We offer approximately 150 to 200 sections of English courses each long semester and a handful of courses over the summer. All of our courses emphasize analytical reading, critical thinking, effective communication, and the development of various writing styles and skills. Our writing-oriented courses cover a variety of skills and degree requirements for students across the university including Core Curriculum courses, Writing Intensive courses, creative writing, and technical business writing. Our literature courses span across genres, time periods, and areas of study including such topics as: health humanities, digital humanities, linguistics, cultural studies, LGBTQ+ literatures, Latinx literatures, rhetoric, literature and film, African-American literatures, surveys of literary periods, and young adult/children's literature.
For a full listing of English courses and brief descriptions, visit the university’s undergraduate catalog.
Below you will find detailed course descriptions for some of our classes being offered during the spring 2021 semester. While this list is not exhaustive, it is meant to aid students in selecting courses that meet their interests, particularly for our special topics courses which change from semester to semester. Please use the Class Search function in Howdy to see a full list of English and Linguistics classes being offered in spring 2021.
Taught by Dr. Craig Kallendorf
This course approaches imaginative literature as an aesthetic experience that can be linked to other aesthetic experiences like painting, sculpture, and music. For teaching purposes we shall proceed as if there are common aesthetic principles that remain more or less constant for a time, then evolve into a new set of principles that gradually come to define a new period. The movement of the course will therefore be broadly chronological, but we will focus on certain key moments in which the interrelationships among the arts are especially fruitful. The emphasis will remain on the western tradition, but we will take several trips into non-western cultures as well. There are no prerequisites, and students majoring in areas outside the humanities are especially welcome; humanities majors should find here a broad general framework into which they can fit their other classes.
Proposed Readings: Norton Anthology of World Literature, course packet on eCampus.
Taught by Dr. Amy Earhart
This course will focus on expressions of the American experience in realism, regionalism and naturalism; varieties of modernist and contemporary writing; the rise of ethnic literatures and experimental literary forms; includes such writers as Dickinson, Twain, Hurston, McKay, Toomer, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Rich. Please note that this is an asynchronous online course which does not have regular meeting times.
Proposed Readings: The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. 2: 1865 to Present.
Taught by Dr. Marian Eide
This course familiarizes students with the last two centuries in British literary history through a sampling of periods and genres (poetry, novel, drama, short story, letter, and journal). This lengthy era is one of increasing self-consciousness in literary production and surprising engagement with the history and the politics of the moment. We will be particularly interested in considering literary connections across time and in examining the formation of the British literature tradition. Assignments include an short essay, a model for a museum exhibition, and podcast.
Proposed Readings: Readings include works by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Caryl Phillips, Samuel Beckett, Christina Rosetti, W. B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf.
Section 901 taught by Dr. Marian Eide
How does writing contribute to our ability to make meaning in the world? Is there something specific about the way that writing practices guide our thinking, and form mental and intellectual habits? Does a specific medium (poem, essay, novel, drama) adjust our way of knowing? This course focuses on writing across genres to hone skills that empower individuals in their communities and careers and are highly valued in the workplace. We will consider a wide variety of genres to enhance our own writing practices: these include fiction and poetry, but also essays and emerging forms in new media. Students will practice intellectual and speculative investigation in two major essay projects.
Section 902 taught by Dr. Robert Griffin
English 303 is an introduction to English Studies for majors. We will become acquainted with some of the many methodologies professional scholars use to read, discuss, and write about literature and other cultural texts. This course will focus on the basic skills of poetry and narrative analysis, raising the students’ awareness of the interplay between formal and historical-cultural approaches. Apart from what is written in a book, the material book itself is part a field of information. We will learn to read literature closely, but also to read the way the world permeates all texts.
Proposed Readings: Jane Austen, Persuasion; Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; a series of poems including Milton, "Lycidas;" and Gray, "Elegy in a Country Churchyard;" critical essays, etc.
Section 903 taught by Dr. Shawna Ross
Sherlock Holmes is immortal. Ever since A Study in Scarlet appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887, the world’s first consulting detective has been its favorite. Though Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill off his creation—infamously tipping him over the Reichenbach Falls—ultimately, Doyle could not withstand the enormous pressure from his audience, publishers, friends, and family (even his mother!) to revive Sherlock Holmes. Over the past century, fans, poets, novelists, illustrators, filmmakers, television producers, and comic book authors have joined these efforts to keep him alive and reinvent him for different cultural and historical moments. As we sample Doyle’s own original writings (the canon) and various adaptations and pastiches (the curiosities), we will examine “Sherlock Holmes” both as a set of texts and as a cultural touchstone.
