(Descriptions last updated 21 November 2000)
407A (Special Topics in Cultural Studies)
The “Woman Problem” in Twentieth-Century American Culture. This course examines changes in the cultural representation of what was (and sometimes still is) perceived as “the woman problem” in American culture. The problem of woman, caught between social or cultural reform and biological determinism, offers us a chance to think about how the concept of woman has functioned in regard to national identity, as well as how various institutions in American culture have aided the construction of a woman problem. Questions might include: What is the connection between woman and nation? How has that connection been used in representations of the woman problem to further certain political arguments or ideological shifts? How have debates about class, race and sexuality been linked to he woman problem? What has been or continues to be the fallout from these debates? In addition to seven books, we will also watch four films: The Cheat, All About Eve, The Stepford Wives, and Basic Instinct. The course will be divided into three parts, with a take-home essay exam concluding all three discussions. Course grade will rely on class participation, including some student responsibility for initiating class discussions, and the essay grades. Texts: Henry James, Daisy Miller; Edith Wharton, House of Mirth; Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers; Ann Petry, The Street; Claire Morgan, The Price of Salt; Jacqueline Susann, Valley of the Dolls; Michelle Wallace, Black Macho.
422A (Arthurian Legends)
This course will explore a diverse group of texts recounting the fictive exploits of the women and men of Arthur’s court. Students will read and discuss a range of important works (in prose and verse) treating these legends, including works by a range of neglected early British writers who were active before the codification of the Arthurian “universe”; works composed by and for medieval women; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; episodes from Malory; and a selection of non-canonical items. Course requirements will include a mid-term, final, and major term paper. Majors only, Registration Period 1 Texts: Thorpe, tr., Geoffrey of Monmouth: The History of the Kings of Britain; Marie de France, Lais (tr. Hanning & Ferrante); Chrétien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances; Stone, tr., King Arthur’s Death; Tolkien, tr., Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Malory, Le Morte Darthur: The Winchester Manuscript (ed. Cooper).
431A (Topics in British Literature)
Novels of Empire and Colonial Discourse. This course will examine the links between popular British novels of the mid- to-late nineteenth century, and the politics of literary representation. In particular, we will be investigating how sexuality, race, gender and class were created through the prism of nineteenth-century colonial relations. Texts: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; Rudyard Kipling, Kim: A Beggar or the Youngest Spy; Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone; William Thackery, Vanity Fair; photocopied course packet.
442YA (The Novel: Special Studies)
MW 7-8:50 pm
The Brontës. The three Brontë sisters—Anne, Emily, and Charlotte—in 1846 published a volume of poetry which did not sell. The following year novels by each appeared—Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, and, together, Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey. In 1849 Anne published The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Emily died in December 1848 and Anne in May 1849. Charlotte’s Shirley came in 1849 and Villette in 1853. Charlotte died in 1855, and The Professor was published posthumously in 1857, the same year that Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë drew much attention to the entire family. The novels stand amid a great body of major English fiction, and they also stand distinctively apart, not only as works by women disinclined to reveal their gender but as novels with an intensity and sometimes a strangeness that has impressed and perplexed generations of readers. Evening Degree students only, Registration Period 1. Texts: C. Brontë, Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette; Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights; Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey; The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
444A (Dramatic Literature: Special Studies)
Contemporary Drama and Cultural Politics. Some of the plays we’ll be studying were written soon after a period when the drama had suffered a rather severe case of stage fright. For it was during the sixties and early seventies that the theater seemed to be threatening to do without the drama. The radical activism of the times was outspoken in politics but anti-verbal, non-verbal, or spastically verbal in the theater, which was heavily invested in body language, sound/movement, and ideographic behavior—the legacy of which you can see on MTV today. While plays were still being written, in more profusion than it seemed, the stress was on spectacle and theatricality, and we talked at the time of a Theater of Images.
