Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Undergraduate Courses, Summer & Fall 2001

SUMMER

English 103: Workshop in Advanced Writing
Professor Donald McCrary

This course will examine the rhetorical strategies and ideological content within creative and critical texts that represent provocative and insightful meditations on varied aspects of the human condition. For example, students will study critical and creative texts appropriated and generated by womanist theology, a radical hermeneutics that interrogates and resists multiple oppressions, including sexism, racism, and classism. By reading and analyzing challenging and thoughtful texts, students will explore not only how rhetoric is under-girded by specific ideologies, but also how writers construct and present rhetoric in ways that influence and persuade their readers. Some of the writers students will read include Alice Walker, Barbara Smith, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Delores Williams, Gloria Anzaldua, Richard Wright, Jane Tompkins, Gary Soto, Stephen Jay Gould, and Michiko Kakutani. Students will write several formal essays that ask them to reflect critically on fiction and non-fiction texts, as well as their own experience.

English 225:  Science Fiction                                           
Professor Wayne Berninger

see course website
 
                           
Alien invasions and rocket ships! Runaway robots and malevolent computer programs! Clones and cyborgs! Virtual reality and mind control!  Time travel and ecological disaster!
For at least a century, fiction writers have dealt with subjects such as these as they attempt to answer the question of whether technology and scientific progress will save us or destroy us.  These writers have sought to complicate our understanding of the modern world by creating fiction in which human beings struggle to cope with the psychological, social, political, environmental, and spiritual implications of scientific advancement.
Often dismissed as merely a frivolous sub-genre of  “serious literature,” science fiction has become one of our culture’s most popular forms of literature (not to mention film).    It has become a popular pastime among science fiction fans to catalogue examples of science fiction's predictive impact on society, from the naming of the first NASA space shuttle after Star Trek's U. S. S. Enterprise, to cyberpunk's anticipation of the advent of artificial intelligence and the Internet.

Why is science fiction so popular?  What is its value?  Why do so many readers think science fiction  is so important to an understanding of modern culture?  Given science fiction's increasing popularity and its sometimes eerie, recursive influence on the culture at large, these are important questions for literary scholars and cultural critics, not to mention the general public, and it seems important for English majors to have at least a working knowledge of this strange branch of modern literature.

In this course, we will examine the historical and theoretical development of the genre of science fiction, from its early precursors in the late nineteenth century to the "space opera" of the 1920s and 1930s and the “Golden Age” of the late 1940s and 1950s, and from the  “New Wave” of the 1960s and 1970s to the “cyberpunk” of the modern day.  Through class discussion of key terms and concepts used in the critical discussion of science fiction,  we will develop an understanding of how it fits into the overall literary and intellectual tradition of the West.  We will investigate how science fiction evolved in response to rapid technological and scientific advancement (in both the hard and soft sciences) in Western culture, and how science fiction therefore provides us with a unique lens through which to critique that culture and to understand our lives in the modern world.

Readings will include:  E. E. "Doc" Smith's The Skylark of Space, Isaac Asimov's Foundation, Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and William Gibson's Neuromancer.

FALL

English 101:  Introduction to English Studies
Professor Michael Bennett

This course is designed to introduce English majors and minors to their chosen field, focusing on three main topics:  the history of English studies, critical analysis of literature and culture, and career opportunities for students of the humanities.  Readings and written work emphasize the diversity and scope of English studies and introduce students to contemporary debates concerning such issues as the connection between reading and writing, the relationship between different interpretive strategies, and the nature of the literary canon.  We will study one canonized literary text—The Scarlet Letter—from a variety of critical perspectives.  We will then apply these perspectives to the analysis of other literatures and a contemporary cultural phenomena—the development and dissemination of rap music.  Outside speakers will occasionally address issues in the field and the range of career opportunities available to students who major in English. The course is designed to allow students to make informed choices about their programs of study and their careers.

English 103: Workshop in Advanced Writing
Professor Donald McCrary

This course will examine the rhetorical strategies and ideological content within creative and critical texts that represent provocative and insightful meditations on varied aspects of the human condition. For example, students will study critical and creative texts appropriated and generated by womanist theology, a radical hermeneutics that interrogates and resists multiple oppressions, including sexism, racism, and classism. By reading and analyzing challenging and thoughtful texts, students will explore not only how rhetoric is under-girded by specific ideologies, but also how writers construct and present rhetoric in ways that influence and persuade their readers. Some of the writers students will read include Alice Walker, Barbara Smith, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Delores Williams, Gloria Anzaldua, Richard Wright, Jane Tompkins, Gary Soto, Stephen Jay Gould, and Michiko Kakutani. Students will write several formal essays that ask them to reflect critically on fiction and non-fiction texts, as well as their own experiences.

