Fall 2017 Undergraduate Course Descriptions

ENGL 285-01 (34922) T/R 10:45AM - 12:00pm, RA 102 : Gardaphe

Studies Literature and Film

 This course investigates relationships between two media, film and literature, studying works linked across the two media by genre, topic, and style. It aims to sharpen appreciation of works of cinema and of literary narrative and to understand how each influences the other. The course explores how artworks challenge and cross cultural, political and aesthetic boundaries by giving attention to film production and theory of narrative. Students will examine Italian/American ethnicity as represented in mainstream and independent American cinema and television from the silent era to the present.  Particular attention will be paid to the traditional stereotypes associated with these representations (how they arose and why they continue to exist and how Italian/American filmmakers and writers respond to and (re)envision them.  Films to be studied include works by Francis Ford Coppola, Nancy Savoca, Martin Scorcese, and Steven Fischler among others. Literary works include texts by Mario Puzo, John Domini, Dana Spiotta, Helene Stipinksi and Francine Prose.  This course also can be used for ITAST 204


ENG 290-01(31535) T/R 3:10pm -4:25pm, RZ 304: Sargent

The English Language

The study of modern English, its present structure, its early origins, and its development. Attention is given to vocabulary and semantics, the English language in America, and principles of linguistic change.


ENG 301W-01(31514) Tues 6:40pm -9:30pm, KY 173: Weir

Fiction Workshop

Intensive practice in the writing of fiction, with related readings. May be repeated once for credit toward degree but may be applied only once to the major.


ENG 302-01(31381) MW 5:00pm -6:15pm, KY 416: Schotter

Playwriting Workshop

Intensive practice in the writing of plays, with related readings. May be repeated once for credit toward degree but may be applied only once to the major.


ENG 304-01(31387) MW 1:40pm -2:55pm, KY 416: Sedarat

Poetry Workshop

It is necessary to any originality to have the courage to be an amateur.
--Wallace Stevens

This workshop requires the poet to take a series of creative risks within the context of contemporary American poetry. Students are thrust into radical low-stakes exercises to write themselves out of their comfort zones. While some attention is given to imitation of master works, including formal verse, poets are encouraged to experiment with such current trends as documentary poetics, spoken word, and interdisciplinary performance. Expect to write and revise several poems throughout the semester toward a final project that includes an extensive process essay.



ENG 308-01(31394) W/F 1:40PM -2:55pm, RZ 304: Sirlin

Studies in Drama and Performance  

This section of English 308 will focus on Pulitzer Prize-winning classics of the American stage and their relationship to Greek tragedies and the social, middle-class, realistic dramas of Ibsen. We will study the three major types of drama--tragedy, comedy, and tragicomedy--exploring in the process how theatre addresses social, cultural, and political issues, how, in short, they reflect on and reveal the human condition. If possible, we will see a Broadway or off-Broadway production, put on scenes from the plays, and view some film excerpts of these dramas. Some of the playwrights we will study are Susan Glaspell, Lillian Hellman, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, Lorraine Hansberry, Beth Henley, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Paula Vogel, John Patrick Shanley, Sarah Ruhl, Quiara Hudes, and Ayad Ahktar.


ENG 312-01(36122) T/R 1:40pm -2:55pm, RA 106: Holchak

Medieval Literature, 1100-1500

In this course, students read medieval literature from the British Isles and other parts of Western Europe in modern English translation (for the most part.) Our texts exemplify the genres of historical chronicle, romance, saints’ lives, drama, dream vision, and travel writing. They indicate a fondness for the marvelous and for the modes of allegory and epic. We learn that inhabitants of Britain in the period had distinct ethnicities, spoke and wrote several languages, relied on translation, and approached reading in different ways. We see the idea of British nationhood shifting in histories written by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace, and Layamon and discuss how nationalist aspirations and anxieties play out in romance fiction. The role of gender in the production of medieval culture is a central concern as we read, view, and hear a twelfth century musical drama produced by the remarkable female composer, writer, philosopher, Abbess, mystic, and saint, Hildegard von Bingen, who was active in what today is southwestern Germany. By exploring the many sides of medieval literary culture that emerge from our readings, students will engage with events and ideas that enable fresh perspectives on some of the hardened positions that appear in today’s contentious debates over open/closed borders, multilingual cultures, ethnic and national identities, and gender difference.

Note: This course satisfies the British literature before 1800 elective requirement.