This course will ask you to complete a variety of assignments as you encounter these Holmesian iterations. You will learn about the relevant social, cultural, technological, criminal, political, geographic intertexts that will make these stories come alive for you intellectually. Three units will focus on specific approaches taken by scholars of English, seen through the lens of Sherlock Holmes. Units on the novels and the short stories will precede a unit just about The Hound of the Baskervilles and its afterlives. During this semester, you will become an expert on all things Sherlock Holmes, not only as a fan, but also as an English major.
Proposed Readings: Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Bantam Classics, 1986)
Taught by Professor Hoyeol Kim
With the advance of technology, humanists have begun to deploy computational approaches to humanities research. In this course, we will delve into the ways in which we conduct digital research with humanities scholarship/data/methods. We will learn how to perform and create word frequencies, digitizations with OCR, network analyses, humanities data, and visualizations with humanities data. We will use Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend as a primary text for class discussion and computational analysis. This class is an introductory to the digital humanities; prior knowledge of computer skills is not required.
Section 501 taught by Dr. Amy Earhart
Examination of Texas literature, culture and multi-media; exploration of the development of Texas identities and responses to the rich cultural diversity within the state.
Proposed Readings: Authors assigned include Sandra Cisneros, Attica Locke, Cormac McCarthy, Gloria Anzaldua. Films include Lone Star, TV shows from Anthony Bourdain's Houston and Padma Lakshmi's El Paso, and archival work regarding items from TAMU and Texas history.
Section 500 taught by Dr. Britt Mize
A sampling of literature written in Old and Middle English, including a variety of poetry, prose, and drama, excluding Chaucer. No prior knowledge of the Old or Middle English language is presumed: Old English works will be read in Modern English translation, and Middle English works will be read in either translated or glossed texts, depending on their individual difficulty.
Proposed Readings: Works read will include Beowulf, Old English elegies, saints' lives, and riddles, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and portions of Malory's Morte Darthur and the Book of Margery Kempe.
Sections 201 and 501 taught by Dr. Katayoun Torabi
What did people in the Middle Ages consider beautiful? Good? Evil? How did medieval communities define their ideal against the monstrous Other? This class will ask these questions of a number of medieval narratives including The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, Beowulf, Judith, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, excerpts from the trial of Joan of Arc, as well as selected modern adaptations of medieval stories. We will consider issues of religious belief, monstrosity, ethnicity, race, religion, and sex, attending closely to the texts’ historical and cultural environments. Students will be asked to consider how narratives in the Middle Ages both reflect and shape beliefs and anxieties about the social and historical moments in which they were created. Class activities will include lecture, discussion, and group work.
Readings will be available to students on eCampus.
Taught by Dr. Donald Dickson
This course will explore some of the major writers of the early modern period, beginning with the greatest lyric poet of the age, John Donne, who charted a new direction by going against the grain in imitating the classical Latin poet Ovid rather than the more contemporary Petrarch. We will then read from a long religious poem by a woman writer, Aemilia Lanyer and the religious poetry of George Herbert. Finally, we will focus on a key event, the English Civil War and Interregnum (1642-1660), by examining the effects of war through two poets in “meditative retreat,” Henry Vaughan (a metaphysical” poet) and Andrew Marvell (a hybrid who is both “metaphysical” and Cavalier).
Proposed Readings: John Donne’s Poetry. ed. Donald R. Dickson. New York: Norton, 2007.
The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deus Rex Judæorum, ed. Susanne Woods. Oxford, 1993.
George Herbert and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Poets. ed. Mario DiCesare. New York: Norton, 1978.
Taught by Dr. Robert Griffin
The eighteenth century in England saw the rise of the novel as a genre, the first magazines, the first book reviews and, through the increase of commercial print culture and freedom of the press, the development of what has been called the public sphere. In this period high culture and low culture rub elbows and dispute with each other. While it is true that witches were no longer executed in this period, we no longer think of the eighteenth century exclusively as an “age of reason,” or as a quiet interlude preceding an age of revolutions. The century is too diverse to be easily characterized. Yet the trend is clear: this century witnesses the gradual transformation of feudal structures and the emergence of what we think of as modernity.