Without the impediment of a text or a revisionist attitude toward the drama, it was a period of improvisation, with some of the most exciting theater out on the streets or in other performative environments. Or in fashion, therapy, pedagogy, lifestyle, and the other arts, with performance (and body) art emerging from the ferment with more or less indifference to what we normally think of as theater. “Where’s the action?” we used to ask during the era characterized by the Happening, but where it was most engaging it didn’t seem to be on stage. If conventional plays were still being done, on Broadway and in the regional theaters, the theatrical energy was elsewhere. And when it came back, it came back in somewhat different kinds of plays, with the words activated by the memory of radical experiment, in theater, in politics, as a counterpoint of resistance to a new conservatism.
At least a couple of the dramatists we are studying were, in their earliest work, a sort of counterpoint in advance. This was the case with Pinter, who had picked up the cue from Beckett, who said about the action, in Waiting for Godot, “Nothing to be done.” Which takes a lot of doing. Going into the sixties, Pinter was writing the kind of drama that was, for the ordinary playgoer, a destabilizing experience—so much so that they might walk out of the theater. They might not walk out today, but the plays can still be baffling and thereby touch a nerve. We’ll start with Pinter, but the other playwrights may be unnerving in other ways, as Adrienne Kennedy was when, with the surrealism of a Negro (not yet black, and disturbing to blacks) she first appeared on the scene. In addition to Pinter and Kennedy, we’ll be reading plays of variable disposition, and dramaturgy, from Sam Shepard and Caryl Churchill to Jon Robin Baitz and Suzan Lori-Parks. And we’ll be approaching the plays with a kind of double vision, as potential theater events to be enacted in the mind’s eye and as reflections on the contemporary scene, where in one way or another they are enacted every day, with repercussions in cultural politics then recycled to the stage.
Course requirements: A series of short (2-page) commentaries, and a final paper of 12-15 pages. On the alert at every session, reading done, active in discussion. (Meets with DRAMA 499C.) Texts: Harold Pinter, Complete Works: Four; Sam Shepard, Seven Plays; Edward Bond, Bond Plays: 6; Caryl Churchill, The Skirker and Mad Forest; Mariea Irene Fornes, Plays; Adrienne Kennedy: In One Act; David Hare, Plays 1: Slag, Teeth 'n' Smiles, Knuckle, Licking Hitler, Plenty; Jon Robin Baitz, The Substance of Fire & Other Plays; Suzan-Lori Parks, The American Play & Other Works.
452A (Topics in American Literature)
(Mostly Women’s) Slave Narratives. This course will examine 19th- and 20th-century representations of slavery, bondage, and involuntary servitude, predominantly by women of African descent. Texts: Octavia Albert, ed., The House of Bondage; Octavia Butler, Kindred; Moira Ferguson, ed., The History of Mary Prince; Barbara McCaskill, ed., Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; Melton McLaurin, Celia, A Slave; Toni Morrison, Beloved; Ross Murfin & Supryia M. Ray, eds., The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms; Lynn Q. Troyka, ed., Quick Access.
452B (Topics in American Literature)
--Cancelled 10/25/00-- BUT SENIOR MAJORS: Check ENGL 497/8L, added 10/25/00.
466A (Gay & Lesbian Studies)
The overall focus in this course will be on “representation” and “identity”—representation as it is deployed by lesbians and gays in both “mainstream” and “academic” writing, but also by those who may not “self-identify” as lesbian or gay at all. Our goal will be to foster an understanding of the dynamic relationship between “queer” theories and lived experiences, and to engage in identifying—and moving toward resolving—problems that may exist in our diverse understandings of “community.” Be prepared to read approximately one novel each week, to present a text from an optional list to the class, and to participate actively in class discussions. In addition to a course reader, we will explore a number of texts that may include the following: Nightwood (Djuna Barnes), Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (Jeanette Winterson), A/K/A (Ruthann Robson), All She Wanted (Aphrodite Jones), Sirena Selena (Mayra Santos-Febres), The Front Runner (Patrica Nell Warren), The Dreyfus Affair (Peter Lefcourt), Mr. Dalloway: A Novella (Robin Lippincott), and Briefly Told Lives (C. Bard Cole).
