including Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, William Apess, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson) served to articulate, define, sustain, critique, contradict and/or subvert the mysterious vision that we still tend to think of as the “American dream.”  Each student will write two research papers, and there will be a midterm and a final examination.

ENGL 390-67: Using Contemporary Theory, Professor Rob Seguin

The discipline of literary studies has over the last several decades been profoundly shaped by the advent of theoretical modes of inquiry. Drawing on philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, and much else besides (with the tutelary spirits of Marx and Freud never being too far away), the principal thrust of theory is that things are not what they seem.  Like a good detective, theory interrogates the cultural forms we use to represent ourselves and the world and discovers that much in them remains (deliberately?) hidden from our commonsensical perceptions.  Theory makes things strange, in a productive, energizing way—not only our novels and films, but also the raw materials they draw upon: our beliefs, desires, bodies, institutions, ways of knowing, and so forth.  My aim in the course will be to show that, despite its reputation for the abstruse and the arcane, theory can indeed be approachable and useful, and written with verve and lucidity—indeed, that at its best it is a kind of literary form in its own right.

ENGL 412: Advanced Poetry Workshop, Professor Brad Fest

In this advanced workshop, students will continue to hone and practice the art of poetry. Building upon the work done in Introduction to Creative Writing and Intermediate Poetry Workshop, and those courses’ focus on craft and form, students in Advanced Poetry Workshop will continue honing their verse in a rigorous, intensive writing workshop. This course will also encourage students to think about their writing as a practice, to think of themselves seriously as writers. As such, in addition to workshopping individual pieces, this course will approach writing as a practice of publication. Over the course of the semester, students will submit their work to literary magazines and will complete a chapbook of poems for their final project.  As the course’s focus will be on the composition of not just individual poems, but a sustained collection of poetry, readings will focus on important book-length works of poetry (either long poems or sequences) from both the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Readings will include works by Robin Clarke, Terrance Hayes, Tyehimba Jess, Alice Notley, Richard Siken, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and others. The course will also include readings in poetics—that is, writing about poetry—in order to give students a better understanding of the important disciplinary and critical conversations about modern and contemporary poetry that have recently occurred. This is the most advanced poetry course offered at Hartwick College, so I will approach its participants—in terms of both my expectations and the feedback I provide—as students who may become professional writers.

ENGL 470 – Dickinson and Her World,

In nearly two thousand diminutive but intense poems, Emily Dickinson explored the greatest of human subjects—life and death, love and hate, joy and sorrow.  Dickinson’s works, including her letters, have become one of our great cultural treasures: witty, romantic, sardonic, ironic, she lived and died in relative anonymity, but took an active interest in the great national conversations of her day.  In this course, a “Senior Seminar,” we will attempt to enrich our understanding of the poet’s life and works by situating them in a variety of cultural contexts.  We will explore, for example, her tortured relationship with Calvinism and tentative embrace of Transcendentalism, her relationships with literary precursors and contemporaries including Sir Thomas Browne, Poe, Hawthorne, the Brownings and Whitman, her place in the exotic but short-lived “Azarian” school of literature, her imaginative encounter with the Civil War, her mysterious romantic relationship with an unknown “Master,” and other topics of interest.  There will be two papers, a midterm, and a final examination.








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