Undergraduate Courses, Summer & Fall 2007

Summer Session One 2007

(May 14 - June 25)

(There are no upper division courses in Summer Session Two this year.)

English 180: American Detective Fiction
Professor Donald McCrary
Summer Session One 2007: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1-4:40 pm

According to critic Brian McHale, the detective novel, in its search for truth and certainty, is the quintessential modernist fiction. Even in our so-called postmodern society, detective fiction is wildly popular, as evidenced by the proliferation of detective novels that address unique perspectives of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and, yes, postmodernism. While the roots of American detective fiction are widely debated, with critics locating diverse sources from classical literature to Edgar Allen Poe, it is indisputable that American writers created a unique type of detective fiction, influencing everything from French cinema to modern constructions of masculinity. In this course, we will analyze psychological, philosophical, epistemological, social, and cultural ideas and themes within American detective fiction, as we attempt to answer this framing question: What does American detective fiction have to tell us about ourselves and the world in which we live? Writers we will read include Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, John M. Cain, Walter Mosley, Sara Peretsky, Barbara Neely, and RD Zimmerman.
Students will read at least one fiction novel each week, in addition to critical essays about the novels. Students will write journal entries for all the readings and produce two critical essays, each at least six pages in length.

FALL 2007

English 101: Introduction to English Studies
Professor Patricia Stephens
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12:00- 1:15 pm 

What does one need to know to be an English major or minor? What do English majors and minors study and learn? What kinds of careers and educational opportunities await those who graduate with a degree in English? This course is designed to familiarize students with the diversity and scope of English studies and to introduce students to contemporary debates concerning such issues as the connection between reading and writing, the relationship among different interpretive/critical strategies, and the nature and politics of the literary canon. In this course, we will 1) learn about the rise of English as a discipline and how the profession of English has changed over time; 2) analyze the formation and politics of the literary canon; 3) engage in close readings of literary texts; and 4) examine and experiment with numerous methods of literary criticism and analysis. This course will be conducted as a seminar, and students will be expected to participate in and take responsibility for class discussions. We will read selections from David Richter's Falling Into Theory: Conflicting Views on Literature alongside numerous literary texts (poetry, fiction, and drama selections TBA).

English 103: Workshop on the Essay
Professor Jonathan Haynes
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:15

This workshop aims to deepen skills in writing nonfiction prose. To that end we will study representative works by masters of the essay, but the heart of the course will be writing, editing one another's work, and individual meetings with the instructor. Writing is a complex skill and we will pay attention to all its facets, from tone and point of view to grammar and organizing structures. Students will be encouraged to develop their own personal styles and voices and will have considerable freedom in choosing what to write about. Some forms of the essay that we will study and practice are the news story (as a model of efficiently conveying information), the editorial (as an exercise in persuasion), the autobiographical sketch, and the family history.
This course is cross-listed as Journalism 150. It should be useful to students in any discipline who want to improve their written communication skills.

English 104: Introduction To Creative Writing / Finding Our Voices
Professor John High

Tuesdays & Thursdays 1:30-2:45 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 the use of phrasing and structure in the writing of 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. What do we mean when we talk about issues of style, form and voice(s)? What is a fiction, a poem--what is a metaphor, what is the magic of language, the ghost of echoes, which reflect your own vision of the world, your experience or past, your dreams or visions? What do we mean when we talk about taking chances in writing? We'll look at the work of Modern and contemporary writers ranging from James Baldwin to Anna Akhmatova to Jorge Luis Borges to that of younger writers publishing today. 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. The goal of the course includes completing a portfolio and/or anthology of our work.

English 126: News Writing (cross-listed as Journalism 119)
Professor Rauche (Journalism Department)
Section 1: Mondays 3-5:50 pm
Section 2: Wednesdays 6-8:50 pm

English 128: Early British Literatures / The Making of the English.
Professor Srividhya Swaminathan
Mondays, 6:00- 8:30 pm

What does it mean to be English, and how does language contribute to construction of identity? Why do we study early English literature and what kinds of things are we to learn from the texts? How did English literary traditions evolve over time to create a cohesive identity and culture for its people? This course will begin a chronological survey of the development of English literary traditions beginning in the ninth century and ending in the eighteenth. In covering texts as diverse as BeowulfThe Canterbury Tales, and The Way of the World, students will gain an understanding of the evolution of the English language from its earliest forms to the more modern version of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. By examining the geographic and cultural boundaries as they change over the centuries, students will gain a better grasp of the fluidity of "English" or "British" identity. Finally, students will learn how the form of literature-poetry, prose, drama-changes over time and contributes to the evolving culture.

