Department of English -- Core Courses – Spring 2014

These courses satisfy the division II requirement and are open to all students who have passed or were exempt from English 111.

NOTE: PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH MAJORS should register for ENG 265 or 266, 

the gateway courses to the English major.

See ENG 265 and 266 descriptions at the bottom of this list.

150. Literature Interprets the World: Introduction to ways literary artists shape experience, focusing on one topic or selected topics.

Casting Shadows: Gothic Fiction

150-A. MWF 8:00-8:50 (14401)               Prof. Adrian Greene

150-B. MWF 9:00-9:50 (14402)                   Prof. Adrian Greene

150-C. MWF 10:00-10:50 (14403)         Prof. Adrian Greene

Transcendentalism was inherently optimistic, believing in a natural world through which an immanent God flowed; however, a dark backlash reacted against this American philosophical movement: Gothic fiction, which was pessimistic and in which torture, addiction, and obsession roiled. In this course, we are intrigued by the various modes of Gothic fiction, how they made their ways to American shores, and what forms they took upon arrival. We will investigate texts that present the Gothic as a form of architecture, as a genre linked to a particular setting (usually dark and brooding), and, perhaps most terrifying, as a state of mind, influenced by personal history, biology, religion, and/or violent capitalist institutions. As we review these different modes, we will consider the influence of earlier Gothic works on later counterparts and how those counterparts changed (or refused to change) the Gothic for new audiences of differing cultures. Finally, we will ponder whether Gothic fiction is designed simply to frighten us or whether it has a deeper meaning: to encourage us to look beyond the given.

Readings may include:

Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (1764)

Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland (1798)

E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Tales of Hoffmann (1819)

Edgar Allan Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838)

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (1847)

Herman Melville, “Bartleby the Scrivener” (1853)

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955)

Horacio Quiroga, “The Feather Pillow” (1907)

Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

Science Fiction(s)

150-D. MWF 1:00-1:50 (16621)                Prof. Melissa Jenkins

150-E. MWF 2:00-2:50 (14405)                Prof. Melissa Jenkins

Well before the most well-known twenty-first century forms of science fiction, writers were using literature to imagine what human ingenuity brings into being.  The results – which were sometimes miraculous and sometimes monstrous – continue to provide insight into the cultures that created them.  This course surveys British and American texts that investigate how literature helps societies engage with the improbable and the possible.  Over the course of the semester, we will ask, how does the collapsing of time in these texts allow authors to participate in collective cultural reimagining?  How are “science fictions” gendered?  What is useful about examining real social problems (from slavery, to spirituality, to war, to the ethical implications of stem-cell research) in such fantastical settings?  Authors include Edward Bulwer-Lytton, H.G. Wells, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Kazuo Ishiguro.  

This is a writing-intensive, 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 invited to submit drafts and revisions of formal essays.  

Literature Interprets the World; Trauma: Before, During, After
150-F. MW 2:00-3:15 (14406)                Prof. Dean Franco
In this course we will read literary representations and explorations of the idea of “trauma,” a word that comes from the Greek word for “wound.” Unlike a physical wound, a psychological trauma may be understood as a missed experience:  the traumatic experience is too severe for language and is consequently incomprehensible to the one who suffers it.  If so, then how to tell the story of trauma?  Trauma is commonly understood as an affliction suffered by individuals. However, the question of narrating trauma becomes even more complicated, urgent, and interesting when we consider historical and cultural trauma—the wound of history experienced by cultures or nations.  

We will study the work of authors who use literary form—narrative structure, style, and voice—to narrate or depict the moments before, during, and after trauma.  Our first group of texts depicts the dreadful moments preceding traumatic experience; others represent the difficulty of locating personal or individual experience amid historical catastrophe.  At the end of the semester we will read texts about the aftermath of cultural rupture and trauma—stories of mourning and reparation. Along the way we will consider how narrative and performance depict trauma, the (im)possibility of literature for cultural healing or reparation, and the ethical relation of the reader to the texts.  

Students will write essays, reading responses, and give an in-class presentation. 