471A (The Composition Process)
This course, through reading and fieldwork, introduces students to the various approaches that guide the study and teaching of writing. In it, we will explore the different methods of teaching writing that have emerged in the last forty years, ranging from methods for teaching students how to produce texts to methods for assessing these texts. We will also examine the theories that underscore these methods, starting with the emergence of the process movement in the 1960s and then inquiring into its various manifestations (and critiques of these manifestations) in the years since. Along the way, I hope we can begin to think critically about the various practices that inform the teaching of writing, in particular, what values and assumptions guide these practices so that we all can become more self-reflective readers, writers, and teachers. Most of all, though, I would like this course to give us all a chance to think about what it means to teach writing, to develop and share our own goals for teaching writing, and to generate and articulate practices that will help us achieve these goals. To that end, there is built into the structure of the course a fieldwork component, one which will allow you not only to participate in local schools and programs of your choosing (the extent of that participation will be up to you), but also to observe and study the theories we read as they are at work in these actual learning environments – to explore, in short, how theory and practice inform one another. Course work will include keeping a reading and fieldwork journal, conducting a brief teaching ethnography, preparing a bibliography and presentation, and creating a teaching portfolio. Add codes available in English Advising office, A-2-B Padelford. Texts: Harris, A Teaching Subject: Composition since 1966; Wiley, Gleason & Phelps, Composition in Four Keys: Inquiring into the Field.
479A (Language Variation and Policy in North America)
Once we establish a working knowledge of the structure and function of language, this course will examine the social and cultural forces that lead to the emergence of language variation based on region, gender, race, ethnicity, and class. Special interest will be paid to the on-going discussions about the place of bilingualism and bidialectalism in home, community, and school settings. We will then explore the ways in which both informal and institutionalized forms of linguistic discrimination affect the degrees of access to education, the labor force, and political institutions available to members of various groups in our society. Finally, in view of the tremendous impact that the “new immigration” (i.e., the post-1965 immigration of non-European people to this country) has had on almost every aspect of our lives, we will discuss the impact of both the English Only and the English Plus movements on second language speakers and learners living in the United States. Texts: Rosina Lippi-Green, English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States; Walt Wolfram & Natalie Schilling-Estes, American English: Dialects and Variation.
483A (Advanced Verse Writing)
A conversation about poetry, with attention to the formal elements of verse. No texts. Prerequisite: ENGL 383 and writing sample. Add codes available in Creative Writing office, B-25 PDL.
484A (Advanced Short Story Writing)
Strong emphasis on learning about narrative forms by reading and writing short-short stories. Prerequisite: ENGL 384 and writing sample; add codes available in Creative Writing office, B-25 PDL. Text: photocopied course packet.
485U (Novel Writing)
T 4:30-7:10 pm
This is not a course for beginning fiction writers. Just as one should never attempt a marathon before training at shorter distances, it is not wise to attempt a novella or novel without some experience in short fiction. It is presumed, then, that you are familiar with the fundamentals of fiction writing, of dramatizing experience, and creating a "fictional moment." For although we will pay attention to all dimensions of fiction, emphasis will be placed on those problems which arise from length--how one orders a longer sequence of events, how one manipulates a large cast of characters, how one retains a sense of unity and identity within the diversity which characterizes most novels. (Note: it is acceptable for this course, and in many cases advisable, to undertake a long story or novella before attempting a full-length novel.) Fiction writing is a serious way of knowing the world, and no time will be squandered on analyzing the purely commercial marketplace, or on how one might reduplicate fiction whose only function is the passing of time or the making of money. Prerequisite: ENGL 384 or 484 or equivalent, and writing sample. Add codes available in Creative Writing office, B-25 PDL. Text: Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.
Supervised experience in local businesses and other agencies. Open only to upper-division English majors. Credit/no credit only. Prerequisite: 25 credits in English. Further information and add codes in English Undergraduate Advising office, A-2B PDL.
492A (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. Prerequisite: permission of program director. Instructor codes in English Undergraduate Advising office, A-2B PDL.
493A (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. Prerequisite: permission of program director. Instructor codes in Creative Writing office, B-25 PDL.
