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: January-Spring 2018

ENGL. 221: Classical Mythology, Professor Lisa Darien

Students in this class will learn about classical mythology through the study of the original “classics”: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey; Vergil’s Aeneid; and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (all in translation, of course). Knowledge of these masterpieces is absolutely essential for understanding Western literature, history, culture.  In addition to reading these great classical works, each student will explore a topic of their own choosing (on any aspect of classical mythology and/or civilization) and present their research to the class, as well as completing a short paper on their subject matter. In the past, students have chosen a wide range of issues, from an examination of how the ancients might have treated battlefield wounds through Shakespeare’s use of Ovid to the employment of classical characters and storylines in modern video games. Requirements include reading quizzes, two exams, a class presentation, and a short paper.

ENGL. 233: The Fury of the Northmen, Professor Lisa Darien   

In the 9th century, an Irish monk wrote a prayer in the margin of a manuscript: “From the fury of the Norsemen, O Lord, protect us!” This was by no means an uncommon sentiment; from Ireland to Italy, from France to far-away Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul), the barbarian pagan invaders from the Scandinavian peninsula (also known as the Vikings) astonished and terrified the Christian societies of Western Europe in the 8th and 9th centuries. They raided monasteries and towns, pillaging all they could find and killing anyone they pleased, from the lowliest peasant to the Archbishop of Canterbury (whom they murdered by pelting him with animal bones!).  But the Vikings were not just evil barbarians that terrorized the so-called civilized world: they were also traders, explorers, settlers, and poets. After their conversion to Christianity and thus the introduction of writing into a previously oral society, these Scandinavian peoples again astonished the civilized world by creating a body of vernacular literature that is virtually unparalleled in its imagination, breadth, and beauty. This course examines a small piece of this rich heritage.  Texts will include the two Eddas (the so-called Elder or Poetic Edda and the Edda of Snorri Sturluson), a number of sagas, and other works including excerpts from historical documents and short sagas (þættir). Requirements include reading quizzes, two exams, and short papers.

ENGL. 245: African American Literature, Professor Rob Seguin 

African-American literature has from its origins been a literature of protest. This course will begin with the founding texts of the tradition — slave narratives, folk tales — and then move to the creative ferment of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and its efforts to forge a cutting edge conception of “blackness” adequate to an era of rapid social transformation. Next comes the turmoil and fresh horizons of the Civil Rights era, with its calls for “black power” and increasingly experimental literary ventures. Finally, we will look at our contemporary period, a time when many of the most exciting African American writers are grappling with a renewed political ferment in the wake of civil unrest and Black Lives Matter. Authors we will look at will include: Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, Alice Walker, Claudia Rankine, and Paul Beatty.

ENGL. 249: Novel and Film Noir, Professor David Cody

During the latter stages of the Second World War, critics in France and elsewhere began to comment on the emergence of a new and fascinating sort of American film.   In “films noir” such as Murder, My Sweet (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), and Out of the Past (1947), the fabled “American Dream” appeared to have undergone a surprising mutation into a delirious, dream-haunted existential nightmare in which beautiful, dangerous “fatal women” and their doomed male counterparts struggled for survival in a violent, shadowy world filled with crime and corruption. In this course, which chronicles the birth, maturity, and decadence of the noir aesthetic, we will explore sources of the genre in American and German Expressionist crime films, read “hard-boiled” literary works by Ernest Hemingway, James M. Cain, and Jim Thompson, and analyze not only noir and “neo-noir” films by directors including Fritz Lang, John Huston, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarentino, but also noir-based comedies and satires by James Thurber, Woody Allen, Carl Reiner, and the Coen Brothers. Each participant in the course will write two research papers, and there will be a midterm and a final examination.  Please note: while films noir are enormously entertaining, they are also serious and often moving works of art. Some “Neo-noir” films in particular are not for the faint of heart. You might want to try viewing one of the following films on your own: Sorcerer (1977), The Vanishing (1988), A Simple Plan (1998), or The Departed (2006).  If you enjoy that experience, you will probably enjoy this course as well.

