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Fall 2013 Courses

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Spring 2013 Courses

English 300: Shakespeare in the 21st Century (Prof. Tripthi Pillai)

The following questions could be asked of anyone and anything. But this is a course on Shakespeare, so the questions are Shakespearean in their context. If Shakespeare were our neighbor, would we be best friends who have much in common? Or would we loathe him for being different from us? Perhaps we’d report him to the authorities for being too into us, because he speaks in tongues, and because every little thing is made such a big deal by him. Or maybe we would simply think him weird for no real reason (or for too many reasons) and so keep our distance—say hello but move on, mind our business and hope that he would do the same.

But this is mere conjecture, for Shakespeare isn’t really our neighbor. A more specific question, then: if Shakespeare were of our time, as opposed to being of and “for all time”, how, if at all, would we identify with him? More importantly, how would we identify with his work, his imagination, his characters, and with their emotions? What exactly would it take for and from us to identify with him/it/them?

These last questions are significant, for they lead us into the complex network of emotional identification. Indeed, emotional identification is fraught with tricky and even dangerous questions about selfhood that, when probed, force us to consider the processes and subtexts of our connections with individuals, objects, ideas, communities, cultures, and institutions. Especially in an age when freedom is part-toted, part-flaunted as the mantra for a variety of human actions—waging wars on nations and peoples who we feel aren’t as free as us but should be; creating open access global sites for Shakespeare’s plays so undergraduates in Myanmar and Canada might enjoy the same text of Macbeth as us; purchasing vintage boots from an EBay seller half way across the world who somehow has the same aesthetics in footwear as us—we find ourselves forging (making but also faking) connections in almost seamless fashion. At the same time, we overlook the complexities that inform our desire for and practices of identification. Perhaps more disturbingly, we suppress the politics and emotions that underpin our failure or refusal to identify with something or someone.

In this course we will unearth some of these complex processes. Our litmus test this semester shall be the works of Shakespeare, whose drama repeatedly has been used (appropriated, abused, and also celebrated) in at least one of two ways: 1) as a viable medium through which diverse peoples from around the world have come together or been brought together, united emotionally by means of what we call identification; or 2) as a grotesque marker of our inability to connect and identify with a world and a time that we imagine as being fundamentally different from our own. Our purpose in the course is not so much to conclude that we do or do not, or can or cannot, identify with Shakespeare’s literature.[2] Rather, our aim this semester will be to dissect—through close reading, theoretical, historical, and cultural analyses—the methods and intricacies of identification and alienation that we put to work when we interpret the bard’s drama. These methods, we might find, are similar to the ones we employ effectively, if unconsciously, in our everyday maneuverings through life and in our engagements with others.

English 300: Ethnolects & American English (Prof. Becky Childs) 

This course will examine the role that ethnolects (ethnic varieties) have in American English. Coming from historical, social, and political perspectives we will uncover the place and contributions of ethnic English varieties to the larger public and academic understanding of American English.

English 301: Creative Writing Workshop (Prof. Joe Oestreich)

In this class we will read and write works in three different genres: poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. But we will focus on elements common to all quality writing, regardless of genre: clarity of thought, specificity in detail and description, precision with regard to diction, and the development of a strong and unique voice. We will discuss these issues in detail, and we will read a slew of great poetry and prose in order to see how well respected, contemporary writers put these craft elements to use. Then you will practice writing your own pieces.

These poems, stories, and essays will be workshopped by your classmates and me, with an eye toward revision and hopefully (someday, fingers crossed) publication. Although science fiction writing, romance writing, horror writing, journal entries, blogs, song lyrics, limericks, poems about cats, etc. can be worthwhile, I expect the pieces you write in this class to have literary aspirations, which brings me to perhaps the most important commonality of good poetry, fiction, and nonfiction: Whether “true” or “made up,” literature is an art form, and like all art, it should work to teach us something about the world and our place in it.

