Undergraduate Courses, Spring 2016

Don't wait! Register now for Spring 2016! 

These course descriptions are provided by the professors teaching the courses.
For more information, write to them directly. 

English Majors — Before you register, make an appointment to meet with Wayne Berninger to review your outstanding requirements. Then register as early as possible to keep courses from being canceled.

Non-Majors — The writing and analytical skills gained in English courses are useful in a variety of professions. Any student may take these courses as general electives. A minor in English (four courses 100 or above) will satisfy the Distribution Requirement for any major. For more information, make an appointment to meet with Wayne Berninger.

ENG 104 Introduction to Creative Writing (Course ID# 5036)
No Secrets
Professor Lewis Warsh
Tuesdays & Thursdays 3-4:15 PM

This course will satisfy a Creative Writing elective requirement in the Literature concentration or the Writing & Rhetoric concentration. It can count as one of the four required Creative Writing workshops in the Creative Writing concentration. It can also be applied toward the English minor.

We’ll explore the way daydreams, memories and fantasies are the key to who we are and to the dark and light sides of the characters in the stories we write, using sentences and lines that might go on forever.  How to go off on a tangent in the middle of a sentence, or in a conversation, or in the middle of a thought, or a poem– and never return. We’ll explore possible ways of including our ideas about politics, our feelings of empathy or apathy about what is going on in the world (our rooms, our neighborhoods, our cultures--and everything else.)  Senselessness, a short novel by Horacio Castellanos Moya will be one of our models. We’ll discuss different levels of openness in the poetry and fiction of Frank O’Hara, Tonya Foster, Ted Berrigan, Akilah Oliver, Lucia Berlin, James Schuyler, Roberto Bolano, Wang Ping, Clarice Lispector, Anna Kavan and numerous others. As much time as possible will be spent reading and discussing our own work.

ENG 126 News Writing (Course ID# 4371)
Professor Jennifer Rauch (Journalism)
Tuesdays & Thursdays 1:30-2:55 PM

For more information about this course, contact the Journalism Department.

ENG 129 Later British Literatures (Course ID# 4100)
Doubles, Doppelgängers, Outsiders, and Orphans
Professor Andrea Libin
Tuesdays & Thursdays 4:30-5:45 PM

This course is required in the Literature concentration.  It can satisfy a Literature requirement in either the Creative Writing concentration or the Writing & Rhetoric concentration. It can also be applied toward the English minor.

“...They cannot escape their history any more than you yourself can lose your shadow.” ― Zadie Smith, White Teeth

Have you ever felt like an outsider within your own family, school, or society? Do you ever imagine what would happen if you created a twin self or lived a secret life? The role of the double, the orphan, and outsider has long haunted thinkers, dreamers, and storytellers from early myths, fairy tales, and folklore. Often the role of the doppelgänger figures as a psychological alter ego, a way for a character to break free and subvert confining, restrictive societal roles such as gender, race, class, or sexuality; other times the double manifests as a sort of evil twin, free to act out repressed emotions and desires and perform monstrous acts. We will also consider the idea of the orphan, or the other, surviving as an outsider in an oppressive culture and being forced to live a double life. Starting with the lost boys, the child laborers of industrialized London in Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, our investigation will take us into the back alleys and town houses of Victorian London in the surreal and haunting worlds of both Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; we will venture into Mary Shelley’s sci-fi, complex and ghostly novel, Frankenstein.  Diving into the 20th Century we will explore the gender-bending, centuries-spanning novel, Orlando, by Virginia Woolf.  As a lens onto the core themes and psychological/societal contexts of the literature, we will examine excerpts from Freud’s The Uncanny, Jung’s “The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious,” and Otto Rank’s The Double: A Psychoanalytic Study, as well as film excerpts, paintings, and various other short texts, poems, and stories. The semester will culminate with the exploration of the shifting and expanding notions of identity, class, immigration, and race of contemporary London in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. Work will include creative individual and group projects and presentations, creative diaries, journals/blogs, research, essays, and field expeditions.
ENG 137 Shakespeare (Course ID# 5973)
Professor Srividhya Swaminathan
Mondays & Wednesdays 4:30-5:45 PM

This course will satisfy the Literature requirement in either the Creative Writing concentration or the Writing & Rhetoric concentration. It can satisfy a general English elective requirement in the Literature concentration. It can also be applied toward the English minor. Any student may take ENG 140, 150, 170 or 180 a second time for credit.

William Shakespeare is considered to be the finest poet and playwright of the English language and this course will explore the reasons why.  To understand Shakespeare and appreciate the legacy he has left for English drama, we will begin the exploration of his impressive oeuvre with context.  The Elizabethan stage flourished after and during a time of enormous political, religious, and social upheaval in England.  As a part of the European Renaissance, drama and other forms of literature opened up and began to explore themes and ideas beyond the divine.  Theatre, though not the high-brow form of entertainment that it is today, flourished and playwrights began writing for contemporary audiences, which included aristocratic and commoners alike.  A performance did not take place in a fancy setting with hushed audiences being respectfully quiet so that every nuance of the actors’ expressions could be appreciated.  Instead, theatre was a rowdy affair with actively critical audiences who would not hesitate to the let the actor or playwright know if they found the show boring!  Reading drama is somewhat artificial and does not fully convey the meaning of the work.  In order to offset this artificiality, we will be viewing film versions and seeing one performance of a play.  In addition, students in the class will be expected to do a bit of acting of their own.  Shakespeare, to be fully understood, must be read, watched, and performed!

