Spring 2014 – English Department Courses

Seminar in the Major: Required for students who declared the major prior to Fall 2013.

ENG 300-A.    Seminar in the Major: “Jane Austen + Literary and Cultural Theory” 

Professor Jessica Richard

WF 9:30-10:45        (15375)

This course will examine the history of literary and cultural theory and use 3 novels by Jane Austen as case studies for its practice. This is an especially apt pairing since the academic study of Austen’s work began in the early twentieth century just as the modern era of literary and cultural theory was beginning and the ensuing history of Austen criticism reflects the history of literary and cultural theory. We will read Peter Barry’s Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory together with Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma (and we will study some film adaptations of the novels). As we learn about the various developments in ways of reading texts and culture, we will test them on Austen’s novels. Students will be required to write three papers (including a research paper) and to research and make class presentations on critical articles. Vigorous participation in class discussion is essential.

ENG 300-B.    Seminar in the Major: Critical Approaches to the Fiction of William Faulkner
Professor William Moss

TR 9:30-10:45        (14337)

Texts: The Unvanquished; The Sound and the Fury; As I Lay Dying; Light in August; Absalom, Absalom!; Go Down, Moses.

This seminar will emphasize close readings of the texts, as well as various critical approaches, from traditional to contemporary. Requirements: active participation in discussions, written and oral reports and responses, term paper.

ENG 302c-A.    Dreamers, Dissenters, and the American Dream         Professor Rian Bowie

WF 9:30-10:45        (19636)

In 1967, Martin Luther King penned Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community, his prophetic text on economic and social justice in the United States.  A prelude to his People’s Campaign, this text outlined King’s vision for a better, more inclusive America, one that would not be weighed down by legal, racial, or class-based feuds but lifted up by the cause of human rights.  It is important to note that King’s ideas, though prophetic, were part of a history of African American political and literary thought. In this course, we will examine the rhetorical trajectory of the Dream and dreamers in twentieth-century African American literature. This course will place in conversation a variety of fiction and non-fiction works that have been a part of African-American (and American) cultural life.  Beyond a study of rhetorical strategies and designs, we will examine ways that a diverse body of writers wrestled over the idea of the Dream and its fulfillment. Taking the longer view of African American literature, we will trace the then and now of race and nationhood in these works, and by the end, ask the crucial question of “where do we go from here?”  (Group III / American)

ENG 302c-B.       Reading Illness Narratives: Clinical and Literary Perspectives

Professors Mary DeShazer and Richard McQuellon

W 6:00-8:00pm         (19639)

How have modern writers represented the “kingdom of the sick”? In this course we will examine literature and films that probe the experience of living with (and sometimes dying of) a serious illness. From our perspectives as a literary scholar and a psychosocial oncologist, the professors will invite students to consider what people with life-threatening illness reveal in memoirs, how fictional, poetic, and theatrical representations of illness operate, and what literary and visual techniques artists use in creating narratives about illness. Students will also examine what these writers and filmmakers teach us about living close to death, how race and gender affect the themes and strategies of illness narratives, and how assigned texts depict the art of empathy and caregiving.

The class will be discussion oriented but will include lectures, student presentations, guest speakers, and a visit to the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the WFU School of Medicine. Students will write a 6-page critical essay, a 12-page final research paper, and several short response papers; there will also be a midterm exam.

Assigned literary texts:

Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill

Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor

Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals

Paul Monette, Borrowed Time

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Margaret Edson, Wit 

Carole Maso, Ava

Amy Boesky, What We Have

We will also read poems about illness by Mary Oliver, Donald Hall, Lucille Clifton, and others (a different poem will be discussed each week); essays by Carson McCullers (“A Clock Without Hands”) and Anatole Broyard (“Intoxicated by My Illness”); chapters from R.P. McQuellon and M.A. Cowan, The Art of Conversation Through Serious Illness and from M. DeShazer, Fractured Borders and Mammographies; and several articles from medical and feminist journals.