Assigned reading (may change):

Sophocles:  Oedipus Rex

Chinua Achebe: Things Fall apart

Aharon Applefeld:  Bandenheim 1939

Edwidge Danticat:  The Farming of Bones

Alejandro Morales:  The Rag Doll Plagues

J.M. Coetze:  Disgrace

Philip Roth:  The Ghost Writer

Toni Morrison:  Beloved

“Recommended Reading”

150-G. TR 12:30-1:45 (15492)                Prof. Erica Still

 “You should really read this book!” Ever heard these words? Maybe you’ve even said them yourself. Whether you read everything you can get your hands on or as little as possible while still earning a degree, you probably could name at least 10 books you feel you really ought to read sometime. In this course, we’ll explore that feeling of “ought to” when it comes to reading: why are some people so eager to make recommendations about books? Who gets to determine what makes for a literary masterpiece? How do we know what educated people are expected to read? If a book is popular, is it good? Why require literature courses at all? We will attempt to answer such questions, along with examining ideas about community, consumerism, and cultural exchange, as we read texts representing a cross-section of “recommended reading.” Reading selections will be drawn from bestseller lists, award-winning texts, book club selections, review columns, etc. 

Life and Literature about New Orleans in the Post-Katrina Era

150-H. WF 11:00-12:15 (15493)                Prof. Rian Bowie

150-I. WF 12:30-1:45 (15494)                Prof. Rian Bowie

In this course, we will examine a variety of visual, cinematic, and textual mediums that have showcased the essence of New Orleans prior to and after the terrible storm that ravaged the city.  The events of Katrina exposed an on-going perpetuation of class divisions. The city known as the “Big Easy” seemed to be on the verge of collapse before the storm; the pressures of everyday life, which in the history of New Orleans had never been “easy,” seemed insurmountable.  School systems and parishes, on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse before the storm, now relied on the resilience of the returning community for their revitalization.  In this course, we will begin by focusing on the culture of New Orleans before the storm. Through literature, music, and photography, we will examine the city’s rich diversity and its complex race relations. In the aftermath, we will interrogate ways that writers articulated what it meant to learn that they were refugees in their homeland. We will locate some ways that writers and artists have kept alive the city before and after the natural and man-made events that occurred.  We will also ask key questions about what our community response should be to this, or any other, city struggling to survive in the face of poverty and neglect.  By the end of the course, we will also enter into a discussion about the implications of the Gulf oil spill on a city in the process of rebuilding.

Texts May Include:

Codrescu, Andrei New Orleans, Mon Amour (memoir)

Rose, Chris 1 Dead in the Attic (memoir)

Eggers, David Zeitoun (memoir)

Ward, Jerry Katrina Papers (memoir)

Gabbin, Joanne Mourning Katrina, (poetry)

Walker, Rob Letters from New Orleans (memoir)

Neufeld, Josh A.D.  New Orleans (Graphic Novel)

Assignments:  Three 4-5 page papers, a memory book, short response papers, a 3-5 page proposal for social action/activism

165. Studies in British Literature: Emphasis on important writers representing different periods and genres; primarily discussion; writing intensive.

Public Spaces/Private Lives: Homes, Houses, and Hotels in British Literature
165-A. MWF 10:00-10:50 (14407)                Randi Saloman
165-B. MWF 11:00-11:50 (14408)                Randi Saloman

In this course we will conduct a broad survey of the representation of domestic spaces—and public and private identities—in the works of 7 major British writers: Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, W.B Yeats, E.M. Forster, Arnold Bennett, and Virginia Woolf. As we read these works, we will engage with questions of individual identity, family relations, and the delicate balance between private lives and public representations. How are characters defined—and how do they define themselves—in relation to their material surroundings? Do these dynamics change significantly over time? How do these authors define domestic or private life—or understand individual consciousness?  Is it (or can it be) entirely separate from the public sphere?  How do we understand the domestic spaces of King Lear’s castles? What happens when the houses of 18th- and 19th-Century works become the hotels of 20th-Century literature? 