Proposed Readings: Wycherley, "The Country Wife"; Behn, "Oroonoko"; Swift "Gulliver's Travels"; Haywood, "Fantomina"; Pope, "The Rape of the Lock"; etc.
Taught by Dr. Donald Dickson
This course will study works describing an ideal commonwealth or “utopia” in the pre-industrial world of early modern Europe (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) and the post-industrial world (nineteenth and twentieth centuries). We will also examine the intellectual frameworks (provided by Plato and Marx) of these works and their historical contexts: some of these ideal worlds are feminist; some are based on religious models; some are totalitarian. In addition, we will look at several “dystopias.” One of the overarching issues we will address is the tension between the individual and the community in each world—that is, how much must the individual surrender for the “good” of the community.
Proposed Readings: Plato, The Republic (Penguin). [pdf]
More, Utopia (Yale).
Cavendish, The Blazing World (Penguin).
Bellamy, Looking Backward (Dover). [pdf]
Gilman, Herland (Random House) [pdf].
Zamiatin, We [pdf]
Rand, Anthem [pdf].
Huxley, Brave New World [pdf].
Hilton, Lost Horizon [pdf].
Burdekin, Swastika Night (Feminist Press) [pdf].
Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin).
Taught by Dr. Joshua DiCaglio
This is an applied course meant to prepare students to function as an editor in technical and professional venues. We will focus on three related skill-sets: developing a careful eye for detail and precision while working with written and visual documents; practicing commenting and marking writing in a way that is clear and useful; and developing the ability to work in multiple, unfamiliar, and often difficult genres and media. While we will go through the basics of copyediting, style, and grammar, we will also develop strategies to assist in clarifying and facilitating composition beyond grammar. We will practice the leadership and cooperation required for editorship as well as experience the challenges of working with technical subjects. Assignments will include practice commenting and copyediting on written and visual media; a group Wikipedia editing project to practice learning conventions, teamwork, and web-based editing; and a one-on-one editing project with someone in the sciences or engineering (institutional constraints permitting). By the end of this course, students will be prepared to pursue work in a professional or technical writing as well as feel comfortable seeking freelance editing work. Students who are looking to go to graduate or professional school will also find this course useful.
Taught by Dr. Bedford Clark
A close reading of canonical Southern writings from the 1920s on. Special attention will be given to historical and cultural contexts. Authors include Faulkner, Warren, Welty, Tate, and Zora Neale Hurston.
Taught by Dr. Regina Mills
This course will explore the variety of American experiences as impacted by ethno-racial identity. The course will use only life writing texts (such as memoirs, autobiographies, and more experimental life narratives). In doing so, we will consider assumptions around American identity and how American history and policy has worked to erase the diversity of American experience. We will also see how despite efforts to erase certain kinds of people, bodies, cultures, and experiences, minoritized Americans have continued to find ways to show that they exist and their lives matter.
Proposed Readings: Roxane Gay, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body ; Jesus Colon, A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches ; Zitkala-Sa, "The School Days of an Indian Girl" ; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl ; Deborah A. Miranda, Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir ; Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House: A Memoir ; Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying ; Ta-Nahesi Coates, The Beautiful Struggle ; Claudia Hernandez, Knitting the Fog ; Jennine Capo Crucet, My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education ; Minority Media Inc, Papo & Yo ; Lila Quintero Weaver, Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White ; GB Tran, Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey ; Alex Haley and Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X .
Taught by Dr. Portia Owusu
This course offers an introduction to twentieth- and twenty-first-century African American literature and culture, in their cultural, historical and social contexts. We will study a range of texts, including poetry, novels and plays.
Taught by Dr. Michael Collins
This course aims to encourage and clarify the practice of poetry writing by giving young writers the opportunity to critique and try out various forms, styles and conventions of poetry writing. Each week we will analyze a poem or group of poems that exemplifies a certain technique or tone, or a certain philosophical approach to writing poetry. A part or all of some classes will be devoted to workshop discussions of poems class members write. In this way we will seek to deepen our understanding of key elements of poetry such as voice, form, image, experimentation, and persona.
Proposed Readings: The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry, edited by Rita Dove; The Poet's Companion, by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux.