English 158: Early Literature of the United States / Captivity Narratives
Professor Carol Allen
Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:00-4:15 pm

This course explores early American writing before the Civil War. Using the general rubric that most American literature during this era is either an instantiation of economic, social, and/or spiritual containment or a response to being trapped in some manner, we will collectively delve into questions concerning the nature of literary constructs and their permeability. So, as we discover how writing shapes the world by limiting perception, we will focus on its ability to subvert expectations and norms, to infuse political and social spheres with revolutionary spirits, and to redraw forms and terrain. Expect to read political documents, slave narratives, religious texts, myths, poetry, essays, autobiography, fictional narratives and applicable criticism. A partial list of authors includes John Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet, Benjamin Franklin, James Fenimore Cooper, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Edgar Allan Poe.

English 165: Poetry Workshop
Professor Lewis Warsh
Mondays & Wednesdays 3-4:15 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 173: Writing in the Community / Recording Women's Lives through Oral History
Professor Harriet Malinowitz
Mondays 6-8:30 pm


“Subjective,” personal, non-“official” accounts of what happened in particular times, places, and circumstances offer unique ways of understanding the world and its history. In this course students will collect and disseminate the voices of women whose stories would ordinarily not be accessible to wider publics. We will read about the theories, uses, and methods of oral history, and we will also read a variety of oral histories of women. By the end of the term, and after completing a series of smaller assignments, each student will produce a substantial oral history based on an extended interview with one woman. The women who are the subjects of the oral histories will be carefully chosen according to the interests expressed by the students. The emphasis will be on older (aged 70+) women who may illuminate the realities of earlier social and historical periods, but exceptions may be made in consultation with the instructor. Students are welcome to pursue particular community, family, social, or disciplinary projects of interest to them. The course may be particularly useful for students interested in writing and/or women’s studies, as well as for students majoring in history, sociology, anthropology, or journalism. It will also be of use to anyone seeking a humanities elective that will help in preserving the stories of one or more older women in one’s life.

English 175: Writing for the Professions
Professor John Killoran
Tuesdays & Thursdays 4:30-5:45 pm

When you are given your first writing project on the job, will you know what to do? Writing for the Professions is an elective for students across the disciplines as well as in English who are looking ahead to prepare themselves to write for their careers in business, law, the health professions, science, technology, education, and the arts.

Students will learn to orient their writing toward different audiences, such as managers, customers, clients, and professional colleagues. Students will also learn to write in ways that result in action. By the end of the semester, students will have written their resume and other career-related documents, and will be more confident in their abilities to write effectively.

English 180: Reading and Writing Autobiography
Professor Patrick Horrigan
Mondays & Wednesdays 4:30-5:45 pm


This is a course in a popular form of life writing known as "autobiography," the writing of one's own life story. By studying a diverse selection of autobiographical works ranging from early Christian "confessions" to nineteenth-century slave narratives to contemporary video diaries, we will see how various writiers and visual artists throughout history and in diverse cultures have tried to create images of themselves. Works will include Saint Augustine's Confessions, Dante's The New Life, Frederick Douglass's narrative of his life as a slave, Walt Whitman's poem "Song of Myself," Edmund Gosse's Father and Son, Virginia Woolf's "A Sketch of the Past," Anne Frank's diary, Richard Wright's Black Boy, Jonathan Couette's video diary Tarnation, and Marjane Starapi's graphic memoir about growing up during the Iran-Iraq war, Persepolis. In addition to reading and writing about the works of published autobiographers, students will have the opportunity to create their own autobiographies. A field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to look at self-portrait paintings will also be arranged.

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