Readings may include:

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (Broadview)

Arnold Bennett, The Grand Babylon Hotel

E.M. Forster, A Room With a View, Howards End (Signet)

Shakespeare, King Lear (Folger Library)

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (Norton)

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (Harcourt)

W.B. Yeats, Selected Poems (Scribner)

Class and Community in British Literature 

165-C. MW 2:00-3:15 (14409)                Prof. Sarah Hogan

In the US we have a general tendency to view class as a fluid category of identity, or one that is at least to some degree indeterminate and impermanent because it can ostensibly be escaped through hard work and merit. The English, however, have historically had both a more rigid class system and a stronger, more acute sense of class consciousness. Consequently, in the literature of England—across forms and periods—class is an animating feature of language, character identity, and narrative conflict, and indeed, class interests have long found expression in cultural forms (think of traditions like courtly love poetry or the populist theatre of Shakespeare).  In fact, one might even say that overt tensions or cultural differences between the rich and the poor are a central, nearly universal trait of British literature, though the nature of these conflicts and differences is historically specific and, crucially, shaped by categories of identity like race, gender, and sexuality.  This course will consider the ways in which British literature—from Chaucer’s estates satire in The Canterbury Tales to the portrait of an aristocracy and empire on the wane in Downton Abbey—represents and reshapes the plurality of experiences, the terms of community, and the social antagonisms that have historically defined the lives of British subjects. Our thematic inquiry into the relationship between culture and society will help focus our discussions, then, since the course will primarily provide an introduction to British literature from the late-medieval period through the modern day. In addition to reading some poems and essays, we’ll read and interpret longer works like Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Charles Dickens’s Hard Times, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, and Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia. Strong emphasis will be placed on developing student writing and critical reading skills, so expect analytical writing—short and long—to be the main means of assessment.

Studies in British Literature: Growing Up: An Epic Adventure

165-D. TR 9:30-10:45 (14410)                Prof. Claudia Kairoff

165-F. TR 12:30-1:45 (14412)                Prof. Claudia Kairoff

In this course we will read texts, by seven British writers spanning several centuries and genres, grouped loosely around the theme of “growing up.” We will study how writers over the past four hundred years have envisioned the maturation process, and how individual maturation relates to larger historical processes. How does the concept of maturity change over the centuries? How is it envisioned in different genres? For men and women? Through this broad lens we will familiarize ourselves with the development, scope, and flexibility of British literature, while thinking about the relationship between epic form and the growth from childhood to maturity. The course will require four (5-page) essays in addition to class attendance and participation.


Shakespeare, Henry IV, Parts I and II

Milton, Paradise Lost

H. Fielding, Joseph Andrews

Wordsworth, The Prelude

E. B. Browning, Aurora Leigh

Woolf, Orlando

Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

ENG 165: Innocence and Experience in British Literature

Prof. Elizabeth Way / Spring 2014

165-E. TR 11:00-12:15 (14411)

165-I.  TR 2:00-3:15  (19593)

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake proclaims, “Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.” This belief in the power of contraries is at the heart of our investigation of innocence and experience in British literature. Using Blake’s ideas as the jumping off point for our journey through over three centuries of British literature, we will we explore how some major British writers conceive of, portray, and experiment with notions of innocence and experience in their writings. We will consider how matters of religious belief, science, aesthetics, domesticity, class, gender, and race all come to bear on how we find innocence and experience represented in these texts. After starting with William Shakespeare’s classic drama of innocence and experience guided by “evidence” and “proof” in Othello, we move to John Milton’s Paradise Lost where we encounter the epic poem that imaginatively reconstructs Man’s first fall from innocence in Eden into the world of experience. Moving forward to Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience, the inspirational text for this course, we shall consider how Blake’s revolutionary poetry and illustrations depict this collection’s subtitle of “the two contrary states of the human soul.” More than simply envisioning innocence and experience as opposite states of the human condition, we will, from a Blakean point of view, investigate them also as companionate modes of human existence that—far from being regrettable—become valuable sources of energy and inspiration for writers into our modern world. Students will write three formal papers, give two oral presentations, sit for a mid-term exam, and complete various informal in-class writing assignments.


