Undergraduate Courses, Spring 2001

English 103: Advanced Writing
Professor Patricia Stephens

In this course, we will explore the craft of non-fiction writing: essays, memoirs, diaries, biographies, auto-ethnography, investigative reporting, and much more. Some common texts will be assigned to the entire class, but students will also have the opportunity to focus their reading and writing projects in areas they wish to further develop. Since the course will operate as a reading and writing "workshop," writers will be expected to share works-in-progress with all members of the class. As we work together as readers and writers of texts, we will focus on how to engage in constructive criticism as we examine issues of style and form. The primary goal of this course is to provide a supportive atmosphere in which students can discuss and explore both published and unpublished non-fiction writing as they simultaneously begin to make conscious choices about their own preferred forms and styles. 

English 104:  Creative Writing
Professor Barbara Henning

In this writing workshop, students will read, study, and write poetry and short-short fiction, using various forms and approaches.  A writer's notebook will be an ongoing project from which students will gather material for their assignments.  Part of each class period will be devoted to reading poems and stories by published authors. The rest of the class period will be a workshop where students learn how to critique their work. A final portfolio will include an evaluation of the student's learning along with revised poems and stories. Books for the class will include The Handbook of Poetic Forms and an anthology of short-short fiction. 

English 129: British Literature II
Professor Melissa Antinori

This course covers the period from 1800 to the present.  Students are introduced to various genres, although the emphasis is on narrative fiction, which flourished in this period.  Novels include Jane Austen’s Emma (supplemented by a viewing of the 1995 movie Clueless), Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone (the first detective novel and one of the most popular novels of its day), James Joyce’sDubliners, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and one novel by a current writer, which will be selected by class vote.  In addition, we’ll read selections from Romantic, Victorian, Modern, and Postmodern poetry and at least one play, George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House.  Through writing, reading, and discussion, students will be introduced to various critical and  theoretical approaches, including colonialism, feminism, and Marxism.

English 137: Shakespeare
Professor Joan Templeton

This course is an introduction to the poems and plays of the greatest writer in the English language, including the love sonnets, A Midsummer's Night Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear. Theatrical as well as thematic aspects of the plays will be stressed, and we will see videos, films, and go to a live performance. Non-English majors are very welcome to register for the course.

English 150: Latino-American Literature
Professor William Burgos

Americans of Latino descent form a substantial part of the United States population and have long contributed to the diverse culture of this country. In this course, we will be reading literary texts by Latino-Americans, analyzing the different ways they define Latino identity and their portrayals of contemporary Latino communities. The readings will reflect the cultural diversity of these communities (Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Mexican and Central and South American) and will include texts by Junot Diaz, Ana Lydia Vega, Loida Maritza Perez, Christina Garcia, Gloria Anzaldua, and Ernesto Quinonez.

English 159: Literature of the United States II
Professor Carol Allen

This course will take the form of a general overview of American literature from the Civil War to the present, divided into three major sections: late nineteenth century, Modernism/Harlem Renaissance, and contemporary American literature.  The primary theme of the course will be the struggle over representation. Authors studied may include: Chesnutt, Twain, Jewett, Hemingway, Anderson, Toomer, Larsen, Wright, Walker, Ginsberg, and Nabokov.

Graduate Courses, Spring 2001

English 520
Nonfiction Writing Workshop
Professor Deborah Mutnick

This course is a nonfiction writing workshop that gives students the opportunity to develop, share, and get feedback on their own writing in a workshop format. The focus this semester will be on the personal and informal essay, although students interested in pursuing other forms of nonfiction writing will be able to do so. The course is intended to provide writers with new approaches to nonfiction writing, such as the use of autobiography to anchor criticism and of literary techniques like dialogue and point of view to write about real places, people, and events. Students will benefit from a group of readers with different perspectives, close readings of their work, and constructive criticism.

At the beginning of the semester, we will read a variety of personal, informal, and autocritical writing. A tentative reading list includes essays by Michel de Montaigne, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, James Baldwin, John Edgar Wideman, Sara Suleri, Richard Rodriguez, Adrienne Rich, Phillip Lopate, Vivian Gornick, Alice Walker, Peggy Phelan, Michael Dorris, and Barbara Kingsolver. The emphasis, however, will be on students' own writing, which will be discussed each week in workshops. Students will keep a course journal on the readings and their own writing process, and produce three short (4-6 page) essays and one longer (15-20 page) essay or the equivalent.