Assigned films will include Wit, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Away from Her, and Philadelphia (feature films) as well as several documentaries on living with illness. (Group III / Elective)

ENG 302h-A.  Sublime is Now: History of the Aesthetic                Professor Jeff Holdridge

TR 9:30-10:45 (19637)

The sublime dates back to ancient times, but the emergence of the sublime as an important category of the aesthetic in the eighteenth century can be said to signal the emergence of at least one part of modern consciousness. The sublime is often seen as a way out of skepticism or a way into it; that is, it is either cited as proof of the transcendental or as evidence that sensory or psychological experience forms the limits of our understanding.  When the sublime was first defined at the height of the Enlightenment it was viewed as an elevated form of the beautiful; with the increasing importance of Edmund Burke’s Enquiry, however, we see that the sublime is based in terror, in the revolt of the irrational.  We will read Burke and Immanuel Kant as well as critical overviews of the subject in order to understand the difference between the rhetorical sublime, the natural sublime, among others. We will then discuss the famous Romantic formulations, consider the developments in the nineteenth century, and then debate modernist and postmodernist philosophical and artistic responses. Though the emphasis will be on aesthetic philosophy and literature, we will endeavor to include parallel developments in other forms of art. (Group II / Elective)        

ENG 302h-B.  Literature of the Encounter                                Professor Sarah Hogan

MW 12:30-1:45        (19638)

The European “discovery” of the “New World” was an epoch-making, cataclysmic moment in world history when Western societies confronted (sometimes with curiosity, sometimes with horrific violence) the reality of other ways of being in the world. It was also a moment when evidence of the previously unknown fueled increasing interest in science and humanity, and when national identities formed and hardened over contests for land. Between 1492-1800, the period often referred to as “early modernity,” explorers brought the New World home in the form of journal entries, narrative reports, and visual sketches or maps of the Americas, whetting more than just the nation’s imperial ambition; they also inspired armchair explorers—writers who never left their homeland—to produce fictive accounts of the new and alien world.  This class will be concerned with the theme of contact and encounter in the literature from this time period, and will specifically examine the important role writing played in the history of European exploration and British expansionism.  We will mainly examine three types of texts situated in the Atlantic encounter: “factual” reports by English mariners, explorers, and colonists from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (which often reveal themselves to be rather mythical and marvelous); poetic and fictional works that take the Americas (or in the case of Spenser, colonial Ireland) as setting or its people as characters; and literary and autobiographical works that represent the English slave trade. Particular concern throughout the semester will be devoted to examining the varying ways in which writers used fiction and poetry to provoke a radical sense of wonder in readers and/or to claim dominion over the newly discovered peoples and territories of the New World. Some selections of secondary criticism, critical theory and historical studies will help us in this task.

Primary texts will include Mandeville’s Travels, Thomas More’s Utopia, Book Five from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative, excerpts from Sir Walter Raleigh’s The Discovery of Guiana and Thomas Hariot’s Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, along with shorter poetry by John Donne, Michael Drayton, John Milton, and Anne Bradstreet. This course fulfills a pre-1800 British literature requirement.

(Group II / Pre-1800)

ENG 305.         Old English Language and Literature                        Professor Gillian Overing

TR 12:30-1:45        (19640)

Hwæt!  A study of language, literature and culture in the Anglo-Saxon period (600-1100). The course aims at a basic sight reading knowledge of Old English, though we will also read in translation. Texts include Beowulf, selected Old English poetry, and prose selections from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede's Ecclesiastical History.  (Meets Pre-1800 literature requirement)

ENG 306.         Modern English Grammar                                 Professor Zak Lancaster

WF 11:00-12:15 (18618)

“Modern English Grammar” offers a fun, rigorous exploration of how English grammar works. Based in a linguistics approach to grammar study, the course invites students to expand their knowledge about English grammar (and language more generally) while critically exploring such fraught issues as grammatical change and variation, the origins and effects of grammar prescriptions, the place of grammar instruction in education, and the politics of language authority. Class discussions, short assignments, and longer projects invite critical reflection on the following questions:

The course requires frequent homework practice and short papers. No background in linguistics is required, but a genuine interest in the details of language is strongly recommended. This section of ENG 306 will count in the linguistics minor.  

Required Texts

•        Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects (7th Edition), Martha J. Kolln and Loretta Gray

•        When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse (2007), by Ben Yagoda

•        The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left (2006), by David Crystal

(Elective in the Major)

ENG 312.         Medieval Poetry                                        Professor Gale Sigal

TR 3:30-4:45 (18422)

Medieval poetry began to flourish along with the evolution of the western European vernacular languages. This poetry is often witty, sometimes bawdy, occasionally shocking, at times moving, and frequently fantastical. It is the well from which the great masterpieces of our literature springs. In this course we will delve into the roots of English poetry, sampling the popular legends of the time, discovering the plight of the courtly lover, meeting the magical characters that people the legends of King Arthur and traveling with Chaucer’s pilgrims on the road to Canterbury. On our journey, we will explore the origin and development of poetic genres, lyric forms and narrative styles of medieval literature, especially but not exclusively, poetry in Middle English. A translation project (from Middle to Modern English) will provide students with the opportunity not only for close reading but also to create their own updated versions of particular passages or works.  (Group I / Pre-1800)