English 304: British Literature II (Prof. Cynthia Port)

This course offers a survey of representative works illustrating the development of British literature from the late eighteenth century to the present, with an emphasis on major literary movements understood in relation to their intellectual, social, and political contexts. This version of the course will focus primarily, though not exclusively, on works set in and around London, a cosmopolitan center of culture, finance, and empire. As we trace the evolution of British literary history, we will reflect on some of the following questions: What are the intersections among place, politics, culture, and the arts? How do literary works participate in, as well as respond to, evolving political and social conditions? We’ll explore the implications of urbanization and industrialization, the legacy of empire and immigration, the transformations of British literary style, and various articulations of London’s vibrant, crowded, rich, and sordid history.

English 306: American Literature II (Prof. Daniel Turner)

AMERICAN LITERATURE II is a survey of representative works illustrating the development of American literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, with an emphasis on major literary movements understood in relation to their intellectual, social, and political contexts. Throughout the term, students will gain an overall understanding of some of the currents and countercurrents of American literature over the past century and a half, engaging with a range of texts and genres germane to American literary history. Moreover, we will also critically assess the relation between these aesthetic forms and contemporaneous historical pressures, including hotly contested issues such as nationhood, globalization, socioeconomics, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and the emergence of competing media. To expand our understanding of U.S. literature within its broader contexts, we will analyze it in connection with theoretical and historical arguments as well as with other cultural forms and artifacts, such as painting, photography, architecture, popular music (e.g., jazz, blues, alternative rock), and cinema.

English 312: Editing and Publishing in the Digital Age (Prof. Jen Boyle)

What turns me on about the digital age, what excited me personally, is that you have closed the gap between dreaming and doing. You see, it used to be that if you wanted to make a record of a song, you needed a studio and a producer. Now, you need a laptop. – Bono

Today, writers don’t just inscribe words on paper.

Want to learn more about editing and publishing for digital and new media environments?

Want to think more about and explore blogging, online journalism, and publishing your creative/critical writing/art on the web? Get some hands on experience working with the latest text editing and publishing software and shareware? Do something on the web other than watch cat videos (though we should never give that up entirely)?

This course will serve as an introduction to editing and publishing in the age of digital media.

Students in this course will compose written, visual, and/or auditory texts, using a variety of technologies, all in the context of multi-modal composition (That is, working across print, digital, and other forms of media and mediation). Students will be expected to work with texts (1) for the page (2) the screen, and (3) the network. Each text will also be edited in accord with its medium.

Along with some very hands on practical experience directing a text through the phases of digital/online editing and publishing, we will also take up some fascinating critical questions about how media affects what we read, compose, feel, and think.

Excerpted texts and/or notions we will tarry with may include:

  • Ulmer, Internet Invention: from literacy to electracy
  • Hayles, Electronic Literature: what is it?
  • McGann, Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web
  • Plant, Zeroes and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture
  • Walter Benjamin’s, “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”
  • Debord, “Theory of the Dérive”
  • Bolter and Grusin’s, Remediation: understanding new media
  • Lupton, D.I.Y: design it yourself
  • Wysocki and Lynch, Compose, Design, Advocate: a rhetoric for integrating written, visual, and oral communication
  • Some books that will help us as we transform texts, books, and images:
  • Sterling, Shaping Things
  • Palmquist’s Designing Writing: a practical guide

English 317: The Romantic Age (Prof. Kate Oestreich)

The “Romantic Age” in British literature has been variously defined as beginning in 1798, 1789, 1770, or 1750, and ending in 1830, 1832, or 1837. While critics disagree about the exact historical boundaries of British Romanticism, most agree that political, social, philosophical and cultural changes at the end of the eighteenth century coincided with and/or brought about changes in literary forms and values. We will read works from authors who have played dominant roles in shaping the English literary tradition; these authors include Dorothy and William Wordsworth, William Blake, and Mary Wollstonecraft, amongst others. In lecture, we will learn how the works we read reflect the larger movements in British literature and how those works and movements relate to England’s dramatic social and political transformations during the Romantic Period. Students will discuss the reading in detail and will have a chance to explore their own ideas about it.