English 104: Creative Writing
Professor Lewis Warsh
The goal of the workshop is to expand our ideas of “what is a poem” and “what is a work of fiction.”  Are poetry and fiction exclusive or related genres? Weekly assignments will question the preconceived notions of form, content and gender, with emphasis on the best ways of transcribing thought processes and experiences into writing. Work by Marguerite Duras, Frank O’Hara, William Carlos Williams, Lydia Davis, Andre Breton and others will be discussed in class, and used as models, but much of the workshop time will be spent reading and discussing our own writing. A final portfolio of work will be required.

English 128: British Literature I
Professor Sealy Gilles

In this course, we will explore the first seven hundred years of literature written in the British Isles–from the monster tale of Beowulf to the tragedy of the African prince, Oroonoko. Major texts also include Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and a Shakespeare play.  These selections range in genre from epic to romance, from comedy to tragedy. In these texts, and in shorter lyric poetry of the period, we will focus on the role of the stranger–the exile, the outsider, and the alien–in early British culture. How is strangeness defined? What kinds of demands does the stranger make upon the culture? What is the culture’s response to an alien presence? Students are expected to complete a research essay on a topic related to one of the assigned texts. In addition, there will be one short essay and a final examination. 

English 150:  African American Literature
Professor Louis Parascandola

This course will examine masterpieces of African American short fiction from early authors like Frances Ellen Watkins Harper to contemporaries such as Thomas Glave. In between, we will look at classics by writers including Charles Chesnutt, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Jamaica Kincaid. Student grades will be based, in part, on oral presentations and a research paper on one of the authors studied in class.  One or more of the authors discussed will give a reading from his or her work during class time.

English 158:  Literature of the United States I
Professor Amy Pratt

Even before land was sighted, the New World had captured the imagination of European men and women.  This course will examine America as a literary phenomenon, that is, something that was created, in part, through the words written about it.  We will explore the different and sometimes conflicting dreams and fantasies that men and women brought to America and trace what happened to them over two centuries.  Through our examination of the metaphors associated with America and the kinds of literary forms used to tell stories about the New World, we will question how certain ways of making meaning influenced relationships between Europeans, African Americans and Native Americans, and whether they still shape our thinking about what America is, or should be, today.

English 187:  The Bible as Literature
Professor William Burgos

The Bible is one of the fundamental texts of Western civilizations—a text that has deeply influenced how Westerners imagine the Divine and its relation to humankind. Yet it is also a text many people know little about: Who wrote it? How did it arrive at its present form? In addition to questions of authorship and canon formation, this course will focus on the art of biblical narrative (the distinctive ways of storytelling developed by biblical writers) and examine different approaches to translating biblical texts into English and how they affect the reader’s experience of the Bible. Readings will include selections from Hebrew Scripture (Genesis, Exodus, Job, Psalms, Songs of Songs, Isaiah) and Christian Scripture (The Gospels and The Book of Revelations).


Graduate Courses, Summer & Fall 2001

SUMMER

English 580:  The Novella
Professor Harriet Malinowitz

In this course, we will read novellas—works of fiction characterized by the fact that they are longer than short stories but briefer than novels—and consider how and why the novella works as a prose form. Works by a range of authors will be covered and will be selected from among those by Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Herman Melville, Henry James, Thomas Mann, Gustave Flaubert, Nella Larsen, Rebecca Harding Davis, Joseph Conrad, Abraham Cahan, Doris Lessing, Richard Wright, Tillie Olsen, Bessie Head, Gertrude Stein, and Flannery O’Connor.

English 634: Modern Drama
Professor Joan Templeton

This course studies major playwrights of modern drama, including Ibsen, Strindberg, Brecht, Williams, and Beckett. Through videos, performance and production of the texts will be emphasized as well as the texts themselves. 

FALL

English 528:  Creative Writing--Collage
Professor Kenneth Bernard

This course is an experimental workshop class with alternating weeks of writing discussion and collage exercises. The former consists of close reading of student writing with emphasis on grammar, logic, rhetoric, and effectiveness. The latter consists of formal exercises that attempt to parallel writing problems. One is a rigorous examination of all aspects of writing. The other is an open-ended exploration of creative process in which a student might feel less inhibited than with writing. No egos, no sissies, and no text.

