Course Descriptions (Last updated: 26 July 2006)
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.)
442 A (The Novel: Special Studies)
Family Romances. This course will provide a capstone to your studies in the English major. The course creates an occasion for graduating students to: (1) develop a vibrant critical conversation about a specific area of study; and (2) design individual projects exploring this conversation in more detail. Our specific focus will be on “family romances,” those fictions that narrate social, political, and economic conflicts as family dramas. The class will be particularly compelling for students interested in studies of the novel, critical theory and/or cultural studies, and social questions about family life. Together we will ask: why did the emergence of the novel occur alongside the emergence of the nuclear family in the West? What is the “novel,” and which forms of representation are included or excluded from it at different times? What is the “family,” and which forms of intimate and domestic life are included or excluded from it at different times? Our reading will include a historical range of novelistic writing from the late 18th to the early 21st century. Key texts for this class will include historical romance, realist fiction, short stories, popular journalism, and television shows. Majors only, Registration Period 1.
443 A (Poetry: Special Studies)
Verse Counts. This senior capstone course asks what number games have to do with poetry. We will be examining the history of forms that require poets to count words, parts of words, and lines. We will look at modular forms (rhyme royal, ottava rima, terza rima, Spenserian stanza, fourteeners); poesia artificiosa (villanelle, canzone, sestina); haiku and other syllabic forms; repetition-based forms (pantoum, palindrome); and more exotic variants, such as forms based on mathematic series and algorithm dictated writings-through. What needs (and dreams) do these marriages of the quantitative and imaginative fulfill? When and why have they been especially popular? Texts include Christian Bok's Eunoia and Ron Silliman's Tjanting in addition to the Norton Anthology of Poetry (shorter 5th edition). We will be reading poems by, well, lots of people, from Geoffrey Chaucer to Lord Byron to Marianne Moore and beyond.
471 A (The Composition Process)
This course introduces prospective English teachers and others interested in the study and teaching of writing to some of the major theories that drive contemporary composition instruction. With an eye on pedagogies of the last forty years or so, we’ll discuss and examine the staying power of the process approach and explore a range of theories and practices of teaching writing that will inform the work you will do in your own classroom.
474 A (Special Topics in English for Teachers)
Writing Center Tutor Training. This class presents an opportunity for students to expand their writing abilities and 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 this Autumn. Students will 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. N.B.: ENGL 474 does not satisfy ENGL major requirements; it functions purely as a general elective toward the 180 total credits required for graduation. Text: photocopied course packet.
483 A (Advanced Verse Workshop)
An intensive verse workshop, with a focus on generating a unified group of poems. Prerequisite: ENGL 383; ENGL 384. (Majors following the old creative writing track who have not taken both prerequisites should contact an English adviser (A-2B Padelford). Required texts will include a course packet, The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck, and an additional poetry text to be selected from a list provided by the professor, to be used in a class presentation.
484 A (Advanced Prose Workshop)
In this course, students will be encouraged to work in a variety of short prose forms--everything from jokes to collages--as ways to investigate the world and the word. Prerequisite: ENGL 383; ENGL 384. (Majors following the old creative writing track who have not taken both prerequisites should contact an English adviser (A-2B Padelford). Text: Shields, Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity.
491 A (Internship)
Supervised experience in local businesses and other agencies. Open only to upper-division English majors. Credit/no credit only. Add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL.
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 in English Advising office, A-2B PDL.
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 in Creative Writing office, B-25 PDL.
494 B (Honors Seminar)
Literary Objects. Literature is remarkable for the ways it uses verbal techniques and tropes to give us a sense of the material world around us in the form of commodities, objects, fetishes, things. What’s more remarkable is that literature itself has at times aspired to its own form of object-hood, particularly during the modernist period. This course will consider a number of theoretical ways to consider the materiality of the world and then focus on how literary texts represent, construct, or produce this felt sense of material. We will start with a number of theoretical approaches (Marx and the commodity form, Freud and the fetish, Marcel Mauss on the gift, Susan Willis on use-value, Bill Brown on things) and put them in conversation with a variety of literary texts. Texts: Nicholson Baker, Room Temperature; Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Frank Norris, McTeague; Leah Cohen, Glass, Paper, Beans; Bill Brown, ed., Things; Frank O’Hara, Lunch Poems; Lisa See, Snow Lotus and the Secret Fan.
English Honors majors only; contact Melissa Wensel in English Advising (A-2B Padelford) to get on an add code list for this section.
494 C (Honors Seminar)
“Civilization and its Discontents”: Literature and Cultural Crisis in England Following the First World War. One objective in studying literature is to understand how it reveals the experience of being alive in a particular moment of time. This seminar will approach this objective by concentrating on a brief period of history, the years following the First World War, and read some of its major literary works in the context of the political, cultural, and social changes affecting everyday life. We will consider how modernist texts such as The Waste Land, Mrs. Dalloway, Women in Love, and Point Counter Point responded to the prevalent sense during the 1920s that civilization itself was in a state of crisis. We will use Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents as one model for a theoretical exploration of that state of crisis, especially his statement that the “fateful question for the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent their cultural development will succeed in mastering the disturbance in their communal life by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction.” The growth of psychoanalysis during this period – as an explanatory tool for both individual and social malaise – will be one focus of our attention. Others might be contemporary politics, anthropology, science, and popular culture, depending on interests of members of the seminar. English Honors majors only; contact Melissa Wensel in English Advising (A-2B Padelford) to get on an add code list for this section. Texts: Candace Ward, ed., World War One British Poets; T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Poems; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love; Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point; Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents.
