Undergraduate Courses, Summer & Fall 2005

Summer One 2005

English 103
Workshop in the Essay
Professor Deborah Mutnick
1:00 to 2:50 pm

This course gives students the opportunity to develop, share, and get feedback on their writing in a workshop format. The focus is on the essay, a genre we will explore from a variety of angles: formal, informal, personal, academic, traditional, and experimental. Through juxtaposing one type of essay with another, students will expand their repertoire of strategies and practice the art of shaping writing for particular occasions, audiences, and purposes. We will study different, often mixed approaches to the essay, including autobiography, critical analysis, and literary techniques. Students will benefit from a group of readers with different perspectives, close readings of their work, and constructive criticism.
Readings include essays by Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Richard Rodriguez, Vivian Gornick, and Susan Griffin. Students will present their writing in workshops at least twice during the semester. Writing requirements include a course journal, two short (3-5 page) essays, and one longer (8-10 page) essay or the equivalent.

English 225: Science Fiction
Professor Wayne Berninger
3:00 to 4:50 pm

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.

Summer Two 2005

English 126: News Writing
(same as JOU 119)

Taught by faculty from the Department of Journalism, which you should contact for course description.

Fall 2005

English 101: Introduction to English Studies
Professor Howard Silverstein
Tuesdays & Thursdays
12:00 to 1:15 pm

This writing-intensive course will focus on how we read a literary text and why. The first part of the semester will focus on "How": How do we analyze a poem? How do we read fiction? What is the nature of creative non-fiction? The second part will address the question of "Why?", exploring critical points of view which are current in university English departments. Guest speakers will make presentations on different critical theories, such as deconstruction, feminist theory, psychological interpretation, and historicism.

English 103: Workshop in the Essay
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
Tuesdays & Thursdays
3:00 to 4:15 pm


This course is a writing workshop in the genre of the essay, with particular emphasis on the creative possibilities that distinguish the essay, as a literary form, from the informative article or academic paper. The first few weeks of the course will be spent reading and analyzing published essays by established authors, who may include such traditional figures as James Baldwin, George Orwell, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Susan Sontag, Edward Hoagland, Mary McCarthy, Richard Wright, Rachael Carson, Franz Fanon, and Martin Luther King, Jr.; contemporary New Yorker style essayists such as Donald Antrim, Atul Gawande, Ian Frazier, Katha Pollit, David Denby, Adam Gopnik, Hilton Als, and Jamaica Kincaid; and other contemporary essayists who observe and critically describe modern life, such as Lucy Grealy, Jonathan Rosen, Patricia Williams, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Gloria Steinem, Audre Lorde, Ellen Willis, Eric Schlosser, Ward Churchill, Arundhati Roy, Barbara Kingsolver, and Frank Rich. The rest (that is, the majority) of the course will consist of a workshop format, in which each student's work will receive attention and feedback from the whole class, so as to help the writer move toward constructive revision. Each student is expected to produce one long revised essay (20-30 pages) or two shorter revised essays (10-15 pages each) by the end of the term.

English 104 Section 1: Creative Writing
Professor John High
Mondays & Wednesdays
1:30 to 2:45 pm

This class is designed for anyone who has ever wanted to write creatively, yet who is not sure how to begin or how to move beyond where they are presently in their own writing. Topics include getting started, establishing a passionate discipline, making time, focusing on ideas and feelings and giving them shape through the language of fiction, poetry, and drama. The course will also zero-in on backbone issues of style and technique ranging from those of characterization and plot, continuity, and vividness of imagery, clarity of diction and use of phrasing and structure in writing our worlds-the various ways that elements of craft inherently dovetail with content. There will be weekly creative writing exercises and group discussions, as well as commentary on the writing process and how to make it come alive for you. The course offers relaxed, though thorough, individualized investigation of the participants' work in relation to craft, theme and content writing. What do we mean when we talk about the issues of style, form and voice(s)? What is fiction--what is metaphor, what is the magic of language, the ghost of echoes, which reflect your own vision of the world, your experience or part, your dreams or visions? What do we mean when we talk about the lyric, about experimentations, about taking chances in writing? We'll look at the work of Modern and contemporary writers ranging from Baldwin to Akhmatova to Borges to that of younger writers publishing today. Students will also read and respond to one another's exercises in an environment that offers encouragement and direction. Critiques will focus on motivating the student to tap the undefined territory of his or her own imagination in order to more fully cultivate and mature her or his own voice/s and styles. Writing which moves beyond the so-called boundaries between genres in a spirit of exploration will also be encouraged. The goal of the course includes completing a portfolio of our work, and a revised text for a class anthology, group reading, and party.

