400-Level Courses

Course Descriptions (Last updated: 17 September 2001)
The following course descriptions have been written by individual instructors to provide more detailed information on specific section sthan that found in the General Catalog.  When individual descriptions are not available, the General Catalog descriptions [in brackets] are used. (Although we try to have as accurate and complete information as possible, this schedule remains subject to change.)


Interested in Medieval Literature?  In the history of English?  In English language study? Look at this graduate course in Old English open to undergraduates:
ENGL 512A, Introductory Reading in Old English, meeting Daily 9:30 with Professor Robert Stevick, is a beginning course in the earliest written form of the English language, extremely helpful for study of English literature of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance and fundamental to historical study of the English language.  Read the course description or contact Professor Stevick directly and provide the following information: your name; your student number; your year (junior, senior, etc.); a brief note about why you are interested in taking this course. 

471 A (The Composition Process)
Dy 11:30
[Consideration of psychological and formal elements basic to writing and related forms of non-verbal expression and the critical principles that apply to evaluation.] Add codes in English Advising, A-2-B Padelford.


474 A (Special Topics in English for Teachers)
MW 2:30-4:20
Writing Center Tutor Training.  This class presents an opportunity for students to expand their writing abilities and to learn how to help others with their writing – while getting paid!  The Dept. of English Writing Center is looking for experienced students to enroll for Autumn 2001.  Students iwll have the opportunity both to read and write about various approaches to tutoring writing, as well as to practice tutoring through conferencing and observation.  Then, starting in November, students will have the chance to get hands-on experience tutoring in the English Writing Center.  Students will be paid $7.00/hour (more for work-study students) for this tutoring. N.B.: ENGL 474 does not satisfy English major requirements; it functions purely as a general elective toward the 180 total credits required for graduation.  Added 4/24; sln: 8907.  Add codes available in Writing Center, B-12 Padelford.  Interested students should contact Teagan Decker,

481 A (Special Studies in Expository Writing)
TTh 12:30-1:50
“Style is an essay’s soul,” write Gary and Glynis Hoffman in Adios, Strunk and White, the form of writing that breathes life into content.  As we move into the visually-oriented, computer literate society of the twenty-first century, writers of all kinds are experimenting with a multitude of styles to capture the uniqueness of their vision in the Millennial Age, and stylistic innovators are complaining that much of what was theorized about “good style” is defunct, without life, without soul.  Consequently, style critics continue to redefine style, just as they compete to standardize what exactly constitutes “good style” in our time.  This course will look at some past and present notions of “good” style(s) in the last century and at the beginning of this one, consider their relation to various cultural value systems, and apply them to the writing that we and others produce.  Course goals include helping you to improve your ability to identify and evaluate elements of style in a rhetorical framework and to extend your own stylistic repertoire, online and off.  Much of the class will be devoted to analyzing theories of good style in relation to a variety of texts (from the style manuals themselves, to imaginative literature, to Web pages) to get at how certain writers craft sentences, phrases, punctuation, fonts, graphics, etc., to convey meaning to a particular reader or set of readers.  Our analyses will be collective and individual – “group-“ and self-reflective; we will discuss and analyze style both in person and online in the English Department’s computer-integrated Mary Gates Hall classrooms that house our course.  (Despite the fact that we will be aided considerably by technology, please be aware that regular classroom attendance and discussion is crucial—this is not a distance-learning class.)  Other requirements include short written stylistic analyses, a PowerPoint/Web presentation, and a final. No previous computer experience is necessary.  Texts: Course texts include the following, but please attend class first before purchasing them: Strunk & White, Elements of Style; G. & G. Hoffman, Adios Strunk & White; Angell & Heslop, The Elements of E-Mail Style; Wiliams, Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace; Lyncy & Horton, Web Style Guide; Flanders & Willis, Web Pages that Suck.

483 A (Advanced Verse Writing)
TTh 2:30-3:50
Continued extnsive study of ways and means of making a poem. No texts.  Prerequisite: ENGL 383; writing sample.  Add codes in Creative Writing office, B-25 Padelford.

484 U (Advanced Short Story Writing)
Tues 4:30-7:10 pm
This is the last in the undergraduate sequence of short story workshops; entry will only be allowed for student writers who demonstrate real familiarity with the fundamentals of short fiction, and who have both specific ambitions as a story writer, and the capacity to work independently. Exemplary readings, written student critiques, and formal introductions to fictional work will also be required, as well as a conscientious willingness to help other students with their manuscripts. Fiction writing is a serious way of knowing the world, and no time will be squandered on analyzing the strictly commercial marketplace, or on how one might reduplicate fiction whose only function is the passing of time or the making of money. No texts.  Prerequisite: ENGL 384; writing sample.  Add codes in Creative
Writing office, B-25 Padelford.