Taught by Dr. Shawna Ross
We will explore Anglophone literature of the twentieth century before World War II: more specifically, the period known as modernism. The term modernism refers not only to a time period, but also to a literary style that both responded to and played an active part in the historical process of modernization. Under modernization, a variety of historical shifts—including improvements in communications and transportation technologies, demographic upheavals, political challenges like suffragism and the labor movement, the rise of mass consumer culture, the intensification of industrial capitalism, concepts developed by Darwin, Marx, and Freud, and the development of world war—resulted in profound changes in the texture of everyday life, in social standards governing morality and sociability, in the function of art within society, and in beliefs about what it means to be human. We will follow a rigorous and ambitious reading list, which includes experimental novels, a handful of exciting short stories, a variety of non-fiction essays written by modernists about modernism, and a few unforgettable poems. Just like the literature of modernism, this class, with enough effort and a positive attitude, will be as rewarding as it is challenging.
Proposed Readings: Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises; Woolf, To the Lighthouse; Forster, A Passage to India; Toomer, Cane; Mansfield, selected stories; Poems by T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, H.D., Langston Hughes, Mina Loy, W. B. Yeats, and more.
Taught by Dr. Joshua DiCaglio
One of the early Greek teachers of argumentation once gave a speech positing language as a kind of intoxication, which permitted people to have a mysterious influence on each other. Out of this observation the history of rhetoric emerges as the attempt to control the flow and form of this powerful influence of language. This course will follow out this theorizing of the influence of language through a comparative reading of Greek and Indian texts that reflect on how language makes people do things. Along the way we will try to recover the essential nature of this rhetorical way of thinking and begin to observe how this influence of language has never diminished but is rather as important as ever. We will thus make this history relevant as the long history of attempting to grapple with the ever proliferating technologies called language, writing, and rhetoric. Reading through this history will give students a foundation for understanding how persuasion works, the complexities, promises, and dangers of communications, and techniques for observing and working with these modes of influence.
Taught by Dr. Sara DiCaglio
We need to talk. Or is it that we need to listen? Or, well—what happens in that moment, the moment when we interact with a text or a speech or some other piece of the world, the moment when we talk to (or at, or with, or against) each other? How are we moved, persuaded, not persuaded, silenced, emboldened? How on earth do we communicate with each other from across and through our many differences and similarities, our situatedness, our identities, our discords, our boundaries, ourselves?
This course tours students through some of the varieties of theories of rhetoric—a term that’s defined in many different ways, but often talked about in terms of persuasion. We’ll look at how different theorists have argued that we come to understand or misunderstand one another throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. We’ll think about how ideas of persuasion and language function as an invisible structure underneath so many things we take for granted. We’ll think about what counts as rhetorical—what are we persuaded by in addition to or beyond words? We’ll be particularly interested in how different definitions of rhetoric and rhetorical acts might lead to and reflect different values, different embodiments, different ways of being and interacting in and with the world. We’ll center rhetorical theories that represent diverse identities, that think through diverse ideas of what it means to speak, to listen, to be silent. Throughout the term, we’ll use discourse about our current pandemic as a case study for thinking about what different rhetorical models allow us to center, see, and value during such a moment.
In order to take advantage of the robust possibilities of our current online format, this course will be taught through a combination of video lectures and once weekly synchronous zoom sessions. We’ll build collaborative community through small discussion groups that use a combination of annotation software, collaborative digital documents, messaging systems, and other digital tools to think through questions and issues within the texts we examine.
Section 901 taught by Dr. Matthew McKinney
Everything you read, every show you watch, every conversation you have has a feeling, a tone, a shape about it that influences how you respond, how you feel about it, and what you do afterwards. This elusive character is what we’re trying to get at by bringing together these two words “Rhetoric” and “Style.” Can we systematically and rigorously examine this underlying sense of language, this shaping of responses, this variety of rhetorical power underlying our communication? Both Rhetoric (as the study of persuasion) and Style (as the study of the shape of communication) do not deal with any one topic. To help focus our examination of style, we will use a common theme: American culture and American identity.
We are using this because: It is a topic familiar to everyone; There is an incredible variety in ways of writing about American culture and values; Many periods in American history (including the present) have greatly altered and complicated the rhetorical context in which we speak about American culture; A whole variety of emotional responses are associated with speaking about our relationship to American culture and identity.
People get emotional about this topic. They get defensive. They wax poetic. They get annoyed, frustrated, tired, excited (then bored and lose interest). Sometimes writing about American culture is political; sometimes it’s personal; more often than not it's both. Sometimes there is an agenda, sometimes the writer is just trying to capture an experience. Our texts will include this whole array: from poetry to music to essays to speeches to news articles, we’ll consider how different stylistic modes work within this same constellation of concerns.