William Shakespeare, Othello (Norton)

John Milton: Paradise Lost (Norton)

Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (Oxford)

William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience (Oxford)

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (Norton)

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Norton)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Selected Poems (Broadview)

Bram Stoker, Dracula (Norton)

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (Vintage)

Major Works of British Literature

165-G. TR 12:30-1:45 (15764)                Prof. Gale Sigal

165-H. TR 2:00-3:15 (19592)                Prof. Gale Sigal

In this course, we will approach works of British literature as the greatest of guidebooks to life: as a way to “make friends and influence people” or to attack one’s foes with a persuasive argument; to court lovers or kings; to defy authority; to understand, explain and interpret one’s experience; to live well or to live rightly. Over the course of the semester, we will read some of the most innovative and creative literary geniuses of the English language, authors who portrayed their world and whose literary inventiveness influenced the literature that came after. We’ll explore how literature helped foster and make sense of new cultural dynamics. By studying different literary forms and genres, we’ll explore how literature functions to grasp a changing world and, at the same time, to resist or critique those changes. We will begin with some of Chaucer’s Canterbury tales, and move through the centuries, stopping for a good while at Milton’s Paradise Lost, Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and George Eliot’s Middlemarch. We will conclude with a selection of poetry that spans the ages. There will, of course, be exams and papers!

175. Studies in American Literature: Emphasis on important writers representing different periods; primarily discussion; writing intensive.

Studies in American Literature
175-A. MWF 10:00-10:50 (14419)                Prof. Casey Wasserman
175-B. MWF 11:00-11:50 (14421)                Prof. Casey Wasserman

This course focuses on American literary texts concerned with the concepts of ideological and physical bodies that challenge the notion of normativity. We will consider the ways our national literature attempts to address the body as a site for deliberation or contestation with an emphasis on fears and anxieties surrounding race, gender, and sexuality when filtered through the figure of the outsider, eccentric, or “freak.” Assignments will include active class participation, several short response papers, a research project, and a final paper.

Possible Readings May Include:

Katherine Dunn, Geek Love

P.T. Barnum, The Life of P.T. Barnum

Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Nella Larsen, Passing

Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Short fiction by Herman Melville, Flannery O’Connor, and Eudora Welty

American Literature: Race, Heredity, and Genetics 

175-C. MWF 2:00-2:50 (16627)                        Prof. Lisa Klarr

In this course we will study representations of race, heredity, and genetics in literature, taking our examples from a wide range of American authors: Octavia Butler, William Faulkner, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Pauline Hopkins, Edgar Allan Poe, and Leslie Marmon Silko. Our investigations of these literary texts will be punctuated with considerations of the ways in which race in America is never neutral but always politically, economically, and ethically charged.

Required Texts:

Butler, Octavia. Dawn

Hopkins, Pauline. One Blood

Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom!

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The House of the Seven Gables

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony

Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Watson, James D. The Double Helix: An Autobiography

Studies in American Literature

175-D. TR 9:30-10:45 (18032)                         Prof. James Hans

Leaves of Grass
Final Harvest
 Light in August
Absalom, Absalom!
Collected Poems (1951-71)

Studies in American Literature

175-E. TR 9:30-10:45 (16628)                Prof. Barry Maine

175-G. TR 2:00-3:15 (18611)                Prof. Barry Maine


“It is in vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves.  There is none such.  It is the bog in our brain and bowels, the primitive vigor of Nature in us that inspires that dream.” Henry David Thoreau, Journal, August 30, 1856.

Required Texts:

Ralph Waldo Emerson                Selected Essays

Herman Melville                        Moby Dick

Emily Dickinson                        Final Harvest 

Henry James                        The Portrait of a Lady

William Faulkner                Go Down, Moses

Requirements:  Four essays; participation in class discussion; no exam.  