 ENGL 264: Supernatural Horror in Literature, Professor David Cody

 It might be convenient to think of this course as a Gothic castle filled with chambers, crypts, and dungeons, each of them containing a frightful ghoul or spectre waiting to pounce upon the innocent and unsuspecting visitor–or as a guided tour of the haunted mind of Western culture–or as a chance to learn about ourselves by studying the things that make us very, very afraid.  In any case we will familiarize ourselves with the literary traditions of supernatural horror in all their varied forms, including the traditional Gothic (with its Byronic villains, clanking chains, slimy dungeons, and bleeding nuns), the Psychological (in which we learn that, as Emily Dickinson puts it, “One need not be a Chamber—to be Haunted—”), the Antiquarian (with its blending of hallucinatory psychosis and supernatural malevolence in a dark, apocalyptic world), and the Cosmic (with its fusion of ecstasy and horror, its sensual and poetic glimpses of other worlds and other modes of perception).  Sub-categories or cul-de-sacs to be explored at one’s own risk include Horror and the Invisible, the Visual Imagination, Freudianism, Disease, the Conte Cruel, and Decadence.  Readings include works by authors both famous and obscure, including Horace Walpole, Matthew G. Lewis, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Fitz-James O’Brien, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Violet Paget, Ambrose Bierce, Robert W. Chambers, Bram Stoker, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H. G. Wells, Arthur Machen, John Buchan, M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, M. P. Shiel, William Hope Hodgson, W. W. Jacobs, Hanns Heinz Ewers, H. P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. Each course participant will write two research papers, and there will be a midterm and a final examination.

ENGL. 300: Teach Assist 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.  Offered every term. 
*By permission of Instructor only.*

ENGL. 311: Creative Writing: Fiction, Professor Jake Wolff

This is an intermediate-level creative writing course that will help you refine the skills of reading, writing, and revising short stories. Through close readings of contemporary 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 stories of your fellow students and then thoughtfully and constructively critiquing that work via written comments and—most importantly—class discussion. Above all else, this course provides a tough but nurturing environment in which the primary goal is to make our writing better. Any student who has completed ENGL 213, Introduction to Creative Writing, is welcome to enroll. 

ENGL. 323: Contemporary U.S. Drama, Professor Marc Shaw

Trumpism starts with misplaced nostalgia for yesteryear: making an imagined America great again that never existed for a diverse America. So, in our class, we begin with the assumption that America is a contested space, but we will search for lines of empathy, authenticity, and progress in our imagining of a diverse America onstage.  We will engage critically with recent performed and written works such as HamiltonThe Book of Mormon musical, Taylor Mac’s Hir and 24 Decade History of Popular Music, Akhtar’s Disgraced, Hunter’s The Whale, Prebble’s Enron, Mitchell/Trask’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Anna Deveare Smith’s varied works.  We will also explore the works of Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson, Tony Kushner, Sam Shepard, David Henry Hwang, Maria Irene Fornes, Paula Vogel, Philip Kan Gotanda, Edward Albee, and Jose Rivera.

ENGL. 331: Chaucer, Professor Lisa Darien

Chaucer is one of the great writers in all of world literature. Like Shakespeare, Chaucer wrote a variety of great works that have importantly influenced literature written in English and on Western culture more broadly. But unlike Shakespeare, Chaucer is not widely studied today,  perhaps because of the perceived distance between Chaucer’s language and culture and ours: a distance that seems to grow with each passing year.  The truth is that Chaucer IS different. Chaucer’s language, Middle English, is hard to comprehend, at least at first. The culture about which he wrote is also very different from ours and must be understood in order to truly appreciate his poetry. So studying Chaucer is not easy.  Then why do it? Because Chaucer’s poetry truly is great: it’s profound, it’s funny, it’s profane, it’s beautiful, it’s not to be missed. After a few weeks, you’ll wonder why you ever worried about the language in the first place. And you’ll be glad you took up the challenge to study something different and difficult – after all, isn’t that why you’re here at Hartwick in the first place?  Please note that this is a 300-level course with a prerequisite of ENGL. 190 and also that it is being offered as an Approaches course. We will study the works of Chaucer in Middle English, as well as the critical reception Chaucer’s works. Besides taking exams, students will write short papers as well as a substantial research paper that employs critical theory. If you have any questions about whether this course would be appropriate for you, please contact Professor Darien (darienl@hartwick.edu).