494A (Honors Seminar)
Utopia/Dystopia. This honors seminar is devoted to studying utopian and dystopic literature (and film) in their historical contexts. We attempt to familiarize ourselves deeply with the modern and postmodern cultural conditions that made and continue to make such imaginings desirable. Our natural starting point is Thomas More’s seminal sixteenth-century Utopia. We then briefly familiarize ourselves with the liberal thinking of Rousseau, J.S. Mill and Marx. We read William Morris’s News from Nowhere, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, H.G. Wells’s A Modern Utopia, E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Our stress is longstanding problems for modernity: the quest for and meaning of human freedom; the obsession with racial, sexual, national and class difference; the conflict between technological and social progress; the relation between the individual and society; the effects of mass culture, democracy and the division of labor; and the role of the state. We conclude with contemporary works including Rollerball (the original film), Octavia Butler’s Dawn, The Matrix, and, if time permits, Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Our contemporary focus includes digital technology, globalization and corporate influence. In addition to seminar participation, students present oral reports, write a number of reader response papers and a final paper. Limited to and required of departmental honors students. Add codes available in English Advising office, A-2-B Padelford. Texts: Sir Thomas More, Utopia; J. S. Mill, On Liberty; Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Marx/Engels Reader (ed. Tucker); William Morris, News From Nowhere; H. G Wells, A Modern Utopia; Aldous Huxley, Brave New World; Octavia Butler, Dawn; Neil Stephenson, Snow Crash; William Greider, One World Ready or Not.
495U (Major Conference for Honors in Creative Writing)
Wed. 4:30-7:10 pm
Special projects available to honors students in creative writing. Required of and limited to honors majors in creative writing. No texts. Add codes in Undergraduate Advising office, A-2B PDL.
496A (Major Conference for Honors)
Individual study (reading, papers) by arrangement with the instructor. Required of, and limited to, honors seniors in English. Add codes in Undergraduate Advising office, A-2B PDL.
497/8A (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
497/8B (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
White Women’s Writing about the American Frontier. As the mistresses of European immigrants’ frontier households, white women were often charged with the cultural responsibility of bringing order to the so-called “untamed” woods. Yet the frontier itself was also approached as a passive, feminine space, waiting to be taken. In this course we will try to understand how this central dilemma has been treated in works by white women where they attempt to articulate their identities as race and gendered national subjects against the concept of the American frontier and the society that emerged there. Seminar participants will be asked to lead some discussions and write a final 15-page critical essay. Class grade will weigh heavily on the essay, although class participation will also be a major component of the grade. 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only. Texts: Women’s Indian Captivity Narratives; Sedgewick, Hope Leslie; Kirkland, A New Home, Who’ll Follow?; Child, Hobomok; Jewett, The Country of Pointed Firs; Cather, My Antonia; Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces.
497/8C (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Contracts of the Heart: Sacrifice, Gift Economy and Literary Exchange in Coleridge and Wordsworth. In this seminar we will study the literary relationship of Coleridge and Wordsworth who, as one critic remarked, “not only pervasively influenced one another, but did so in a way that challenges ordinary methods of assessments.” We will explore the possibility of deriving from theories of gift exchange and sacrifice a new model of literary influence that would shed light on this remarkably intimate and deeply conflicted relationship.
We will spend the first four weeks of the quarter studying theories of gift exchange and sacrifice as proposed, among others, by Marcel Mauss, Marshall Sahlins, Georg Simmel, Lewis Hyde and Pierre Bourdieu (on the gift); and by Sigmund Freud, Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss, René Girard and Georges Bataille (on sacrifice). The next six weeks will be devoted to the study of major poems by Coleridge and Wordsworth in chronological order, showing how the two poets, while desiring to imitate each other, find themselves competing for the same themes and appropriating each other’s subjects. Thus, while early Coleridge wrote successful nature poetry and Wordsworth portrayed moving stories of human suffering in a supernatural setting, after their collaboration on the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth turned to the philosophy of the mind’s relationship with nature, while Coleridge started to explore the effects of supernaturalism on the psyche.