This course will count as a substitute for ENG 251, for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENG 331-01(60037) W 6:40pm -9:30pm, RA 102: Saraceni

Chaucer

Few authors can claim a more significant role in English literary history than Geoffrey Chaucer, hailed as the “fader” and “firste fyndere of oure faire language.” How did Chaucer come to achieve this title? What characteristics of his writing were new? And what about him remains innovative over six hundred years later? This course offers an intensive study of Chaucer’s works with consideration of their cultural and historical contexts. Readings include The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame and selections from The Canterbury Tales. Special topics include the politics and status of Middle English, Chaucer and women, and the legacy of Chaucer. No previous knowledge of Middle English is assumed.

Note: This course satisfies the British literature before 1800 elective requirement.

This course will count as a substitute for ENG 251 for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENG 341-01(31396) MW 1:40pm -2:55pm, RA 102: Alryyes

Drama of the Restoration and Eighteenth Century & Clarissa

In addition to introducing you to a number of important Restoration and eighteenth-century plays of various types (heroic drama, comic satire, tragicomedy, She-tragedies and affective tragedies), this course will allow us to read (a substantial part of) Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, one of the most remarkable and influential novels of the eighteenth century, in its own dramatic context. Although we now largely study genres in separate courses, literary kinds were as related then as they are today. Richardson, one of the pioneers of the English novel, admired and was strongly influenced by Restoration drama, both in his characterizations and his fictional representations. For its part, Restoration theatre had a fundamental role in giving form to the Civil War’s political conflicts and the aristocracy’s particular situation after the monarchy’s return. But Restoration and eighteenth-century drama also acted to sentimentalize the hierarchies of politics and power, replacing heroic action with moral action, and in the process preparing the ground for the affective rhetoric of the rising novel.

Note: This course satisfies the British literature before 1800 elective requirement.

This course will count as a substitute for ENG 251 for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENG 346-01(31397) MW 1:40pm -2:55pm, RA 106: Mak

British Fiction, 1900-1945

At the heart of the many unprecedented, rapid changes ushered in by the twentieth century was the relation of individuals—their minds and bodies—to the world. The fall of liberalism and empire, the rise of fascism, the spread of feminist, anti-racist, and anti-colonial movements, and the invention of new technologies and artistic media and genres—all these involved re-thinking the ways in which an individual might navigate and, even, effect change in an increasingly complex world. In this course, we will read British (and some American) fiction spanning roughly the first half of the twentieth century, looking at how the exuberant literary experimentation of the modernists in particular (including Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Jean Toomer, Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, Jean Rhys, Toni Morrison, and others) drew into sharper focus the new, fraught status of the individual in the modern world around them. At the same time, we will also pay close attention to the wider cultural context of modernism, situating “high” modernist experimentation in relation to the massively popular and groundbreaking genres of slapstick comedy, horror films, science fiction, and satirical fiction, which themselves reflected evolving conceptions of the individual’s (body’s) place in a newly technologized world. In this category, we will read the 1925 bestseller Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and watch the seminal 1927 sci-fi film Metropolis, along with the essential comedies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.

 Note: This course will count as a substitute for ENG 252 for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENG 349-01(36123) T/R 12:15pm -1:30pm, RA 106: Carr

Colonial American Literature

Until quite recently, scholars used the term “Colonial American literature” to refer to texts written prior to the Revolutionary War in the region that was eventually to become the United States. In the literature of the Colonial period, it was thought, one could hope to discern the sources of the American self, the American constitution, and the American way of life. Today, scholars tend to agree that there is no such thing as a singular, unified American character, culture, or political experience. To study the literature of the North American and Atlantic colonies is to encounter a complex, multicultural, and highly conflicted world in which the fantasy of an independent American Republic preoccupied only a tiny minority. This class explores the literature of the English-speaking colonies prior to 1750 and the extraordinarily diverse and dynamic social world that that literature helped bring into being. We will consider novels about political revolutions, compendia of indigenous herbal traditions, execution sermons, anti-Christian screeds, works of natural history, autobiographies by statesmen (Benjamin Franklin) and former slaves (Ukawsaw Gronniosaw), narratives of abduction, love poems, plays, and newspaper satires. Our examination of these texts will focus on the question of how and why literary culture became so important both to the European colonial powers and to the people (especially indigenous Americans and the enslaved) whom those kingdoms sought to subjugate. We will also explore the emergence of the English language as a medium of cross-cultural communication, literary expression, and political power in the colonial American context.

Note: This course satisfies the American literature before 1900 elective requirement.

