Upper-Level Course Descriptions

A full list of classes offered can be found in your WebCentral account.

Professor Burlin Barr
Tuesday/Thursday 9:25 AM – 10:40 AM

English 298 is an introduction to the practice of literary criticism. We’ll consider the specific ways in which formally trained readers engage with texts, how they relate what they read to other texts and sometimes to the world outside the text. We’ll spend time reading six major types of literary art: short stories, essays, drama, poetry, film, and the novel. We’ll write papers and perform exercises designed to sharpen our critical faculties and polish our academic practices. We’ll acquaint ourselves with the technical vocabulary employed by students of literature and with the attitudes and techniques they use to render “literature” a free standing and appropriate object of study. Finally, we’ll briefly consider the impact that other disciplines have had on the study of literature and of culture in general; among the most important of these are economics and Marxism, gender studies and feminism, and the philosophy of language and representation. We will discuss and attempt to master the art of writing an effective literary critical essay. 

Professor Bob Dunne
Tuesday/Thursday 12:15 PM – 1:30 PM

In this specific iteration of ENG 298, we will pursue an intensive examination of various narrative strategies that American authors use to tell their tales, ranging from the mid-19th through the early 20th century.  We will discover how these authors attempt to manipulate language for often ironic and subversive reasons.  In understanding the various narrative strategies deployed by these American writers, you will be better equipped with the intellectual acumen to apply this understanding to other literary forms.  To test this belief, we will take a couple of instructive detours in the course to analyze poetry and drama.

Professor Candace Barrington
Tuesday/Thursday 3:05 PM – 4:20 PM

This course will be unlike any other English course you have taken.
It is an intensive workshop in which you will learn (1) to analyze literature at the sentence level, and (2) to be in control of the sentences you write.
It will be fun.

It assumes you are ready and eager to be an active learner. It assumes you are prepared to spend at least two (but probably closer to three) hours studying for each class meeting. Students who do all the course asks can expect to be better readers and writers of English sentences by the end of the term.

This course is open (without permission) to all English majors, Creative Writing minors, Cinema Studies minors, Linguistics minors. Other majors will need instructor’s permission. The course cap of 20 students will be strictly held. 

Professor Candace Barrington
Tuesday/Thursday 9:25 AM – 10:40 AM

In this course, we will do the usual stuff associated with a course on Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales— learn fourteenth-century Middle English and become familiar with the cultural context in which he wrote—but we’ll do so with a global twist. With this global approach, you’ll be getting an insider’s look at some of the most interesting new scholarship in Chaucer Studies. This approach is inspired by both Chaucer’s own cosmopolitan career and the subsequent global transmission of his works. Not only did Chaucer know many languages, travel extensively, and funnel much of the known world into his Tales, but the Tales have subsequently traveled the world as part of Britain’s imperial project and now can be read in over 50 global languages and diverse retellings. This course does not require you to travel or to know other languages. It does require, however, curiosity about different parts of the world as well as a keen interest in the ways languages and genres create meaning. 

Professor Rob Dowling
Tuesday/Thursday 10:50 AM – 12:05 PM

The socially and culturally emancipating years between World War I and World War II inspired groundbreaking developments in American fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry. Modern American Literature explores the subsequent literary, cultural, and biographical forces that led to such electrifying modernist achievements as Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Each student is expected to respond to each weeks’ readings with a short writing assignment designed to promote active reading, give one presentation, write a 7-10 page final research paper, and take a mid-term and a final written exam. Modern American Literature is designed to develop students’ abilities to read, write, and discuss literature with the analytical skill, fluency, and research capabilities of an English major. To facilitate this process, we delve into the major themes and preoccupations of the modernist era: the disillusionment caused by World War I and the modern industrial order; the stylistic developments of the avant garde, such as that of the “Lost Generation” of expatriates in Europe; American race relations of the early to mid-twentieth century, with particular focus on the Harlem Renaissance; our nation’s increasingly complex gender relations; the effect of mass immigration that created a trans-national America, the likes of which no country had seen before; the revolt against the social constrictions of the Genteel Tradition; and the expanding influence of America’s uniquely diverse regional, racial, and ethnic groups on our national dialogue.

Professor Natalie Catasús
Monday/Wednesday 9:25 AM – 10:40 AM

In this course, we will explore fiction, poetry, and essays by Caribbean and Caribbean diasporic writers from the late 19th century to the present. We will discuss how these writers grapple with shared histories of slavery and colonization as well as issues of immigration, identity, race, class, gender, and sexuality. Additionally, these works will introduce students to the extraordinary innovations in literary form that have emerged from the Caribbean archipelago over the last century.