Proposed Readings: "To Tame a Wild Tongue" by Gloria Anzaldua; "Two Kinds" by Amy Tan; "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus; "On Being an American" by H.L. Mencken; "The Myth of the Kindly General Lee" by Adam Serwer; Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman; "When Will They Shoot" by Ice Cube.
Taught by Dr. Anne Morey
We will read five nineteenth-century English novels or novellas (drawn from a list that includes Pride and Prejudice, Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Heart of Darkness, The Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw, and Dracula) and then view film adaptations of each of them in order to create a laboratory for the examination of how literature and film are not the same thing, kin in some respects though they may be. We will focus on the narrational strategies particular to each medium in order to apprehend the structural differences between film and literature. In particular, we will consider how the story telling proper to each medium presents the consciousness of characters and controls the attention of the reader/viewer. We will also consider why the film industry has a propensity for certain kinds of texts in preference to others (for example, through a consideration of early film’s use of Dickens or the influence of Jane Eyre on the woman’s film) in order to have a more general idea of the ways in which literature serves the film industry (and the film industry literature).
Proposed Readings: Five works drawn from a list that contains Pride and Prejudice, Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Heart of Darkness, The Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw, and Dracula.
Taught by Dr. Elizabeth Robinson
In this course, we will survey children’s literature from early fairy tale texts through very recently published texts. In our reading of these texts, we will explore
- a variety of genres: picture books, novels, poetry, and fairy tales;
- the nature, characteristics, and purposes of children’s literature, and
- how the works we read are connected to the cultures and time periods in which they were produced and consider how these works both express notions of the nature of child and childhood and how they shape those notions within a culture.
In our explorations, we will apply principles of literary analysis to the texts that we read, but we will not discuss teaching practices or criteria for book selection.
Proposed Readings: Hallett and Karasek, Folk and Fairy Tales, Concise Edition, Broadview, 2011; George MacDonald. The Princess and the Goblin, Broadview, 2014; Beatrix Potter. Peter Rabbit. Penguin/Random House, 2002; Dr. Seuss. The Cat in the Hat. Random House, 1957; Pam Muñoz Ryan, When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson, Scholastic, 2002; Margarita Engle, Drum, Dream Girl, Houghton Mifflin, 2015; Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, Square Fish, 2007; Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy, Penguin/Random House, 2004; Kathi Appelt. The Underneath, Simon & Schuster, 2010; Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, The War That Saved My Life, Penguin/Puffin, 2015; Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard, Houghton Mifflin, 2011; Shannon and Dean Hale, Calamity Jack, Bloomsbury, 2010.
Taught by Dr. Elizabeth Robinson
In this course, we will survey young adult literature (YA lit) from early fairy tale texts through very recently published texts. In our reading of these YA texts, we will explore
- a variety of genres: novels, encompassing realism, science fiction and fantasy; poetry, and fairy tales;
- the nature, characteristics, and purposes of YA literature, and
- how the works we read are connected to the cultures and time periods in which they were produced and consider how these works both express notions of the nature of adolescence and shape those notions within a culture.
In our explorations, we will apply principles of literary analysis to the texts that we read, but we will not discuss teaching practices or criteria for book selection.
Proposed Readings: Hallett and Karasek, Folk and Fairy Tales, Concise Edition, Broadview, 2011; Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Quirk Books, 2016; Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle, Greenwillow/Harper Collins, 1986; Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan, Simon Pulse, 2009 ; L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Broadview, 2004; S. E. Hinton, The Outsiders, Penguin, 2006; Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Under the Mesquite, Lee and Low, 2011; Kwame Alexander, The Crossover, Houghton Mifflin, 2014.
Section 502 taught by Dr. Regina Mills
In this course, we will look at the diversity of US Latina/o/x literature. After discussing the variety of labels associated with Latina/o/x communities and the key terms of Latina/o/x studies as well as a brief boot camp on close reading, we will begin with a substantial unit on Tejana/o authors. By reading recovered literary works (a historical romance and coming-of-age novel), we will examine marginalized perspectives on Texas-Mexican history, such as the lasting impact of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the persecution of Mexican Americans by the Texas Rangers. These works also challenge the general portrayal of Mexican American and Chicano writing as politically homogenous.