This course will count as a substitute for ENG 253 for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENG 350-01(31399) MW 10:45am -12:00pm, RA 102: Silyn Roberts

Early American Literature
Revolution and the Weird: American Adventure Stories (c. 1750-1850)

Much of the fiction written and read in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries United States might be categorized as “adventure tales,” a highly popular style that traded in all manner of weird goings-on: shipwrecks, robberies, kidnappings, ferocious beasts, threatening forests, lost and recovered fortunes, thwarted love, journeys into unknown lands, separation and reunion with loved ones, captivity, and escape.  These tales  recycled elements of the European gothic romance, Barbary and Indian captivity narratives, and the sentimental novel, and put them to work in a New World context.  Paradoxically, then, the adventure tale was both exciting and redundant, new and unoriginal, indigenous and transplanted.

We will read a variety of New World adventure tales and the circum-Atlantic materials from which they borrowed to consider why this form spoke so persistently to the interests of early American readers.  We will pay particular attention to the unruly form of these works, which often defy modern standards of “realism.”  We will also consider how our expectations of literary “originality” are shaped by devalued categories of thought such as redundancy, reiteration, and stasis. Rather than read the adventure tale as a form of escapism or alarmism in an age of revolution and expansionism, we will be thinking about the larger stakes at work in a body of texts that simply aren’t meant to be read in terms of their believability, originality, or encoded relationship to history.

Authors will likely include a number of anonymous or pseudonymous texts published serially or in magazines (provided on Blackboard as PDFs), as well as canonical and non-canonical novelists such as Isaac Mitchell, Charles Brockden Brown Brown, Rebecca Rush, Tabitha Tenney, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville.

Note: This course satisfies the American literature before 1900 elective requirement.

This course will count as a substitute for ENG 253 for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENGL 351-01 (60038) T/R 3:10pm-4:25pm: Schnur

Borders and Outsiders in the American Nineteenth Century

 Though questions of how to draw and protect borders, as well as who should be allowed within them, are, today, rooted in twentieth-century nationalism and geopolitics, the American nineteenth century is defined by wars fought on American soil, violent federal policies, and diplomatic deals that determined the boundaries of this country and the American citizenry. Using moments like the Louisiana Purchase, the westward expansion inspired by Manifest Destiny and the Gold Rush, the Trail of Tears, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, we will look at how nineteenth-century American literature probed the formation of American borders and American identity, as defined through these historical moments and their fallout. Aided by some (light) use of literary theory, we will interrogate how questions of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality shaped questions of boundaries and nationhood. We will also look at how these anxieties surrounding national borders extended to discussions of the borders of our body, or, indeed, of the borders that define American literature. Our reading list may include the works of: Zitkala Sa, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Kate Chopin, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Frederick Douglass, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and Charles Chesnutt.

 Note: This course satisfies the American literature before 1900 elective requirement.

This course will count as a substitute for ENG 253 for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


 ENG 353-01(31400) MW 9:15am -10:30am, RZ 304: Tytell

Mid-Twentieth Century and Twenty-First Century U.S. Literature
   

This section of English 353 will focus on the Beat tradition, a projection of our most idealistic aspirations as well as an angry, nightmarish view of our mutual failure to meet such expectations. Many of the profound cultural antagonisms that so debilitate us now began after the Second World War, and the Beats were like kindling for the fires that ensued. We will study major works of poetry and fiction by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs alongside writers such as Judith Malina, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Gary Snyder who continued the activist and experimental agenda of the Beats into the later twentieth century. We’ll also work to situate the Beats within a broader, antecedent tradition of American literature, exploring their connections to earlier writers and thinkers such as William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound and Henry Miller, and emphasizing the historical and political factors that lead to the Beat tradition.  

Note: This course will count as a substitute for ENG 254 for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENG 355-01(31401) Mon 6:40pm -9:30pm, RZ 304: Moreland

African-American Literature II (1930 to the Present)
“I Am Not Your Negro”: African American Culture in the ‘Post-Racial’

In the wake of Barack Obama’s election in 2008, African American culture, perhaps paradoxically, has rediscovered its political/social vision following the quietus flowing from the mid-1970s. In film, popular culture, the plastic arts, and literature, African American creators have been invigorated by the direct actions and political engagements of the last few years to aggressively advance their understandings of the contemporary world and along the way have reconfigured traditional forms. This class will explore some of these gestures and works. Some of the artists we likely will examine are Colson Whitehead, Paul Beatty, Claudia Rankine, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Raoul Peck, Robin Coste Lewis, Patricia Smith, Kiese Laymon, and John Keene.

