Course Descriptions (as of 19 December 2005)
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.)
453 A (Introduction to American Folklore)
In this Introduction to Folklore course, we will discuss the history and meaning of folklore, the current practice of folklore, and using straightforward language, learn easy definitions, and insightful, entertaining examples. We will examine occupational and ethnic lore, foodways, personal experience narratives, ballads, myths, proverbs, and more. We will apply this learning and collect lore. (Meets with AFRAM 498D.) Text: Barre Toelken, The Dynamics of Folklore.
471 A (The Composition Process)
[Consideration of psychological and formal elements basic to writing and related forms of nonverbal expression and the critical principles that apply to evaluation.]
484 A (Advanced Short Story Writing)
Wed. 4:30-7:20 pm
An intense workshop for the most committed fiction writers planning a lifetime of work in the field. High expectations for both the quality of the manuscripts and a willingness to assist other writers with their work. Prerequisites: ENGL 383 and 384. (Students who have not taken both prerequisites should see an English adviser in A-2B Padelford.) No texts.
491 A (Internship)
Supervised experience in local businesses and other agencies. Open only to upper-division English majors. Credit/no credit only. Add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL.
492 A (Advanced Expository Writing Conference)
Tutorial arranged by prior mutual agreement between individual student and instructor. Revision of manuscripts is emphasized, but new work may also be undertaken. Instructor codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL.
493 A (Advanced Creative Writing Conference)
Tutorial arranged by prior mutual agreement between individual student and instructor. Revision of manuscripts is emphasized, but new work may also be undertaken. Instructor codes in Creative Writing office, B-25 PDL.
494 A (Honors Seminar)
Aesthetics and Politics: Visual Culture. It has been commonplace to note the proliferation of images in contemporary culture. From advertisements, music videos, film, photography, and the internet, images are often the very ground of our understanding of the world. In this course we will explore the debates surrounding visual culture, analyzing the history, theory, and criticism of photography, film, and television. Starting with Walter Benjamin’s formulation that technological reproduction changes the very nature of the aesthetic, we will examine the linkages between the political and the aesthetic across a range of historical, geographic, and cultural locations. The course will begin with foundational texts in the Frankfurt school tradition, which we will extend, unpack, and critique through contemporary writings on visual culture. The course will assume a global context, and primary texts will span the range of visual genres, including painting, photography, film, television. English Honors students only; add codes available in English Advising office, A-2B Padelford.
494 B (Honors Seminar)
Aesthetics and Politics: Representing the New Biologic. This course will examine a range of literary, filmic, and popular scientific texts that represent transformations in our conception of the human body, the natural world, the distinctions among species, and reproductive processes that have been heralded by the mapping of the human genome and the advent of a range of new biotechnologies. We will consider theoretical alongside literary and visual texts, and will read materials on the history of genetic (often eugenic) scientific interventions. Our aim will be to understand how works of creative imagination become sites of political contestation as they envision the possibilities and pitfalls of the new biologic by which our culture has become saturated. In order to examine how a new biologic expresses itself in and through a range of cultural productions, we will also make recourse to a range of theoretical texts that treat the relationship between aesthetics and politics, technoscience and social transformation. Students will be expected to write original term papers and a series of shorter assignments over the course of the quarter. This course will be reading and writing intensive. English Honors students only; add codes available in English Advising office, A-2B Padelford. Texts: Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; Foucault, History of Sexuality, Vol. 1; Octavia Butler, Dawn; Fledgling; Nancy Ordover, American Eugenics; Nicola Griffith, Ammonite; Ruth Ozeki, All Over Creation.
495 A (Major Conference for Honors in Creative Writing)
Special projects available to honors students in creative writing. Required of, and limited to, honors students in creative writing.
496 A (Major Conference for Honors)
Individual study (reading, papers) by arrangement with the instructor. Required of, and limited to, honors seniors in English. Add code availables in English Advising office, A-2B PDL.
497/8 A (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Modern Poetry and Popular “Print” Culture. What do poems have to do with photographs, photocopies, weird explosions on stage, hypertext, political manifestos, newspapers, found objects, the voices from the bar downstairs and CAPITAL LETTERS? A whole lot, it turns out, if we look at the poetry of the past hundred years. In this course, we will examine some of the interdisciplinary and international literary revolutions of the twentieth century: dada, surrealism, the Black Arts Movement and the contemporary stuff that comes to us via ‘zines, slams and digital media. The products of these poetic enterprises were often put into print – but in radical ways, wildly tweaking and torquing the printed word to accommodate their dialogues with visual art, everyday experience, music and new publication technology. We will ask how the rebellious spirit of these movements was represented in “hard copy”; how material, political and technological conditions influenced poetic form; and how, or if, our descriptions of twentieth-century literary history need to change in light of these issues. Note: Previous study of poetry, modernism and twentieth-century literature is strongly recommended. 497: Senior honors ENGL majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL; 498: senior ENGL majors only. Texts: Hans Richter, Dada: Art and Anti-Art; Fahamisha Patricia Brown, Performing the Word: African American Poetry as Vernacular Culture; Mark Eleveld, Marc Smith, eds., Spoken Word Revolution (w. CD).
