400-Level Courses

Course Descriptions (as of 15 November 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.)

407 A (Special Topics in Cultural Studies)
MW 12:30-2:20
Cyberculture.  As recently as fifteen years ago, computer-mediated communication (CMC) was in its infancy.  The Internet as we know it today scarcely existed.  Email accounts were few and far between, 300-baud modems were the rule, and the World Wide Web had not yet been invented.  In an astonishingly short time, everything has changed.  Today we take the Net so much for granted, that it’s hard to gauge the distance we have gone, or the difference it has made. This course will consider the many ways that contemporary culture has been reshaped – and is still in process of being reshaped – as a result of the growth of the Internet, and associated electronic technologies.  We will look into the new electronic forms of culture, and try to decode the new messages that are being conveyed by the new digital media: personal computers and world-wide information networks, above all, but also video, multimedia, interactive games, online communities, and virtual reality technologies.  We will look at a wide range of material: from theoretical writings about the nature of virtualization to policy debates about issues such as copyright and encryption, and from speculative science fiction to experiments in interface design to net art projects.  Texts: David Bell & Barbara M. Kennedy, eds., The Cybercultures Reader; David Trent, ed., Reading Digital Culture.

466 A (Gay and Lesbian Studies)
MW 9:30-11:20
The first half of this course will introduce students to the history and basic concepts of the discipline.  The second half will examine several topical issues in greater detail, among them same-sex marriage, transsexuality, and the imbrication of “race” and “sexuality.”  Course readings will include theoretical and other nonfictional essays as well as relevant primary sources (biography, novel, poetry, film, comics). Texts: Diane DiMassa, Complete Hothead Paisan; Marilyn Hacker, Love, Death and the Changing of the Seasons; Abelove, Barale, & Halperin, eds., The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader; Diane Middlebrook, Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton; Randall Kenan, A Visitation of Spirits.

471 A (The Composition Process)
MW 1:30-3:20
Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing.  In this class students will read and reflect on a number of theoretical issues that have emerged over the last twenty-five to thirty years in the field of composition studies.  This focus will enable the course members to consider how the act of writing has been perceived in terms of product, process, and post process.  It will also encourage participants to see how that continues to evolve and change and how we might wish to position ourselves with respect to existing knowledge.  Because the purpose of 471 is to introduce students to the theory and practice of teaching writing, and to help them reflect on their own position as a writer/teacher, they will be involved in both individual and group projects which will enable them to work collaboratively and individually. Add codes in English Advising office, A-2B Padelford.  Texts: Mark Wiley, et al., Composition in Four Keys; Joseph Harris, A Teaching Subject.

473 A (Current Development in English Studies)
MW 9:30-11:20
History of the English Language.  Tracing the history of a language is something like writing a biography – in this case, a biography of English.  English used to be a little-known west Germanic dialect spoken on a small island off the coast of western Europe.  Today it has blossomed into a distinct, international language spoken as a native tongue by almost 400 million people.  How did this happen?  As we will discuss in this course, language always changes, no matter how we, as speakers, feel about that fact.  This course offers the opportunity to explore the dramatic ways in which English has changed over the past 1600 years – dramatic enough that we as Modern English speakers can barely understand those who first began to call their language English (and wrote texts such as Beowulf).  We will look at questions such as: Where did the pronoun she come from?  (And why is it the word of the millennium?)  When was double negation considered standard?  How did English spelling become, according to Mario Pei, the world’s most awesome mess?  This course will examine the traditional stages of the life of English: Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, and Modern English.  We will focus on the general sound, word, grammar, and spelling changes within the language, as well as related cultural and historical events.  In the process, as we learn more about the language’s past, we will think about the meaning and implications of the language’s present and future.  A previous introductory linguistics course will be helpful but is not required.   Text: C. M. Millward, A Biography of the English Language, 2nd ed.

477 A (Children’s Literature)
Dy 10:30
Issues in the Study and Teaching of Young Adult Literature. What is Young Adult Literature?  What is its history?  What are its appeals?  Why is it sometimes censored?  How can it best be studied, taught, evaluated?  We will apply such questions to novels, written over a 150-year span, that have appealed to teen-agers.  Requirements: class attendance/participation five days/week, written answers to study questions, mid-term and final examination (short-answer and essay questions), analytical essay, group work including group report and group performance for the class of a dramatized novel segment (parts memorized).  Texts:   Alger, Horatio, Jr., Ragged Dick;  Montgomery, L. M., Anne of Green Gables; Tunis, John R, All-American; Daly, Maureen, Seventeenth Summer;  Hinton, S. E., The Outsiders;  Cormier, Robert, The Chocolate War; Blume, Judy, Forever;  Voigt, Cynthia, Homecoming; Block, Francesca Lia, Weetzie Bat.