Students will learn to

  • Understand the major developments and major figures in British literary history from the last few decades of the eighteenth century through the 1830s;
  • Understand the mutual relationship between historical and cultural context and literary form and production, specifically the effect of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and debates human and women’s rights;
  • Engage in critical discussions of language and literature

English 350: Language Variation in North America (Prof. Daniel Hasty)

Why do those people up North (i.e., Yankees) talk they way they do?  How can those people in the South sound so nice yet still so dumb?  Why don’t the people out West have an accent? Do I have an accent? 

In this course, we will answer all these questions and more.  We will study the differences in the varieties of North American English from a scientific perspective being guided by contemporary sociolinguistic theory.

While regional variation is one of the most salient aspects of American English, we will also study social, ethnic, gender, and style-related language variation.  Along with understanding how different varieties of English are linguistically different from each other, we will also explore issues related to the evaluation of individual dialects regarding the perceptions and attitudes of speakers and hearers of these varieties.  We will address issues related to the so-called “Standard” English ideology and even seek to uncover linguistic profiling and discrimination.

The course will be discussion based and will involve a good deal of classroom participation and presentation.  Students will be asked to complete original sociolinguistic research by collecting data on actual real-world language variation and presenting their findings in both oral and written form.

English 365; Reading and Writing Creative Nonfiction (Prof. Joe Oestreich)

This is a literature and workshop course in which students will study contemporary creative nonfiction and create original nonfiction pieces. Students will read and critique both published and student work.

This course is designed to help you learn the elements of craft in creative nonfiction and its subgenres. It will operate in four units. In the first, you will learn the building blocks common to all forms of nonfiction—concepts such as writing in scene, narration vs. exposition, the importance of place and characterization, and writing to make meaning. Next we will study the forms of five nonfiction subgenres: memoir, personal essay, the braided/fragmented essay, literary journalism, and cultural criticism. In the third unit we will workshop some of the major works of contemporary nonfiction. This unit will be discussion-based, and these discussions will be led primarily by you. For the final unit, you will write an original creative essay, which will be read and critiqued by the entire class.

English 375: Special Topics in World and Anglophone Literature (Prof. Anna Oldfield)

This course extends students’ understanding of and experiences in different cultures of the world by examining issues of cross-cultural interaction and transfer of ideas between and within world cultures, historical periods, and/or literary movements. The course will also introduce students to some strategies of literary criticism and research on world authors through examination of critical texts appropriate to the topic.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives the following definition of “rebellion”:

  1. opposition to one in authority or dominance
  2. open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government

The world offers many opportunities for rebellion – against tyranny, genocide, cultural oppression, inequality, and social injustice to name a few. Some rebellions are more subtle; one can rebel against logic, against language, even against oneself. Rebellion can also be negative, violent and cruel, betraying the very ideals that inspired it. Focusing on the 20th century, this course will confront rebellious texts from across cultures as we explore the unstable spaces between ideas, ideals, words and actions.

We’ll begin with the Russian Revolution, where Boris Savinkov sits, gun in hand, asking whether rebellion can justify murder. We’ll join Anna Akhmatova (Russia), Czeslaw Milos (Poland), and Danilo Kis (Yugoslavia) as they confront dictatorship and battle the erasure of memory. We’ll celebrate the Prague Spring with the plays of Vaclav Havel, the films of Vera Chytalova and the music of The Plastic People, asking if their doomed rebellion was truly “unsuccessful.” Franz Fanon (Martinique), Albert Camus (France), Chinua Achebe (Nigeria), and Salman Rushdie (India/UK) will confront us with colonialism and the complex rebellions it can inspire, while Yukio Mishima (Japan) and Lu Xun (China) will pull us to the edge of life and death. Intersections of gender, culture, and conflict will absorb us with Leila Abouzeid (Morocco), Goli Taraqi (Iran), and Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt). We’ll end up by looking at Che Gueverra, James Dean, and possible futures of rebellion in our own 21st century.

