Winter 2003
400-Level Courses

Course Descriptions (as of 9 December 2002)

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.)


ENGL 499B The Structure of the Lyric: A Micro-Seminar with Helen Vendler. 

In conjunction with her visit to Seattle to deliver the Solomon Katz Lecture in the Humanities, distinguished critic Helen Vendler will conduct a credit/no-credit micro-seminar meeting January 13, 14, 15, and 17, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. in the Simpson Center Conference Room.   The course will include the discussion of essays by poets (including Wordsworth, Eliot, Keats, and Heany) and of poems with complex or invisible structures.  Work for the course is limited to readings and discussion.  A reading packet for the course will be available in A101 PDL during the first week of winter quarter.  2 credits of ENGL 499 will be available for participating in this class.


Interested undergraduates should submit a copy of their transcript plus a brief statement describing their previous experience with poetry and why they want to take this class to the English Advising office, A-2B Padelford, by Friday, November 22.

Helen Vendler is currently a University Professor at Harvard University, where she has taught since 1980.  Professor Vendler has published eight volumes of reviews and essays, and a textbook, and she has edited the Harvard Book of Contemporary American Poetry.  She has received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies, as well as honorary degrees from ten universities in the United States and seven universities abroad.

407 A (Special Topics in Cultural Studies)
TTh 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. Course syllabus can be found online at Texts: David Bell & Barbara M. Kennedy, eds., The Cybercultures Reader; David Trent, ed., Reading Digital Culture.

422 A (Arthurian Legends)
MW 11:30-1:20
The 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.  Course texts will be supplemented by handouts in class.  Majors only, Registration Period 1.   Texts: Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain (tr. Thorpe); Marie de France, Lais (tr. Hanning & Ferrante); Chrétien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances; Wilhelm, Romance of Arthur; Tolkien, tr., Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Malory, Le Morte Darthur: the Winchester MS (ed. Cooper).

440 U (Special Studies in Literature)
TTh 4:30-5:50 pm
(N.B. This course is offered for 3 credits)
Colonialism, Nationalism, and the Emergence of the Novel in South Asia and Africa.  Novels in English by authors of South Asian origin or nationality have attracted a great deal of international attention recently.  In different South Asian languages, the first generation of novels emerged towards the end of the nineteenth century. Writers on the subcontinent began engaging with issues of nationhood and the formation of national literatures. This course explores a range of South Asian novels, from early experiments in the form, to current, post-modern instances, as they engage with issues of nationhood.  The novels selected here were written in English, Bengali and Hindi / Urdu. (We will read the latter texts in English translations.)  In the course of reading these texts, we will seek to understand the evolution of the novel in South Asia, and its continuing engagement with the history and politics of the nation. In early seminar sessions, we will also acquaint ourselves with the historical events being retold in the novels, and with the historical context in which these novels emerged. This course will thus explore the relationship between the novel and its multiple histories. We will also seek to understand the evolution of the novel in colonized contexts, and its continuing engagement with the history and politics of the nation. For literary and historical comparison, the course will conclude by focusing on a novel from Africa that engages with similar issues.  Requirements: No prior knowledge of South Asia or Africa is required for enrolment in this seminar course. However, a substantial amount of reading will be required each week (one novel plus at least one essay providing literary/historical context). Since this is a seminar-based course, class discussion will be a vital component of the final grade, in addition to written assignments.  Course is offered jointly with SISSA 4490U, C LIT 496U.  Texts:  Rabindranath Tagore, The Home and the World; Munshi Premchand, Nirmala, trans. Alok Rai;  Ismat Chugtai, The Crooked Line, trans. Tahira Naqvi;  Kalki R. Krishnamurti, Ponniyin Selvan, trans. C.V. Karthik Narayan;  Raja Rao, Kanthapura;  Bapsi Sidhwa, The Ice-Candy Man;  Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.


466 TS (Gay & Lesbian Literature)
TTh 4:30-6:20 pm
During the quarter we will focus on the politics of "queer representation," paying particular attention to how gays, lesbian, bisexuals, transgendered and/or other queer-identified subjects are represented, in what contexts, by whom, at what points in time, and with what consequences.  Some of the representations we'll be looking at are drawn from mainstream media and government documents; the majority are the work of self-identified lesbian and gay fiction writers, performance artists, film and video-makers, educators, columnists, and critics.  (ENGL 466 TS is available only to Evening Degree and non-matriculated students; for information contact UW Educational Outreach, (206) 543-2320.  ENGL 466 U represents spaces in this class that may be available for regularly-enrolled UW day students during Registration Period 3, the first week of classes; add codes will be required for 466U, available from the instructor.)  Texts: Randall Kenan, Let the Dead Bury the Dead; large photocopied course packet.