Students in the course will become familiar with the region’s literary, cultural, and linguistic diversity. We will focus on works emerging from the Anglophone, Hispanophone, and Francophone traditions, and all texts not originally published in English will be offered in translation. Students with reading proficiency in Spanish or French are welcome to read the original texts and are encouraged to bring their knowledge of these languages into our discussions.

Prof Aimee Pozorski 
Wednesday 4:30-7:10 PM

“3 Novels by Philip Roth” will cover what many consider to be among the most provocative novels of Roth’s luminous career: American Pastoral (1997), The Human Stain (1998) and The Plot Against America (2004).  Featuring close readings of these novels in light of current events and secondary source criticism that reads Roth through a variety of theoretical perspectives, this course will help prepare English majors for research in English while also engaging cutting edge scholarship in the growing field of Roth Studies.   

Professor Brian Folker
Tuesday/Thursday 1:40 PM – 2:55 PM

ENG 398, Topics in Literary Theory and Research is the gateway to upper-level course work in the English major; it is a prerequisite for 400 level English classes.  The course is intended to have a triple function:  It directs attention to a narrowly defined subject of literary study; it serves as an introduction to contemporary critical methods and literary theory; and it provides students with an opportunity to practice and reflect upon the fundamentals of research, analysis, and argumentation.  Our literary focus is the English poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), with particular emphasis on his 1805 autobiographical poem, The Prelude.  The Prelude is sometimes considered the finest long poem in English since Paradise Lost.  At moments frankly confessional, at other times evasive and even deceitful, it is an attempt to turn Wordsworth’s turbulent young manhood into an enabling myth for the aspiring artist.  We’ll consider what sense various critical frames can make of this fragmented and flawed masterpiece.

Professor Bob Dunne
Wednesday 7:20 – 9:55 PM

The American literary canon has been the subject of intense critical debate for decades.  Beginning with introductory readings in early and recent theories of canon-making in American literature, we will grapple with such deceptively simple terms as "American," "literary," and "canon," in light of pairing off fictional works according to their canonical and non-canonical status.  Students will understand why some primary texts have "always" been in the canon, why others fade into obscurity, and why others emerge from obscurity into prominence; moreover, they will become aware of the contentious theoretical and political struggles that lie behind the neatly packaged covers of American literary histories and literature anthologies.

Professor Deborah Spillman 
Monday and Wednesday 1:40-2:55 

Gothic fiction, with its subterranean passageways and restless spirits, has thrilled readers for centuries while engaging them in debates about power, gender, race, and justice. Whereas gothic novels of the late eighteenth century featured the eerie enclosures of medieval monasteries and southern ancestral homes, which served as sites of displaced social critique, gothic fiction since the Victorian age has focused its tales of terror mainly on the seemingly medieval horrors of the present. The eruption of archaic fears in the middle of modern narratives lends gothic fiction its unique power and timely message that perhaps the world we live in may not be as modern as we thought. Selected readings may include Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as well as contemporary neo-gothic novels like Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic. 

Professor Burlin Barr
Tuesday/Thursday 10:50 AM – 12:05 PM

This course surveys international cinema after World War II with an emphasis on the fiction feature films of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The course will emphasize close textual analysis of films and will also consider how other factors (economic, social, cultural, historical) impact the creation and reception of cinema.  In addition to a required weekly screening, there will be regular readings in film criticism, history, and theory. The course will consider how films represent gender and cultural difference, how they represent and incorporate historical events, and will frequently concern the intersection between film form, politics, and activism.

Professor Jayasinghe
TR 12:15 PM – 1:30 PM

This course provides students the opportunity to engage with world literature and film from a variety of global cultures in understanding how gender and sexual identities are conceptualized, represented, and practiced in diverse countries from around the world. How do different global cultural understandings of gender and sexuality, particularly from the non-west, help us to explore what it means to be “queer”? In what ways have colonialism and imperialism led to the suppression and erasure of non-heteronormative gender and sexual identities that existed prior to colonialism? To what extent are our current understandings of gender and sexual identity a product of a normative neocolonial epistemology? These are some of the questions that this course will try to address by engaging with world literature and film that showcase a wide spectrum of global gender and sexual identities.