Such moments of merging and separation can be profitably viewed through the lens of gift exchange and sacrifice. The gift, for example, generates a number of paradoxes that are relevant to the relationship between Coleridge and Wordsworth, being at once an altruistic model of social interaction, placing value on human bonds above economic or private interests, while at the same time remaining embedded in a self-interested power structure. Gift exchange often secures the privileged position of the donor at the expense of receivers and yet, as Mauss showed, receivers seem to retain “a sort of proprietary right” over everything that belongs to the donor. The gift thus generates the obfuscation of ownership rights and an erasure of the differences between donors and beneficiaries. We will see how Wordsworth and Coleridge, while collaborating early on a single unauthored volume (Lyrical Ballads) and wanting to write the same poem (“The Wanderings of Cain,” “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”), found themselves increasingly asserting “proprietary rights” over the stock of inventions which they initially passed on to each other according to the law of the gift. Wordsworth continued to use Coleridge’s ideas but tried hard to displace Coleridge as a gift-giving source, turning to nature or his private fund of “possessions,” to “Something within, which yet is shared by none” (“Home at Grasmere”). Assignments: A long paper (10-16 pp.), written in two stages and subject to revision; bi-weekly comments on assigned readings; a final exam. Texts: Marcel Mauss, The Gift; Rene Girard, Violence and the Sacred; S. T. Coleridge, Selected Poetry (ed. Beer); Biographia Literaria (ed. Leask); Wordsworth, Selected Poetry (ed. Roe). 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only.
497/8E (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Women’s Literary Traditions in Medieval England. This course explores women’s relation to medieval literary culture: we will address works by medieval women, including Marie de France, Julian of Norwich, and Margery Kempe, as well as works accessible to or written for women,, including saints’ legends, civic drama, devotional literature, and moral instruction. We will also read anonymous texts in a feminine voice (the Findern lyrics) and non-literary texts written by women (including letters written by the Paston women). Throughout, we will attend to the variety of social contexts – court, cloister, and city – in which women’s literary activity took place. Central questions we’ll address include: how cultural expectations about women’s relation to literature influence the texts women wrote; how the gendering of genres affects both the shape of the tradition and women’s access to it as audience, patrons, and writers; and what accounts for the continuities and the disjunctions between literature for women and literature by women. 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only. Texts: Marie de France, Lais; Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love; Hugh White, ed., Ancrene Wisse; Derek Pearsall, ed., The Floure and the Leafe, The Assembly of Ladies….; Christine de Pisan, The Book of the City of Ladies; Sheila Delany, A Legend of Holy Women; Barry Windeatt, Book of Margery Kempe.
497/8F (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Freud and the Modern. This seminar will begin with a study of some major ideas of Freud, such as: the unconscious, the oedipal, narcissism, masochism, repression. Then we will read selected works of European modern literature to see the influence, development or rejection of these Freudian ideas. 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only. Texts: Freud, General Psychological Theory; Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground; Ibsen, A Doll’s House; Mann, Death in Venice; Kafka, The Sons; Sartre, Nausea
497/8G (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Ravishing Reads: Textual Pleasures and Reading Practices in our Time.
“The Way we read now, when we are alone with ourselves, retains considerable continuity with the past, however it is performed in the academies…. To read human sentiments in human language, you must be able to read humanly, with all of you.” --Harold Bloom, How to Read and Why.
In this class, you will investigate what Harold Bloom means by “all of you,” academically as well as non-academically, professionally as well as personally. Throughout your research, you will decide whether you agree with him and whether you believe that the “you” of our time is in fact different from the “you” of past times—before the digital revolution. Ours is a class that will explore ways of reading and pleasures of the reading experience—intellectual, imaginative and sensual—in the past as well as in the present. Why? Because some assume that the act of reading refers to eyes scanning hard copy print, with little regard to the larger realm of the senses and aspects of the self. Others believe that the notion of isolated reading is erroneous, too narrow a reading regiment that eliminates community, restricts the imagination, and ignores altogether readers’ multi-sensory perceptions and potential pleasures of textual engagement.