Studies in American Literature

175-F. TR 12:30-1:45 (16629)                Prof. Judith Madera

This course will survey a selection of prose and poetry by American authors. In our readings we will be attentive to representations of spirit, nature, and quest across different genres and periods. As we think about these broad themes, we will also consider the ways writers responded to different events that shaped place. How do the writers we study negotiate ideals of human possibility with forms of necessity and social acceptance? How do they account for experiences of human suffering and the massively destructive potential of individual self-interest? We will assess the ways various authors gave shape to the American self through their writings.
Texts Include:
Course packet with Jonathan Edwards, Henry Adams
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s
Henry David Thoreau,
T.S. Eliot,
The Waste Land
Nella Larsen,
William Faulkner,
Go Down, Moses
Truman Capote,
In Cold Blood
Greg Bottoms,
Short fiction by Eudora Welty, Toni Morrison

190. Literary Genres: Emphasis on poetry, fiction, or drama; primarily discussion; writing intensive.

Poetry and the World

190-A. WF 9:30-10:45 (14417)                Prof. Omaar Hena

This course introduces students to the long history of poetry, from Beowulf and John Milton's Paradise Lost through Seamus Heaney and Adrienne Rich. We will explore a variety of verse forms, techniques, and poetic devices with the goal of developing skills in close reading and gaining a broad understanding of poetry. Along the way, we will investigate the numerous ways in which poets have adapted the English language, and its rich formal inheritances, to address and re-shape urgent social, political realities both large and small, public and private, communal and personal. This seminar will further speculate upon the value of a literary education -- and an immersion in poetry -- to put readers in tune with the historical complexities and restless uncertainties of the lived world. Students will write three papers (4-5 pages each), conduct an in-class presentation, and write a final paper. Required texts will likely include The Norton Anthology of Poetry (shorter, 5th edition) and Poetic Designs by Stephen Adams.

ENG 190 “Introduction to the Novel”

190-B. WF 12:30-1:45 (17484)                Prof. Jessica Richard

190-C. WF 2:00-3:15 (14416)                Prof. Jessica Richard

This course will examine the novel, the literary form of the modern era, from its roots in eighteenth-century England to its uses across the English-speaking world in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Why has the novel become so dominant a literary genre?  What do we expect from and enjoy in novels?  We will consider the elasticity of the novel form and its various strategies for representing individual consciousness and experience.  This is a writing intensive seminar; course requirements include 3 papers (7 pages each), midterm and final essay exams, vigorous class participation, and frequent formal discussion preparation.

Required Texts

Daniel Defoe. Robinson Crusoe (Oxford)

Samuel Johnson.  The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (Broadview)

Jane Austen.  Pride and Prejudice (Broadview)

Charlotte Bronte.  Jane Eyre (Penguin)

Virginia Woolf.  To The Lighthouse (Harcourt)

Willa Cather.  My Antonia (Broadview)

John Barth.  The Floating Opera (Knopf/Doubleday)

Andrea Levy.  Small Island (Picador)

200 level core literature classes:

These courses are intended for Current and Prospective English Majors,

as they are gateway courses to the major.


British Literature before 1800 and Introduction to the Major

265-A. MW 2:00-3:15 (19728)                Prof. Susan Harlan

This course will introduce students to major texts in the literary history of England up to the late eighteenth century, as well as to the tools of literary analysis. We will read literary texts across a range of genres (including poetry, prose, drama, epic, and the essay) in order to establish the important features of each period and to understand the development of literary forms and modes over time. The course will emphasize the interpretive possibilities of texts and their place in literary history. Students will take several short exams, a midterm exam, and a cumulative final exam. They will also complete short writing assignments.

Required Texts:

The Norton Anthology Vol. 1

Herman Rapaport, The Literary Theory Toolkit

British Literature 1800-Present

266-A. TR 2:00-3:15 (19729)                Prof. Jefferson Holdridge

English 266 is meant to introduce English majors to significant British, Irish and other English-language authors from a succession of periods and movements. We will begin with Romanticism and end in the contemporary period, considering a number of different literary genres (prose, drama, and poetry). It is designed to make students familiar with the breadth and depth of the literature in these periods and locations. We will also explore different ways of reading literature, from close reading to theoretical framing. Seminar lectures and discussions will highlight key ideas and styles associated with various literary movements. Required readings from the Norton Anthology of English Literature, The Major Authors, 9th edition, Volume 2 (The Romantic Period Through The 20th Century and after) and selected additional texts.