471 U (The Composition Process)
TTh 7-8:50 pm
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 manifestation s(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. Course work will include keeping a reading journal, conducting a brief teaching ethnography, preparing a bibliography and presentation, and creating a teaching portfolio. Add codes available in English Advising office, A-2B PDL.   Texts: Joseph Harris, A Teaching Subject; Wiley, Gleason & Phelps, Composition in Four Keys.


477 A (Children’s Literature)
Dy 10:30
Issues in 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 teenagers. 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: Horatio Alger, Jr., Ragged Dick; L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables; John R. Tunis, All-American; Maureen Daly, Seventeenth Summer; S. E. Hinton, The Outsiders; Robert Cormier, The Chocolate War; Judy Blume, Forever; Cynthia Voigt, Homecoming; Victor Martinez, Parrot in the Oven.

483 A (Advanced Verse Writing)
TTh 11:30-12:50
Imagery and Rhythm. This workshop will focus on the architecture of the poem, how poets use language in particular and creative ways. Focus will be on the reading of poems and how writers use sounds and phrases to create the structure of the poem. Prerequiste: ENGL 383 and writing sample.  Text: Voight & McHugh, Hammer and Blaze.

Interested in the study of poetry?  See the special opportunity for a C/NC micro-seminar (January 13 - 17) with visiting scholar Helen Vendler.

484 A (Advanced Short Story Writing)
MW 11:30-12:50
[Experience with the theory and practice of writing the short story.] Prerequisite: ENGL 384, writing sample.

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 12:30-2:20
Thinking Sex, Desiring Race.  This course is designed to probe the relationship among sex, race, and contemporary politico-economic formations. It will provide students with an introduction to queer theory and gay and lesbian literary studies, by surveying some of the key essays and thinkers associated with this form of politicized cultural critique. In this course we posit that the "sexual" emerges out of the racialized and gendered constraints of current global political economy. In proposing sex as both an element within and the effect of these constraints, we will fuse some the richest work in primarily literary queer studies with more recent work in cultural studies. Our focus will be on literary and filmic production by "queers of color." The course will be guided by the following questions:  What does it mean to "think" about sex, for what ends, and with what consequences? How is sex a racialized phenomenon in relation to U.S. culture? And finally, how do literary theories of "reading" and "writing" as a sexualizing and racializing "experience" help us to better understand the stakes of contemporary cultural politics?  Honors majors only.  Add codes in A-2B PDL. Texts: Foucault, History of Sexuality; Alameddine, KoolAIDS; Chua, Gold by the Inch: A Novel; Diaz, Drown.


495 A (Major Conference in Honors for 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.

496 A (Major Conference for Honors) *arrange*
Individual study (reading, papers) by arrangement with the instructor. Required of and limited to honors seniors in English. Add codes in English Advising, A-2-B Padelford.

497/8 A (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 9:30-11:20
Reading Literature, Thinking the Politics of Feeling.  How can  the question of what it is to read literature be a window to investigate the politics of feeling and its role in the reproduction of social institutions, practices and norms?  The course begins with the recognition that the politics of literature in the U.S. (even when the politics is that literature has no politics) have often been understood to be identical with literature’s influence over how a putative heterosexual white middle class majority thinks and feels.  Along these lines,  reading literature has been thought to raise consciousness, to produce sympathy, to teach good citizenship, and to catalyze psychic liberation from conformity.  On the other hand, another understanding of the politics of literature in the U.S. decenters the idea of raising the consciousness of white middle class readers and unravels conventional notions of identity, nation and reform.  Loosely, it theorizes a place for literature within what Chela Sandoval has called “the methodology of the oppressed”;  for example, literature has been seen to revise the past or to make visible censored experience, with political implications.  The reading list will include the work of  Adam Smith,  Arthur, Karl Marx, Thomas Jefferson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Herbert Marcuse, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, and Gayatri Spivak, among others.  In addition, we will read novels and short stories for their investigations of the politics of feeling in particular locations and at specific historical moments. 497: Honors senior majors only, add codes in English Advising, A-2B PDL; 498: senior majors only.  Texts: Chester Himes, End of a Primitive; John Okada, No-No Boy; R. Zamora Linmark, Rolling the R's; Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy; photocopied course packet.