In our course, we will analyze these academic and popular notions of reading, as well as Bloom’s theories. We will also test many of them against our readings, in and outside of the academic classroom. Course texts include conventionally bound books, audio and videotapes, and hyperlinked literature. Course methods include summarizing and investigating our observations, as Bloom does in How to Read and Why.Unlike him, however, we will conduct many of our discussions and much of our research not just alone and in print, but face to face and online. Course requirements include an interest in reading and theorizing about reading habits, exploring your own and others’ reading habits and preferences; writing about reading; questioning theories of reading (your own as well as others’, past and present); reflecting upon your reading habits and prejudices; and diving deeply into the Internet, with the goal of mining it for factual gain rather than surfing it for commercial loss.
Please note: Although a good deal of our class time will be spent online, this is not a distance-learning course: you need to be able to attend class regularly in the English Department’s computer-integrated classrooms in Mary Gates Hall, where much of the human as well as computer interaction of our studies will take place. 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only. Texts: Harold Bloom, How to Read and Why; Ron Shelton, Bull Durham; Peter Greenaway, Prospero’s Books; photocopied course packet.
497/8H (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Radical Writers in Cold War America. American radical writers as obscure as Meridel Le Sueur, Josephine Herbst, and Albert Maltz and as famous as Arthur Miller, Richard Wright, and Allen Ginsberg created powerful political art during the early Cold War (1945-1960). In the face of and sometimes stimulated by official suppression, they produced a body of work that is especially valuable today, partly because it brings into sharp focus the American Inquisition, a period that for most contemporary readers is still hazy and not at all well-understood. The radical political art of the Cold War also shows that, contrary to the standard view of the buttoned-down fifties, strong currents and undercurrents of radical exposure were stirring during the decade. This politically committed art challenges contemporary readers whose postmodern sensibilities favor irony and an absence of closure. For today’s readers the powerful, engaged art of the Cold War period places current practice in historical perspective, so that readers can better understand their preferences and also extend them, since many people find the earlier literature compelling and not, as advertised, flat and monolithic. For my purposes Alan Ginsberg is important because he is disruptive in several ways: of Cold War complacencies, for example, and also of any attempt on my part to put the radical art of the period into neat compartments, since Ginsberg encourages us to regard as problematic such categories as “avant-garde,” “modernism,” and “postmodernism,” concerns I hope we can engage during the course. Since the Hollywood left was especially hard-hit by the American Inquisition, we will also read neglected polemical essays by Albert Maltz and Dalton Trumbo and we’ll view the underground film classic Salt of the Earth in counterpoint with Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, not the fossilized high school version but a vital response to Cold War repression. Other reading will include Meridel Le Sueur, Josephine Herbt’s beautiful memoirs, and Richard Wright’s pan-African Black Power. 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only. Texts: LeSueur, Harvest Song; Arthur Miller, All My Sons; The Crucible; After the Fall; Timebends; Willson/Rosenfelt, Salt of the Earth; Ginsberg, Collected Poems; Herbst, Starched Blue Sky of Spain; optional: Shulman, Power of Political Art.
479/8I (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Possible Worlds. This seminar will focus on the exploration of the concept of possible worlds in a variety of literary works and in doing so will draw upon philosophy, sciences, art and the branch of literary criticism that has come to be known as “possible world semantics.” In The Philosophy of Leibniz, Benson Mates writes that Leibniz’s doctrine of possible worlds “has had, in its way, the kind of influence on recent philosophizing that the more official story of Genesis has had on theology.” If there are other worlds, how are we to understand their ontological status? Is our world a special case since, out of all the possible ways it could be, it is just the way it is? Or is this just one possible world among many actually existing worlds (a position the philosopher David Lewis refers to as modal realism). If literary fiction is, as Lubomir Dolezel writes in Heterocosmica, “the most active experimental laboratory of the world-constructing enterprise,” how do philosophical and literary grapplings with the problem of possible worlds complement one another? Readings will include selections from Leibniz, Lewis and Dolezel, as well as works by Voltaire, Borges, Witkiewicz and others. We will also consider a number of films. The question of how particular ways of conceiving of other possible worlds influence the manner in which we understand imagination and difference will receive special attention. 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only. Texts: Leibniz, Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil (tr. Farrer); Dolezel, Heterocosmica; Lewis, On the Plurality of Worlds; Witkiewicz, The Madman and the Nun and the Crazy Locomotive: Three Plays; Borges, Collected Fictions; Voltaire, Candide, Gombrowicz, Cosmos and Pornographia.