Note: This course satisfies the Global, ethnic or postcolonial  elective requirement.

This course will count as a substitute for either  ENG 254 or ENG 255 for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENG 363-01(31448) MW 5:00pm -6:15pm, RZ 304: Sedarat

Studies in Global Literatures in English

This course considers contemporary literature from Anglophone regions throughout the world in the genres of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction. As we examine how national and literary histories inform a variety of primary texts, we closely interrogate the response of writers to the influence of global capitalism. Making additional use of postmodern and postcolonial theory, we further consider the hybrid transformations of literature in response to the hegemonic claims of the English tradition.

Note: This course satisfies the Global, ethnic or postcolonial  elective requirement.

This course will count as a substitute for  ENG 255 for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENG 368W-01(31516) MW 3:10pm -4:25pm, KY 416: Cassvan

Irish Writers
Singing Amid Uncertainty: The Poetry of W.B. Yeats

In this course we will explore the work of William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), the greatest twentieth-century poet of the English language. In addition to working through the different periods of his markedly varied fifty-year long poetic career, we will consider Yeats’s prose and his drama in the context of Irish history and culture. We will also focus on the ways in which a number of contemporary trends in literary theory and criticism have informed the interpretation of his work.   

Note: This course satisfies the Global, ethnic or postcolonial  elective requirement.

This course will count as a substitute for  ENG 255,for students who declared their major before Summer 2014.  Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Dr. Andrea Walkden (andrea.walken@qc.cuny.edu) if you require this substitution.


ENG 373-01(31449) MW 9:15am -10:30am, RA 102: Zimroth

British and American Poetry, 1910-1945

The development of poetry in English from 1910 to the end of World War II.  Readings will include poetry by Yeats, Rupert Brooke, Pound, Frost, Eliot, Wallace Stevens, H.D., Langston Hughes, W. C. Williams, Siegfried Sassoon, Marianne Moore, C. Day Lewis, Cummings and Auden. Topics considered will be Modernism (including the pictorial arts, music and dance); translation and the appropriation of foreign cultures; war and its consequences; the rise of fascism and other political ‘isms’; the Harlem Renaissance; the Jazz Age.


ENG 389-01(31451) MW 10:45am -12:00pm, RZ 304: Schechter

Myth and Archetype in Literature

Myth-making is a basic function of the human imagination, and though the images of myth may disguise themselves in new and different forms, they never disappear.  “Myths,” according to the Roman historian Sallust, “are things that never happened but always are.”  We will begin with a discussion of those fundamental patterns of myth which the psychologist C.G. Jung calls “archetypes” and then--by examining classic literature, popular fiction, folklore, and film--see how these timeless and universal patterns appear again and again, giving shape and meaning to imaginative works of every kind.


ENG 391W-01(31520) MW 1:40pm -2:55pm, KY 148: English

Senior Seminar
Elizabeth Bishop and Adrienne Rich: “The Eye of the Outsider”

In the June 1984 issue of Boston Review, Adrienne Rich's “The Eye of the Outsider,” Rich's review of Elizabeth Bishop's The Complete Poems, 1927-1979, suggests the need to read Bishop's “experience of outsiderhood, closely–though not exclusively–linked with the essential outsiderhood of a lesbian identity; and with how the outsider’s eye enables Bishop to perceive other kinds of outsiders and to identify, or try to identify, with them.”  Rich advocates reading Bishop “not only for her language and images, or for her personality within the poems, but for the way she locates herself in the world.”  This course takes up Rich's language as a lens for considering poetry by both Bishop and Rich.  How do these two 20th-century USAmerican poets “locate themselves in the world” as humans, as female-bodied people or as ‘women,’ as lesbians, and how do they explore and articulate such acts of locating ourselves in language, in relation to those identified or categorized as different from us, and in social relations, power and history.

For Bishop, several decades living as an expatriate in Brazil offer rich poetic opportunities to consider location and subjectivity, her own and that of others, in both verse and prose; for Rich, her long-term scrutiny, as both poet and political activist, of social and historical power relations and of how power shapes human experiences and intersects categories of identity and difference generates her deservedly famous--at least within 20th and 21st century USAmerican feminisms and poetics--genre-expanding prose work, “Notes toward a Politics of Location” (1984).  We will read all of the major books of poems by Bishop and many of her prose works, and we will read several major books by Rich, including but not limited to Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963), Diving into the Wreck (1973), The Dream of a Common Language (1978), and Your Native Land, Your Life (1986).  Our focus on poems will be framed by reading prose by both poets and a selection of secondary sources.  Class activities will include lecture/discussions, student-facilitated discussions, and (if time permits) writing workshops.  Students will write two short close-reading interpretive essays (one on a Bishop poem, and one on Rich poem), and a research project, on a self-defined topic developed in dialogue with their teacher and resulting in an Annotated Bibliography of their sources and an essay that develops an interpretation of several poems by Bishop and/or Rich.