English 104 Section 2: Creative Writing
Professor Lewis Warsh
6:00 to 8:30 pm

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 preconceived notions of form, content and gender, with emphasis on the best ways to transcribe thought processes and experiences into writing. Work by Marguerite Duras, Ted Berrigan, Frank O'Hara, William Carlos Williams, Lydia Davis, Lyn Heijinian, Elizabeth Bishop and Andre Breton and others will be discussed in class, and used in 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
Developing "Englishness" through Early Literature
Professor Srividhya Swaminathan
6:00 to 8:30 pm

How did the English define their culture across turbulent historical times? This class will survey English texts from Beowulf to Aphra Behn's Oroonoko. Students will discuss the emerging idea of an "English" nation through an understanding of both text and context. What did Beowulf's heroic struggles against the monster Grendal reveal about English culture in the eighth century AD? How did Chaucer's pilgrims set up the class structure of medieval English society? Students will read a range of literary texts spanning the genres of poetry, drama, and prose. Each text will be examined for evidence of the formation of a cultural, ethnic, and/or national identity. Common themes of class hierarchies, religious struggles, and court culture will also be analyzed.

English 158: Early Literatures of the United States: Imagining America
Professor Leah Dilworth
Mondays & Wednesdays
3:00 to 4:15 pm

"Imagining America" will focus on the ways people living within the borders of the U.S. have imagined and constructed national and cultural identities during the period from the "discovery" of North America to the Civil War. Along the way we will explore notions of the frontier, the individual, and liberty. We will range widely, studying a variety of short texts and excerpts from fiction and nonfiction and oral and written literatures.

English 165: Poetry Workshop
Professor Lewis Warsh
Tuesdays & Thursdays
4:30 to 5:45 pm

Our ideas about poetry are often instilled in us at a very young age, and often those ideas are based on a narrow concept, as if poetry was just one thing written in one way. Our goal is to expand the definition of poetry, to see what's possible, both as writers and readers. We'll do this by exploring the traditions of poetry and see various forms of poetry (among them the sonnet, the sestina, the villanelle) and by paying close attention to the way that poetry changes through time and how much great poetry is a reflection of the age in which it was written. We'll also discuss the act of writing poetry as one of risk-taking and investigation, and how nothing ever changes unless you experiment or try something new. Is all the great writing, for instance, experimental writing? In what way is writing poetry similar to scientific discovery or invention? We'll discuss, at length, what "experiment" means in relation to poetry. Among the poets we'll look at closely are William Carlos Williams, Charles Reznikoff, Ted Berrigan, Elizabeth Bishop, Gertrude Stein, Robert Creely, Bernadette Mayer, Amiri Baraka, Jack Spicer, Andre Breton, Frank O'Hara, and Allen Ginsberg. A final portfolio, consisting of all your written work, is due at the end of the semester.

English 170: African American Drama
Professor Carol Allen
Tuesdays & Thursdays
3:00 to 4:15 pm

African American Drama covers the period between 1848 to the present and features texts composed by African American playwrights. We begin with the historical context of America during the mid-nineteenth century with a special emphasis on the rise of minstrelsy and the construction of William Wells Brown's The Escape (1848). After that, we cover black women's arrival on the stage with Pauline Hopkins' Peculiar Sam (1878), and we discuss the emerging black musical and how it helps to divide the public theatrical sphere along racial lines, a phenomenon that hastens the Harlem Renaissance and a burgeoning, independent black theater movement, which takes hold securely by the mid-twenties, a period that engendered race plays, historical pageants, folk drama, and experimental abstract works. Accordingly, our early twentieth century unit will feature pieces by DuBois, Angelina Grimke, Marita Bonner, Willis Richardson, Zora Neale Hurston, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and Eulalie Spence. We conclude that period with Langston Hughes' long running evocative work Mulatto. Post-War offerings to be studied may include those written by Alice Childress, Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, Adrienne Kennedy, Charles Fuller, August Wilson, Ntozake Shange, and Anna Deveare Smith. Appropriate critical essays will be supplied. Students interested in African American literature, those who are playwrights, and those intrigued by American culture at large will enjoy this course.

English 174: Teaching Writing
Professor Donald McCrary
Mondays & Wednesdays
4:30 to 5:45 pm

This course will explore foundational texts within writing instruction, offering insights into the historical importance of the teaching of college writing and the various theories and practices that have guided and, in some cases, undermined that instruction. Through reading, writing, and discussion, students will examine composition instruction as a field of inquiry, in particular as it relates to teaching writing in a multicultural society. Some topics that will be discussed include invention and revision strategies, grammar instruction, responding to student texts, and collaborative learning. Possible course texts include The Writing Teacher's Sourcebook, Rhetoric and Reality, and Race, Rhetoric, and Composition.

English 180: The Great Lyric Poem
Professor Seymour Kleinberg
6:00 to 8:30 pm


The exploration of the short lyric poem, mostly English, looked at historically, beginning in the Renaissance up to the 21st century. We will analyze how poems are made addressing questions of language and tone, intention and theme. Three short response/critical papers, the first two revised, over the semester are required. These are not research papers. There are no examinations nor a final exam.

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