ENG 323.         Shakespeare                                                Professor Susan Harlan

MW 12:30-1:45 (18420)

We will read the plays and poems from Shakespeare’s career as chief dramatist for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and, later, the King’s Men. Our classes will involve close analysis of Shakespeare’s language, his culture, and the various moral, political and aesthetic issues raised in the plays and poetry. We will favor thematic over chronological order so that we can build on our progressive examination of the representation of friendship and family, revenge and violence, gender, and the racial and religious Other, among other topics. We will place particular emphasis on the examination of kingship, war, and national history (both English and Roman). This course will also introduce you to the material conditions of the early modern English theater. We will incorporate a series of documents – including printed play-texts, anti-theatrical tracts, excerpts from Henslowe’s Diary, maps of London, portraits, and illustrations and accounts of performances – into our analysis. Finally, we will reflect on the “afterlife” of the plays; to this end, we will engage with films, television shows, and other non-literary materials that adapt Shakespearean drama.

Required texts: The Necessary Shakespeare, ed. David Bevington and The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare, ed. Russ McDonald. Writing requirement: three essays (one with outside research) and occasional response papers.  Active class participation is also required. (Group IV / Shakespeare/Pre-1800)

ENG 326-A.        Studies in English Renaissance Literature— Elizabethan-Jacobean Drama 

Professor Olga Valbuena

MW 2:00-3:15        (19159)

Even at his most skeptical, Shakespeare’s “public manners” will seem polite to you compared to the playwrights whose works we’ll read this semester.  The Reformation and Elizabeth I’s death in 1603 aggravated an ongoing crisis of faith that tensions with the Catholic world only deepened as the sixteenth century came to a close.  While more casual playgoers continued to enjoy the public theaters, bolder viewers came ready to pay for more unsettling entertainment—and that’s what they got.  In the period 1576 to 1642, from the opening of the aptly named site, “The Theatre,” to the closing of all London venues during the Civil War, England produced many a disaffected citizen that Jacobean playwrights, especially those working in the private theaters, recognized as their target audience.  We’ll read plays whose domestic and foreign (mostly Catholic) settings provide the stage for examination of comic cuckolds, avaricious and unscrupulous merchants, tyrannical kings and husbands, and women victimized by other women and predatory men.  Indeed, the late Elizabethan and Jacobean stage found a place even for incestuous siblings and the devil himself.  Texts: The Routledge Anthology of Renaissance Drama and up to three other classics not included in this anthology.  Student presentations and dramatic readings, response papers, two formal essays.   (Group II / Pre-1800)

ENG 326-B.   Studies in English Renaissance Literature: Portraits in Renaissance Painting and Literature.

Professor Herman Rapaport

TR 12:30-1:45        (19641)

This course will examine the parallels of literature and painting in the Renaissance by considering portraits and self-portraits of major Renaissance painters, among them Da Vinci, Titian, Holbein, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Poussin, de la Tour, and major literary writers, among them, Michel de Montaigne, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, Ben Jonson, and Robert Burton. What do literature and painting share in terms of how portraits are constructed in terms of sincerity, distance, self-awareness, symbolism, social standing, audience, place, gender, and individual status? We will study Holbein’s portraits in light of their props: the symbolic objects that give the portrait contextual meaning, a practice of Germanic and Netherlandish painting that emphasizes looking as “reading.” In Vermeer and de la Tour we’ll study relations of contemplation, mirroring, and viewing, and in Rembrandt the self-portrait as autobiography. We will also study various of Shakespeare’s character portraits and soliloquies, as well as self-portraiture in Montaigne, allegorical characterization in Spenser and emblem books, and the literary depiction of character types. The course begins with an art historical text that presents a general overview of portraiture; this will provide us with the necessary tools for analysis. Two papers of about 8 to 10 pages each are assigned and there will be occasional in class exercises. (Group II / Pre-1800)

ENG 327:         Milton                                                         Professor Herman Rapaport

TR 2:00-3:15        (16437)

The course examines major and minor texts by Milton with an emphasis on the whole of Paradise Lost. Major issues problematized by Milton scholars are considered. Given that Milton is such an enormous cultural watershed—he’s a whole education in and of himself—a course on Milton is an invaluable part of the English major. This course should be of interest to students who have taken Seventeenth Century British Literature, as that provides much of the background needed to situate Milton historically and aesthetically.