ENG 391W-02(31525) MW 10:45am -12:00pm, PH 104: Richter  

Senior Seminar
Arthurian Film

The legend of King Arthur is the pre-eminent medieval story-cycle. The historical Arthur--if he actually existed--lived in southwestern Britain after the fall of the Roman Empire, but this legend flourished internationally starting in the twelfth century, as Arthur's court in Camelot became the focus of narratives about knightly adventure, tragic love, the quest for the transcendent Holy Grail, and the establishment, decline, and fall of the kingdom. The Arthurian narratives were retold in every era, sometimes as an attempt to escape into a simpler time with clearer values, sometimes as an mordant satire on its romantic visions, but each retelling bears the impress of the time of its creation and the ideology of its author. In this seminar we will read selections from both literary texts and theory of adaptation, as a preliminary to exploring the most interesting films that take off from the Arthurian tradition. Films will include Knights of the Round Table (1952), Camelot (1967), Lancelot du Lac (1974), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Perceval (1979), Excalibur (1981), The Woman Next Door (1981),  Parsifal (1982), The Fisher King (1991), Gawain and the Green Knight (1991), The Mists of Avalon (2001), King Arthur (2004), and Tristan and Isolde (2006). Coursework will include posts on a course blog and the senior seminar paper, an original research essay on literary or cultural adaptation, topic chosen by the student.


ENG 391W-03(31526) MW 3:10pm -4:25pm, KY 148: Schaffer

Senior Seminar
Disability Studies and Victorian Fiction

What does it mean to be disabled – or to be ‘able’ or ‘normal’ – and who qualifies for each category? How might ideas of the body and mind have changed over time, determining certain conditions as normative or disabling in different eras? This class will introduce you to the thriving field of disability studies. Disability raises a host of fascinating questions. How much do social attitudes and built environments shape our sense of ability? Why are hearing aids seen as prosthetics while glasses aren’t? Why do we regard highly mediated, enhanced bodies as ‘normal’? And what happens if we see disability as a universal experience that everyone cycles in and out of throughout their lives, rather than an identity limited to a small population? One way we’ll pursue these questions is by exploring fiction from a different time and place, where cognitive, emotional, and bodily configurations have different meanings. We will use The Disability Studies Reader as our textbook, but have case studies from nineteenth-century fiction, which may include Austen’s Persuasion and “Sanditon,” Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Dickens’s Bleak House, Craik’s John Halifax, Gentleman. We’ll be interested to see how these characters regard each others’ mental illness, blindness, cognitive impairment, hypochondria, disfigurement, loss of mobility, and to notice how wildly differently modern people would think of these conditions.


ENG 391W-05(31528) TTH 9:15am -10:30am, KY 325: Warren

Senior Seminar
Law and Literature

In this seminar we will look at two aspects of the question:  the law as literature and the law in literature.  In the first instance, we will read a number of non-fictional discussions focusing on the theory of law as narrative.  In juxtaposition with these readings, we will read a selection of fictional works in American literature where legal issues are foregrounded.  In both cases, we will ask such questions as the following:  Whose story is being told?  How does it fit into a cultural framework?  How would the story differ if it were told from a different perspective?  Fictional works will include readings by such authors as Melville, Glaspell, Stoddard, Twain, Faulkner, Wright, Lee, Gaines, Morrison, Malamud.  Non-fictional readings will include selections from Foucault, Berry, Gewirtz, Ferguson, Delgado.


 ENGL 391W-06(62269) Fri 6:30 PM-9:20 PM, KY 246:  Sirlin         
Senior Seminar

This section of “Topics in Literature” will focus on classic and contemporary Pulitzer Prize-winning American plays and what they reveal about American culture.   We will study the works of both male and female playwrights, revealing themes and approaches common to both genders.    This course will demonstrate the centrality of theater in American culture, discussing in the process how contemporary theater is related to Greek tragedy and the realistic social dramas of the 19th century. We will see a play together on or off-Broadway if possible and view film excerpts of a few of these dramas.   Some of the plays we will cover are Fences, Doubt, A Raisin in the Sun, Streetcar Named Desire, ‘night Mother, How I Learned to Drive, Water by the Spoonful, Disgraced, Sweat, and others.