483 A (Advanced Verse Writing)
TTh 1:30-2:50
Continued extensive 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)
W 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
Shell Shock.  A reading of Pat Barker’s “Regeneration” trilogy, which tells a series of stories about the trauma of World War I on the minds and hearts of some who survived it.  Such trauma then was called shell shock;  we call it post-traumatic shock.  Barker is a contemporary novelist from the North of England, born long after the war she writes about here, but she evokes the human and emotional landscape of this now-distant time with compelling force and beauty.  The shell shock she describes belongs to a whole generation and is spiritual and social as much as medical.  The first novel of the series, Regeneration (1991), follows the imagined experience of the real-life war poet and combat hero Siegfried Sassoon, who in 1917 suddenly and publicly refused to continue serving as a British officer, on the grounds that the war was insane, and was himself thereupon judged to be insane and committed to an Army hospital. The Eye in the Door (1993) tells a related but much different story, in part about what it meant to be a conscientious objector, a homosexual, or a woman in the climate of exhaustion and terror at the end of the war. The Ghost Road (1995) completes the series and won the 1996 Booker Prize.  These are not battlefield books or “war stories,” and Barker makes no attempt to revisit directly the mud and slaughter of the Somme or Passchendale.  Instead, she recreates a battle of the human heart to repair and reassert itself against the worst odds.  The result is a most extraordinary work of literary and historical imagination, well worth close study for that reason.  We will also be reading some background material about the First World War, and a selection of the period war poetry, by Sassoon and others. Honors majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B Padelford.  Texts: Barker, Regeneration; The Eye in the Door; The Ghost Road; Silkin, ed., First World War Poetry; Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory.

495 A (Major Conference for Honors in Creative Writing)
TTh 11:30-12:50
Special projects available to honors students in creative writing. No texts. Required of and limited to honors senior majors in creative writing emphasis. Add codes available in English Advising, A-2B Padelford.

495 B (Major Conference for Honors in Creative Writing)
TTh 1:30-2:50
Individual work on a creative writing portfolio, a culmination of your best writing. No texts. Required of and limited to honors senior majors in creative writing emphasis. Add codes available in English Advising, A-2B 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
C. Fischer
James Joyce.  This quarter we will examine the works of James Joyce leading up to and including Ulysses.  Our course work will center around a close reading of the major texts, but we also will consider the historical, social, and political context of his time.  In addition to the primary reading, we will address related topics of importance: the question of high literary Modernism verse the modernisms of alterity, the realist novel versus the avant-garde text, Joyce's politics with regard to Home Rule, and various critica. approaches to reading literature.

497/8 B (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 10:30-12:20
Wayward Girls, Wandering WomenThis class will explore the literary trope of the "fallen woman" across various historical and cultural registers, from her appearance in the first American novel to the American modernist representation of the "wandering" woman.  We'll look at sociological, political, and medical discourse about the "woman problem" in order to consider what cultural anxiety is attendant upon female sexual, geographical, and socioeconomic mobility.  This course includes a rigorous reading list and requires daily active participation, along with a seminar paper and response papers.  Texts: Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets; Hannah Foster, The Coquette; Pauline Hopkins, Contending Forces; Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth; Henry James, Daisy Miller; Gertrude Stein, Three Lives.

497/8 C (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 11:30-1:20
Irish Culture and the Plays of Brian Friel.  Brian Friel may be the most prominent Irish playwright of the end of the twentieth century.  This seminar will read and discuss his plays as they examine and represent some of the major themes of Irish culture: language, exile, history, politics,.  Students will present weekly short papers, an oral report, and a term paper. Texts: Friel, Selected Plays; Plays 2; Essays, Diaries, Interviews, 1966-1998; Jones, Brian Friel; Maxwell, Brian Friel.

497/8 D (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 12:30-2:20
The Sublime Experience: Subject and Perceiver.  The sublime is an important touchstone concept for understanding changes in emotional and artistic sensibility which were taking place at the end of the eighteenth century in England, and for providing context for the reactions in the century that followed.  In this course, we will begin with a philosophical examination of the sublime in the works of Kant and Burke, but we will quickly move on to artistic representations of the sublime in visual art, poetry and prose.  As we move through the nineteenth century, our central questions will be, what place does the sublime have in conventional, respectable Victorian society?  And what happens when the sublime, usually manifested by scenes of nature, is instead manifested in a human being?  Through this examination of the sublime, we will address such issues as gender difference, religion, and social relations in a developing industrial/capitalist society.    Texts: Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus; Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights; Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