(Group IV / Pre-1800)

ENG 340.        Mothers and Daughters                                Professor Mary DeShazer

TR 12:30-1:45        (19642)

In this course we will examine the complexities of motherhood and mother-daughter relationships for contemporary women across cultures.  After an introductory week, the class will be divided into two sections: (1) Multicultural U.S. representations of mothers and daughters in fiction, poetry, and theory—here we will explore mother-daughter symbiosis, feminist theories about mothering, and themes of anger, ambivalence, and affirmation; (2) Maternal desire and the politicization of motherhood—here we will examine the psychological and political landscapes in which women mother. This class meets the requirement for the English major/minor and the WGS major/minor.

TEXTS:  Edwidge Danticat, BREATH, EYES, MEMORY


           Toni Morrison, BELOVED

           Amy Tan, THE JOY LUCK CLUB

           Joan Blades & Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, THE MOTHERHOOD MANIFESTO

           Daphne deMarneffe, MATERNAL DESIRE

   Readings to be posted on Sakai: feminist theories of motherhood, poems about

        mothering, maternal politics in the Global South

   Required Films: “Sylvia,” “Beloved,” “The Joy Luck Club”

REQUIREMENTS: A six-page analytical essay, a twelve-page final research paper, group and individual presentations, and a midterm exam.  (Group III / Elective)

ENG 350.         British Romantic Poets                                Professor Eric Wilson

TR 12:30-1:45        (19347)

We’ll study the poetry and related prose of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats.  Here are some of the texts we’ll read.

Blake:                The Book of Thel

                Visions of the Daughter of Albion

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Songs of Innocence and Experience


Wordsworth:        “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”

“Preface to Lyrical Ballads

“Ode: Intimations on Immortality”

The Prelude (selections)

The Recluse (selections)

“Resolution and Independence”

“Elegiac Stanzas”

Coleridge:        “This Limetree Bower My Prison”

                “The Nightingale”

 “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

“Kubla Khan”


“Dejection: An Ode”

Biographia Literaria (selections)

Byron:                “Prometheus”


Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (selections)

Don Juan (selections)


Shelley:                “Mont Blanc”

“Hymn to Intellectual Beauty”

 “Ode to the West Wind”

Prometheus Unbound

“On Life”

“On Love”

“Defense of Poetry”

Keats:                “The Eve of St. Agnes”

Fall of Hyperion: A Dream 

Hyperion:         “Bright Star”

“Ode on a Grecian Urn”

“Ode to Melancholy”

“Ode to a Nightingale”

“Ode to Psyche”

 “To Autumn”

(Group II / Elective)

ENG 359g.        Innovation and Responsibility in Contemporary Anglophone Poetry

Professor Omar Hena

WF 11:00-12:15         (19715)

This course explores how contemporary world poets have negotiated the precarious balance between the demands of poetic innovation -- making it new - and the renewed call to ethical-political responsibility, in the aftermath of British colonialism and the onset of globalization. We will read poetry published in English over the past forty years, spanning Ireland, the Caribbean, South Africa, South Asia, and Britain. In particular, we will explore the ways in which poets have experimented with the English language to confront and re-shape numerous upheavals of global modernity, including political violence, colonialism, ethnic migration, identity creation, and the vast inequalities of global capitalism. Ultimately, this course will introduce students to the sheer proliferation of "Englishes" as the language travels, all the while asking how world Anglophone poets renew the relevance of the art form to enrich and estrange how we understand the complexity of our new, and historically familiar, global realities. We will likely read poetry by Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, M. NourbeSe Philip, Ingrid de Kok, Rustum Kozain, A.K. Ramanujan, Agha Shahid Ali, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Bernardine Evaristo. We will also engage with relevant secondary criticism on the poetry and dip into recent work on global literary studies. Students will write two papers, conduct an in-class presentation, and write a longer critical paper.  (Group I / Elective)

ENG 360.         The Global Victorian                                        Professor Melissa Jenkins

MWF 11:00-11:50 (19376)

A change has taken place in the human mind; a change which, being effected by insensible gradations, and without noise, had already proceeded far before it was generally perceived.  When the fact disclosed itself, thousands awoke as from a dream.  They knew not what processes had been going on in the minds of others, or even in their own, until the change began to invade outward objects; and it became clear that those were indeed new men, who insisted upon being governed in a new way.

        -John Stuart Mill, “The Spirit of the Age” (1831).