English 524: Fiction Writing Workshop
Professor Lewis Warsh

This workshop explores both the art and the craft of fiction writing. Frequent writing assignments and exercises will concentrate on the conventions of fiction—description, dialogue, and characterization—as well as more experimental possibilities such as fragmentation and shifting point of view. Focus will be on the ways autobiography overlaps with fiction and how the past is fictionalized as a way of keeping it alive. Among the models we will look at are the stories and novels by Marguerite Duras, Don DeLillo, Lydia Davis and James Ellroy. Much of the workshop time will be spent reading and discussing student work.

English 579: Jane Austen Seminar
Professor David Toise

This course will focus on one of the most popular figures in the English literary canon, Jane Austen. Her audiences have taken pleasure in prose such as the opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of wife." As this sentence suggests, readers are attracted to Austen both for likeable heroines who make happy marriages and because of a strategic humor that asks us to question the seemingly conventional pleasures that her novels provide. The course will focus on Lady Susan, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion but may include some of Austen's other writings. In addition, we will screen film adaptations of Austen's works, from Clueless, an updated version ofEmma set in a Beverly Hills High School, to Persuasion, a faithful rendering of the original novel set in its original period. As we read, we will also examine our own responses and a diverse set of questions raised by Austen scholars addressing Austen's relation to: politics and colonialism; contemporary feminism; sexuality; irony and wit; social class and the role of money; and the history of the novel. 

English 620:  Theories of Teaching Writing/Rhetorical Theory
Professor David Tietge

Throughout the course of the twentieth century, rhetoric has undergone some sweeping and pioneering changes. Whereas the traditional view of rhetoric was based primarily on the writings of figures like Aristotle and Cicero, who both saw rhetoric as a technique for public persuasion and ethical discourse in the larger framework of the city-state---the "good man speaking well"---modern rhetorical theorists realized that rhetoric was far more encompassing as a descriptive apparatus in all spheres of human communication.  As a field of metadiscourse (language used to talk about language), modern rhetoric acknowledges that we are, in the words of Kenneth Burke, "symbol using and misusing animals," which raises this question: When are we, as communicative beings, using rhetoric? What assumptions, preconditions, and expectations does our rhetoric reflect? What are the connections between rhetoric, power, and influence? When is language a-rhetorical?  Can it be? These are questions we will explore in this course using rhetoricians like Kenneth Burke, I. A. Richards, and Claim Perelman, to name a few.

We will also explore how barriers between spoken and written forms of rhetoric have been largely broken down. Whereas rhetoric was once viewed as a function of verbal interchange, we now extend many of its lessons to the written word. We will be especially interested in studying and applying contemporary rhetorical theories to composition classrooms so that students might gain a deeper understanding of the richness and dangers of language in their own written expression.

English 634:  Modern Drama
Professor Joan Templeton

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

English 636: Postcolonial Literature & Theory
Professor Huma Ibrahim

This seminar on postcolonial literature and theory will be an examination of the crucial years of the changes that took place on the imperialistic map of Africa and Asia and the issues that related to this dynamic change.  These changes occurred because of nationalist movements that demanded the ouster of imperialist governments, mainly British and French, but also some Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. The people and the movements that represented them wanted autonomy and self-government in these geographical areas. In large part they were successful in this endeavor. However with the new sorts of world economics, Africa and Asia continued to be, as Walter Rodney would say, "underdeveloped."

The literature and theory we are going to read roughly covers the last fifty years of the last century. This course will deal with theories that postcolonial scholars have fostered and developed in order to understand the whole experience of colonialism and its aftermath as well as the literature that engages with those problems. We will read literature specifically from Africa, Western and Southern Africa in particular, as well as literature from Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka and simultaneously look at the theory that engages with that literature as well as larger problems of the developing world. For the theory I will probably assign one of a few postcolonial readers in existence and the literature will cover the geographic areas already mentioned.      

English 650: Gender and Sexuality in Medieval Literature
Professor Sealy Gilles

This seminar explores the formation of masculine and feminine identities in the literature of the Middle Ages. The focus is on Western Europe and England, with brief forays into the Arabic tradition. All texts will be read in modern translations; the course is designed for the non-specialist. Medieval romances, folk tales, and love lyrics have shaped our ideas of what it is to be a man or a woman and our attitudes towards sexuality. The course examines those notions about who we are and how we relate to others as they are embodied in texts from the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries. We shall look closely at bonds between men (brotherhood, king and vassal, father and son) and between women (sisterhood, mother and daughter, the hag and the young woman), as well as at the nature of love and sexual passion. The cultural construction of male heroism and of the lady will be particular topics of concern, but we will also be reading texts in which men are the objects of desire and women the aggressors, as well as poems that express same-sex desire. Texts include Tristan and Isolde, the laisof Marie de France, Dante's Vita nuova, the Romance of the Rose (excerpts), Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (excerpts), and a wide selection of lyric poetry.