497/8 B (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
The Heart Is in the Mind: Metaphysical Poetry from Early Modern to the Millennium. When love, death, belief, and human frailty, often suffused with sexuality, take possession of poetry, through a brilliant derangement of language at the edge of impossibility, who can tell what’s in the mind. But if you respond to the challenge, and are willing to pursue a thought, beyond what you thought you could think, you may very well take heart from that. Whether with irony, paradox, or mind-blowing metaphor, the poems we’ll be reading are passionate, but passionate as thought—so deeply felt, indeed, that as we think about such poetry, viscerally, in the body, it appears to be thinking us.
That’s what T. S. Eliot had in mind when, writing of the metaphysical poetry of the seventeenth century, he described its perceptual power—sometimes elliptical or circuitous, but the way it saw feelingly—as “the sensuous apprehension of thought.” As he was defining what poetry should be in the twentieth century—and his own poems, surely, had a lot to do with that—he gave a retrospective status to a poetry of ambiguity. Even at this historical distance, one of the most compelling things about reading John Donne or George Herbert is that, if you’re engaged with any intimacy, you may—as Freud said we must in modernity—learn to live in doubt. Given the dubious state of the world after the millennium, no less after 9/11, there seems no alternative to that. But, if you think about it, it’s doubt that prompts questioning, which unsettles the “certain certainties” of anything from smugness to some presumably reasoned, doctrinaire, or ideological position—or even, from some uncritical reflex, your own disposition. There is, of course, a subjectivity to poetry, which can often be elusive, but it may even serve politics by confronting you with the necessity of learning to read between the lines.
The readings for the seminar (still to be worked out) will move across history from the period we once called the late Renaissance (now “early modern”), to the Eliotic modern, or that of Wallace Stevens, its witty accretions of high intelligence, to the linguistic deposits of Susan Howe, who thinks of herself today, as in her writing on Emily Dickinson (whom we may also read), as a metaphysical poet. 497: Senior honors ENGL majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL; 498: senior ENGL majors only.
497/8 C (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Religion, Secularization, and Victorian Literature. Victorian literature is traditionally taught in conjunction with one version or another of the “secularization” hypothesis: the proposition that the modern world is becoming progressively less religious because urbanization, industrialization, and scientific progress (especially geology, astronomy, and Darwinian biology) militate against traditional religious experience and ideas. The nineteenth century saw no shortage of secularist prophets: Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, Ernest Renan and Matthew Arnold (among others) all predicted the imminent demise of Christianity. In retrospect, however, the secularization thesis seems unsatisfying as a wholesale explanation for the literary world’s preoccupation with religious issues in this period -- not least of all because organized religion failed to disappear on schedule. This course explores the possibility that we can find alternative ways of understanding the religious concerns that fill the pages of Victorian literature. It is designed to inquire what happens when we discard the convenient teleology that the secularization thesis has always provided, and to ask how else we might account for religion’s profound influence on literary culture. We will study some or all of the following authors: S. T. Coleridge, Thomas Carlyle, Charlotte Smith, Felicia Hemans, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, E. Barrett Browning, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Frances Power Cobbe, A. C. Swinburne, Matthew Arnold, G. M. Hopkins, Mona Caird, Constance Naden, Amy Levy, Michael Field, and William James. 497: Senior honors ENGL majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL; 498: senior ENGL majors only. Texts: Marmin & Tucker, eds., Victorian Liteature 1830-1900; Anthony Trollope, The Warden; George Eliot, Scenes from Clerical Life.
497/8 D (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Self-Help and Inheritance. Self-Help is the title of a best selling book from 1859 by Samuel Smiles, a prototype of “self-help” books of our own day. It serves in the title for a course exploring literature in English from the 19th-20th C, a period that has sharply promoted self-making through “self-help.” But with this has also come a complication in thinking about inheritance. “Inheritance” fills out the title of the course and sets questions about the extent to which we are “made” by what has gone before, whether by family, gender, race, class, national/imperial legacy, or cultural/literary tradition. The class is designed as an appropriate capstone for seniors completing an English major given its theme, its seminar format, and significant writing component. It provides a forum for reflection on your own educational experience as an interplay between self-help and inheritance.
Primary readings drawn from: John Stuart Mill, short selection “Of Individuality” from “On Liberty,” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own,” V.S. Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas. Also for entertaining, up-to-the present perspectives on our heritage from the past and/or how we make it over for ourselves, we will have some discussion of current films of Pride and Prejudice and Oliver Twist, plus of a current "self-help" book. Secondary historical/critical/theoretical/film material (short selections, not read by all, covered by presentations) drawn from: Samuel Smiles, a current “self-help” book, Edmund Burke, 19th C. inheritance law (for Austen), current film of Pride and Prejudice, background on the New Poor Law (for Dickens), current film of Oliver Twist, Matthew Arnold, Barbara Herrnstein-Smith, cultural background on 20th C. colonial Trinidad, especially Hinduism (for Naipaul), critical selections on Naipaul's controversial reputation.