497/8 E (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 1:30-3:20
Male Masochism in Victorian Literature and Culture. Students of Victorian literature and culture have come to know the conventional gender norms of the period. In The Subjection of Women John Stuart Mill cogently describes them in a discussion of Victorian educational practices. Mill critiques a system of education in which women "are universally taught that they are born and created for self-sacrifice," producing "an exaggerated self-abnegation." Men, by contrast, are taught "to worship their own will as such a grand thing," learning "self-worship." Mill searches for the self-assertion achieved by feminine self-abnegating postures. For example, he suggests that through "moral influence" women can become "potent auxiliaries to virtue" that greatly account for "two of the most marked features of modern European life -- its aversion to war, and its addiction to philanthropy." Like Mill, modern feminist scholars have sought to understand Victorian women as more than self-abnegating victims of patriarchal oppression. In recent scholarship Victorian women often appear as social actors who manipulate the structures of patriarchy in ways that offer possibilities of agency and empowerment. Less focus has been given to the other side of Mill's story  -- the self-abnegation that may inhere in grandly self-willed Victorian masculinity. If Victorian women used postures of self-sacrifice – even extending to masochism -- to hide their proscribed self-assertion, did Victorian men, conversely, conceal within their assertive postures self-sacrifice, self-abnegation, and a masochism of their own? This seminar will explore this question with reference to a range of Victorian cultural materials: political tracts, poetry, novels, pornography, letters. We'll begin with Thomas Carlyle's concept of "Hero-worship" as solution to the "Condition of England" question. Then we'll read Tennyson's monumental, pain-driven poem In Memoriam as response to the Victorian "Crisis of Faith." We'll turn next to two novels -- Dickens' Great Expectations and Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs -- both of which theorize male masochism as it develops in relation to idealized femininity, mid-Victorian gender norms, and codes of gentility. Swinburne's poetry will provide occasion for close textual reading as well as entry into the often brutalizing world of the all-male English public school. We'll conclude with Wilde's letter De Profundis, written from prison to his lover Bosie. These primary texts will be supplemented by additional critical, historical, and theoretical readings, some lecture, and possible in-class screenings of film adaptations. Course requirements are active participation in discussions, a class presentation (with follow-up 5-6 pp. essay), and a longer (8-10 pp.) final essay. Texts: Carlyle, Past and Present; Tennyson, In Memoriam; Dickens, Great Expectations; Wilde, The Portable Oscar Wilde; Deleuze, Masochism.

497/8 F (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 8:30-10:20
Domesticity, Sexual Purity, and Other Gendered Concerns in Late 19th-Century International Discourse.  This quarter we will be reading a wide variety of primary and secondary texts concerned with who the “modern” woman is, how she is cultivated, how she should act, and of course, how she should NOT act.  In particular, late-19th-century emerging distinctions between “properly domestic” and “morally licentious” women will be explored.  While our readings will emerge from such distinct geographical sites as Puerto Rico, China, India, Britain, Russia, and Kenya, we will begin to see how colonialism, imperialism, modernity, and other globalizing forces during the nineteenth century created surprising relationships between men and women of ostensibly “different” backgrounds.  This is a reading-intensive and discussion-oriented class.

497/8 G (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 9:30-11:20
American Ethnic Fiction and Rememory.  This seminar is a comparative study of recent American ethnic fiction and rememory—a term coined by Toni Morrison to describe the method of constructing identity and accessing agency by confronting and reclaiming painful experiences from the past in order to locate one’s place in regards to family, community, group, and nation.  In addition to novels, expect a rigorous reading schedule, including critical essays and historical texts.  Texts: Toni Morrison, Beloved; Ana Castillo, So Far From God; Paule Marshall, Praisesong for the Widow; Linda Hogan, Mean Spirit; Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies; Fae Myenne Ng, Bone; Jhumpa Lahiri, ed., Interpreter of Maladies.

497/8 H (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 12:30-2:20
Ravishing Reads--Textual Pleasures, Pains, 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 academis. . . . 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 as well as the pleasures and pains of the reading experience—intellectual, imaginative, and sensual. 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 regimen 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 and other scholars' theories of reading. We will 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 findings. 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 practices, exploring your own and others’ reading practices 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.  Texts:  Sven Birkirts, The Gutenberg Elegies;  Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler;  Sven Birkirts, ed., Tolstoy's Dictaphone : Technology and the Muse; course packet of critical and theoretical articles, and other creative writings.


497/8 YA (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 7-8:50 pm
Nineteenth-Century American Literature: Alternative Images of the Nation.  We’ll begin by studying efforts to create mainstream, middle-class models of nineteenth-century American life: safely stereotypic visions of national culture and experience promoted through popular "fireside poetry," Currier and Ives engravings, and other art forms.  Then we’ll explore, in dramatic contrast, a series of literary texts in which the meaning of America is hazarded into an agitated interplay of perspectives, in which voices excluded from the official cultural mainstream are attended to, and in which otherwise neglected aspects of the historical moment are granted visibility. We’ll be studying the battle between stereotype and underlying social complexity, between the official cultural mainstream and what it would exile to its margins, as this battle is fought in novels and biographies, poems and tales.  Readings in Douglass, Fuller, Whittier, Whitman, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Rebecca Harding Davis, Chopin, and Crane. Evening Degree majors only, Registration Period 1. Texts: Margaret Fuller, Summer on the Lakes, in 1843; Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave; Henry Thoreau, The Portable Thoreau; Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills and Other Stories; Kate Chopin, The Awakening and Selected Stories; Stephen Crane, The Portable Stephen Crane; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Portable Hawthorne.

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)

499 B (Independent Study) M-Th 3:30 Shulman
Preparation and orientation limited to and required of participants in the Department of English Spring in Rome program.  Add codes in English Advising, A-2B Padelford.  2 credits; C/NC only.

to home page
top of page