497/8J (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Pragmatism. This class will investigate pragmatism, America’s homegrown philosophy. In particular we will be concerned to trace the intersection of certain notions of beauty and justice in a wide variety of texts by such authors as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, William James, Henry James, John Dewey, W.E.B. DuBois, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Henry Adams, and James Weldon Johnson. Course requirements will include class participation (a must) and a seminar paper. 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only. Texts: Three Negro Classics: Up from Slavery, The Souls of Black Folk, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; Louis Menand, ed., Pragmatism: A Reader; Henry James, The Ambassadors .
497/8K (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Learning the Ropes: The Process of Acculturation and the Powers of Fiction. We’ll be using this senior seminar as an occasion to ask some basic questions about the nature and purposes of narrative in the European tradition. How does fiction contribute to the process of teaching individuals what their appropriate social roles and expectations ought to be? How does this process vary across historical moments and across different cultures? We will be reading a series of texts from different historical periods, ranging from Shelley’s Frankenstein and Brontë’s Jane Eyre, to Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, Faulkner’s Go Down Moses, and Walker’s The Color Purple. What will make this class different from most other seminars, though, is that it is part of an NEH-sponsored collaborative project between UW and a pair of local high schools. We will be trying to devise effective modes of interacting with those other classes, electronically and/or in person. What I hope we can help provide for those classes is a sense of the broader historical reception for each of these works. Thus a significant part of the formal work for the course will involve research group projects, with small groups working on each of the last four novels in the course, investigating their public and critical reception. What issues stirred public debate when these works came out, and why? How has that changed over time? Besides the group research project, students will be expected to write a series of short papers dealing with each of the texts in the course. I am looking for participants interested in this as an experimental project and interested in taking a more active role in the process of education, that is, in serving as facilitators and teachers for other students rather than simply as learners. We’ll be figuring out how to do this as we go along in what I hope will be a collaborative process of invention. Contact me at email@example.com if you have specific questions about the class format.497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only. Meets with C LIT 496A.
497/8L (Honors Senior
American Masculinity. This class will survey representations of men and manhood in American literature from the early nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century. Readings of primary texts by authors such as Frederick Douglass, Thomas Dixon, Frank Norris, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Robert Bly will be supplemented with critical readings on gender theory and masculinity from critics such as Eve Sedgwick, Kaja Silverman, Robyn Wiegman, Dana Nelson, and others. Students will be expected to participate extensively in weekly discussions about representations of masculinity in fiction and theories of manhood from a variety of perspectives. Requirements: short weekly response papers, class presentations, active participation, and one longer research paper. Texts: Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave; Thomas Dixon, The Clansman; Frank Norris, McTeague; Robert Bly, Iron John; Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland; Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea; Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep.
497/8YA (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
William Blake: The Poetry and Designs. In this course, we will study Blake’s “composite art”—the poetry-and-designs (i.e., Blake’s poems and his own illustrations of them), read together. These will include some of the early works like Songs of Innocence and of Experience and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell that you may have encountered in other courses, as well as a number of other short poems and some of the later prophecies that you have probably not encountered, including the long poem, Milton. In any case, no previous knowledge of Blake is assumed or expected. You do, however, need to be up for challenges in reading, both verbal and visual, and in ideas, and you’ll need to be willing to engage in hard but rewarding work. We’ll be thinking about Blake as poet, artist, thinker, and prophet, whose ideas about art, religion, politics, and society constitute radical and incisive critiques of his own time and of ours. In-class reports, short essays, and a longer one. 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only. Evening Degree senior English majors only, Registration Period 1. Texts: Blake, Blake’s Poetry and Designs (ed. Johnson and Grant); The Book of Urizen; Songs of Innocence; Songs of Experience; Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
499 A *Arrange*
Individual study by arrangement with instructor. Instructor codes and further information in English Undergraduate Advising office, A-2B Padelford.