English 390: Business and Professional Communication (Prof. Winner and Prof. Hollandsworth)

Designed to improve practical communication, both written and oral. Students learn business style and formats (the letter, memo, resume, and report), as well as strategies for presenting neutral, negative, and persuasive messages. Students will speak on business or professional topics.

English 411: Capstone Seminar (Prof. Maria Bachman)

This class provides a forum for both reflection upon and assessment of the student's experience in the major. Readings and writing assignments will focus on the dicipline of English in a postgraduate context, the professional potential of the English degree, portfolio construction, and revision of exisiting writings for publications. The course will also include activities designed to help the department assess its program as well as the opportunity for an exit interview.

English 424: London’s Underbelly: Sex, Lies, and the Secret Renaissance (Prof. Tripthi Pillai)

The quintessential Renaissance man, Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86) was well loved and admired by his contemporaries as “the flower of chivalry,” as the exemplary courtier. Indeed he seems to have done everything heroically and well—from governing Flushing to writing sonnets and treatises on poetry. And before things could go downhill for him, Sidney died heroically, wounded fatally while defending the English and English causes. In his brief lifetime, Sidney came to define the spirit of the Renaissance, a spirit that has endured in the popular imagination.

But there was more to Renaissance men and women besides the heroism, the dignity, and beauty awarded them by the likes of Sidney. Early modern England had its fair share of ugliness, of rogues and vagabonds, swindlers and gold-diggers, rapists and murderers. These and various other groups of Renaissance “opportunists” struggled to survive and thrive in a period that was marked by cultural, economic, political, and religious fluctuation. While most of the works of the period only hint obliquely at the murky English underworld that lurks beneath the noble and heroic world, several plays of the time vibrantly bring to light the energy of “ugliness” and of “ugly” subjects. In this course we will focus on these best kept secrets of early modern drama: the outlandish and nonconformist subculture of London’s beggars and bastards, bored but prosperous housewives, resentful but ambitious servants, upwardly mobile workingwomen, title-craving merchants, and money-hungry noblemen, among others. Our study of the underbelly will bring us to a closer understanding of the social history of early modern England, especially its urban culture, and will develop in us—through various theoretical methodologies—a critical consciousness about the relevance of the subaltern voices within the Renaissance framework. This combination of literary and theoretical approaches will not only enable us to appreciate the complex culture specific to Renaissance England, but will also engage us in the cultural dynamics of excluded communities that even today comprise a significant chunk of society.

English 453: Development of the English Language (Prof. Ray Moye)

A study of the origins and development of languages in general, and of English and related languages in particular. No previous knowledge of Old and Middle English necessary

Enlgish 457: Form and Style in Wriitng (Prof. David Kellogg)

What is a writing style? In the view of this teacher, style is a choice — or rather, a set of choices. Every time you choose to write a sentence one way rather than another, you have made a stylistic choice. Your writing has attained a style, however, only when the set of the choices you make adds up to something recognizable, consistent, true.

This course is an intensive workshop in improving prose style. We will cover research and citation styles (what many students mean by “style”), but we focus on improving your ability to compose sentences and paragraphs with wit, elegance, and power. We will cover issues of clarity, concision, coherence, cohesion, and other elements of practical style; control of sentence length, rhythm, and pacing; and a variety of rhetorical figures, including tropes of argument. You will both revise previously written pieces and compose new work.

English 459: Advanced Composition and Rhetoric (Prof. Shannon Stewart)

 Writing that involves different aims, types, and audiences. Students learn theory about composition, rhetoric and reading. Students also read examples, do library research, and review grammar, punctuation, and editing.

English 462: Writing workshop: Fiction (Prof. Jason Ockert)

This is an advanced course in fiction writing and in it we will analyze the multiple ways a short story can be written. Although it is impossible to teach you to be a great writer, it is possible to teach you the ways in which published writers have organized their thoughts and ideas onto the page. “Greatness,” I’m hoping, will rub off on you. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to read your peers’ writing in a workshop setting. Building on what you’ve learned in previous creative writing courses, we will study contemporary elements of style and seek to understand particular values inherent in important short story writing.