497/8 B (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 10:30-12:20
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. 497: Senior English honors students only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2-B PDL; 498: Senior majors only.  Texts: Marcel Mauss, The Gift; Rene Girard, Violence and the Sacred; S. T. Coleridge, Selected Poetry (ed. Beer); Wordsworth, Selected Poetry.

497/8 C (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 11:30-1:20
Medieval to Renaissance English Literature: From Script to Print, from Orality to Literacy. In this class we will be examining English literature as it evolves out of the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, and focusing on two main cultural events: first, the invention of printing as an important material consideration; second, the concomitant shift from orality to literacy. Early English literary invention is to an extraordinary degree both a witness and a child of its own age, and as it moves from a manuscript culture to a print culture, the ground rules of textual production, dissemination, and consumption themselves change. Coursework: Three quizzes (10% each), two Summary Evaluations of critical articles or chapters from secondary reading (10% each), class discussion (10%), a class presentation (15%), and a 7-10 page paper (25%). 497: Honors senior majors only, add codes in English Advising, A-2B PDL; 498: senior majors only.  Readings will include the following and perhaps others: Primary: The Battle of Maldon;Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale; Malory’s Morte Darthur; various Sonnets from Petrarch to Shakespeare; The Wakefield Second Shepherds’ Play; The York Play of the Crucifixion; Everyman; Dr. Faustus. Secondary: Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe;. Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy. Michael Camille, Image on the Edge.

497/8 D (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 1:30-3:20
American Empire, American Imperialism?  Conservative intellectuals have recently argued that America is an empoire and that American imperialism is a good thing, that our imperialism is benign and benevolent.  One of the growth industries in the study of American culture, on the other hand, is the critique of America as an empire, a left-oriented criticism that in American Studies circles has become increasingly influential over the last decade.  We will read representative selections from both sides.  What is the history of the left critique of imperialism?  Of the conservative celebration?  As we try to develop a balanced view of America from the 19th century through the post-World War II period into the immediate present, are we obliged to accept American imperialism as a central reality in our political culture?  Has imperialism been persistent or fluctuating -- or is the concern with empire and imperialism an unwarranted distortion of our past and present?  If it is a distortion, how do we deal with the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, the War in Vietnam, and the current Iraq war (or threat of war)?  In the course we will pay special attention to the Spanish-American War, to the origins of the Cold War in the immediate post-World War II period, to the U.S. in Central America during the 1980s, and especially to the current Iraq war (or threat of war).  Is there a connection between American racism and American imperialism -- or again, is asserting the relation a libel on America?  What light do our writers have to shed on the issues of empire and imperialism?  What light do the issues of empire and imperialism have to shed on the war with Iraq, to bring matters up to the present?

We will read Melville's Typee, Whitman's "Passage to India," Twain's Connecticut Yankee and "To the Person Sitting in Darkness," Joan Didion's Salvador, Carolyn Forche's The Country Between Us (selections), Wallace Shawn's play, The Fever, and Gore Vidal's essay, "The Last Empire."  For the left critique of empire we'll read selections from Cultures of American Imperialism, from John Carlos Rowe's Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism, and Lenin's Imperialism.  We'll sample historical studies of American imperialism (Walter LaFeber, William Appleman Williams, Reginald Horsman).  We'll read selections from William Kristol, Max Boot, Michael Hardt, and perhaps other conservative proponents of America as an empire. Under the pressure of reality I'll probably have to scale back the reading but material we can't cover together will be available for papers.  497: Honors senior majors only, add codes in English Advising, A-2B PDL; 498: senior majors only. Texts: Melville, Typee; Twain, Connecticut Yankee; Didion, Salvador; Forche, The Country Between Us; Shawn, The Fever; photocopied course packet.


497/8 E (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 8:30-10:20
Bodies and Spaces.  The relationship between our bodies and the spaces around them is taken for granted as we go about our daily business.  The act of moving from Point A to Point B would seem simple, and the means by which we understand the positioning of our bodies within the space that surrounds them would seem a basic building block of consciousness, one that does not require investigation.  Yet the relationship between bodies and spaces has become increasingly the location of theoretical and artistic investigation, particularly as technology continues to break down the boundaries between our physical selves and the world around us.  This course investigates the concepts of bodies and spaces, drawing upon numerous theoretical approaches to the topic.  It also looks at several literary and filmic examples of body/space dialectics. Note: This course requires intensive reading of numerous complicated theoretical texts.  A basic background in critical theory is useful, if not required.  Grading will be based on response papers, an in-class presentation, and one 15-20 page paper.  497: Honors senior majors only, add codes in English Advising, A-2B PDL; 498: senior majors only.  Texts: Nicholson Baker, Room Temperature; photocopied course packet including excerpts from Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Michel de Certeau; several films including The Draughtsman's Contract, Prospero's Books, Fight Club, The Blair Witch Project, Time Code, The Celebration.