English 574:  Twentieth Century English Novel
Professor Howard Silverstein

As the powerful tradition of Victorian fiction—moral, realistic, popular—began to die, something different and more complex came to emerge: the tradition of what we now name the “modern” novel. In place of the preoccupation of the Victorian novel with a detailed social world, early twentieth century fiction developed a more subjective view, a concern with the action of the mind and sometimes with the unconscious motivation of human behavior. As fiction turned inward in its subject matter, the novelists became more experimental in their handling of point of view, narrative structure and often formed a new view of time. The course will place special emphasis on the authors who shaped the modern British novel: Henry James (The Aspen Papers). Joseph Conrad (Under Western Eyes), Ford Madox Ford (The Good Soldier), D.H. Lawrence (Sons and Lovers), James Joyce (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man),and Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway). During the semester, assigned readings will include the criticism of H. G. Wells, E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf, articles occasioned by the literary war over the modern novel.

English 580:  Postmodern American Fiction
Professor Michael Bennett


If earlier depictions of the Beautiful and the Sublime from Kant through the Modernists focused on Nature as the locus of feelings of overwhelming aesthetic power, contemporary depictions are more likely to focus on the domain of Technology. In an attempt to understand this development, Frederic Jameson and others have tried to provide a cognitive map of what they call the “technological sublime”:  the sense of awe that overtakes us when we try to comprehend the increasingly complex cultural and socio-economic manifestations of Postmodernism: the internet, hypertexts, international finance, global capitalism, and other technological developments of the Information Age that can hardly be grasped by the human mind. In his already-classic workPostmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Jameson traces the development of the technological sublime in several areas: culture, ideology, video art, architecture, literature, economics, and film. Following Jameson’s lead, we will begin with one of his essays on each of these areas and look at each topic from a variety of perspectives, grounding our discussion with the critical analysis of a particular work of American fiction (including four novels, listed below, and various short stories and other types of writing).

Texts: Gibson, William. Mona Lisa Overdrive; Jameson, Frederic. Postmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism; Morrison, Toni. Beloved; Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49; Reed, Ishmael. Mumbo Jumbo; Handouts.

Requirements: Your grade will be based on participation (including attendance, contributions to class discussion, and one or two class presentations) and one substantial class project ( a 15-20 page term paper, or an equivalent creative writing project, or other substantial cultural production—video, hypertext, etc.). There will also be a short response to the reading due at the beginning of each class.

English 625:  Nineteenth Century American Literature
Professor Kenneth Bernard

This course is a discussion of some standard American writers, including Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Hawthorne, Melville, Poe, James, Dickinson, Cooper, and Twain. The course isolates two distinct strains in American literature and culture, which continue to the present, and uses the metaphor/model/paradigm of Community/Territory as an aid to understanding them.

English 700: Teaching Composition
Professor Patricia Stephens

This course is designed to introduce teachers to the theory and practice of writing instruction in a variety of settings: college composition courses, high school English courses, and writing center tutorials. Intended as both a source of support and a forum for discussion for new teachers as well as teachers with some experience in the classroom, the course will explore the dynamic and often complicated relationship between theory and practice in the teaching of writing. Overall, the course aims to help students expand their repertoire of theoretical and pedagogical knowledge and become more thoughtful and self-reflective teachers. During the first half of the semester, we will concentrate on readings that explore theories and practices appropriate for various levels of teaching writing (college, high school, and one-to-one tutoring). Writing assignments for the course are intended to encourage teachers to respond to issues raised and problems posed both in the readings and in hands-on work with student writers. Around mid-term, students will select an area of focus for a final research project intended to explore in depth an area of interest in the teaching of writing for a particular setting. Students may choose to work independently or collaboratively on research projects. Possible texts include: The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook (4th edition), edited by Tate, Corbett, and Meyers; In the Middle Way: New Understandings  about Writing, Reading, and Learning, by Atwell; and Teaching One-to-One: The Writing Conference,  by Harris. A course reader, distributed by the instructor, will excerpt work from key figures in composition studies.

English 707: Methods of Research and Criticism
Professor Patrick Horrigan

This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of literary criticism and research. Some of the readings in literary theory will be challenging. However, these readings will be balanced with literary texts that ground our discussions of criticism and give the class a common set of examples on which to test out and examine differing literary approaches. For example, we might read a text like Jane Eyre and examine its treatment over the course of time at the hands of various critics from the nineteenth century to today. In this way, the course is designed to give students an overview of the development of literary criticism as a field as well as the diversity of literary theory as it is practiced today. In addition, students will also be introduced to research skills and the practical knowledge needed to navigate the library. Ultimately, the goal of this course is to appreciate literary criticism not simply as a practice reserved for experts or done merely as a required exercise but as an engagement with literature that enriches us both as readers and teachers.