In the second unit, we will look to the Caribbean, first focusing on “sketches” by Jesús Colón. Through his work, we will discuss the history of US colonial control of Puerto Rico, issues of citizenship and nationalism as portrayed by Puerto Rican writers, and the intersection of blackness and Latinidad in Puerto Rican writing from the 1930s to the 1970s. Then we will turn to queer Cuban American writer, Achy Obejas. Through her stories, we will examine the political diversity of Latinx communities, particularly the conservatism of Cuban exiles in the US and the conflicts between newer and older generations of Cubans, especially in the current “thawing” period of US-Cuba relations. In addition, these stories explore issues of gender and sexuality (as do most of our readings).
In the third unit, we will look at Hispaniola and the relationship of Haiti and the Dominican Republic to Latina/o/x literature through Haitian writer, Edwidge Danticat. We will ask such questions as, “If the Dominican Republic is Latin American, then is Haiti? How has the Haitian Revolution impacted conceptions of blackness, mestizaje, and Latinidad in Latin America and the US?” In addition, this book provides an avenue for talking about anti-blackness, US imperial interventions and US support of dictatorships, themes that continue in our last unit. This unit focuses on Central American Latinas/os/xs, focusing on the civil war period from the 1960s to late 90s. We will read Héctor Tobar’s The Tattooed Soldier and end the semester by thinking about how this novel speaks to the current discussion about immigration, asylum seekers, and refugees. Throughout the course, we will consider how one defines Latina/o/x literature, how Latinidades travel across borders, and where this category of literature fits in the realm of American Literature more broadly.
Proposed Readings: Jovita González and Eve Raleigh. Caballero: A Historical Novel. (1996, originally 1930s and 40s); Américo Paredes. George Washington Gómez: A Mexicotexan Novel. (1990, originally 1930s); Jesús Colón. A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches. (1961); Edwidge Danticat. The Farming of Bones. (1998); Héctor Tobar. The Tattooed Soldier. (1998); Excerpts from Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera (1987); Selections from Sudden Fiction: Latino Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America (2010); Sketches from Jesús Colón’s The Way It Was and Other Writings (1993); Stories from Achy Obejas’s We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This? (1994); Excerpts from Francisco Cantú’s The Line Becomes a River (2018); Current articles such as, “As A Haitian-American Woman, I Know I’m Afro-Latina But It’s Time For You To Acknowledge It, Too.” Mitú.
Taught by Dr. Bedford Clark
A survey of major works of world literature that reveal the continued vitality of the Christian imagination in the face of modern and contemporary challenges to religious faith. Authors include Eliot, Greene, C.S. Lewis, O'Connor, and Solzhenitsyn.
Taught by Dr. Mary Ann O'Farrell
A literary mode notorious for producing tension, fear, excitement, and thrill, the Gothic uses its conventions and the feelings it creates to reflect and to examine significant social, cultural, and psychological anxieties about a range of issues. These include—but are not limited to—sex, gender, and sexuality; race and ethnicity; class; political, social, and demographic shifts; the sometimes unmentionable terrors in domesticity; a variety of technologies; environmental crises; the consequences of Empire; the fact and experience of embodiment. In this class, we will want to think about the Gothic’s engagement with such issues while also giving full attention to the plentiful attractions of the Gothic as a popular mode—to the appeal of the eerie, the haunted, the squishy, the squelching, the monstrous, the cowering, the decaying and the decayed.
Proposed Readings: Readings will include classic Gothic British and American novels and stories (by such authors as Matthew Lewis, Jane Austen, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Flannery O’Connor, and Shirley Jackson), but will also include more contemporary written and visual works (including works by such writers and directors as Neil Gaiman, Helen Oyeymi, Alfred Hitchcock, Benicio del Toro, and Jordan Peele), allowing us to think about what is happening when we’re in the mood for a little gothic. Requirements will likely include two papers, an exam, some online posting.
Taught by Dr. Marcela Fuentes
Students in Prose Book Project will combine their reading of literary prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) with the production of their own new texts. This is a craft-based, workshop course. It requires a prodigious amount of reading and writing. Workshop: i) students will produce and submit original creative works during the semester; the class at large will discuss the work and offer revision suggestions; ii) the class will produce critique letters for each workshop; iii) students will use feedback for revision. The goal is to create and polish three chapters, stories, or essays of a larger book project. Additionally, we will read and respond to contemporary literary works of fiction and creative nonfiction on a weekly basis. This is specifically designed for the writing and revision of a portfolio of work suitable for publication and manuscripts appropriate for application to graduate writing programs. This class will be extremely rigorous while preserving the supportive and constructive atmosphere of the writing workshop.