Jane Austen is famous for her self-deprecating description of “the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work,” but critics have since noticed how novels such as Mansfield Park and Persuasion participate much more fully in global imaginings.  This course picks up where Austen left off; the Victorian writers who inherit her attention to minute domestic details also inherit her attention to Britain’s place in an increasingly interconnected world.  Students in this course will closely examine poetry, fiction (short and long), and non-fiction prose that wrestles with the fraying borders of an increasingly small island.  Topics will include the transformation of the Victorian economy, immigration, technologies of travel, and social movements related to property, religion, marriage, and race.  Authors include Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Carlyle, Edward FitzGerald, Anthony Trollope, Matthew Arnold, Harriet Martineau, George Eliot and H. Rider Haggard.  

Students will write two formal essays, take an in-class midterm, and sit for a final, open-book essay exam.  This is a workshop-based discussion class rather than a lecture course; thus, participation in course discussion is essential.  In our analysis of the readings and our work with each other’s writing, we will focus on process.  Students will be expected to submit both a rough draft and a revision of each formal essay. (Group III / Elective)

ENG 366.                          James Joyce                              Professor Scott Klein

WF 9:30-10:45     (16441)

Critical readings of the major works of Joyce: Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and excerpts from Finnegans Wake. Emphasis upon the development of Joyce's art. Understanding his work as an evolving struggle against the various authorities embodied by family, religion, Irish politics, cultural and literary history, language. One 5-7 page paper on the earlier works, one 7-10 page paper on Ulysses, midterm, final exam. (Group IV / Elective)

ENG 387.                African American Fiction                                Professor Erica Still

TR 9:30-10:45        (19377)

This course will examine the nature of black masculinity as represented in contemporary African American literature. What constitutes Black manhood? What threatens it? How does gender intersect with race, class, and sexuality to shape identity? How do literary representations of Black masculinity work to limit or enable particular identity performances in the” real world”? We will engage such questions as we consider the role of literature in creating, sustaining, and questioning cultural understandings of “the black man.” Careful reading and class participation will be essential for success in the course.

Possible reading will include (subject to change):

Ernest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men; Walter Mosley, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned; Michael Thomas, Man Gone Down; Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon; Randall Kenan, A Visitation of Spirits; John Edgar Wideman, Brothers and Keepers; James Alan McPherson, Elbow Room; Excerpts from Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Malcolm X. (Group III / American)

ENG 388.                         Honors in English                                        Professor Olga Valbuena  

W 3:30-4:30        (15030)

Open only to Senior English majors who meet the requirements for ENG 388, and who have worked with Professor Valbuena in Fall 2013.  (Elective)

ENG 395.                         Contemporary American Literature                        Professor James Hans

TR 12:30-1:45        (16444)

This course will appraise the works of various contemporary American novelists and poets: William Gaddis, John Barth, William Gass, Walter Abish, Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Maxine Kumin, Louise Gluck, Galway Kinnell, Philip Levine, W. S. Merwin,  A. R. Ammons.  (Group I / American)

WRI 392/ JOU 284. Magazine Writing                                                             Professor Mary Niepold

TR 9:30-10:45 (10807)


An advanced feature writing course designed to evaluate, discuss and practice the skills needed to produce magazine stories for publication. Students are encouraged to write creatively and often, specif­ically for print media. The focus is on clear writing with substance, personality and a point of view.  Magazine pieces are crafted for specific readerships. (Elective)

Creative Writing Courses

CRW 285-A.         Poetry Workshop                                            Professor Elisabeth Whitehead

WF 2:00-3:15        (19390)

“To discover the mode of life or of art whereby your spirit could express itself in unfettered freedom.”  --James Joyce

An immersion into the writing and reading of poetry, this class will function as both a seminar and a workshop.  In our readings and discussions, we will begin to explore the richness of textures and multiplicity of voices working today in contemporary poetry.  In addition to close readings of established poets, we will also engage in respectful and thoughtful conversation of each other’s works.  Because writing is usually a solitary act, this will be a chance to rejoin through community.  Exercises and experiments in writing will be conducted with an eye to “unfetter,” to help you explore a variety of styles and practices that might be best suited to your own individuality.  Show up with a willingness to delve into the uniqueness of your own voice and support others who are doing the same.  We will hopefully be left with new ways of seeing the poem and the means to keep moving ahead as writers.     