497/8 F (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 9:30-11:20
Literary Transformations. What is lost or gained in translating text to film, painting of sculpture to poetry, or comics to live-action? Translation -- texts from one language to another -- is a fraught and fascinating process. In the translation of poetry, for example, does the translator focus on formal aspects, or on semantics? What about sound effects? Is the translator a technician or an artist? This course explores such questions of translation, but as applied to translations between artistic mediums rather than languages -- more properly, transformations. Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Can a word be worth a thousand pictures? We will also consider partial transformations, the increasing phenomena of "mixed mediums." We will read and view a variety of literary transformations and students will be expected to do significant research, writing and creative presentation in a focused area of this broad field. In-class time will be supplemented with several field trips to museums and the UW book arts collection. 497: Honors senior majors only, add codes in English Advising, A-2B PDL; 498: senior majors only.

497/8 G (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 11:30-1:20
Mad Intertextuality: Madness in Women’s Writing.  Constructions of madness as a “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,” the duality of the sane Victorian heroine and her “mad double” (Jane Eyre) through modernism (Mrs. Dalloway) to “madwomen protagonists” 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).   497: Honors senior majors only, add codes in English Advising, A-2B PDL; 498: senior majors only.   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 H (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 1:30-3:20
Politics of Multiculturalism in North America.  The advent of a politics of multiculturalism in Canada and the United States over the past few decades has brought overdue attention to literary works by authors who identify with minority communities of many kinds. Just as these works unsettle any complacent notions about what it means to be North American, they challenge the universality of aesthetic standards.  In many cases, critics have made efforts to develop more appropriate frameworks for the reception (and indeed the production) of works by minority authors.  Occasionally, these critical frameworks have involved guidelines that prescribe a certain content or form to authors based on their ethnic heritage: for example, white authors who treat minority themes have been maligned for cultural appropriation, whereas minority authors who do not foreground oppression have been seen as co-opted.  The (real or perceived) prescriptiveness of multicultural aesthetics has in turn contributed to a backlash against "political correctness."  Whether or not the concept of multiculturalism can support the emergence of more radical or autonomous forms of difference remains to be seen.  Recently, renewed attempts to define aesthetics in a multicultural age have involved a re-engagement with questions of beauty, universality and pluralism.   This course will trace some of these literary and critical developments, exploring both the utility and the limitations of multiculturalism in the conjunction with the study of North American short stories, poems and novels (most of them contemporary).  In our first unit, we will study three multicultural anthologies and consider their role in disseminating the concept6 of "multiculturalism."  Turning to individual novels and their critical contexts for the remainder of the course, we will explore the relationship between narrative aesthetics and multicultural politics.  The discussion-based seminar will rely on active student participation.  497: Honors senior majors only, add codes in English Advising, A-2B PDL; 498: senior majors only. Texts: Mary Frosch, ed., Coming of Age in America: A Multicultural Anthology; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Joy Kogawa, Obasan; Jeannette Armstrong, Whispering in Shadows.

497/8 I (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
TTh 2:30-4:20

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 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 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 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 and other scholars' theories of reading.  We will measure them against our readings, in and outside of the academic classroom.  Course text 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 of reading (your own as well as others', past and present); reflecting upon your reading habits and prejudices; and diving deeply into the Internet. Please note: although a good deal of our class time will be spend 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: Honors senior majors only, add codes in English Advising, A-2B PDL; 498: senior majors only. 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; David Levy, Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age; photocopied course packet of critical and theoretical articles, and other creative writings.


497/8 U (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 4:30-6:20 pm
Stereotype and Complexity: Visions of 19th-Century American Culture. 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. 497: Honors senior majors only, add codes in English Advising, A-2B PDL; 498: senior majors only.  Texts: Margaret Fuller, Summer on the Lakes; Frederick Douglass, The 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 Awakeing and Selected Stories; Stephen Crane, The Portable Stephen Crane; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Portable Hawthorne.

499 A (Independent Study)
Individual study by arrangement with instructor. Further information, instructor codes available in English Advising office, A-2B PDL.

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