ENG 159 Literatures of the United States Since 1865 (Course ID# 3850)
"You Always Hurt the One You Love": Complexities of Desire in Modern American Literature and Culture
Professor Patrick Horrigan
Thursdays 6-8:30 PM

This course is required in the Literature concentration.  It can satisfy a Literature requirement in either the Creative Writing concentration or the Writing & Rhetoric concentration. It can also be applied toward the English minor.

Love and hate seem to go hand-in-hand in many of the most powerful works of modern American literature.  As traditional, religion-based ways of thinking about the self and the meaning of life have gradually come to exist alongside secular, scientific understandings, more and more we see in our culture men and women openly admitting to the complexities—the gray areas—of their most intimate and passionate desires:  Walt is afraid that his new boyfriend will hurt him like the last one did; Frederick is both attracted to and disgusted by Daisy’s outspokenness; sometimes Irene feels that her best friend is also his worst enemy; David wants Giovanni but feels he ought to be with Hella; in spite of everything, James loves his abusive father; Norman would rather die than admit his sexual attraction to Marion; John is determined to assassinate the President of the United States in order to impress his favorite movie actress . . . and so on, deeper and deeper into the tortured psyche and broken heart of the nation as we know it today.  Spanning the last century and a half, course readings will include poetry (Walt Whitman’s “Live Oak, with Moss”), short stories (Henry James’ “Daisy Miller”), novels (Nella Larsen’s Passing and James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room), film (Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho), theater (Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins), and comic books (Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese).  The course is writing intensive.

ENG 166 Fiction Workshop (Course ID# 3899)
Postcard Stories, Pocket Poems, Love Letters & Flash Fiction: Finding Our Own Secret Stories
Professor John High
Mondays & Wednesdays 3-4:15 PM

This course will satisfy a Creative Writing elective requirement in the Creative Writing concentration.  It can satisfy a general English elective requirement in the Literature concentration. It can satisfy the Creative Writing requirement in either the Literature concentration or the Writing & Rhetoric concentration. It can also be applied toward the English minor. English majors concentrating in Creative Writing may take this course a second time for credit.

In this class we will tell stories—our own and those from writers around the world. The premise is that the source of much storytelling is based on memories and dreams and talking them through and then, writing them down as we discover them together with like-minded storytellers. You’ll need to carry a pocketful of postcards with you on the train, a small notebook (pocket size) in order to write tales, nightmares, dreams, and love letters as they happen, or as you witness them, in the city of New York. Short, piercing, immediate and in the moment, you will be translating material as it arises in your mind and in the world around you, on the spot.  We will do writing games to build up our confidence as we develop our own personal style and skill at telling our stories in our own, original voice(s). This class will be the equivalent of a writers studio (think jam session in words) and will include playing out dreams, secrets, journals, memories, observations, overheard conversations, magazine cut-ups, postcard stories, pocket size poems, family tales, and random fragments of language, as well as episodes from our childhoods up through the present—from the heart to the street to the page.

This workshop will focus on the ways autobiography and oral storytelling overlap and how the past can be found and told as a way of giving it a new voice, a strong voice—to give the writer both distance from and freedom to enter her/his own life stories.

We’ll read these stories in each class, and watch videos/listen to oral stories from The Moth and performers from the Nyorican Poets Café.  We will write as we walk to the park for field work, meditate, and talk the stories into being. Music, art, drawings, and film are encouraged, though not required, in your work. Your final project will be the creation and compilation of your developed and revised collected Postcard Stories, Pocket Poems, Love Letters & Flash Fictions in the form of a creative project (chapbook) / video / or performance, accompanied by a meta-text and artist statement.

ENG 191 Senior Thesis in Creative Writing (Course ID# 4038)
Professor John High
Mondays 6-8:30 PM

This course is required in the Creative Writing concentration. Only English majors concentrating in Creative Writing may take this course. If you register for this course, and it cancels due to low enrollment, consult the Undergraduate Advisor (Wayne Berninger). If you need it for May graduation, we can arrange for you to take it as a Tutorial. Otherwise, we may ask you to wait until the next time it’s offered.

In this capstone course, English majors concentrating in Creative Writing pursue independent writing projects, resulting in a portfolio of poems, fiction, plays or essays.

Honors Courses Taught by English Faculty

When taught by English Department faculty, Honors courses numbered 100 and above may be applied toward the English major or the English minor. However, please discuss your plan with Wayne Berninger in the English Department to confirm which requirement the course may be used to satisfy.

HHE 121 Graphic Literature (Class ID# 5995) Professor Patrick Horrigan Tuesdays 3-5:30 pm

HHE 124 Salem Witch Trials (Class ID# 5998) Professor Louis Parascandola Mondays 6-8:30 pm

HHE 186 Saints & Lepers: Cultural Responses to Hansen's Disease (Class ID# 5999) Professor Sealy Gilles Wednesdays 6-8:30 pm

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