CRW 286-A.        Short Story Workshop                         Professor Amy Catanzano

Thurs 2:00-4:30        (19392)

This beginning short story workshop introduces students to the craft of traditional and experimental narrative writing as well as to the hybrid spaces between narrative approaches where storytelling meets metafiction, surrealist play, poetry, the lyric essay, and other permeable formal boundaries. We cover literary elements such as point-of-view, structure, tone, characterization, pacing, plot, etc. from a diverse range of perspectives and aesthetics. Students critique the writing of their peers and offer critiques in the workshop portion of the course. They also attend at least one literary reading outside of class time and become familiar with contemporary print and electronic literary journals. Students read contemporary short fiction, discuss what other writers say about the craft of writing fiction, write exercises to strengthen their investigations of craft, and write two short stories or a series of linked, short narrative works (10-12 pages each on average). A celebratory reading of student work takes place at the end of the semester. Course materials (subject to change) may include ParaSpheres: Fabulist and New Wave Fabulist Stories (Omnidawn, 2006), 30 Under 30: An Anthology of Innovative Fiction by Younger Writers (Starcherone Books, 2011), and work by Ben Marcus, Renee Gladman, Kate Bernheimer, Johannes Göransson, Sina Queyras, and Bhanu Kapil, among others.

CRW 383-A.        Theory and Practice of Poetry Writing                Professor Amy Catanzano

Tues 2:00-4:30        (19391)


This course is an advanced poetry workshop, building on methods explored in the beginning poetry workshop. Students critique the writing of their peers and offer critiques in the workshop portion of the course. Students read contemporary poetry, experiment with a range of approaches to writing poetry, and go further in the study of poetry writing by responding to current trends in poetry and literary theories on poetics. Students engage in writing exercises and present on the assigned course materials. They also attend at least one literary reading outside of class time and become familiar with contemporary print and electronic literary journals. In a chapbook-making session, students bind copies of their final manuscript, which consists of revised poetry (25 to 30 pages on average) accompanied by a 3 to 5 page critical introduction, in an edition to share with family, friends, and others. A celebratory reading of student work takes place at the end of the semester. Course materials (subject to change) may include work by Amaranth Borsuk, Mathew Timmons, Rae Armantrout, M. NourbeSe Philip, Michael Palmer, Tina Brown Celona, Lyn Hejinian, Christian Bök, a. rawlings, Nathaniel Mackey, Jerome Rothenberg, George Quasha, Laura Mullen, Shanxing Wang, and Geof Huth, among others. Supplementary materials provided include audio files of poetry readings from PennSound and UbuWeb’s Visual Poetry section, edited by Derek Beaulieu.  Pre-req: CRW 285 or POI. (Elective in English major)

CRW 397-A.        Creative Non-Fiction                                 Professor Eric Wilson

Thurs 3:30-6:00         (19394)

In this writing-intensive course, we will explore the practice and theory of creative nonfiction.  This genre encompasses memoir, the personal essay, literary journalism, travel writing, and science writing.  Works of creative nonfiction differ from fiction in that they aspire to be faithful to fact, whether subjective or objective; and they diverge from most nonfiction—such as traditional journalism and academic writing—insofar as they are self-consciously literary, attuned to issues like plot, character development, symbolism,  and style.  Creative nonfiction attempts to report accurately as well as aesthetically.  


Through weekly writing workshops and discussions of appropriate texts, we will improve our skills as writers of creative nonfiction, enhance our critical reading abilities, and learn about the nature of creative nonfiction and its subgenres.


Joan Didion, White Album (FSG Classics)

Phillip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay (Anchor)

Dinty W. Moore, Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative

             Non-Fiction (Reader’s Digest Books)

(Elective in English major)

CRW 398-A.         Advanced Fiction Writing                         Professor Aimee Mepham

W 3:30-6:00        (19393)

“The type of mind that can understand good fiction is not necessarily the educated mind, but it is at all times the kind of mind that is willing to have its sense of mystery deepened by contact with reality, and its sense of reality deepened by contact with mystery.”  ― Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

This writing-intensive course explores the intersections of reality and mystery in short fiction that Flannery O’Connor identifies through reading contemporary texts, experimenting with writing exercises, and developing critical reading skills in weekly workshop discussions. Advanced Fiction Writing builds on the preliminary discussion of the short story opened in the beginning fiction workshop. Our conversations will continue to examine the elements of fiction (point of view, character, conflict, plot, setting), but students will be asked to further challenge themselves as writers, to break away from comfortable writing styles, to consider new voices, and to delve deeper into the mystery of the creative process. Pre-Req: CRW 286 or POI.  (Elective in English major)