Proposed Readings: Best American Short Stories 2020; Best American Essays 2020.
Taught by Dr. Matthew McKinney
Theories concerning the influence of socio-cultural context on expressive forms and how such forms are used to achieve social and communicative aims; analysis of examples of written, verbal, and visual rhetorics from various cultures illustrating the impact that expressive forms have on social life. Instead of focusing on more traditional, literary, or “high-brow” texts, this course uses popular culture as an access point for better understanding rhetorical frameworks and concepts. Movies, fashion, television shows, video games, podcasts, comics, musical genres, and even memes often serve as ideological and cultural mirrors for our society. By analyzing these mirrors, we can not only learn more about ourselves and the values instilled in us, but actively work to change those values for the better. The assigned textbook and readings provide critical frameworks for you to apply rhetorical theory and analysis in a pop culture context. While we will also examine some preselected pop culture artifacts as a class (such as Cowboy Bebop), you will have plenty of opportunities to apply course concepts to texts of your choice. This is partially to account for the minute-to-minute changes in the landscape of pop culture, and also to ensure that we focus on texts that are of interest to you specifically.
Proposed Readings: Rhetoric in Popular Culture by Barry Brummett (5th edition); I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin and Raoul Peck; Cowboy Bebop by Shinichiro Watanabe.
Taught by Dr. Sally Robinson
In this course, we will read contemporary fiction by women, written from the late 1980s to the turn of the twenty-first century, that focuses on how history gets made and written and the importance of gender to our understanding of history. For many years, History (with a capital H) has come under challenge, with scholars questioning what counts as history and the impossibility of objective history writing. This historiographic point of view has been shared by fiction writers, who have written novels that reconstruct, often from a critical point of view, historical events and periods. The novels we'll read in this class reimagine history from women's point of view, centering attention on both the grand narratives of public history (wars, political upheavals, scientific discoveries) and the private histories that are often hidden below those grand narratives. As we read and discuss these works, we will raise and consider larger questions about: what counts as history? Who gets to write history? Who benefits, and who suffers, from particular constructions of history? What is left out of official history? What are the relationships between individual and collective memories and between personal and public histories?
Proposed Readings: Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace; Pat Barker, Regeneration; Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban; Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters; Toni Morrison, Beloved; Nora Okja Keller, Comfort Woman; Geraldine Brooks, The Year of Wonders; Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris, The Crown of Columbus.
Section 901 taught by Dr. Sara DiCaglio
We live in the midst of a global pandemic. As we collectively struggle through the grief, isolation, blame, and confusion of this difficult period of time, we might turn to the textual for a way to better understand our historical moment. This course examines the literary and rhetorical construction of pandemics, epidemics, and other outbreaks, focusing largely on American constructions of these contagious moments. It centers around three major sites—the height of the HIV/AIDS outbreak in the United States in the 80s/90s, the Ebola outbreak of 2014-16, and the ongoing global COVID-19 outbreak. Situating these three points in relation to one another as well as in relation to other narratives of pandemics and contagion—including, but not limited to, those related to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918/19, the United States typhoid outbreaks of the early 1900s, and miasma and other theories of contagion—this course asks students to consider how epidemics have been constructed as rhetorical and literary events. How have narratives about patient zeroes, asymptomatic carriers, illness as invasion, racialized constructions of illness, and other cultural discourse about epidemics had effects on how we think and talk about actual pandemics (and about the actual human beings affected by these illnesses)? By connecting narratives written from and about these actual events to fictionalized narratives, including science fiction films and texts, zombie outbreak narratives, and even epidemic-themed board games, we will consider how epidemics connect with broader cultural themes and understandings, as well as what approaching epidemics through a cultural perspective can help us to understand in our current moment.
This online course will largely be taught through synchronous zoom sessions. Student participation will be valued and encouraged through a variety of technological means, including the use of messaging technologies, shared google docs, and other opportunities for interconnected thought made uniquely important--and perhaps in some ways uniquely possible--in our remote classrooms.
Proposed Readings: The Plague (Camus); Pale Horse, Pale Rider (Porter); Parable of the Sower (Butler); films such as Outbreak, Contagion, and/or 28 Days Later; Pandemic (board/video game); Zone One (Whitehead); The Man With the Night Sweats (Gunn); Repast: Tea, Lunch, and Cocktails (Powell); What the Living Do (Howe); Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371 (Czerwiec); Contagious (Wald); Risky Rhetoric: AIDS and the Cultural Practices of Testing (Scott); Angels in America (Kushner); Illness as Metaphor (Sontag); COVID writings (such as “The Fairy Tale Virus” by Sarah Orah Mark, Jesmyn Ward’s “On Witness and Respair,” the stories in the NY Times’s “Decameron Project," etc.).