English 468: Writing Workshop: Poetry (Prof. Dan Albergotti)

This is an advanced workshop in poetry writing. We will study the craft of poetry and write poems in both traditional form and free verse. The vast majority of class time will be spent in group discussion of poems produced by members of the class. Our primary goal is essentially this: to become better readers and writers of poems. Since methods of accomplishing that are difficult to quantify, I will simply say that we will use whatever method presents itself at any given time to aid the artistic growth of every student in the class. And since I cannot force artistic growth upon you, you must be committed to work very hard toward the achievement of our class goal.

English 483: Theory of Literary Criticism (Prof. Steve Hamelman)

This course introduces, explicates, and elaborates ways to define and interpret literature and culture. Doing so requires us to study signs, codes, grammars, and systems—linguistic, aural, visual, and otherwise—that create what human beings call “reality.” We will discover the amazing number of ways to approach an understanding of the most important term of all: representation. What is representation? How have different writers from different historical periods explained it? What is our own relationship to representation? Does a transcendent Truth inform representation, or is it an arbitrary, fluid combination of signs that can’t be reduced to one final meaning? Why are some representations considered beautiful and canonical, others trashy and disposable, some superficial, some profound? Questions such as these will proliferate with each assignment. Theory isn’t contained within any one department or field of study. Our texts range over philosophy, psychology, linguistics, rhetoric, sociology, semiotics, hermeneutics, theology, political economy, media studies, and literary criticism. Despite its reputation for being difficult, theory is a democratic, non-elitist discipline. Everyone can use it, and no single academic department owns it. Its varied strands permeate all aspects of intellectual life. Studying its key principles and themes improves our daily thinking—that is, it helps us decipher the verbal, visual, and aural language that shapes our lives, and in the process it empowers and liberates the reader.

English 485.01: Adolescent Literature (Prof. Michael Campbell and Professor Neljean Rice)

An extensive study of works appropriate for the adolescent. Required of all Secondary English Education students.

English 495: Internship for English Majors (Prof. Maria Bachman)

Students will receive instruction and gain professional experience in an internship while working at least 10 hours per week with a local business or organization. Course contract must be approved prior to registration.

English 603: Special Topics in the Forms of Creative Writing (Prof. Jason Ockert)

A course in the forms of creative writing, students will examine the history, movements and technical forms of literary genres in an effort to better understand influences that may affect the writer today.

English 635: Topics in American Literature (Prof. Daniel Turner)

An exploration of texts from a variety of eras, movements, regions and/or sub-cultures within American Literature. Students will read literary texts, focusing on the social, cultural, historical, and political contexts in which these texts were produced and analyzing the content for cultural-specific themes.

English 653: Topics in Linguistics (Prof. Becky Childs) 

Admission to MA pogram or permissison of instructor) A course in the study of language from various sources, time periods, and social groups. Students will examine written and spoken language in a number of genres, focusing on the ways in which language functions as a communicative tool and social phenomena.

English 658: Graduate Writing Workshop in Poetry (Prof. Dan Albergotti) 

A workshop to study the craft of poetry and write poems in both traditional forms and free verse. The majority of class time will be spent in group discussions of poems produced by members of the class with the goal of becoming better readers and writers of poems.

English 682: Workshop in Composition and Rhetoric (Prof. Denise Paster) 

ENGL 682 introduces and explores advanced concepts of grammar, rhetoric, the composition process and editing that affect both professional writers and teachers of writing at the high school and college level.

This course provides an introduction to scholarship on the research of writing. While issues such as the composition process, grammar, and social constructivist approaches to language will be explored, the main focus of this graduate seminar will be on the research methods and methodologies central to the field of composition and rhetoric. By exploring the practical methods and theoretical methodologies available to researchers, students will come to richer understandings of how knowledge about and theories of writing are constructed in this field.