ENG 399W-01(31521) Tues 6:40pm -9:30pm, KP 708: Orchard

Department Honors Seminar
Bad Romance: Fragments, Heartbreaks, and Other Tales of When Love Is Not Enough

“‘I didn’t think it would turn out this way’ is the secret epitaph of intimacy,” writes the literary critic Lauren Berlant. This is because, when we establish an intimate relationship, we also enter into a shared narrative, one that is defined by predictable conventions and an agreed ending. In literature, this narrative often takes the form of a romance. The conventions of romance are so predictable that one of its best-known variations, the marriage plot, ends at the nuptials, as though the life that follows will proceed the way we imagined. But what about those bad romances, where things don’t turn out as we thought they would? In life, we might think of these as failures, but, as we will explore, they are also places of possibility where we are provided an opportunity to imagine new ways of living in the world and new ways of attaching to others.  In this English Honors Senior Seminar, we will examine this complicated intersection between love, intimacy, and genre, attending to examples where the conventions that bind these three things together begin to unravel. Among the questions we might consider are: What forms beyond the family and the couple can intimacy take? What types of love are revolutionary and emancipatory? And, how do we represent those? What are love’s genres? Although we think of love as eternal, in what ways are its horizons constrained by a historical moment? What does love help us know? When is it better to burn than to last?

Likely reading will include Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse, Charlotte Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Plato’s Symposium, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Phoebe Gloeckner’s Diary of a Teenage Girl, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance, George Meredith’s “Modern Love,” Pauline Hopkins’s One Blood, Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Hanif Kureishi’s Intimacy, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, Alexander Pope’s “Eloisa to Abelard,” John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, and poems by Eduardo Corral, Philip Larkin, Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath, Sappho, and William Shakespeare. Films might include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Stella Dallas, Imitation of Life, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Talk to Her.  We will read a wide range of criticism about love, intimacy, and genre by such writers as Jessica Benjamin, Lauren Berlant, Leo Bersani, Sigmund Freud, Michael Hardt, Rosemary Hennessey, Laura Kipnis, Melanie Klein, Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga, Adam Phillips, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and D. W. Winnicott.


ENG 399W-02(31522) Wed 1:40pm -4:30pm, KP 708: Orchard

Department Honors Seminar
Bad Romance: Fragments, Heartbreaks, and Other Tales of When Love Is Not Enough

“‘I didn’t think it would turn out this way’ is the secret epitaph of intimacy,” writes the literary critic Lauren Berlant. This is because, when we establish an intimate relationship, we also enter into a shared narrative, one that is defined by predictable conventions and an agreed ending. In literature, this narrative often takes the form of a romance. The conventions of romance are so predictable that one of its best-known variations, the marriage plot, ends at the nuptials, as though the life that follows will proceed the way we imagined. But what about those bad romances, where things don’t turn out as we thought they would? In life, we might think of these as failures, but, as we will explore, they are also places of possibility where we are provided an opportunity to imagine new ways of living in the world and new ways of attaching to others.  In this English Honors Senior Seminar, we will examine this complicated intersection between love, intimacy, and genre, attending to examples where the conventions that bind these three things together begin to unravel. Among the questions we might consider are: What forms beyond the family and the couple can intimacy take? What types of love are revolutionary and emancipatory? And, how do we represent those? What are love’s genres? Although we think of love as eternal, in what ways are its horizons constrained by a historical moment? What does love help us know? When is it better to burn than to last?

Likely reading will include Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse, Charlotte Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Plato’s Symposium, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Phoebe Gloeckner’s Diary of a Teenage Girl, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance, George Meredith’s “Modern Love,” Pauline Hopkins’s One Blood, Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Hanif Kureishi’s Intimacy, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, Alexander Pope’s “Eloisa to Abelard,” John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, and poems by Eduardo Corral, Philip Larkin, Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath, Sappho, and William Shakespeare. Films might include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Stella Dallas, Imitation of Life, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Talk to Her.  We will read a wide range of criticism about love, intimacy, and genre by such writers as Jessica Benjamin, Lauren Berlant, Leo Bersani, Sigmund Freud, Michael Hardt, Rosemary Hennessey, Laura Kipnis, Melanie Klein, Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga, Adam Phillips, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and D. W. Winnicott.


ENG 791-01(31472): Orchard


ENG 793-01(31473) Tues 10:05am -11:55am, KP 708: Williams


ENG 795-01(31477): Orchard