491 A (Internship)
Supervised experience in local businesses and other agencies. Open only to upper-division English majors. Credit/no credit only. Prerequisite: 25 credits in English. Add codes, further information in Undergraduate Advising office, A-2-B Padelford (206-543-2634).

492 A (Advanced Expository Writing Conference)
Tutorial arranged by prior mutual agreement between individual student and instructor. Revision of manuscripts is emphasized, but new work may also be undertaken. Instructor codes, further information available in Undergraduate Advising Office, A-2-B Padelford (206-543-2634).

493 A (Advanced Creative Writing Conference)
Tutorial arranged by prior mutual agreement between individual student and instructor.  Revision of manuscripts is emphasized, but new work may also be undertaken. Instructor codes, further information available in Creative Writing office, B-25 Padelford (206-543-9865; open 1-5 daily).

494 A (Honors Seminar)
MW 10:30-12:20
Critical Theory and Its Discontents.  The title refers to Freud’s fateful summary of culture in Civilization and its Discontents, though the discontents we’ll be starting with were those in the study of literature when, in the wake of the sixties, critical theory emerged as a major challenge to the practice of criticism and to institutional practice as well.  On the academic scene the imports from continental thought were at first (and for some, still) as disturbing as Japanese cars and microchips once were to the economy.  But if the Japanese “bubble” burst, that’s not quite true of theory, which has crossed borders and disciplines into the media, popular culture, race, class, gender, the postmodern condition and postcolonial thought.  The effects have been felt, through debates over the canon, in our conception of literary studies, the incertitudes of the curriculum, and in a redefinition—so far as definition is possible at all—of the limits and purposes of what we think of as literature.  Readings will move, with some preliminary material on the old New Criticism, from deconstruction and psychoanalysis through cultural materialism and the New Historicism to “queer theory” and the notion of “performativity“ while reconsidering throughout, after years of critique, the claims of imagination and “the ideology of the aesthetic.”  Requirements: several short (2-page) commentaries, and a final paper of 12-15 pages.  On the alert at every session, reading done, active in discussion.  Required of and limited to Honors English majors.  Add codes in English Advising, A-2-B Padelford.

496 A (Major Conference for Honors)
Individual study (reading, papers) by arrangement with the instructor. Required of, and limited to, honors seniors in English. Instructor codes, further information available in Undergraduate Advising Office (A-2B Padelford; [206] 543-2634).

497/8 A (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 9:30-11:20
Beowulf.  In this course we will be reading the Old English Beowulf in as wide a context as we can retrieve.  We will be reading it in translation, of course.  But not only will we be comparing translations on occasions, we’ll be doing just a bit of the original Old English as well.  We’ll be looking at some of the supposed ancestors and cousins of the poem, at early medieval attitudes toward monsters, at the social/political environment that the poet presumably lived in, at the manuscript in which Beowulf  is contained.  This course is a seminar, so that presumes a certain amount of participation—discussion and report-making, or whatever we decide is worth doing.  There will be some written work to do, too, of course.  But the number of papers and their length are open for negotiation.  So.  If you’re interested in old timey heroes, monster lore, unpronounceable names, and hard history, you should have a good time.  An interest in the glorious miseries, miserable glories of the human condition will be a great help.  Text: Heaney, tr., Beowulf: A New Verse Translation.

497/8 B (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 10:30-12:20
City Folks: Urbanization and Identity. What happens to American culture and identity when the majority of the population migrates to the city?  This is the primary question we'll explore in this class, as we look at literary, sociological, and political narratives of urbanization during the peak time of urban migration: 1880-1930.  I'm interested in examining the various ways the "city" impacts not only the geographical landscape but also notions of American personhood in this era. Requirements: Active, intelligent class participation; a class presentation; response papers; 15 page seminar paper.  Texts: Frank Norris, McTeague; William Dean Howells, A Modern Instance; Henry James, The Bostonians; Anzia Yezierska, Salome of the Tenaments; Claude McKay, Home to Harlem; Edith Wharton, House of Mirth.

497/8 C (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 9:30-11:20
Lydia Fisher  
American Civility.  In the American literary tradition, the “land of the free, home of the brave” often figures as an untamed wilderness—the untainted territory of “natural man.”  And, alternately, American writers have imagined their nation as a model society of republican virtue, peopled by democratically cultured citizens.  Through our readings of course texts we will examine writers’ responses to social movements and historical conditions that have contributed to changing conceptions of the “nature” and culture of the American people.  We will investigate early Americans’ fascination with imagery of vast untamed lands full of rustic pioneers and Indians, and then ask how later writers’ responses to such institutions and conditions as American slavery, immigration, class unrest, gender inequality, and racial tensions revisit and revise powerful ideologies that produced Americans and American national identity.  This is a discussion course—your active participation is key.  Texts: Zitkala-Sa, ed., American Indian Stories; Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Ellison, Invisible Man; James, Daisy Miller; Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes; Gilman, Herland; Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.