496 A *arrange*
Individual study (reading, papers) by arrangement with the instructor. Required of, and limited to, honors seniors in English. Add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL.
498 A (Senior Seminar)
Privacy. This course will investigate literary versions of keeping it to yourself. The recurrent topic will be what it means to be a self with secrets; how erotics is registered, legislated, and curtailed by interiority – and what may or may not be its obverse: publicity and theatricality; and the limits and expanses of individualism. The historical focus will be 19th- and 20th-century literature, with emphasis on the latter. This will be a reading-intensive course, and discussion is required, in flagrant defiance of the mimetic.
We will begin in the 19th century, with Kierkegaard’s “Diary of a Seducer,” make a pass at or through Durkheim’s anomie, and, after some forays which I cannot divulge here, end with the fabulously disgusting literary sensation, “The Elementary Particles” (alternately translated as “Atomised”) by the eminently irritating and alas interesting French novelist Michel Houellebecq. There will quite possibly be a section on (literary) diaries (ballast provided by Thomas Mallon, with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Bridget Jones’s Diary as instances of self-inqiry); the performance and purchase of monogamy’s violation (Adam Phillips, Laura Kipness); Dorothy Parker on keeping your trap shut as a version of the lyric poem; Julian Barnes (Talking it Over); and gossip. Too, we might do Noel Coward’s Private Lives, something by the perennially if not painfully subtle Anita Brookner, and what would privacy be without Henry James?
This class sounds fun, and it should be. Do not, however, flatter yourself that it will be easy. Privacy demands concentration, and this course will call upon audible, applied, and public forms of that enterprise. Warning: the Houellebecq novel is sexually explicit, and often cartoonishly misogynist; do not take this course if you are put off by such renderings. NOTE: if you have suggestions for reading, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Senior English majors only.
498 E (Senior Seminar)
Contemporary Visual Culture. This seminar will examine how our sense of self in contemporary culture is rooted in a visual existence. We are surrounded by a wealth of visual data, but rarely do we focus on how this information comes to be synonymous with what is natural and transparent, or how we derive pleasure and meaning from a constant data stream of manufactured images. We will draw material from such diverse sources as film, advertising, art, literature, cyberspace, and travel writing. In addition to becoming conversant with the major theories that inform visual studies, you will be responsible for producing a final research project that will be presented to the class. Some of the central questions we will examine this quarter are: who has the power or permission to be seen? Does visibility equate to political power? How is our understanding of space, nation, and community related to how we see? Senior English majors only. Texts: Nella Larsen, Passing; Nicholas Mirzoeff, ed, Visual Culture Reader; Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly; Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code.
498 F (Senior Seminar)
Cultural Politics of Nationalism. The study of literature and of culture is traditionally bound to nationality (e.g., we study “American fiction” or “French Cinema”). In recent years, this nationalist approach to literary and cultural study has come under considerable scrutiny, as writers and critics have begun to ask what is lost and gained by this way of conceptualizing cultures. This line of inquiry gains added traction in the present moment, where we witness on the one hand a proliferation of global or transnational cultural institutions, media, and practices, and on the other hand the (re)newed life of ethnic or cultural nationalisms (e.g., black nationalism, queer nation, and other forms of nationalist mobilization that are expressly antagonistic toward the institutions and policies of established nation-states). This course will engage a set of (relatively) contemporary literary, visual, and critical materials that interrogate the idea of national cultures, and the cultural work we perform under the rubric of nationality. Separately and collectively, these materials invite reflection on the histories of nationalism, its tenacity, and it uncertain futures. Materials for the course will likely include Paul Beatty, White Boy Shuffle, Ana Castillo, So Far From God, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, New World Border, Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters, the films Blade Runner (Ridley Scott) and Traffic (Steven Soderbergh), and a packet of critical writings by Benedict Anderson, Anne McClintock, Roger Rouse, Arjun Appadurai, Stuart Hall, Arif Dirlik, and others. In addition to short responses and in-class writings, work for the course will include an annotated bibliography, an in-class presentation, and a substantial research paper (12-15 pages). Senior English majors only. Texts: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities; Paul Beatty, The White Boy Shuffle; Ana Castillo, So Far From God; Guillermo Gomez-Pena, The New World Border; Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters.
498 G (Senior Seminar)
Loving / Hating / Reading / Fiction. This is a seminar in the weird pleasures, wild emotions, and secret seductions of reading fiction. How, exactly, do 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 e 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 opinions. You’ll be thinking on paper too, in short responses and a longer seminar paper. Senior English majors only.
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)