Section 902 taught by Dr. Anne Morey
This course will investigate the phenomenon of the film noir as it appears in American cinema from the 1940s to the present. The emphasis will fall upon film noir production from the early 1940s through the early 1960s, although we will examine a number of so-called “color noir” films as samples of recent film noir production. We will explore film noir’s cinematic and literary antecedents and sources (e. g., the gangster film, the hard-boiled detective novel, and women’s fiction), its connections to a variety of foreign cinemas (particularly those of France and Germany), its interest in psychoanalysis as a mode of investigation and as a framework for narration, and its adjacency to other modes of filmmaking, including the screwball comedy and the western. We will take up the issue of film noir’s apparent misogyny, both in narrative terms and in its deployment of particular male and female performance styles through a closer examination of the work of Humphrey Bogart and Rita Hayworth. Finally, we will consider a variety of cultural pressures on film noir production, including changes in the studio system, the influence of a climate of political and social suspicion generated by Congressional investigations of Hollywood, and the effect of the Cold War generally.
Proposed Readings: James Naremore's More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts; additional articles and book chapters at the rate of one per class or so; 14-17 feature-length films noir (The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Gilda, Kiss Me Deadly, Chinatown, etc.)
Section 904 taught by Dr. Michael Collins
Crime, detection, trial, punishment, rehabilitation, freedom: This is the familiar cycle of justice in the United States and many other nations. The whole of this cycle, as well as the legal and theoretical framework in which the cycle unfolds, is the subject matter of the interdisciplinary subfield of literary criticism and legal studies that is known as “Law and Literature.” As a way of introducing “Law and Literature,” and its subfield, “Law as Literature,” this class will explore works that represent, theorize, or condemn all of part of this cycle as the authors explore the intricacies of injustice and its opposite. We will various genres of crime narrative, nonfiction accounts of major court cases, and theoretical reflections on the criminal justice system.
Proposed Readings: Possible readings include Robert Bloch's Psycho, Walter Mosley's Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, Etheridge Knight's The Essential Etheridge Knight, Sarah Weddington's A Question of Choice, and Laura Bates' Shakespeare Saved My Life.
Section 905 taught by Dr. Andrew Pilsch
This class investigates science fiction that investigates the question of gender. Specifically, if gender is a social norm, the future is an ideal place to investigate the larger ramifications and reconfigurations of its forms. Beginning with a short review of gender theory in a science-fictional context (Firestone, Haraway, Xenofeminism), the class will read works, spanning the history of SF, that interrogate the future as a laboratory for new gender and post-gender imaginings.
Section 906 taught by Dr. Nancy Warren
The Americas are not generally associated with the Middle Ages; in fact almost by definition, the “New World” constitutes itself as distinct from all things old. Legacies of the Middle Ages are however in fact fundamental to settlement projects and formations of national identities that constituted themselves, and have been understood by scholars, in terms of newness. The significance of the Middle Ages to American identities is present from the days of early modern exploration through our present time. This course will help us to see European colonization efforts in the Americas, and ongoing efforts to establish distinctive versions of American identities, in a fresh light by demonstrating the importance of the medieval in those processes. This course is particularly significant at this historical juncture because it is profoundly multidisciplinary, multicultural, and multilingual at a time when the Middle Ages have become strongly associated in some political arenas with a monocultural iteration of northern European identity. We will read works from French, English, and Spanish American cultures (in translation when necessary), exploring the cultures of Nouvelle France; colonial New England and Virginia; Spanish, English, and French settlements on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and urban Mexico.
Proposed Readings: Readings will include Chaucer; medieval drama; Cotton Mather; Nathaniel Ward; Anne Bradstreet; the Marpelate Tracts; Marie de l'Incarnation; Thomas Hariot; Luis Gerónimo de Oré; Catalina de Erauso; Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz; saints' lives; Theodore de Bry.
Stacked with ENGL/LING 610, Taught by Dr. Britt Mize
A continuation of the study of the Old English language which was begun in the Old English I class in fall 2020. The class will read the epic poem Beowulf in its entirety, in the original language.
Proposed Readings: Beowulf (in Old English; prior language study required).