497/8 D (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 10:30-12:20
Race and America.  Here we explore race as a central fact of American life and its literary expression.  Readings range from the 19th-century Huckleberry Finn to the contemporary Meena Alexander.  We will look at the controversies surrounding Twain’s classic, race and the color line as seen by DuBois at the beginning of the last century, and briefly how those problems have played out down to the present.  You will be encouraged to bring your own experience of life to bear on the topic as we trace the often tenuous-seeming links between “literature” and “life.”  Two papers and one class presentation.  Texts: Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn; W.E.B. DuBois, Writings: The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade, The Souls of Black Folk, Dusk of Dawn, Essays, Articles from the Crisis; Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing; Carlos Bulosan, America is in the Heart; Meena Alexander, The Shock of Arrival: Reflections on Postcolonial Experience; Manhattan Music.

497/8 E (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 12:30-2:20
Madness in Women’s Writing. Constructions of madness as “the female malady” (Elaine Showalter) in 19th and 20th-century women’s writing. Women’s continuing interest in insanity and mental illness derives from their insight into cultural associations of femininity with irrationality in Western thought. The course traces the shift of the figure of the madwoman from the margins to the center of women’s narratives: from the 19th-century formation of “the madwoman in the attic” (Gilbert/Gubar) the duality of the sane Victorian heroine and her “mad double” (Jane Eyre) through modernism (Mrs. Dalloway) to “mad heroines” in confessional and experiential narratives of the 60s and beyond (Plath, Rhys, Morrison) and to new developments towards “visionary madness” and the reinterpretation of madness as “spiritual quest” (not breakdown, but renewal) (Atwood, Head). Texts: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; Charlotte Perkins Gillman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”; Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway; Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Margaret Atwood, Surfacing; Bessie Head, A Question of Power.

497/8 F (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 1:30-3:20
Loving/Hating/Reading/Fiction.  This is a seminar in the weird pleasures, wild emotions, and secret seductions of reading fiction.  How, exactly, to we “take in” fiction?  How much control does the author have over how the reader feels while reading?  Do we read differently when we’re reading across gender or sexuality or ethnicity?  Why do some readers choose puzzle novels while others prefer love stories?  Can we love novels if they are about things we hate?  How do films “read” stories differently from books?  Do we identify with characters who seem in many ways to be our opposites?  We’ll read modern and contemporary fictions to try to get some tentative answers to these questions.  Discussion will be at the heart of what we do, so come expecting lots of talk and lively differences of opinion. Texts: Bernard Schlink, The Reader; Italo Calvino, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Michael Cunningham, The Hours; Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark; Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body; Toni Morrison, Paradise.

497/8 G (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 8:30-10:20
1898: Sexuality, Race, Nation and Novelty.  This seminar will examine shifts in the concept, purposes, and form of the U.S. “novel” at the turn of the twentieth century.  We will be concerned to establish both the coherence and permeability of three enduring modern notions— “sex,” “race,” and “nation”— by which novels are written, organized and read within a historical context that includes the invention of the “ modern homosexual,” the ascendance of U.S. imperialism, mass migrations and industrial urbanization.  Training our focus on the effects of these “contexts” on the novel genre in and around 1898 the course will endeavor finally to help students of literature think through the connections between literary periodization, aesthetics, and politics.  Primary texts will include a selection of U.S. novels (and some from the Philippines and the circum-Caribbean) from the sub-genres of realism, naturalism, and modernism.  Secondary readings will be culled from Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach (ed.) Michael McKeon and Marxism and Literature by Raymond Williams. Texts: James Weldon Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; Pauline Hopkins, Contending Forces: A Reomance Illustrative of Negro Life; Henry James, The Golden Bowl; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; William Dean Howells, A Hazard of New Fortunes; Claude McKay, Home to Harlem; Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature.

TTh 7-8:50 pm
Al Fisher
Shakespeare: Some Major Tragedies.  Close reading and discussion of four of Shakespeare’s major tragedies: Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra.  Members of the class will be asked to write a one-page “response” paper for each class, and a term paper (minimum 15, maximum 20 pages) either on another Shakespearean tragedy (with some attention to the history of staging or of critical opinion) or on “tragedy” in general (based either on two or more plays of Shakespeare, at least one not discussed in class, or on a comparison between a play of Shakespeare and a Greek or modern tragedy).  Evening Degree students only, Registration Period 1.  Texts: Shakespeare, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra.

499 A (Independent Study)
Individual study by arrangement with instructor. Prerequisite: permission of director of undergraduate education. Add codes, further information, available in Undergraduate Advising office, A-2-B Padelford (206-543-2634)

to home page
top of page