Requirements: on-going seminar discussion plus 2 in-class responsibilities
(whether leading discussion of a primary text or reporting on secondary material);
5-6 pp. paper; 10-12 pp. paper treating more than a single text. If you choose
these can be related, so that the second paper revises and expands upon the
first. The above requirements count 25%, 25%, 50%. No final. I am open to
adapt assignments to your purposes as you conclude your undergraduate work.
Research, discussion, oral presentation, and critical writing (in tight-focus
and wider-scope formats) are practical skills you can enhance and lay claim
to in this course. Past senior seminars of mine have proved helpful to students
for providing the basis of letters of recommendation and writing samples
for purposes of graduate school or other training, or employment. 497: Senior
honors ENGL majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL;
498: senior ENGL majors only.
497/8 E (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Ressentiment in Modern Literature. Ressentiment is a term used by Nietzsche in Genealogy of Morals. The traits associated with ressentiment include: Desire for revenge; hate; spite; rancor; wrath; the impulse to detract; vindictiveness; taking pleasure in another’s misfortune. Modern thought in general, and modern literature in particular can often be characterized by the concept of ressentiment. 497: Senior honors ENGL majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL; 498: senior ENGL majors only. Texts: Shakespeare, Othello; Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals; Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground; Kafka, The Metamorphosis; Chekhov, Uncle Vanya; Camus, The Fall; Conrad, The Secret Agent.
497/8 F (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Modern Writing of the Black Diaspora. This course explores a range of twentieth-century black writing from the Americas and Europe. Modern African diasporic writing constitutes a major literature that engages with a wide variety of literary forms. Study of this literature has typically been organised along national lines: Afro-Caribbean literature, African American literature, and black British literature have been studied as self-contained units or as sub-units within national categories of Caribbean, American and British literatures. The rise of black Atlantic and diasporic studies has encouraged new ways to think about this literature, emphasizing the ways that the African diaspora has created literary patterns, themes and experiences that cut across national boundaries. This course examines black literature within both national and global/diasporic contexts, and aims to develop comparative knowledge of the Caribbean, the US and the UK as historical and cultural environments for black literary production. The literary representation of diaspora itself is a central concern. Other issues to be considered may include racial identity formation, slavery, colonialism, migration, and the “return” to Africa. To support the close reading of literary materials the course includes a range of theoretical, historical and sociological readings. 497: Senior honors ENGL majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL; 498: senior ENGL majors only. Texts: Dionne Brand, Thirsty; Reginald McKnight, I Get on the Roof; Bernardine Evaristo, The Emperor’s Babe; George Lamming, In the Castle of My Skin; Grace Nichols, I is a Long Memoried Woman; Langston Hughes, The Big Sea.
497/8 G (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
Reading Literary Economics. In this seminar, we will explore the relationship of literature and economics and develop an understanding of how the two help shape one another. In other words, the course will teach you how to read literature economically and economics literarily. We will concentrate on writing produced in nineteenth-century Britain – a period whose literature is characterized by its attention to the socio-economic and political questions of the age. More specifically, we will look at the ways in which gender comes to bear on nineteenth-century imaginative and poetic economics. For example, we will read the economics of marriage, motherhood, and household management alongside the more traditionally “masculine” economics of manufacturing and business. In 1832, Hariet Martineau argued that fictional narrative was the vest way to teach economic theory because it provides “pictures” where economic theory provides only “very dry arguments.” we will consider the implications of this statement as we study a wide range of texts, including economic theory, evolutionary theory, and novels, as well as secondary critical materials. The course requires a substantial amount of reading and writing, including a number of short response papers, a midterm annotated bibliography and a longer (10-15 pp.) final paper. If you have any questions about the course readings or requirements, please contact the instructor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 497: Senior honors ENGL majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL; 498: senior ENGL majors only. Texts: Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations; Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population; Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy; George Eliot, Adam Bede; Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford; Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species; Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure; M. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination.
498 I (Honors Senior Seminar/Senior Seminar)
MW 7-8:50 pm (Evening Degree)
Bridging the Gap: What Did You Do When You Did English? One purpose of a senior seminar is to provide a “capstone” – a sort of culmination and summary to a major. Often such courses focus on a special topic of one sort or another – a seminar, in other words, and the capstone part is the writing or a research paper. A different idea of a capstone would be a course which asks you to look back at where you have been as you have done English, and reflect upon what it all means. What HAVE you done as you have done English? What are your own personal high spots? What made them high? What are your disappointments? What do you now think you can do with what you learned? What is still left to do? We will provide occasion for you to investigate questions like that here, while also reading as a group a series of works from the past five centuries that address the role of humanities education in one way or another. We’ll also include movies with literary education themes as well. Evening Degree students only. Texts: Thomas More, Utopia; Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own; Norman McLean, A River Runs Through It; David Richter, Falling into Theory.
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)