ENGL. 350: Poetry and Technology, Professor Bradley Fest

The changes in contemporary life brought about by digital technologies have been greeted with both enthusiasm and trepidation, and this is certainly true for literature: either digital technologies will open up new vistas for creativity and expression, or else they will produce the long-predicted “death of literature.” The realities of how literature gets made and read in the information age, however, are simultaneously more complex and more mundane. Grounded in the history of the book and the materiality of text, this course will investigate some of the transformations that have taken place in poetic production during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, focusing principally on the relationship between interactive poetry and changing technologies.  Poetry and Technology will be divided into two sections: one on print and one on electronic literature. We will begin with a handful of twentieth-century print works that experiment with poetic forms, including works of ergodic literature and artists’ books. During the second half of the semester we will read contemporary writers and artists who push the boundaries of poetic form in new and interesting ways. We will read electronic literature, digital poetry, and hypertext; listen to experiments with sound; and play a videogame (or two). We will also read works of history, criticism, and theory in order to situate our inquiry into technology and emerging digital forms. Students will contribute reflections to a collaborative class blog, write critical essays, and do research. By investigating exciting and challenging works of modern and contemporary poetry, this course seeks to understand some of the ways that people are trying to make sense of life in the digital age.  This course should appeal to students from all disciplines, including art and art history, business, computer science, creative writing, critical game studies, digital studies, the environmental humanities, the history and philosophy of science, network theory, new media, philosophy, poetics, political science, and other fields.

ENGL. 355: British Romantics and Beyond, Professor Susan Navarette 
Images: nightingales; phosphorescent water-snakes; opium eaters; .  
Genres: lyric; ode; sonnet; essay; gothic novel. 

Such things will populate the archive of images and genres that we will assemble in the course of our semester’s exploration of British Romanticism.  The Romantic period in British literature, although spanning a relatively brief period of time, produced a remarkably complex, exotic, and radical collection of writings—writings that, however individually diverse, share a devotion to discrete aesthetic, philosophical, and political values: “beauty,” “nature,” “imagination,” the primacy of individual experience.  So experimental was the literature produced by authors such as John Keats, Lord Byron, William Blake, and Mary Shelley that it may be said to have provided the inceptive “spark” that called to life expressions of late-Romanticism, some of which we recognize from our own recent history: for example, American Transcendentalism, Pre-Raphaelitism, Décadence, the Beat and “hippie” culture of the 1960s and ‘70s, and the “sustainability” conversations of the aughts and beyond.  We will explore both “English Romanticism” of the late eighteenth-century, as well as its heirs and assigns in our own culture, including the counter-culture and protest movements of the 1960s and of this very age of our own.  This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for the English and Creative Writing major.

ENGL 382: Ialc: New England Women Writers, Professor David Cody   

This course explores literary works (including satires, fantasies, ghost and horror stories, and poems) created by women in nineteenth-century New England. Authors range from the famous (Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Sarah Orne Jewett) to the merely well-known (Julia Ward Howe, Mary Wilkins Freeman, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman) to the undeservedly obscure (Harriet Prescott Spofford, Rose Terry Cooke, Helen Hunt Jackson, Constance Fenimore Woolson, and Carolyn Wells Healey Dall) to the forgotten and/or unpublished (Hannah Foster, Helen Peabody, and the Dana sisters).  We will also read some relevant works by male authors (including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and Henry James) who were supporters of or hostile to their female contemporaries. Each course participant will write two research papers, and there will be a midterm and a final examination.

ENGL 470: Capital Times: Money and Class in American Literature, Professor Rob Seguin

President Calvin Coolidge once said that “the business of America is business,” an observation that crisply sums up the overall place of literature and the arts in this country: somewhere east of nowhere, the object of skeptical indifference at best and outright hostility at worst. More so than any of the other “advanced” nations, the major energies of this country have been devoted overwhelmingly to the creation of monetary wealth and the pursuit of economic status. Here, then, is some ready content, at the very least, for those intrepid writers who would venture onto what can be artistically forbidding terrain. In this course, we will examine some of the most interesting attempts to fashion compelling stories from these materials, focusing on two principal areas: the earlier twentieth century, and such figures as Theodore Dreiser, John O’Hara, and John Dos Passos; and our own time, the age of so-called neoliberalism and the dominance of finance capital, explored by figures such as Bret Easton Ellis, Ben Lerner, and David Foster Wallace. We will supplement the literature with critical readings that analyze both the material and cultural dynamics of capitalism.

 

 

 

 

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